Written by Nikolay Nikolaev; Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Valentina Tzoneva exclusively for SouthFront
The Koch brothers, close to ‘Likud’ of Benjamin Netanyahu and the religious right take key positions in the new US administration. Religious conservatism, anti-Islamism and American patriotism dominate the key appointments of Donald Trump.
The US elections ended and the winner is the Republican candidate, Donald Trump. The process from the vote of the Americans to taking control over the administration, however, is long and complex for the real empowerment of the eccentric billionaire. Appointments to management positions at the CIA, Pentagon, State Department, Justice Department and other key structures will show whether Trump will have real power. The opposite hypothesis is unprecedented in American history.
The most recent example of the weak role of the American head of state in the affairs of the US is the agreement on Syria, reached between Obama and Putin in September. Influential circles in the US services, dissatisfied with the president, initiated air strikes on Syrian positions in Deir ez-Zor, which according to unofficial reports, killed Russian soldiers. Moscow responded, the peace talks failed and the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, with mild irony said that apparently the US military “did not listen to ‘their commander’.”
It is well known that the political system in the US is constructed from two main political parties: the Republican and the Democratic Party. Behind them, however, lie many factions, ideological currents and in the words of Donald Trump, “special interests.” A dialogue with the Democratic Party must be conducted, and apart from this, the newly elected head of state will have to find common ground with his opponents in the Republican Party, the influential wings of the “hawkish” neo-conservatives and moderate Rockefeller Republicans. Only this can ensure support for the new cabinet and its political proposals by the legislative body in the United States – the Senate. Will the innate political acumen of the new American president help him to build strong relationships with internal opponents while maintaining core commitments? The appointments to date demonstrate that: the posts are distributed among the victorious coalition of traditionalists, the religious right-wing and the libertarians. The industrial capital and orthodox religious circles win the tactical battle against the transnational financial capital and the secularists.
Donald Trump gave signs of this with his first acts after his election. From the transitional team of the president, whose role is to be the basis for the selection of personnel for the new administration, two high profile figures were removed. New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, representing the Rockefeller wing of (moderate) Republicans was replaced by the leader in the transitional team, Vice President, Mike Pence. A little later, the neoconservative Mike Rogers left the team, who was the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee in Congress, along with four of his close aides. According to NBC television, Rogers has been removed precisely because he is close to Chris Christie.
Although the inclusion in the team of the director of the neo-conservative Center for Security Policy (the CSP), Frank Gaffney, the neocons remain seriously disappointed. Neoconservative guru, Eliot Cohen, even warned everyone to stay away from the new government. The American establishment composed of neocons and moderate Republicans, ruling the key structures of the administration in the last two decades, suffered defeat and retreated.
The US industrial capital takes revenge
The choice of Mike Pence for vice presidential candidate and head of the transitional team shows the influence of the religious right and the industrial capital over the future governance of the country. David and Charles Koch turned into key players on the political scene. The Koch dynasty owns the second largest corporation in the US, Koch Industries, controlling production and marketing of oil products and chemicals. The lobby group, ‘Americans for Prosperity’, founded by the brothers, has actively supported the rise of Pence for governor of Indiana, and according to the website, ‘Follow the money’, David Koch supported the campaign of Mike Pence with $300 000. The NGO of the Koch brothers, ‘Citizens for a Sound Economy’, is the foundation for the creation of the Tea Party, which the Vice President supports.
Another key appointment, that of Congressman Michael Pompei for CIA chief, can also be associated with the Koch brothers. Besides being a member of the tea movement in the Republican Party and recipient of a total of $357 000 in donations from the companies of the brothers, Mike Pompei has a long professional background in structures associated with Koch Industries. In the late 90s, the nominated head of CIA politician founded a private company in the field of space technology, ‘Thayer Aerospace’, funded by Koch Venture Capital. Pompei continues his professional endeavors as president of the company, engaged in the sale of equipment for the extraction of fossil fuels, Sentry International, which in turn is linked to the Brazilian distributor for the brothers. He was elected as representative in the lower house of Congress from the 4th electoral district in Kansas, where the headquarters of Koch Industries is situated, and receives more funds from the Koch brothers than all candidates for the post together. After his election, his chief of staff became the lawyer of Koch Industries, Marc Chenouet.
The traditionalists advance
Anti-immigrant and patriotic American communities emerge as the next key player in the new administration. The traditional wing of the Republican Party is represented so far with two important appointments – the senator from Alabama, Jeff Sessions as a minister of justice, and Stephen Bannon as a chief strategist in Trump’s office. Sessions is known for his irreconcilable attitude towards illegal immigration and is characterized by frequent anti-globalization rhetoric. He will take over a mega-department with a budget of $27 billion and more than 110 000 employees. To Jeff Sessions belongs the lighthearted statement that initially he thought that the existence of the Ku Klux Klan was okay until he discovered that its members smoked grass. Since then, Sessions has invariably been accused of racism.
Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, met the most serious resistance on his way to the appointment at the White House. Leading liberal media corporations and non-governmental organizations in recent weeks even forgot to pick on the new US president and focused entirely on the future chief strategist of the United States. For what reason does the head of the influential conservative website, Breitbart News, incur this powerful resistance in the form of accusations of racism, extremism and xenophobia?
The ideas of Steve Bannon are really the thorn for the American establishment which lost the election. Defining himself as part of the “global tea movement” represented in the anti-globalization extreme right, Bannon sees the main problem facing the United States as a crisis of capitalism after the loss of its Judeo-Christian foundation. An opponent of secularism, Bannon calls for a strategic partnership with Russia and Vladimir Putin, in the face of the dangerous radical Islam.
Successful crusade for the religious society and victory for Bibi Netanyahu
What unites the seemingly different Mike Pence, Steve Bannon, General Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions and Michael Pompei is their strong support of traditional US religious values and faith in God. The main enemy for them is radical Islam. They oppose all forms of political Islam and are the main opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran.
According to a senior source from Jerusalem, cited on Israeli Army Radio, the appointments of Michael Flynn to National Security Adviser, and Michael Pompei, as head of the CIA, are warmly welcomed in the Middle Eastern country. They have repeatedly declared strong support for the Israeli position in the region and even General Flynn called Islam a “political ideology that hides behind religion.”
In July this year, Michael Flynn and the neoconservative Michael Ledeen, released a book: ‘The Battlefield: How to win the global war against radical Islam and its allies’. In the event that Michael Ledeen is attracted to high office in the system of national security, this is another bad news for the partnership between the US and the Islamic world.
At first glance, the leaked information about the appointment of the prominent neoconservative, Mitt Romney to head the State Department, seems contradictory against the union between traditionalists and the religious right. Little known is the fact that Mitt Romney was a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister and leader of the center-right party ‘Likud’, Benjamin Netanyahu. Back in 1976, they both worked as corporate advisers on the 16th floor office at company, Boston Consulting Group. Over the years, besides friendly relations, the two have always shared common political positions, including with regard to the crisis in the Middle East and the nuclear deal with Iran. In the event that Romney is appointed as Secretary of State, there should be no doubt: political Islam will be on target.