by Danny Haiphong
The carnage in Orlando is blowback from U.S.-backed jihadist wars, yet Hillary Clinton, a key player in U.S. sponsorship of jihadists, seeks to profit politically from the horror. So does Donald Trump. “The fear that blowback unleashes has historically given the ruling class breathing room to further its anti-worker, pro-capital agenda.” Blowback is a right-wing wind, and “always ‘trumps’ the material interests of poor and working people in the US.”
Blowback Just in Time to Shape US Imperialism's Presidential Elections
by Danny Haiphong
“The Democratic Party has continued its desperate attempt to push those afraid of Trump toward the Clinton agenda of endless warfare and domestic surveillance.”
Fifty were shot dead and fifty plus more wounded at a night club in Orlando on June 11th. The nightclub, known to the community as an LGBTQ space, became the most gruesome example of US imperialist blowback to date. ISIS dubiously took credit for the shooting after word spread about the attacker's religious and national roots. Of course, blowback has never opened the eyes of Americans in a progressive direction. The majority of Americans were not informed that US intelligence has been linked to both the perpetrator and his father. What the incident will provide is a political climate of fear perfect for a tumultuous Presidential election season.
First on the order of the day for the ruling class is the elimination of Bernie Sanders from Democratic Party candidacy. With the Democratic National Convention approaching in July and Trump already having sealed the Republican Party nomination, the Orlando tragedy will be exploited endlessly for the political ends of the electoral machine.
The Clinton camp has already begun to use this moment of mass vulnerability to point the finger at Donald Trump. His overt racism, homophobia, and misogyny have been blamed for the murders. Clinton has, predictably, failed to offer real solutions to mass shootings other than appeals to gun control. The Democratic Party has continued its desperate attempt to push those afraid of Trump toward the Clinton agenda of endless warfare and domestic surveillance. Clinton’s handlers have framed her as the only force in the universe that can keep the American people safe from terrorism and bigotry.
“Trump's brand has made him wildly popular with disaffected, white Americans who have lost the industrial jobs and government supports that provided the material basis of its hatred toward oppressed races of people.”
Presidential elections are about brand, not truth. Voters are persuaded to identity with one of two corporate parties and look away as the candidates do their best to court real power players in Wall Street and the military state. Trump's brand has made him wildly popular with disaffected, white Americans who have lost the industrial jobs and government supports that provided the material basis of its hatred toward oppressed races of people. Trump has given this section of White America new life, stroking its diseased racist mind while appealing to real economic grievances.
Trump has commented on the shooting in Orlando as an "I told you so moment,” blaming "radical Islamic terrorism" for the attack. While such a position will make supporters happy, his message will have to change if he is serious about being the next Commander-in-Chief. Muslims and Latinos make up a significant portion of the electorate. Alienating them ensures a Clinton victory. Trump will have to rely on low voter turnout to win the Presidency unless his brand regarding the shooting can attract a wider base.
The shooting hurts Sanders the most, as it leaves zero room for him to strengthen his brand. His policy proposals will be temporarily suspended as a matter of national security. National security always "trumps" the material interests of poor and working people in the US. Healthcare, education, and job concerns are what propelled Trump and Sanders into the national spotlight. However, the fear that blowback unleashes has historically given the ruling class breathing room to further its anti-worker, pro-capital agenda. This includes the suppression of leftist politics, whether they emanate from the domestic agenda of Bernie Sanders or the foreign policy remarks of Donald Trump.
“Terrorism is a creation of US imperialism and it continues to come home in the form of blowback.”
A cornerstone of leftist thought and action is critical inquiry into the forces that shape material reality. When a mass shooting or so-called terrorist attack occurs, its causes should be fully investigated by the grassroots. The US government is adamantly opposed to such genuine inquiry. It has suppressed twenty right pages of the federal investigation into 9/11 and placed the so-called "Boston Bomber" in the hands of a Kangaroo court to be silenced and removed from public eye. Osama Bin-Laden was assassinated before given the opportunity to testify before international law. The US imperial state suppresses genuine inquiry into blowback incidents because they reveal the immense sickness that is US imperialism.
This case is no different. Not only was the shooter a mercenary for the corporately contracted security G4S, but he was also raised by a Taliban-aligned father who hosts a major Afghan television show. His father, Siddique Mateen, emigrated from Afghanistan in the 1980s at the same time that the CIA was training jihadist foot soldiers in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union. These foot soldiers, called the Mujahadeen, went on to form the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Terrorism is a creation of US imperialism and it continues to come home in the form of blowback.
“The Middle East and North Africa have become havens for terrorism precisely because of US foreign policy.”
Given US imperialism's endless drone strikes and campaigns of destabilization, blowback should come as no surprise. The US has destroyed Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya in a little over a decade. Syria has been decimated from five years of US-sponsored jihadist proxy war. The Middle East and North Africa have become havens for terrorism precisely because of US foreign policy. This is the root cause of terrorism that will surely be buried under the weight of imperial lies for the duration of the election cycle.
In Huey Newton's letter to gay liberation movement, he calls on the Black Panther Party to unite against sexual oppression. Sexual oppression acted then as a barrier to building a strong and united movement against the American empire. It still does. However, the fight against sexual oppression must also be a fight against empire, white supremacy, and the rule of capital. These interlocked forces set the stage for sexual oppression and terrorism to thrive. The consequence is blowback, and it has come just in time for the ruling class to consolidate the rule of Empire in this election cycle.
Danny Haiphong is an Asian activist and political analyst in the Boston area. He can be reached at [email protected]