It’s unclear whether she is speaking for herself or the White House.
But there are indeed some administration figures who clearly are fomenting endless conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere.
One might reasonably start with Generals James Mattis and H.R. McMaster, both of whom are hardliners on Afghanistan and Iran, but with a significant caveat. Generals are trained and indoctrinated to fight and win wars, not to figure out what comes next. General officers like George Marshall or even Dwight Eisenhower who had a broader vision are extremely rare, so much so that expecting a Mattis or McMaster to do what falls outside their purview is perhaps a bit too much.
.. My own little list of “society’s offenders” consists largely of the self-described gaggle of neoconservative foreign-policy “experts.” Unfortunately, the neocons have proven to be particularly resilient in spite of repeated claims that their end was nigh, most recently after the election of Donald Trump last November. Yet as most of the policies the neocons have historically espoused are indistinguishable from what the White House is currently trying to sell, one might well wake up one morning and imagine that it is 2003 and George W. Bush is still president.
.. Number one on my little list is Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley
.. Haley is firmly in the neocon camp, receiving praise from Senators like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and from the Murdoch media as well as in the opinion pages of National Review and The Weekly Standard. Her speechwriter is Jessica Gavora, who is the wife of the leading neoconservative journalist Jonah Goldberg.
.. As governor of South Carolina, Haley became identified as an unquestioning supporter of Israel. She signed into law a bill to restrict the activities of the nonviolent pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the first legislation of its kind on a state level.
.. In February, she blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to a diplomatic position at the United Nations because he is a Palestinian. In a congressional hearing this past week, she was asked about the decision: “Is it this administration’s position that support for Israel and support for the appointment of a well-qualified individual of Palestinian nationality to an appointment at the UN are mutually exclusive?” Haley responded yes, that the administration is “supporting Israel” by blocking any Palestinian from any senior UN position because Palestine is not recognized by Washington as an independent state
.. Regarding Ukraine, Haley has taken an extreme position that guarantees Russian hostility. In February, she addressed the UN Security Council regarding the Crimean conflict, which she appears not to understand very well. She warned that sanctions against Russia would not be lifted until Moscow returned control over the peninsula to Kiev.
.. So Haley very much comes across as the neoconservatives’ dream ambassador to the United Nations–full of aggression, a staunch supporter of Israel, and assertive of Washington’s preemptive right to set standards for the rest of the world.
.. Donald Trump really wants to drain the Washington swamp and reduce interference in other nations, he might well continue that program by firing Nikki Haley. He could then appoint someone as UN ambassador who actually believes that the United States has to deal with other countries respectfully, not by constant bullying and threats.
This week, two of Donald Trump’s top advisers, H. R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, wrote the following passage in The Wall Street Journal: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a cleareyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”
That sentence is the epitome of the Trump project. It asserts that selfishness is the sole driver of human affairs. It grows out of a worldview that life is a competitive struggle for gain. It implies that cooperative communities are hypocritical covers for the selfish jockeying underneath.
.. This essay explains why Trump gravitates toward leaders like Vladimir Putin, the Saudi princes and various global strongmen: They share his core worldview that life is nakedly a selfish struggle for money and dominance.
.. It explains why people in the Trump White House are so savage to one another. Far from being a band of brothers, their world is a vicious arena where staffers compete for advantage.
.. In this worldview, morality has nothing to do with anything. Altruism, trust, cooperation and virtue are unaffordable luxuries in the struggle of all against all. Everything is about self-interest.
.. People are wired to cooperate. Far from being a flimsy thing, the desire for cooperation is the primary human evolutionary advantage we have over the other animals.
.. You don’t have to teach a child about what fairness is; they already know. There’s no society on earth where people are admired for running away in battle or for lying to their friends.
.. Jonathan Haidt has studied the surges of elevation we feel when we see somebody performing a selfless action.
.. Good leaders like Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt and Reagan understand the selfish elements that drive human behavior, but they have another foot in the realm of the moral motivations. They seek to inspire faithfulness by showing good character. They try to motivate action by pointing toward great ideals.
.. By behaving with naked selfishness toward others, they poison the common realm and they force others to behave with naked selfishness toward them.
.. By treating the world simply as an arena for competitive advantage, Trump, McMaster and Cohn sever relationships, destroy reciprocity, erode trust and eviscerate the sense of sympathy, friendship and loyalty that all nations need when times get tough.
.. By looking at nothing but immediate material interest, Trump, McMaster and Cohn turn America into a nation that affronts everybody else’s moral emotions. They make our country seem disgusting in the eyes of the world.
.. I wish H. R. McMaster was a better student of Thucydides. He’d know that the Athenians adopted the same amoral tone he embraces: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” The Athenians ended up making endless enemies and destroying their own empire.
In 1898, as you point out, the United States burst from being a continental empire, if you want to call it that, within North America to taking territory overseas for the first time in those countries that you mentioned. This was a huge turning point for the United States, and everybody that studies American history is aware of this episode.
.. As for Andrew Carnegie, he was a great believer in the principles of America. And in his famous article denouncing American expansion, he wrote, with what face shall we hang in the school houses of the Philippines our own Declaration of Independence and yet deny independence to them? The United States paid $20 million to Spain to buy the Philippines.
