In an interview with Muslim Press, Robert Hunziker said “I think Donald Trump will accelerate warfare in the Middle East, possibly starting a wider conflict that brings in forces not yet anticipated.”
In what follows, the full text of the interview has been presented.
Muslim Press: Trump has strongly criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), calling it "the single worst trade deal ever approved in [the United States].” Now that he’s going to be the president of the United States, what can he do about it?
Robert Hunziker: President-elect Trump has NAFTA at the top of his “to-do” list, and it was a central issue in his campaign. Thus, his campaign rhetoric forces his hand to do something; otherwise he loses face with his constituents, which is heavily comprised of workers who lost jobs and/or wage leverage because of NAFTA.
According to Ross Perot, who ran for president (1992) against George H. W. Bush and Clinton, when commenting about NAFTA: You’ll hear a “giant sucking sound” as jobs are sucked out of America. He was dead-on correct, and as a result, a couple of decades later it becomes a central campaign issue.
Trump could attempt to withdraw from NAFTA, but U.S. businesses are deeply involved in supply chains and outsource services with Mexico. Let’s face facts, Trump is a businessman, and if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce tells him to quit messing around with the goose that laid the golden egg whereby U.S. businesses manufacture product with labor costs that are 1/6th their labor costs to manufacture the same product across the border in the U.S., then Trump will listen and obey. And, that’s what NAFTA is all about.
For example: A worker in Mexico costs automobile companies an average of $8 an hour, including wages and benefits. That compares with $58 in the U.S. for General Motors and $38 at Volkswagen's factory in Tennessee, the lowest hourly labor cost in the U.S., according to the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Also, and for comparison purposes, German autoworkers costs about $52 an hour.
According to America’s major labor organization, the AFL-CIO, NAFTA has displaced 700,000 jobs in America. However, those job losses indirectly and directly affect many hundreds of thousands of others like local businesses that serve the workers. The ripple effect goes well beyond 700,000.
Also, Trump could try to raise tariffs on Mexico imports to the U.S., but push back by Mexico would be enormously devastating to U.S./Mexico relations, which are crucial for stability throughout Latin America. So, on a national security basis, considering the overriding influence of the NSA (National Security Agency) and Homeland Security on the U.S. presidency, it is doubtful Trump will push Mexico beyond limits they are comfortable acceding in concert with the U.S. national security apparatus, which, at the end of the day, dictates foreign affairs to the White House.
When it comes to foreign relations, the President is beholden to the Deep State apparatus, which, behind the scenes, controls American foreign policy. The Deep State involves layers of bureaucrats below the heads of CIA, the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the Treasury, and the NSA.
At the end of the day, it is likely that Trump will tweak NAFTA in concert with the Mexican government just enough to grandstand an accomplishment, although it will likely be a minor accomplishment. Still, he’s very clever at making everything sound “great,” and his supporters buy-in to his nonsense. So, he’ll likely pull off a ruse of great accomplishment vis a vis NAFTA.
MP: He has also slammed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). What’s your take on this issue?
Robert Hunziker: The TPP is a radical extension of neoliberal policies whereby control over trade and environmental issues is acceded to corporate interests. In other words, TPP dissolves national borders as if nation/states no longer exist. For example, under TPP a corporation can sue a country if it claims the country’s environmental laws inhibit its business. So, essentially the nation/state loses power and control over its boundaries in favor of multinational corporations. This is part and parcel of Transnationalism, which is a borderless world run and controlled by elite corporate interests. TPP vastly enhances Transnationalism and vastly destroys nation/state powers as they lose control in favor of globalism’s free trade dictates.
In point of fact, TPP includes 40% of global GDP. So, it is a mammoth attempt to lower trade barriers and increase U.S. exports to Pacific Rim countries as well as buttress against China’s growing regional influence in Asia.
