Hasnet Lais is an educator and journalist who writes on contemporary Muslim affairs. You can follow him on Twitter @haznet1.
Reeling from the effects of a raging pandemic and mired in racial tensions, the U.S. is at a dangerous inflection point, writes journalist Hasnet Lais.
The land of the free and home of the brave has degenerated into a bubbling cauldron of internecine conflicts. Intractable culture wars between blacks and whites, conservatives and liberals and the left and the right have reached a crescendo and polarising attitudes on human rights and justice has put paid to the myth of the American dream.
With an economy in tatters and a social fabric teetering on the brink of collapse, Americans are approaching a perfect storm in the run up to Election Day.
Trump or Biden?
Given Trump’s trademark jingoism and the rampant Islamophobia among his disaffected rust belt voters, deciding who to vote for was always going to be a no-brainer for American Muslims.
In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift toward the Democratic Party among second and third generation Muslims who have become more acculturated to progressive values compared to their socially conservative forefathers. Regrettably, many have been ensnared by the virtue-signalling of the left and have come to view Joe Biden as the lesser of two evils, given the consistent anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim animus inflamed by Republican politicians.
Influential scholars like Imam Omar Suleiman, who recently accepted Nancy Pelosi’s invitation to speak before Congress, have been instrumental in shaping this shift and is one among several high-profile American Muslims to be casting their lot with the left. As a result, the dangers of any mainstream endorsement of a Biden Presidency have gone criminally unnoticed.
Like every US President, Trump is accountable to a deep state- an unelected cabal consisting of high-ranking oligarchs and the top brass in the intelligence and military industrial complex who dictate US domestic and foreign policy. Acknowledging this is important if we want to understand why a Trump victory is already being discredited as a coup against democracy. The dubious endorsement of Democrat politicians by the CIA, Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security is more than just a marriage of convenience against a common foe. Rather, it is telling of an underlying machination embedded in American politics.
Muslims who are beating the drum for Biden seem oblivious to the dangerous alliance predating Trump’s ascension to office, between senior Democrats and the Bush-era neocons who are throwing their weight behind Biden’s candidacy.
The neocons started as a group of liberal intellectuals who became disenchanted with the direction of the American left during the 1960s, given what they perceived as the Democrats’ failure to heed the existential threat posed by the Soviet Union.
They found common cause with the Reagan administration, whose rejection of a detente with the USSR and sponsoring of anti-communist insurgencies dovetailed neatly with their change in political orientation and belief in America’s indispensable right to leverage unilateral power and launch pre-emptive wars to promote geostrategic interests. A central pillar of their strategy is preventing the formation of any universalist ideology or multipolar bloc with dispersed centres of power and they have functioned primarily as deep state frontrunners for generations.
Despite some resistance to the movement from the leftist counterculture in the 1960s and the isolationist trends in US politics favouring containment as opposed to confrontation during the height of the Cold War and the ongoing War on Terror, the impulse to shape the international rules based order through regime change, authorising military force and instigating proxy wars remains a baseline for the Beltway’s foreign policy and has been adapted in varying degrees by successive US administrations.
Trump vs Neocons
Much to the neocons’ chagrin, Trump’s Presidency delivered only mixed blessings. Besides his aggressive posturing and outlandish promises to deliver fire and fury to America’s enemies, he has yet to yield to the hawkish interventionist wing of the GOP.
Some prematurely interpreted his order to assassinate Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani as capitulation to the neocons. Although he may have appeased the Zionist lobby and warmongering Republicans by such a provocation, Trump was still reluctant to accede to their demands for a regime change in Tehran, which the neocons have been agitating for decades.
In fact, since becoming President, Trump departed from the neocon script by railing against the conventional wisdom of America’s costly foreign engagements. His retrenchment from Afghanistan, overtures to the Kremlin, indifference towards transatlantic alliances and antipathy towards globalism is considered a dangerous retreat from US exceptionalism and an impediment to the unipolar foreign policy espoused by the neoliberal status quo.
As much as we chide Trump for his buffoonery, we cannot overlook how a large segment of those excoriating him across the nodes of power are effectively shilling for the military industrial complex and marching lockstep with the Project for the New American Century.
Having successfully mobilised disaffected Republicans who are committed to US primacy and constantly carping about Trump’s Jacksonian approach to foreign affairs, the Democrats have managed to reintegrate former neocon national security officials into the party’s power structure. These are the very indictable personnel who gained notoriety as architects of torture programs, covert drone campaigns and US-led coalitions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria which wrought untold misery to millions.
Far from being a pragmatic alliance, an ideological affinity accounts for the coalescing of these forces. Therefore, a vote for Biden guarantees a reversion to the imperial modus operandi of those who historically championed Pax-Americana, given the mutual commitment among neocons on both sides of the Trump divide to balkanize the Middle East for Israeli regional hegemony and raise the spectre of a new totalitarian menace as part of their strategy to renew a Cold War against the Sino-Russian spheres of influence, which has the potential of escalating beyond the usual sabre-rattling to a nuclear standoff.
With Biden at the helm and a rapprochement between centrist Democrats and neocons complete, the deep state can be assured of a return to Washington’s standard foreign policy playbook, one which is not guided by any realism or restraint but arrogates to itself the hawkish role of international judge, jury and executioner.
Given his unhinged and capricious nature, Trump may renege from his current course. We’ve already seen his muscular diplomacy in action vis-a-vis Venezuela and North Korea so a volte-face may be the only way of salvaging his Presidency. Otherwise, in light of the volatility of current events, one must anticipate that in the event of a contested election or crisis scenario, prepositioned assets among Antifa and BLM may be activated against far-right militias and security forces as part of an armed insurrection.
I sincerely appeal to the Muslims of America to look beyond the facade of the lesser of two evils and recognise the political chicanery at work. Not only are secular democracies antithetical to the Islamic concept of sovereignty, presidential debates and elections are merely pseudo-spectacles staged by an unaccountable bureaucracy to sustain the illusion of freedom at home.
The bipartisan consensus emerging in Washington highlights how both the Republicans and Democrats represent rival wings of the same hegemonic apparatus, which can only flourish by manufacturing consent for wars and exporting terror under the insidious guise of human rights and liberalism.