Category: Donald Trump
US War for “Peace” in Syria
worker | May 26, 2021 | 9:08 pm | Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Syria | Comments closed

US War for “Peace” in Syria

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© Sputnik / Mikhail Alaeddin

Starting in 2011, the civil conflict in Syria spiralled out of control after the US and its allies intervened, wreaking havoc in the once prosperous country.

2021 marks the tenth year of the war in Syria – the US-backed civil conflict which crippled and very nearly destroyed what was once an oasis of secularism, ethnic diversity and interfaith peace in the Middle East. In addition to destabilising the region, the war has contributed heavily to the refugee crisis facing many European countries.

On the war’s 10th anniversary, Sputnik has put together an infographic which gives a full break-down of the war’s deadly consequences: civilian casualties – including children; how many have been forced to flee as refugees and internally displaced persons; the destruction of infrastructure, housing and industry, and more. Data is based on figures researched by Russian scholars specialising in the Middle East and US foreign policy.

The United States spent billions of dollars on a secret CIA war against the Middle Eastern nation, providing thousands of tonnes of arms, training and financial support to militias in a programme known as ‘Timber Sycamore’. As the war continued, independent investigations by US media began to reveal that the ‘rebels’ who received the aid were often directly linked to jihadist extremists including Daesh (ISIS)* and al-Qaeda.* The Trump administration reportedly curtailed the programme in mid-2017, but continued to pressure Damascus through sanctions and the occupation of wide swathes of Syria’s territory. The Biden administration has so far publicly continued Trump-era policy on Syria.

A decade on from the war’s start, the Syrian Army has managed to consolidate control over much of its territory, and, with help from its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies, succeeded in crushing the terrorists. Now, as Damascus rebuilds from war and negotiates peace, it is facing what may be its toughest challenge yet – finding a way to regain territories occupied by the United States and its allies, Turkish-backed militias and jihadist remnants. Today, the war is also being waged on the diplomatic front, with Syria continuing to insist that Washington and its European allies lift their crushing and illegal sanctions against the war-torn nation.

Check out Sputnik’s infograpics to learn more.

* Terrorist groups outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

Trump hotel chain to take over ‘Putin’s Palace’ – ex-US president plans glitzy, gold-themed resort on Russia’s sunny south coast
worker | April 2, 2021 | 6:58 pm | Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin | Comments closed

Trump hotel chain to take over ‘Putin’s Palace’ – ex-US president plans glitzy, gold-themed resort on Russia’s sunny south coast

Trump hotel chain to take over ‘Putin’s Palace’ – ex-US president plans glitzy, gold-themed resort on Russia’s sunny south coast
With champagne on tap, sweeping Black Sea views and even an underwater disco, ‘Trump Palace Gelendzhik’ could become the hottest ticket in town for Russia’s glamor-loving partygoers – once construction work is finally completed.

For years, American media have suggested that former US president Donald Trump has dreamed of owning a hotel in Russia. Numerous reports outlined a previous plan that would have seen the former occupant of the Oval Office running his own project in Moscow.

However, it now seems that Trump’s first Russian venture could be taking place in warmer climes, with balmy Krasnodar Region singled out as his destination of choice.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘It would be improper’: Kremlin refuses to name owner of ‘Putin’s Palace’ after Russian president denies it belongs to himLocal sources now suggest Trump is preparing to make an offer for an opulent property that has caught his eye. Located near the well-known Gelendzhik resort city, the sprawling estate features more than 50 rooms and extensive gardens. There is even space for an 18-hole golf course. Once dubbed ‘Putin’s Palace’ online, the owner of the coastal pile eventually turned out to be Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg.

However, a deal is far from finalized, and the one-time statesman is said to be playing hardball with prices, after being disappointed with an initial online viewing. A local real estate agent, who asked to remain anonymous, said Trump’s expectations were far too high. “It was strange,” the source told RT, “for some reason, Trump seemed to think there would be a ready-made playboy palace here. He couldn’t understand why it was still a building site. He was even talking about taking over the property on April 1, which is far too soon.”

That said, the draw of the world’s largest country might prove too strong for the bombastic former president to turn down. He has reportedly fallen in love with Russia’s favorable tax rates and comparative political stability, after a tumultuous few years in his homeland.