Andrew Carnegie offered to pay the U.S. Treasury $20 million to buy the Philippines so he could set the Philippines free and give them independence.
.. Teddy Roosevelt definitely believed that war was the only condition of life that was worth living, that peace was only for (unintelligible) jellyfish who had no place in the great American nation.
He wanted to go out and fight. Even when he sent his sons to fight in World War I, he wrote that he hoped they’d come back missing a few limbs. The business factor was also huge back in 1898 and has continued to be.
.. We’ve twisted ourselves into pretzel-like shapes over many years trying to explain what is Puerto Rico and what is Guam compared to the United States? And we do this because we can’t use the word colony. We can’t call them colonies, so they have to be dependencies, territories, commonwealth, free-associated state. We’ve gone through a whole vocabulary – a whole lexicon of vocabulary in order to get through this difficult minefield.
They wanted to restore Spain, the Spain of old, a Spain where the dominant institutions were the large estates in the countryside, no more of this nonsense of land reform. There would be no trappings of democracy, no free trade union. The army would remain – would reign supreme.
It would be a military dictatorship, and education would be handed back to the Catholic Church. And you can actually see photographs of bishops and cardinals giving the fascist salute alongside nationalist officers. So it was a pretty stark difference between what two kinds of Spain these two sides wanted.
.. GROSS: You said that Franco’s war was against modernity.
HOCHSCHILD: Absolutely. I mean, he also talked about regaining the Spanish Empire of old. But of course, it was always very foggy how that would happen because the former Spanish colonies in South America, for example, had been independent for hundreds of years. So exactly how the empire was to be regained wasn’t clear, but he certainly had the idea of an empire on his mind.
.. he also talked about regaining the Spanish Empire of old. But of course, it was always very foggy how that would happen because the former Spanish colonies in South America, for example, had been independent for hundreds of years. So exactly how the empire was to be regained wasn’t clear, but he certainly had the idea of an empire on his mind.
And in fact, after Franco and his nationalists won the war, he bargained with Hitler about whether he was going to actually join the Axis in World War II – finally decided not to because Hitler wouldn’t give him everything he wanted, which were a huge swath of British and French colonies in Africa and a slice of France. So he was definitely somebody who want0ed to expand his power.
.. One of the most interesting characters that you write about in this book is the head of Texaco oil, Torkild Rieber. He was the head during the Spanish Civil War, and he supported the fascist cause, the military coup in Spain. And he made a deal with Franco’s regime. What was the deal?
.. He not only did that but he gave them the oil at a big discount, which, as far as we can tell, he never told Texaco shareholders or even his board of directors about. And he violated American law in a couple of ways because U.S. neutrality legislation was pretty strict
.. And this information was passed on to the Nationalists to help submarine captains and bomber pilots look for targets. Twenty-nine oil tankers heading for the Spanish Republic were destroyed, damaged or captured during the war. And in at least one or two cases, we can specifically tie it to information supplied by Texaco. So the United States might be neutral, but Texaco had gone to war.
.. GROSS: Wow, Texaco was acting – because of Rieber – was acting like a spy.
HOCHSCHILD: Absolutely, absolutely. I don’t know of any parallel where a private corporation has supplied a vast amount of intelligence information to a warring government secretly.
.. many of the principle weapons that the Nazis used during World War II had their first trial in combat in Spain – the Messerschmitt 109 fighter plane for example, the Stuka dive bomber, the 88 millimeter artillery piece, which could be used both for antiaircraft purposes and also shelling on the ground. And American soldiers were the victims of these things in Spain, American volunteers.
So this war was really a testing ground for Hitler. And he learned a great deal from it about the strengths and weaknesses of these different weapons.
.. a woman named Virginia Cowles, who was 26 years old when she arrived in Spain, never been to college.
.. What makes her reporting so good, I think, is that she’s one of the very few people who reported from both sides in the war.
She reported from the Republican side. Then she set her sights on being able to get into Nationalist Spain, which was very difficult, especially for a journalist who had written from the Republic. But she managed it, traveled all over the place, was the first foreign correspondent in Nationalist Spain to be able to quote Nationalist officers admitting that they had bombed Guernica – because this was something that Franco and Hitler were strenuously denying.
.. if President Franklin Roosevelt had agreed to sell arms to the Democratic side in Spain, that maybe the Democratic side would’ve won.
Spain would not have become a fascist country. Hitler wouldn’t have been victorious in Spain because Hitler was aligned with the fascist side in Spain. And maybe he would have thought twice before invading so many other countries, and he wouldn’t have had all the military experience that the Spanish Civil War provided for his troops and the tests that it gave to his new bombers and artillery.
So do you think it’s possible that if the U.S. had been willing to sell arms to Spain, that World War II wouldn’t have happened? Or it wouldn’t have happened in the same way that it did?
HOCHSCHILD: I don’t think World War II wouldn’t have happened because Hitler was determined to conquer the world, especially Eastern Europe, the Balkan and Caspian oil fields. This is what he had his eye on. And I think a setback in Spain would not have deterred him from that. But I still think it could’ve made a difference if the Spanish Republic had won because during World War II, Franco was sort of a de facto ally for Hitler.