Tarqi Ali is a well known "anti-imperialist" British political commentator. Although Tarqi Ali is not a United States citizen, that didn't stop him from campaigning in the 2016 US presidential election, and because he is well known, and in certain quarters, well regarded, his campaigning was very beneficial to Donald Trump. In the runup to the US presidential election, Tarqi Ali argued that American voters should vote for Jill Stein or not vote at all. He even argued that with regards to US foreign military aggression, Trump was the lesser evil of the two contenders. Since this was a message directed at progressives, not Trump supporters, it had the effect of suppressing the vote for Hillary Clinton. As we have shown earlier, the vote for Jill Stein in just three states made the difference between President Trump and President Clinton. This headline, which Google finds about 147 times, meaning the piece was widely republished, makes his basic argument:
Tariq Ali considers the US election campaign and asks, is Trump
isany worse than Clinton? Is this a case of electing the lesser of two evils, or is there another option?
Below are some excerpts I have transcribed in chronological order from this 12th of October pre-election performance, together with my comments:
People in different parts of the world increasingly feel that it will make no difference who is elected president of the United States as far as the world is concerned.Unfortunately, it already appears that it is going to make a great deal of difference to people in many parts of the world that Donald Trump has been elected president of the US, and far from being indifferent to America's choice, they are scratching their heads in horror at it, a choice Ali encouraged.
What is annoying about the campaign is the way Trump has been completely demonized,This is rich! Remember the emails? Classified material on a private server! Oh the horror! Somehow, that and getting an early look at the debate questions seems like small potatoes now.
There were certainly strong undertones of racism from the Clintons when Obama was running for the presidencyWhile Tarqi Ali did acknowledge that Trump is "bigoted" towards Latinos, the way Nixon was towards African Americans (implying Trump isn't??), he never mentions the worldwide alt-right white nationalist movement that Trump is a part of, as is Putin and Le Pen, or his ties to Breitbart and the white supremacist leaders that he has since brought into the White House.
Politicians assume that the people have lost their memories. They think people no longer remember what was done.This one is choice, given the context, because I certainly haven't lost mine. The whole point of this post is to remind everyone how Tarqi Ali shilled for Trump before 8 November, now that he has a new act and has brought it to Democracy Now.
Finally we get to his pitch of Trump as the lesser evil:
On the two key issues, NAFTA and war, whether we like it or not, Trump has got a slightly different position. On NAFTA, he says that under him they're going to get rid of it, and on wars he is saying he is less of a warmonger than Hillary is, and he's attacked the American military establishment, not by name but by saying these military maneuvers carried out on the Russia borders is a provocation. Well, that is something these days when the entire western media is screaming that the rogue in Eastern Europe and the periphery is Putin.Facts are stubborn things, Tarqi. Putin is the rogue in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and also Syria. That is why the entire non-Putin press says so. As for Trump's alleged strong points, NAFTA and war, we are still in the adolescence of his presidency and we can already see how wrong Ali was. Trump has announced that NAFTA can stay "for now." As for war, we already have a lot more war, with increased activity, and new troop deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, and the use of new and more powerful weapons; With the promise of a lot more to come, with Trump's saber rattling and posturing all over the globe, especially with regards to Iran and North Korea. Clearly he wants war badly, and needs the diversion given his domestic troubles, and I'm afraid we shall soon have it. This recent piece from Military.com is a sign of the times:
And now back to Ali:
New Details on Surprise Deployment as More Soldiers Head to War
29 Mar 2017
U.S. soldiers board a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Hamam al-Alil, Iraq, Feb. 22, 2017. (U.S. Army photo/Jason Hull)
by Matthew Cox
Amid additional announcements of Army troop deployments, the Pentagon on Wednesday released new details behind the recent surprise deployment of about 200 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division to Iraq. More...
If Hillary Clinton is elected it will be business as usual...If Trump is elected, well, we don't know what he's going to do, whether he will pull back American troops from different parts of the world, as he has promised, whether he will break the NAFTA agreements with neighboring countries. He could easily carry on in the same old way.Or he could be much worst. That was foremost in the minds of those who voted for the lesser evil. Most knew Hillary Clinton meant "business as usual." They weren't stupid. They thought that would be better than Trump, and they were right. Right now "business as usual," meaning the past eight years, doesn't seem that bad, and I fear we ain't seen nothing yet, because it's going to prove very difficult to get these fools out of power now. The tragedy is that Trump almost certainly could have been defeated had the "Left" led by people like Ali et al, made defeating him a priority, which they didn't.
Every time there is an election in the United States the argument comes up who is the lesser evil? It's the politics of lesser-evilism that dominate American politics. I understand that in a way because people don't want the worst candidate to win, but they always forget that in voting for the candidate that you think the lesser evil doesn't quite workout that way.People don't want the worst candidate to win. There is good reason for that. They don't just throw away their vote because their perfect candidate isn't running, or can't win. Smart people, I'd say. Most people, anyway.
