The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 Tom Engelhardt ArchiveBlogview
Alfred McCoy: Would-Be Strongmen Worldwide
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments

Whatever the relations may or may not have been between Donald Trump and his crew and Vladimir Putin and his crew, here’s one thing that the two presidents do not have in common: popularity. According to polls, Putin’s approval rating was at 82% late last year. In his 17-year reign, he’s never fallen below the 60% mark, and when his figures did drop modestly, his military-first projection of Russian power in the Crimea and then Syria turned things around. Trump, on the other hand, barely squeaked to victory last November without even winning the popular vote — you remember all those undocumented aliens, millions of them, who snuck into the polling booths! — and his approval rating recently hit a distinctly non-Putinesque 36% in a Gallup poll, a figure unique for American presidents in their “honeymoon” periods and below all-time lows for, among others, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Dwight Eisenhower, and even Gerald Ford.

And if we’re talking about the rest of the global roster of right-wing populists TomDispatch regular Alfred McCoy focuses on today, things don’t look much better for The Donald. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, for instance, who has loosed his country’s police in a brutal killing campaign that’s littered Filipino urban landscapes with the bodies of thousands of drug pushers and users, stood at an 83% approval rating in January, down from his September 2016 high of 86%. Unfortunately for Trump, in the wake of the recent Obamacare fiasco, there’s no obvious way to recover domestically, no less soar to the heights presently reached by the Russian and Philippine strongmen. He does, however, have at his command something that neither Putin, Duterte, or any other populist figure can call upon: a military unparalleled on the planet — and don’t for a second think that, if things continue going this badly, it won’t cross his mind that creating his own “Crimea” might have certain plusses, that “bombing the shit” out of distant enemies (rather than murdering pushers at home) might perk up those polling figures a bit. Taking out enemies, as McCoy makes clear, is an eternally popular way for such politicians to make their mark. The only problem: if the U.S. military is unparalleled in its destructive power in these years, it’s also had an unparalleled inability to bring any conflict it enters to a positive conclusion or, as Trump puts it, to start “winning wars again.”

ORDER IT NOW

It’s a record that would worry any populist looking for advantage and it’s part of a larger historical record, now including the election of Donald J. Trump, which should bring the word “decline” (as in the decline and fall of…) to all our lips. Alfred McCoy has had that very word on his mind for a while. His timely new Dispatch Book, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, will be published this fall at a moment when all of this may seem far more obvious. In the meantime, on our increasingly fragmented, seemingly degrading planet, he does something you don’t often see and groups the whole crew of global populists of our moment in one place to consider just what we should make of their rise — and our potential fall.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
    []
  1. In his 17-year reign, he’s never fallen below the 60% mark, and when his figures did drop modestly, his military-first projection of Russian power in the Crimea and then Syria turned things around.

    What is this lunatic talking about?

    Military-first? There was a vote. The Russian military was in Crimea becasue they have a base there under long-term agreement with Ukraine.

    The Crimeans voted by a gigantic majority to go back to Russia, where they had been for 300 years. There was no military-first. There was no need for, call for or anything having to do with Russian power.

    As for Syria? A request for military help was made by the legal government of Syria.

    So, Tom? You are a warmongering fake news hysterical looney bird now? I thought you were once a liberal.

    What happened to you?

    You are calling Trump a strongman but where is the strongman stuff? The answer is that there is none and hasn’t been any. You are calling Putin a strongman. But where is the strongman stuff?

    I really don’t get it, Tom. I took a glance at the McCoy article you are introducing here and it seems to be about the idea that Trump might one day be a “dangerous” strong man or a “populist.”

    You know? Once upon a time, liberals thought populists were a good thing. That’s because populists were a good thing. Hell, Sanders is a populist.

    What is this scare hysteria bullshit? Populists can be good. We don’t know at this point how Trump will do. So why the negative stuff? Where is all of this nonsense comng from?

    Read More
    • Replies: @JL

    There was no need for, call for or anything having to do with Russian power.
     
    Well, that's not completely true, it's just that said power was used very adroitly and without the loss of life. Otherwise, I agree completely, this article was surprisingly stupid for an UR publication. It's interesting to see among the liberals who the more rational ones are and who just can't see past what they think they are supposed to think about DJT.
    , @Mao Cheng Ji

    So, Tom? You are a warmongering fake news hysterical looney bird now?
     
    He sure sounds like it. And it's not just his maniacal drivel about Crimea, it's the implied assumption that Putin's popularity is somehow tainting him.

    And that appears to be typical liberal sentiment: only those adored by 'intellectuals' and hated by the unwashed masses are worthy politicians. Sad! - as our current populist president would put it...

    ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc.
    AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
    These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
    Sharing Comment via Twitter
    /tengelhardt/alfred-mccoy-would-be-strongmen-worldwide/#comment-1822074
    More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
  2. JL says:
    @restless94110

    In his 17-year reign, he’s never fallen below the 60% mark, and when his figures did drop modestly, his military-first projection of Russian power in the Crimea and then Syria turned things around.
     
    What is this lunatic talking about?