A series of CGI renderings of such high quality that many have mistaken them for photographs, have previously been shared by Trump’s hotel chain with outlets like US-state run RFERL and the Moscow Times. They showcase how Trump Palace Gelendzhik will offer guests the chance to party the night away in an aquatic disco, swim in a crystal-clear pool, and recline with a shisha pipe in the private lounge. A pole will even be installed to allow guests quick access from the floor above.

Trump could not be immediately reached for comment, with his spokesman explaining that after his plans to travel to Gelendzhik on April 1 were canceled, he now plans to spend the day playing golf with Jack Nicklaus and Chuck Norris at his Florida resort.

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Flyin’ Ted Cruz; The Most Egregious Example of Texas Mendacity
worker | February 18, 2021 | 7:17 pm | Donald Trump, Local/State | Comments closed

Flyin’ Ted Cruz: The Most Egregious Example of Texas Mendacity

by James Thompson

Definitions: Egregious means guilty. Mendacity means lying. Flyin’ Ted Cruz is a reference to Trump’s name for him: “Lyin’ Ted Cruz”. Sycophant means parasite.

HOUSTON-A scandalous story is emerging based on the egregious behavior of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Amazingly, Texans have routinely voted for this filthy maggot. Today, it has been revealed that Cruz flew to Cancun, Mexico to live the high life while his constituents starved and froze to death in brutal, uncompassionate Texas. When caught, this reprehensible scum of a human being immediately blamed his innocent daughters. He defended himself by saying that his daughters were off from school and wanted a vacation, so he flew them to Cancun in an act of fatherly love.

Is it possible to be more disgusting in an attempt to cover up one’s own egregious behavior by blaming your innocent daughters? Does anyone really believe this Trump sycophant?

If anyone really believes him, how do you justify this mendacity?

Let’s assume that his daughters demanded that their father takes him to Cancun to bask in the pleasures of wealth and privilege. How does Cruz justify his decision? Of course, he has been anti-immigrant and supported Trump lockstep on this issue. Couldn’t he have picked a better venue to celebrate his wealth and privilege? Couldn’t he have gone to a capitalist pleasure destination such as Las Vegas or Key West? Couldn’t he have instructed his innocent daughters on the virtue of charity? Couldn’t he have insisted that his innocent daughters join the front line against freezing to death, poverty, starvation, homelessness, and other societal injustices made possible by the unbridled concentration of wealth among the 1%?

Interestingly, Flyin’ Ted Cruz said in an interview that Texans opposed Texas being part of the National energy grid (which would have saved them from freezing to death) because it meant lower energy bills. How can you, Ted Cruz, presume to know what working Texans want since you are a member of the wealthy elite and are sworn to represent the interests of the wealthy elite? Do you really think that working Texans prefer to freeze to death so that the wealthy elite don’t have to pay higher energy rates?

Working Texans unite, you have nothing to lose but your lives!

Were the Capitol riots really a new milestone in ‘fascism?’
worker | January 25, 2021 | 7:53 pm | Donald Trump, Fascist terrorism | Comments closed

Were the Capitol riots really a new milestone in ‘fascism?’

MARYAM PASHALI analyses the historic trends behind the storming of the US Capitol and argues that labels of ‘fascism’ provide an easy scapegoat for the leading capitalist ‘democracy’ and its centuries of fostering white supremacy

FASCISM is back — or is it? “The threat of fascism persists,” “This is what fascism looks like,” “Fascism has made a comeback.” These are the emotive soundbites we have been hearing since the 2016 US presidential election and these voices have been amplified by the recent riots at the Capitol.

The trauma of the second world war has ensured that in many ways, there is no word scarier to us than “fascism.” But the US is not a fascist country — it is a capitalist liberal democracy with a strong history of white supremacy.

The events at Capitol represent a culmination of the divisions inherent in this concoction of bourgeois ideologies, rather than full-scale fascism.

Fascism is an undemanding snarl word, but applied to the Capitol riots, it becomes a scapegoating term, divorcing them from their genuine political ideology into an easily dismissible enemy, which is also implied to be foreign, alien, unnatural to the society wherein it has managed to flourish.