As such, TPP would further encourage export of U.S. manufacturing jobs to low-wage nations, similar to the end results of NAFTA, further cutting off, at the knees, labor unions in America and grinding down middle income job opportunities. Over time, on a political basis alone, this becomes inflammatory within the body politic, which was essentially seen, to a certain extent, in this past election.
The American working class is smarter than many people realize, recognizing on home turf the loss of manufacturing jobs because of free trade deals as more and more people leave communities from the industrial heartland and turn to drugs or alcohol or divorce and/or cynicism as upshots of depression. This, in turn, serves as a flashpoint for political opportunist like Trump.
Still, Trump is right to talk down TPP because it does lower the ceiling for wageworkers in America, and they are a big part of his constituency.
MP: You have said in our previous discussion “the upcoming election marks the beginning of the end of American Empire.” Could you elaborate more on this issue?
Robert Hunziker: There are several signs indicative of a slowly collapsing American Empire, including the fact that America is perpetually involved in wars but never wins. Real empires win wars whereas America’s wars go on forever, struggling to truly achieve empire status.
The American Empire, as it is constituted, has been in decline for some years now, and the success of international terrorism is but a reflection of America’s weakened influence, very similar to Attila the Hun’s destruction of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, marking the end of the Roman Empire. At the time, the great Roman Empire could do nothing about Attila’s forces because its empire had spread too far, too thin. Similarly, America, ever since the downfall of Russian predominance, has spread itself too thin as the policeman of the world, currently at war on a consistent basis, whereas small forces of terrorists manage to conquer and overtake land right in the backyard of American military might and influence, for example, in the Middle East.
“This year, US Special Operations forces have already deployed to 135 nations, according to Ken McGraw, a spokesman for Special Operations Command (SOCOM)… Every day, in fact, America’s most elite troops are carrying out missions in 80 to 90 nations, practicing night raids or sometimes conducting them for real, engaging in sniper training or sometimes actually gunning down enemies from afar (Source: Nick Turse, How Many Wars Is the US Really Fighting, The Nation, September 24, 2015).
Whereas, by definition, powerful empires do not perpetuate wars against minor forces, and in this sense America is exhibiting weakness as an empire-builder, déjà vu the Roman Empire in Italy where Attila the Hun’s forces in 452 AD drove deep into northern Italy. Similarly, ISIS drove deeply into Iraq, an adopted American colony in many respects, or if one prefers, an extension of the Empire.
I also made the statement about loss of American Empire building because of the worldwide trend towards nationalism, which embraces xenophobia, chauvinism, jingoism, and flag-waving. President Obama, one of America’s brightest presidents, in a recent speech in Greece said: “I do believe, separate and apart form any particular election or movement, that we are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism or ethnic identity or tribalism that is built around an ‘us’ and a ‘them.’”
As a result, with Trump nationalism, the nation turns inward, not outward, protecting borders, protecting industry, wary of the outside world. This attitudinal behavior does not favor nation-building or empire expansion or foreign interventionism. It favors compressing into a shell like an agitated turtle.
Additionally, American politics are leaning towards lessening or controlling a fiscal budget run amuck, and the powerful Republican control over Congress is hell-bent on reducing the budget. Empire building is very expensive, and I believe the political intent to get public spending under control works against the American Empire experiment.
As well, South America has turned away from the U.S. in many respects as some rogue nations, Bolivia for example, strive to establish their own consortium sans U.S. influence. Ever since the early 19th century Monroe Doctrine the U.S. has treated South America like a colony. That’s changing, signaling a crumbling empire, not an enlarging empire.
Still in all, it is important to remember that America’s Deep State will continue to meddle in foreign affaires. This is set American policy ever since Allen Dulles ran the CIA (1953-61). I recently read The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot. I highly recommend the book to anybody who is interested in America’s influence in the world and empire building, as well as the assassination of JFK. It is an excellent book written by a credible author.
MP: How different do you think he would be from on the campaign trail?