The lesser evil is actually not that different from the other evil, the worst evil, and it's exactly the same in the current situation. There is no way in which Hillary [Clinton] could be defined as being better or more progressive than Trump, on most fundamental issues. I mean Obama himself started deporting illegal migrants from the United States, more than Bush had done. Hillary would have probably carried on that way.I agree, Clinton (Does Ali refer to her mainly by her first name because she is a woman?) would have been as bad as Obama on illegal immigration, but Trump is much, much worst. For someone that doesn't even live in the United States, Trump's immigration policies might appear "not that different," but for millions of Dreamers and other law abiding undocumented workers in the US that now feel threatened with summary deportation at any moment, it makes a world of difference. Tarqi Ali's concern for the plight of these people is not that different from his concern for the Syrian people, which is slight.
I'm opposed to the lesser evil argument. I think if you don't agree with either candidate, you don't vote for them. If there's someone in the election, one of the minority candidates, you vote for them if you agree with them, otherwise how are things to move forward? I, myself, if I were I an American citizen, would be voting for Jill Stein.Tarqi Ali thought that progressives should vote in a "principled" way that made them feel good, if only until the election results came in, and leave the decision as to who would actually serve as Commander-in-Chief to more backwards voters. This is the result.
You keep coming back to the question: Are either of these two candidates safe? In my opinion they're not, so better to vote for the candidate you agree with, or not bother to vote at all.The Trump presidency is barely past the hundred day mark and already it is clear that it is the most dangerous presidency in living memory. No doubt, Hillary Clinton was the safest choice, but as we have seen, just enough progressives followed Tarqi Ali's advice to make the Trump presidency something the world must now survive, because, across the board, this white nationalist regime is putting it in greater jeopardy.
This data is from Politico [updated 22 Nov. 2016 - PA updated 2 Dec from http://www.electionreturns.pa.gov/ ] shows how Jill Stein voters made the difference:
|Candidate||Count||%||Michigan ||Wisconsin ||Pennsylvania |
A week after Trump won, Tarqi Ali proclaimed "The End of Manufactured Consent," saying:
One moment of truth in all those enraged people who vote for Trump is that they nonetheless saw clearly that this traditional machine of manufacturing consent no longer works. To put it in slightly bombastic and exaggerated Marxist terms, the ruling ideology uses, mobilizes certain machinery to keep people in check. To control the excesses and so on. That machinery no longer works.If the Trump victory showed anything it was that the racial delusions that bind many a European American worker to the most reactionary elements of the bourgeoisie still work quite well. Ignoring that, he heralded the death of the party that now effectively controls all three branches of the US government:
Trump nonetheless, if you are a leftist you should admire him sincerely, he almost singlehandedly destroyed the Republican party.It's not destroyed yet, and under Trump's leadership it is becoming more reactionary than it ever was.
Tarqi Ali was on Democracy Now on Wednesday. Probably the first time since the election, which didn't mean we were going to hear anything self-critical of his earlier position. As with most of those in the "Never Hillary" camp, he isn't interested in looking back and learning anything, or openly celebrating his victory, so after Amy Goodman plays a clip of Trump in Bethlehem, they said:
AMY GOODMAN: That’s President Trump. Tariq Ali, your response?Wrong Tarqi. It's not business as usual! That's what you rejected with Hillary Clinton. She was the lesser of the two evils. This is much worst! Some of us saw this coming, and opposed Trump's power grab before the election. Everyone wasn't a bit surprised that Trump has turned out to be a bigger warmonger and a much greater evil than Barack Obama was, or Hillary Clinton would have been. Were you being naive or disingenuous in expecting The Donald to fulfill his promises? Also some of us don't find it at all entertaining to see a well known white nationalist like Steve Bannon inside the White House and so close to the president that he goes on foreign trips with him. Nor are we entertained by the presences of Stephen Miller, the white supremacist that wrote both Trump's Muslim ban and his Saudi speech, or the whole Putin connected white nationalist cabal that you helped to win state power.
TARIQ ALI: Well, the response is fairly straightforward, Amy, that innocents are being killed by United States policies in different parts of the world. There are seven wars going on at the moment. Trump had promised to change course, as we all know, and everyone was a bit surprised, but he’s now returned to the normal behavior of an American president. He bombed Syria. He has made friends with Saudi Arabia. It was very entertaining to see Steve Bannon, one of his advisers, you know, trapped in a collection of Arab princes and Arab diplomats in Saudi Arabia. So, it’s business as usual.
But since you were such a strong Jill Stein supporter, perhaps you can help us answer this enduring mystery: Looking at the picture below, we see two Americans dining with Russian President Vladimir Putin and friends. Both of these Americans represented US presidential candidates Putin supported. One had absolutely no chance of winning. That was Jill Stein and she represented herself. Although she had no chance of winning, Putin supported her candidacy strongly through RT.com and other media outlets he has control or influence over like Democracy Now, because she would take away votes from the candidate Putin was backing to win. Like Julian Assange, who played frontman for the Russian hacks, and made a video appearance at this event, Donald Trump couldn't make a personal appearance either. Instead we have Mike Flynn, who was there representing the Trump campaign. We now know that one of these Americans was paid big bucks to sit at this table. That was Mike Flynn. Tarqi Ali, since you were such an active Jill Stein supporter, I'm hoping you can help us find out if she was paid, and if so how much? You see, I'm wondering if I can add a charge of sexual discrimination in the payment of foreign agents to the long list of crimes I already demonize Putin for.
Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!