It becomes someone else’s individual problem — and a choice; to quote Nancy Pelosi: “The protesters chose their whiteness over democracy.” As if one’s race is inevitably tied to their ideology and political actions, as if the white observer is individually responsible for continuously choosing one constructed, ephemeral identity over another.

It is an obvious truth that when political and social issues pile up unsolved and produce an anxious crisis, people find themselves drawn to political extremism of varying colours. The right wing in the US has successfully tapped into the current anxieties to produce a quasi-religious and apocalyptic vision of a new Manifest Destiny — the idea dating back to 1845 that the US is destined by God to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism.

It has promised its adherents a meaningful life and place in history, a new idea and memory of an “American” nation — and it has invented a millenarian lore best observable in the cultish QAnon movement.

Perhaps this can be traced back to what historian Jeffrey Roche calls “cowboy conservatism,” a post-war movement focused on individual freedom from both state and federal governments, belief in capitalist enterprise and celebration of what was seen as the racial tradition of the US.

The myth of the Wild West, dominated by violence and free of government interference, as the birthplace of the “American spirit” has provided a basis for right-wing extremism. The Old Frontier was defined by gunslingers and settlers who forcibly removed the Native and Hispanic population and who answered to no government.

This fantasy of freedom and capitalist prosperity is precisely of what the modern right-wing extremists dream. The right to encroach and dominate the land and to protect the traditional communal politics is God-given. And Trump has successfully tapped into this very familiar and beloved evangelical belief by abundantly using religious terms in his speeches — far more than any US president in the last 100 years.

The tradition of “taming” the West through the force of a white male hero has been successfully translated into modern terms by Trump’s following, who imagine the world — including the US — as a sort of Panopticon dominated by the evil cabal (Jews, immigrants, the Democratic Party, leftists, etc).

The evil cabal can only be held accountable and ultimately defeated by the arrival of a new type of frontier hero: a religious, economically prosperous, white and conservative man.

His mission — the new Manifest Destiny — is to take the country over the apocalyptic edge and eventually to remake and redeem the nation by ridding it of all the undesirables. While this may sound fascist to those who have not spent any considerable time studying fascism, this tradition in fact has existed well before Mussolini’s Blackshirts and Giovanni Gentile’s Manifesto brought the word “fascism” into everyday speech.

White supremacists — which the right-wing in the US tends to be — view themselves as the messiahs of this new Manifest Destiny who can protect and assert what they articulate as their inalienable right to hold the government accountable and to “drain the swamp.” And that is precisely what they did, fed by the white supremacist tradition and bolstered by their energetic political leadership.

To dismiss the Capitol rioters as indefinable, fanatical fascists is to erase their uncontested place in the history of the US’s capitalist, liberal and democratic racism. This racism has expressed itself historically through the displacement and murder of native peoples and the Manifest Destiny, through Jim Crow, through the collective Confederate memory, through the corporate funding of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), among other examples of the racist legacy — not least their brutal interventionist foreign policy, from Vietnam to Iraq.

Isolated groups of white supremacists could not have caused all this. Instead, they have successfully exploited the inequities and crises already at the very heart of the US political and social systems — and offered easy solutions to complex issues.

Fascism was not the driving rhetoric or ideology for the Capitol riots and the protesters surely did not do what they did simply because they were white and therefore “hated democracy.” Rather the action sprung from a longing for a new frame of reference, which the Trump leadership readily offered, from a sense of excitation and effectiveness of becoming the new frontier hero.

This tradition at the heart of US democracy since the civil war cannot be dismissed as ephemeral fascism. The rapture at the call for protest gave the rioters a psychological respite from the increasing feelings of isolation, chaos and the perceived decline of tradition. These are the endemic issues of bourgeois democracies built upon racist fantasies with which US citizens must reckon, instead of dreaming of the easy solution of “rooting out fascism.”