    Military-first? There was a vote. The Russian military was in Crimea becasue they have a base there under long-term agreement with Ukraine.

    The Crimeans voted by a gigantic majority to go back to Russia, where they had been for 300 years. There was no military-first. There was no need for, call for or anything having to do with Russian power.

    As for Syria? A request for military help was made by the legal government of Syria.

    So, Tom? You are a warmongering fake news hysterical looney bird now? I thought you were once a liberal.

    What happened to you?

    You are calling Trump a strongman but where is the strongman stuff? The answer is that there is none and hasn't been any. You are calling Putin a strongman. But where is the strongman stuff?

    I really don't get it, Tom. I took a glance at the McCoy article you are introducing here and it seems to be about the idea that Trump might one day be a "dangerous" strong man or a "populist."

    You know? Once upon a time, liberals thought populists were a good thing. That's because populists were a good thing. Hell, Sanders is a populist.

    What is this scare hysteria bullshit? Populists can be good. We don't know at this point how Trump will do. So why the negative stuff? Where is all of this nonsense comng from?

    There was no need for, call for or anything having to do with Russian power.

    Well, that’s not completely true, it’s just that said power was used very adroitly and without the loss of life. Otherwise, I agree completely, this article was surprisingly stupid for an UR publication. It’s interesting to see among the liberals who the more rational ones are and who just can’t see past what they think they are supposed to think about DJT.

    Read More
  3. @restless94110

    In his 17-year reign, he’s never fallen below the 60% mark, and when his figures did drop modestly, his military-first projection of Russian power in the Crimea and then Syria turned things around.
     
    What is this lunatic talking about?

    Military-first? There was a vote. The Russian military was in Crimea becasue they have a base there under long-term agreement with Ukraine.

    The Crimeans voted by a gigantic majority to go back to Russia, where they had been for 300 years. There was no military-first. There was no need for, call for or anything having to do with Russian power.

    As for Syria? A request for military help was made by the legal government of Syria.

    So, Tom? You are a warmongering fake news hysterical looney bird now? I thought you were once a liberal.

    What happened to you?

    You are calling Trump a strongman but where is the strongman stuff? The answer is that there is none and hasn't been any. You are calling Putin a strongman. But where is the strongman stuff?

    I really don't get it, Tom. I took a glance at the McCoy article you are introducing here and it seems to be about the idea that Trump might one day be a "dangerous" strong man or a "populist."

    You know? Once upon a time, liberals thought populists were a good thing. That's because populists were a good thing. Hell, Sanders is a populist.

    What is this scare hysteria bullshit? Populists can be good. We don't know at this point how Trump will do. So why the negative stuff? Where is all of this nonsense comng from?

    So, Tom? You are a warmongering fake news hysterical looney bird now?

    He sure sounds like it. And it’s not just his maniacal drivel about Crimea, it’s the implied assumption that Putin’s popularity is somehow tainting him.

    And that appears to be typical liberal sentiment: only those adored by ‘intellectuals’ and hated by the unwashed masses are worthy politicians. Sad! – as our current populist president would put it…

    Read More
  4. Tom and his writers are still arguing about Nixon and Pinochet with their dads over the dinner table. The whole world is an extrapolation from that,

    Trump’s numbers reflect an electorate split right down the middle between nationalism vs. globalism, urban vs. rural, professional class/knowledge worker vs. mid-management/blue collar, etc. By contrast, Russia is for the Russians, the Philippines are for the Philipinos, and their heads of state know it and act it. America is said to be an ideal, a Proposition nation, except there’s no consensus on what the Proposition is, and we don’t revoke your American card if you don’t hew to it, whatever it is.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "By contrast, Russia is for the Russians, the Philippines are for the Philipinos, and their heads of state know it and act it."

    America is for Americans, not White people, as you are trying to allude to.

    "America is said to be an ideal, a Proposition nation, except there’s no consensus on what the Proposition is, and we don’t revoke your American card if you don’t hew to it, whatever it is."

    The threads of the Declaration of Independence, Alexis de Tocqueville, Emma Lazarus, James Truslow Adams and weave the cloth of solidarity behind those ideals.
  5. Corvinus says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic
    Tom and his writers are still arguing about Nixon and Pinochet with their dads over the dinner table. The whole world is an extrapolation from that,

    Trump's numbers reflect an electorate split right down the middle between nationalism vs. globalism, urban vs. rural, professional class/knowledge worker vs. mid-management/blue collar, etc. By contrast, Russia is for the Russians, the Philippines are for the Philipinos, and their heads of state know it and act it. America is said to be an ideal, a Proposition nation, except there's no consensus on what the Proposition is, and we don't revoke your American card if you don't hew to it, whatever it is.

    “By contrast, Russia is for the Russians, the Philippines are for the Philipinos, and their heads of state know it and act it.”

    America is for Americans, not White people, as you are trying to allude to.

    “America is said to be an ideal, a Proposition nation, except there’s no consensus on what the Proposition is, and we don’t revoke your American card if you don’t hew to it, whatever it is.”

