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Behind the “Deep State Coup” Against Mike Flynn

Richard Greeman
February 21, 2017

by Richard Greeman

WAS THE FORCED resignation of Trump’s National Security Advisor, General Mike Flynn, evidence of an attempted “coup” by the Deep State, as Glenn Greenwald and many anti-imperialists claim?

According to the “coup” conspiracy theory, the intelligence community wants to put the U.S. and Russia on a collision course leading to World War III, but thankfully world peace will be saved by collaboration between Trump and Putin, the heroes of this fable. This imaginary scenario was likely concocted by experienced Russian propaganda services under the orders of former KGB operative Putin, and it is being propagated by Western leftists whose justifiable hatred of U.S. imperialism turns them into “one-way anti-imperialists,” victims of the Cold War fallacy that “the enemies of our enemies are friends.”

The reality is that within today’s U.S. government there is an internal conflict between two of our enemies: an incompetent, far-right, ideology-driven Trump White House (Flynn was known as an off-the-wall Islamophobe), and an “intelligence community” made up of sophisticated professional imperialist spies, assassins and coup-makers. The Trump gang represents nationalist crony capitalism and it is ready to make “deals” with similar regimes from Putin to the murderous Duterte (Trump’s personal favorite) in the Philippines. The CIA represents the established Washington consensus based on neo-liberal globalization (capitalist internationalism). The “coup” theory is based on warmed-up, leftover Cold-War propaganda depicting Russia as the party of “peaceful coexistence.”

During the Cold War, Russia at least pretended to be “communist,” and many leftists courageously but naively rose to defend it against U.S. imperialism. But today, under Putin, Russia is a reactionary, nationalist, antisemitic, mafia-capitalist dictatorship which has abolished all the social benefits once provided by the Soviet regime -- retaining only the Stalinist repressive apparatus.

In case you have any doubts, consider this: Putin has long demonstrated his support for the election of Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France and of proto-fascist parties in Austria, the Netherlands and elsewhere. It is normal that Putin’s Russia did its best to get Trump elected (just as the U.S. interferes with elections, as in Ukraine), and that together they will try to make “deals.” Birds of a feather flock together. All these birds are vultures.

Today, we live in a multi-imperialist world, where the rivalries (and opportunistic alliances) between nationalist crony-capitalist states are superseding the domination of international capital regulated by the IMF, WTF, World Bank and various multinational treaties like NAFTA. This post-1989 New World Order, once known on the left as “empire,” is crumbling. In today’s New World Disorder, permanent world war is a daily reality in places like the Middle East and Ukraine, where multiple rival imperialisms, regional and supranational intervene in local conflicts.

All of these capitalist-imperialist states (and proto-states like Isis) are the enemies of the global 99 percent, they are the enemies of women and of human rights. They are all racists who repress their internal minority groups. They are all state terrorists who massacre civilians.

Misguided leftist who propagate self-contradictory conspiracy theories to support Russia and its allies are what the Stalinists used to call “useful idiots.” In the name of one-sided anti-imperialism, they defend bloody dictatorships and ignore the simple truths of human rights and solidarity among the 99 percemnt. The ideology of one-way anti-imperialism provoked splits in the movements against the Vietnam and later the war in Iraq. Let us not allow this ideology to divert our anti-Trump resistance at a crucial and promising moment when previously-divided social movements are spontaneously uniting: for example in defense of Muslim immigrants, the most vulnerable among us.

NOW FOR THE GOOD news. The internal struggle between Trump and the “intelligence community” is not evidence of a coup but the sign of a much-welcome split within the ruling classes, a disunity that reveals their weaknesses and reflects the growing strength of the popular anti-Trump movement. This split offers us new opportunities: for example, we can now be seen and heard in the media. A similar split among the rulers opened up back in the 1960s, under the pressure of our civil rights/black liberation, anti-Vietnam-war, and student movements, which magnified our strength.

More good news. Today’s self-organized resistance movement has at long last succeeded in uniting women, blacks, minorities, low-wage workers, LGBT folks, and others, on the old Wobbly principle that “an injury to one is an injury to all.” The “Not Our President” network also has allies within the federal bureaucracy and among local Democrats (but not in the neo-liberal party leadership). Wherever it may lead (or fall apart, or be repressed) it is already historical.

So let’s keep our eyes on the prize and not get caught up paranoid plots. It is not our job to defend one right-wing dictator against another but to unite with the global 99 percent against them all.

Richard Greeman is a veteran socialist scholar and activist, best known for his translations and studies of Victor Serge (1890-1947), the Franco-Russian writer and revolutionary. Greeman divides his time between New York and Montpellier, France.