Maryam Pashali is a London-based Marxist historian —

Trump Hysteria Ends in Anti-Climax
worker | January 25, 2021 | 7:50 pm | Donald Trump | Comments closed

Trump hysteria ends in anti-climax

by Nick Wright

Under Biden, as before, we need the broadest possible class-conscious coalition against the capitalist machine that intends to march the US and the world into more war and poverty — singling out Trump as a ‘fascist’ aberration only hinders that task, writes NICK WRIGHT in the Morning Star

EARLIER this month saw Washington DC — a largely working-class black city with a suburb of the rich and powerful — filled with more US troops than are currently deployed in combat operations abroad.

Why such a concentration of military firepower when, from eyewitness accounts of the “Capitol Hill riot,” a fraction of the ferocity and firepower the police routinely use at a Black Lives Matter protest could have seen off this supposed storming of state power?

Donald Trump’s rally on January 6 with its bussed-in stage army was less Nuremberg and more fancy-dress party.

Back in the bayou his more enthusiastic followers have stocked up on K-Mart’s finest firepower but these crackers do not present a serious challenge to the coercive power of the US state.

Far from seizing the centres — symbolic or real — of state power, they were shepherded around the building by a corps of Capitol cops less energetic than the stewards at an Isthmian League football fixture.

The only instrument of state power thought worthy of capture was Nancy Pelosi’s Speaker stand.

In conventional military theory, and well-tried CIA contrivance, a successful coup depends on a simultaneous seizure of the main symbolic locations of power, centres of communications and transport and the concentration of sufficient military power to make a counter-attack a high-cost operation.

It needs competing centres of authority and potential leaders of resistance neutralised and news dissemination tightly controlled.

Even in the most shambolic of states, a coup needs decent staff work, careful planning, a modicum of secrecy and enough disciplined troops to look credible for CNN.

Trump supporters’ effort at the beginning of this month failed to meet every one of these criteria — and a question naturally occurs.

Why is the Washington political Establishment so invested in the presentation of Trump’s carnival outing as a threat to the existing order?

Britain’s own prophet of impending fascism, Paul Mason, speculated immediately after the Capitol riot, “if the militias ever turn up to an event like this — and that could be as early as the inauguration — America is looking at a serious fascist challenge for power.”

In emboldened type he argues that the far right “understand the weakness of the state machine they are up against, despite its bloated, militarised character.”

In hyperventilated hyperbole Mason then went on to argue that Trump “overtly and physically reached out to the fascist element in his base and their immediate response was to take that as permission for the most shockingly violent act.”

Mason has a book to sell but — even in his chosen marketplace for fleetingly held and indisputably daft ideas — to equate this pantomime protest as a “shockingly violent act” invites derision.

Violence is endemic to US society. Between 1999 and 2014 there were 185,718 killings by firearm and 291,571 suicides using a firearm.

In the “shockingly violent” stakes the US capital, Washington DC, itself sits only midway in the US hierarchy of homicide with a murder rate of 23.5 killings per 100,000 residents.

For comparison, the 1965 military coup in Indonesia — organised by the CIA and our own MI6 — saw something between two and three million communist supporters massacred in a few months of murder.

During the US war on Vietnam the CIA’s Phoenix assassination programme took out 81,740 people suspected of National Liberation Front membership, of whom 26,369 were killed.

It is true that the coercive forces of the US state are increasingly bloated. There are 697,195 police officers, the FBI has 35,000 employees, of which 13,233 are special agents and 3,230 intelligence analysts.

The size of the National Security Agency is a state secret but estimates put it between 30,000 and 40,000.

The size of the CIA is no less secret and while many of its staff work overseas it is estimated to directly employ over 21,000. The Department of Homeland Security employs near a quarter of a million people.

The US National Guard is 450,100-strong. While US military forces are deployed in more than 150 countries and 800 military bases around the world, just 160,000 of its 1.3 million active-duty personnel are stationed outside the US.

So why does the US political and media establishment promote the nonsensical notion that Trump’s stage army represented an existential threat to this exceedingly well defended state?

And why does Mason speculate that a serious challenge for power from fascists is possible?

Of course, the January 6 events were not simply frivolous. Rather they were an eccentric counter to the return to government by the most powerful and decisive sections of US capital that Biden’s narrow victory represents.

The 2020 presidential election brought to a head the deep structural crisis of US capitalism — desperate unemployment and poverty in the absence of an adequate social safety net — appalling health outcomes where 60 million have no health insurance while the decayed state cannot counter the Covid-19 crisis or collapsing public confidence in basic institutions and main instruments of law and public order.