    The threads of the Declaration of Independence, Alexis de Tocqueville, Emma Lazarus, James Truslow Adams and weave the cloth of solidarity behind those ideals.

    Read More
    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
    De Tocqueville called us the Anglo-Americans.

    So what's an "American," now that we're freed from the bigoted, restrictive definitions of dead white males like de Tocqueville?

    And again, if somebody disagrees with the "The New Colossus" Article Zero of the US Constitution, do we revoke their American card? What about if they believe equality of opportunity is just a cishetero-patriarchal scheme to oppress People Of Color--still Americans?
  6. @Corvinus
    "By contrast, Russia is for the Russians, the Philippines are for the Philipinos, and their heads of state know it and act it."

    America is for Americans, not White people, as you are trying to allude to.

    "America is said to be an ideal, a Proposition nation, except there’s no consensus on what the Proposition is, and we don’t revoke your American card if you don’t hew to it, whatever it is."

    The threads of the Declaration of Independence, Alexis de Tocqueville, Emma Lazarus, James Truslow Adams and weave the cloth of solidarity behind those ideals.

    De Tocqueville called us the Anglo-Americans.

    So what’s an “American,” now that we’re freed from the bigoted, restrictive definitions of dead white males like de Tocqueville?

    And again, if somebody disagrees with the “The New Colossus” Article Zero of the US Constitution, do we revoke their American card? What about if they believe equality of opportunity is just a cishetero-patriarchal scheme to oppress People Of Color–still Americans?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "De Tocqueville called us the Anglo-Americans."

    In the context of the times. Times change. The values he espoused are universal to all people--for starters, the maintenance of orderly conduct and good morals in the community and the influence of individual character upon our political and social institutions.

    "So what’s an “American,” now that we’re freed from the bigoted, restrictive definitions of dead white males like de Tocqueville?"

    An American runs the gamut racially, ethnically, and religiously, who have certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    "And again, if somebody disagrees with the “The New Colossus” Article Zero of the US Constitution, do we revoke their American card?"

    De Tocqueville believed a vibrant religious life was essential to the preservation and prosperity of our representative democracy, a counterweight to materialism. Clearly, religious litmus tests for entry into America runs clearly counter to our overarching ideals.

    "What about if they believe equality of opportunity is just a cishetero-patriarchal scheme to oppress People Of Color–still Americans?"

    You're speaking like Sylvester the Cat here. If you are going to spit all over your computer screen, please provide me a hanky.
  7. Corvinus says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic
    De Tocqueville called us the Anglo-Americans.

    So what's an "American," now that we're freed from the bigoted, restrictive definitions of dead white males like de Tocqueville?

    And again, if somebody disagrees with the "The New Colossus" Article Zero of the US Constitution, do we revoke their American card? What about if they believe equality of opportunity is just a cishetero-patriarchal scheme to oppress People Of Color--still Americans?

    “De Tocqueville called us the Anglo-Americans.”

    In the context of the times. Times change. The values he espoused are universal to all people–for starters, the maintenance of orderly conduct and good morals in the community and the influence of individual character upon our political and social institutions.

    “So what’s an “American,” now that we’re freed from the bigoted, restrictive definitions of dead white males like de Tocqueville?”

    An American runs the gamut racially, ethnically, and religiously, who have certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    “And again, if somebody disagrees with the “The New Colossus” Article Zero of the US Constitution, do we revoke their American card?”

    De Tocqueville believed a vibrant religious life was essential to the preservation and prosperity of our representative democracy, a counterweight to materialism. Clearly, religious litmus tests for entry into America runs clearly counter to our overarching ideals.

    “What about if they believe equality of opportunity is just a cishetero-patriarchal scheme to oppress People Of Color–still Americans?”

    You’re speaking like Sylvester the Cat here. If you are going to spit all over your computer screen, please provide me a hanky.

    Read More
  8. anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    Polls? What polls? The ones that told us Trump had no chance and that Clinton was a sure thing? Apparently there’s more going on than what those rigged “polls” claim to tell us.

    “bombing the shit” out of distant enemies (rather than murdering pushers at home) might perk up those polling figures a bit.

    Hasn’t the US already been doing this for quite a long time since, say, the Spanish-American war? Which American president hasn’t bombed some foreigners? It’s all been about the polls?

    the U.S. military is unparalleled in its destructive power in these years, it’s also had an unparalleled inability to bring any conflict it enters to a positive conclusion

    The conflicts were all determined by civilian political leadership, most of whom could be described as chickenhawks. Assign the military to poorly thought out projects and get poor results. The chickenhawks aren’t populists at all but went to high priced schools such as Harvard. Populism is bad because the population is too stupid to understand what is good for it unlike those who went to Harvard and who bring us to the brink of nuclear war. Or something like that.

    Read More
Current Commenter says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Tom Engelhardt Comments via RSS
Personal Classics
Eight Exceptional(ly Dumb) American Achievements of the Twenty-First Century
How the Security State’s Mania for Secrecy Will Create You
Delusional Thinking in the Age of the Single Superpower