Robert Hunziker: It is my guess that Trump will be quite different from his campaign rhetoric and here’s why I say this: (1) The office of the presidency is a very humbling experience which overrides many prejudices and personal misbeliefs simply because of the built-in mechanisms of checks and balances with various governmental departments, for example he has already softened his threats against NATO (hello Pentagon), and (2) America is run by the Deep State, not by presidents, and the Deep State consists of bureaucracies that extend deeply into the bowels of the Pentagon, CIA and other fortresses of power. These forces will assassinate any president who challenges their existence, for example JFK. Trump is forced to obey their demands, and they “demand” a president who has “presidential stature” which Trump did not demonstrate on the campaign trail. He was an entertainer on the campaign trail, and the Deep State will not stand for that kind of behavior, and (3) Trump is a master entertainer who has a history, on television, of knowing how to satisfy an audience and hold their attention. He did this same thing on the campaign trail. As a master entertainer, he is smart enough to know that “ShowTime” is over. The real world is waiting for him to prove his mettle. He’ll be radically different from his activities on the campaign trail, not that this will necessarily be a good thing.
MP: Is he likely to continue his anti-Muslim rhetoric?
Robert Hunziker: Yes and no. I say, “yes” only because Trump is a bigot through and through, and like other political bigots of the American past, like Strom Thurmond, he cannot conceal this innate dislike of anybody not white. His chauvinism slips out even when he attempts to control his biases and hatreds. So, yes it is impossible to get around Trump’s bigotry that is so embedded in his mind.
Years ago he was investigated by the U.S. government for racial bias in renting apartments. In my personal opinion, he only likes and respects white people. David Duke of the KKK endorsed Trump (you’ve gotta wonder why), and Trump has appointed, as one of his senior advisors, a White Nationalists named Steve Bannon. Obviously, Trump is a White Nationalist sympathizer. Why else appoint a White Nationalist to a key position? This does not bode well for Muslims.
On the other hand, I say “no” because, as I’ve previously mentioned, the office of presidency is much larger than the individual who holds the office. Powerful forces within the political establishment groom the office of presidency in America, and even though Trump ran his campaign as an outsider from Washington, he is now inside the system and cannot escape its influence over the office of the presidency. They’ll do everything possible to temper his behavior, but good luck with that.
MP: What could his presidency mean for Muslims living in America?
Robert Hunziker: I do believe he will live up to his threat to monitor Muslims entering the country, and this can only have dire blowback on American Muslims as they will be cast as outsiders even as citizens of the country. This is an unfortunate circumstance because of the general fear in America of terrorism, which is linked to Muslims in the world, whether warranted or not. The outlook for American Muslims is negative as long as Trump is president.
MP: Do you think Trump will back out of the Middle East completely?
Robert Hunziker: No, I think he’ll accelerate warfare in the Middle East, possibly starting a wider conflict that brings in forces not yet anticipated. After all, he has already talked about destroying ISIS (“bomb the hell out of ISIS”), and it is doubtful that the American military complex would object, especially since he now has a “mandate” from the American people.
With Trump’s presidency, the entire Middle East is up for grabs like never before, and the outcome will likely be very bad, not good. I suspect he may run into a hornet’s nest in the Middle East as well as along the southern Mediterranean region.
In addition to answering your questions I would like to add the following statement by America’s leading leftist Noam Chomsky, who recently said: “The Republican Party has become the most dangerous organization in world history… The Party is dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to destruction of organized human life. There is no historical precedent for such a stand” (Source: C.J. Polychroniou, Trump in the White House: An Interview with Noam Chomsky, Truthout/Interview, November 14, 2016).
Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide, like Z magazine, European Project on Ocean Acidification, Ecosocialism Canada, Climate Himalaya, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Comite Valmy, and UK Progressive. He has been interviewed about climate change on Pacifica Radio, KPFK, FM90.7, Indymedia On Air and World View Show/UK.