The US Peace Council points out that as the basic needs of working people for economic relief from evictions, unemployment and the pandemic itself have been put on the back burner a record $740 billion military appropriation sailed through Congress with only 20 Democrats in opposition.

It argues that as a Domestic Terrorist Act is being touted in the name of combating fascism, it is in fact a lurch in the direction of an authoritarian state.

Bipartisan support for the Biden-authored Patriot Bill provides a legal veneer to abrogate the Bill of Rights, while Barack Obama himself signed away habeas corpus in 2011.

Maryam Pashali argued convincingly in this newspaper this week that the ideas that shape the US far right as a heterogeneous and contradictory force cannot be fashioned from boilerplate fascist formulae but are rooted in the racist specifics of the slave and settler state.

And US analyst Greg Godels, writing under the pen name Zoltan Zigedy, pointed out that if the four years of Trump taught us anything, it was that the rules of the game were carefully protected by long-established mechanisms of capitalist rule.

The forces that coalesced around Trump’s thwarted bid for a second presidency cannot be retrofitted into the commonplace conceptions of a fictionalised “fascism” to prettify Biden’s restoration regime.

No-one should minimise the dangers of an unchecked rise in a right-wing and racist ideology, whether it takes the peculiar US form or the more familiar forms on our continent.

Classical fascism itself was never a uniform phenomenon but, in every national case, an expression of a particular constellation of class forces and crucially dependent on the reactionary mobilisation of distinctive national narratives of nationhood and empire.

In every case where it acquired state power it was as an expression of big capital’s inability to contain the contradictions that inevitably arise within capitalism.

Capitalism is indeed in serious trouble and in both Britain and the US the failure to deal effectively with the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted just how deficient is the social system.

But the crises are not yet deep enough, the existing systems for compelling class conciliation not yet entirely compromised for big capital to invest its future in a figure like Trump.

So long as working-class interests are subordinated to the stabilisation of capitalism then chancers like Trump will find ways to aggregate the exploited and angry with reaction.

But at a point when the most pressing need is for the working class to act in its own class interests, the liberal outriders of the neoliberal order want us to outsource anti-fascist action to the capitalist state machine.

There is an urgent need to disrupt the growing constellation of right-wing racist, fascist obscurantist, anti-semitic, anti-Muslim elements that — if merged into a cohesive movement — could become a significant reserve for a desperate bourgeoisie.

Building the widest anti-racist and anti-fascist coalition is a priority — but in undercutting the fascist appeal to workers, the principal strategic objective of the left and the working-class movement must be to become the most powerful advocates for working-class interests and against the governments of big capital.

Cuba scolds US for ‘cynical & opportunistic’ inclusion on its list of state sponsors of terrorism days before Trump’s exit
worker | January 16, 2021 | 7:27 pm | Cuba, Donald Trump | Comments closed

Cuba scolds US for ‘cynical & opportunistic’ inclusion on its list of state sponsors of terrorism days before Trump’s exit

Cuba scolds US for ‘cynical & opportunistic’ inclusion on its list of state sponsors of terrorism days before Trump’s exit
The Trump administration has put Cuba back on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, the latest in a series of hawkish diplomatic steps taken just days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

The move returns Cuba to the pariah list, exposing it to a wide range of sanctions and restrictions, five years after the Obama-Biden administration thawed relations with the communist nation and eased its isolation. It also leaves another diplomatic imbroglio for the Biden administration to deal with after the new president takes office on January 20.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged that Cuba repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists. He argued that Cuba’s government should be denied the resources it uses to oppress the Cuban people, and the US needs to counter its “malign interference in Venezuela and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.”

Havana fired back at the US sanctions, denouncing them as “political opportunism.”

“We condemn the cynical and hypocritical qualification of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, announced by the United States,” Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodriguez tweeted.

