By Steven MacMillan/CounterPunch: 19 August, 2016
Out of all the individuals in the political sphere today, no one stirs controversy and divides opinion more than Donald Trump. For months now, Trump’s flamboyant personality and demagogic rhetoric has dominated the media landscape, turning the presidential race into the biggest entertainment event of the year. Hailed as the saviour of America by some, and as a train wreck waiting to happen by others; Trump still remains somewhat of an enigma.
There is no doubt that his straight-talking style has resonated with many Americans who are tired of career politicians more concerned with political correctness than confronting real issues. Many Americans are also encouraged by some of Trump’s stances on certain issues – including his comments on improving relations with Russia, and his seeming opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – yet his constant flip-flopping on issues makes it impossible to decipher what his actual policies will be if elected.
Trump’s chances are emboldened by the fact that his major competitor in the race is so hated by every thinking person in the world, that many Americans may support Trump purely as the lesser of two evils. With Hillary at the helm, the American people know exactly what they are going to get: more war, more corruption and more policies that will only benefit special interests.
Trump: The Anti-Establishment Candidate?
Trump supporters are often very vocal in their belief that the real estate magnate is an anti-establishment outsider. In many of his speeches and comments, Trump plays up to this (probably carefully constructed) persona. Judging by the nature of people advising the presidential candidate however, Trump’s anti-establishment populism looks anything but genuine.
In addition to the establishment heavyweights Trump has already met with – including the former US Secretary of State and member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Henry Kissinger, and the former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and current head of the CFR, Richard Hass – Trump’s official advisory teams on both foreign and economic policy reveal some troublesome connections to the neocons, Wall Street, Soros and the CFR.
A Foreign Policy Ran by Blackwater and the Neocons
Trump’s official foreign policy team includes a minimum of two neocons, with Joseph E. Schmitz the clear winner of the award for the worst foreign policy adviser in Trump’s selection. Schmitz, a lawyer by trade, is the former Inspector General of the Department of Defense in addition to being a former executive at none other than Blackwater Worldwide. Blackwater, which rebranded itself as Academi in 2011 due to its atrocious reputation (similar to what Jabhat Al-Nusra just done), is the notorious military contractor that has been involved in various controversies.
It is probably most infamous for the horrific incident in 2007, when Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians and injured a further 20 after opening fire at a traffic junction in Baghdad. Other Blackwater enterprises include making a fortune of pretending to fight the booming opium trade in Afghanistan (which so ‘curiously’ skyrocketed following the US-led invasion of the country in 2001), in addition to fighting alongside the Western-backed terrorists in Syria who are trying to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad.
Schmitz is also connected to the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a neocon think tank whose publications fuel the anti-Islamic hysteria that is so prevalent in the US today. As Professor Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research has documented, CSP is an organization that has received funding by corporate powers who are promoting Islamophobia in America. CSP is also reportedly financed by numerous giants of the military-industrial complex, including Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.
Economic Advisers Connected to Wall Street, Soros and the CFR
At the beginning of August, Trump officially announced his economic advisory council. Considering that Trump has criticised Hillary Clinton for her overt Wall Street connections, you would think that Trump would pick a council devoid of any Wall Street titans. Well think again; Trump’s economic team is largely comprised of bankers, hedge fund managers and Wall Street insiders, who do not in any way represent the interests of the average American voter.
Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s National Finance Chairman and a major economic adviser, could not be more in bed with Wall Street and the establishment. Mnuchin is a former partner at Goldman Sachs, spending a total of 17 years at the financial powerhouse, according to Bloomberg. In addition to working for Goldman for close to two decades, Mnuchin also worked at Soros Fund Management, a firm founded by the billionaire and regime change extraordinaire, George Soros.
Another prominent economic adviser to Trump is John Paulson, the billionaire and hedge fund manager who founded Paulson & Co in 1994. Paulson, who formerly worked at Bear Stearns, is famous for shorting the housing market in the run up to the financial crisis of 2007-08, earning approximately $4 billion from the trade. The billionaire is also a member of the CFR, in addition to previously backing Mitt Romney in his failed 2012 presidential bid.
In addition to Mnuchin and Paulson, Trump’s economic advisers include Stephen Feinberg, the CEO of the private investment firm, Cerberus Capital Management; Stephen Calk, the founder of the Federal Savings Bank who has previously worked for Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp and Bank of America; and Wilbur Ross, the billionaire who spent 25 years running Rothschild Inc’s bankruptcy practice. Trump has also reshuffled his campaign team recently, appointing Stephen Bannon, a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs, as his new campaign CEO.
It is clear that Clinton is the pick of the establishment, which explains the largely negative coverage of Trump in the mainstream media. But considering the nature of the advisers surrounding Trump, the establishment has pulled its usual trick of ensuring that it controls both major candidates in the presidential race.
Steven MacMillan is a freelance writer and editor of The Analyst Report.