ALSO ON RT.COMPompeo says US will designate Houthis as terrorist group in bid to undermine ‘Iranian interference’ in YemenThe move has also drawn criticism from the Democratic Party, with some lawmakers echoing Cuba’s own indignation over its return to the blacklist.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) slammed the decision, saying“This blatantly politicized designation makes a mockery of what had been an objective measure of foreign governments’ active support for terrorism. Nothing remotely like that exists here.” He suggested that Pompeo is deliberately aiming to “make things as difficult as possible” for Biden, who was Obama’s vice president during a thaw between the nations.

Just two days ago, Pompeo announced that he was ending all “self-imposed restrictions” on US diplomatic dealings with Taiwan, sparking condemnation from China. And on Sunday, Pompeo said the administration also plans to designate the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen as a foreign terrorist organization, effective the day before Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated.

ALSO ON RT.COMOne-China policy ‘null & void’? Trump creates diplomatic hot potato for Biden as Pompeo ends all restrictions on Taiwan relations

“American Abyss”: Fascism Historian Tim Snyder on Trump’s Coup Attempt, Impeachment & What’s Next
worker | January 14, 2021 | 7:45 pm | Donald Trump, Fascist terrorism | Comments closed

“American Abyss”: Fascism Historian Tim Snyder on Trump’s Coup Attempt, Impeachment & What’s Next


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As the House votes to impeach President Trump, the FBI warns there could be a repeat of the violent insurrection he encouraged on January 6, with Trump loyalists planning to hold armed protests nationwide ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration. We speak with Timothy Snyder, a historian of fascism, who says the riot at the U.S. Capitol was “completely and utterly predictable” given President Trump’s record of stoking extremism and undermining democratic institutions. “The American republic is hanging by a thread because the president of the United States has sought to use violence to stay in power and essentially to overthrow our constitutional system,” says Snyder.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, history is being made today in Washington, D.C., as the House is voting to impeach President Trump for a second time. That’s one week after he encouraged a violent mob to “fight like hell” and attack the Capitol as members of Congress voted to ratify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in the 2020 election. The deadly siege so enraged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he’s now reportedly privately backing impeachment, along with a growing number of Republicans, including Congressmember Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking Republican in the House. On Tuesday, Vice President Pence rejected a call from the House to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump from office.

Meanwhile, several Republican lawmakers bypassed metal detectors to enter the House floor that were installed after last week’s deadly attack, including the newly elected Colorado Republican QAnon supporter, Congressmember Lauren Boebert, who vowed in a viral video to carry a gun in the Capitol.

Far from the commotion, President Trump surrounded himself with supporters during a visit to the border wall in Alamo, Texas. In his first public appearance since the violence at the Capitol, he continued to deny any involvement with or responsibility for the violent insurrection.

This comes as The Washington Post reports the FBI explicitly warned of violence and “war” at the U.S. Capitol in an internal report issued one day before last Wednesday’s deadly Capitol invasion, and police officers from Seattle to New York are under investigation for participating in storming the Capitol, along with members of the New York Fire Department and apparently seven Philadelphia transit police officers. Two Black officers who defended the Capitol during the attack confirmed to BuzzFeed News that some of the insurgents they came face to face with were off-duty cops. Others were reportedly former military servicemembers. On Tuesday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a reminder to members of the armed forces that, quote, “The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to resort to violence, sedition and insurrection,” unquote.

The FBI has opened some 170 cases on individuals involved in the assault and says hundreds more will be opened in the coming weeks. Over 70 people have been charged so far.

Now the FBI is warning Trump loyalists plan to hold armed protests nationwide ahead of Biden’s inauguration next week. Screenshots of archived content appear to show plans for mass armed actions in Washington, D.C., this weekend.

For more, we’re joined by Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University, fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, where he now joins us from. He is the author of several books, including On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. His new essay in The New York Times Magazine is headlined “The American Abyss: A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next.”

Professor Snyder, welcome back to Democracy Now! We are glad that you are physically doing well. We’ll talk about that later. But let’s talk about what happened. From your vantage point in Vienna, Austria, if you can talk about what you watched last week and why you see race at the core of this Trump-inspired insurrection?

TIMOTHY SNYDER: Right. I mean, number one, it’s kind of you, Amy, to mention the article. The reason why I could publish a big article about this part about the coup attempt right after it happened was that this was completely and utterly predictable. I already had the article drafted before the 6th of January because it was obvious to me what was going to happen. And so, I just want to underline the points you were suggesting earlier about just how strange it was that this kind of thing could happen so easily.

As to race, I mean, this is a classic historian’s point. The point I make in the article is about the big lie. You know, I say that these are the kinds of things that happen if a charismatic leader with a big megaphone, with a lot of reach, is able to consistently tell one thing which is simply not true, but which deeply matters, like, for example, I won an election that I lost. That has to lead to violence. But as you rightly suggest, the big lie has to be rooted in a particular society. And in the United States, the big lie is going to be rooted in race. Let’s count the ways.

Number one, what Mr. Trump is saying, when he won the election, is that there was fraud. And by fraud, he means the reality that African Americans are allowed to vote. When he speaks in Milwaukee or Atlanta or Detroit, what he’s saying is Black voters, right? When he’s saying, “I won,” he’s saying, “I won if you only count the votes of the real Americans.”

Number two, think of Senator Cruz and his invocation of 1877. As every historian of the U.S. knows, and as lots of African Americans know, but maybe not everybody knows, the Compromise of 1877 is the very moment when the American South was allowed to build up a basically American apartheid. The Compromise of 1877 is what allowed American states to push African Americans away from the voting booths and into a Jim Crow condition, which was going to last for nearly a century and which we’re still dealing with today.

Number three, look at the people who actually invade the Capitol. These are — and this has not been covered enough, this has not been hit hard enough — these people are basically white supremacists. The white supremacists are leading, right? They’re leading the way, and they’re making the argument that “this is our house.” In other words, what we think is that American government should be in the hands of white people who are willing to be violent about Black people.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But, Professor Snyder, I wanted to ask you, in terms of — you characterize it more as an attempted coup than perhaps maybe insurrection, because a coup assumes that there was an actual — it seems to me, an actual plot afoot by the coup makers. And in this situation, it appears to be that Trump egged on the mob, clearly, and that it seems to me there’s always been a right-wing, fascist movement in the United States in search of a leader. I mean, if you go back to Father Coughlin in the ’30s, Huey Long, George Wallace, there’s always been a significant portion of the American population that has lent itself or seen itself in right-wing and anti-democratic terms. And now they actually have a leader in the White House. So, to what degree was this really an opportunism that Trump took advantage of to unleash the mob, as opposed to a coup, where military leaders or key officials got together to plan an overthrow?

TIMOTHY SNYDER: Yeah, I take that point. I mean, I would emphasize, Juan, that it’s important that we not get too lost in definitional disagreements about whether we’re going to say “coup” or “putsch” or “insurrection.” The American republic is hanging by a thread because the president of the United States has sought to use violence to stay in power and essentially to overthrow our constitutional system. There’s broad agreement about that.

I’ve been calling it for a coup for a long time, actually, I mean, for months, for the following reasons — or a coup attempt, to be precise, because it’s been clear for a long time, because Mr. Trump has said so himself, that he intends to stay in power after losing the election. That’s been his language for more than six months. He has been trying to bring the military into it. That was clear on June the 1st, Lafayette Square. And it’s also clear from these repeated statements, from today, the Joint Chiefs of Staff; a few days ago, the 10 former secretaries of defense. The reason why these people have to make these statements is that they’re aware that Mr. Trump is trying to get or has a certain amount of support in the military, right? So, it’s a coup attempt, in my view, because Mr. Trump has said he was going to try to change the nature of the American regime, and he’s been trying to use instruments inside American institutions.

Now, beyond that, I would point out that this wasn’t just a mob. I mean, as you know very well and as you just said, these aren’t just people who happened to be there. These are several different kinds of white supremacist and extreme right-wing paramilitaries who are appearing at the Capitol. They are getting mixed in now with members of the police. And this is extremely dangerous, because it’s that mixture of outside-the-state, outside-the-law paramilitaries and police forces, or policemen who start to go over on the other side, which is very characteristic of the way fascist regimes come to power.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I wanted to follow up specifically on that issue of the military, because, obviously, those who know the history of the rise of Hitler know that a lot of his base was embittered and disillusioned veterans of World War I who felt that they had been unjustly treated or had no economic opportunities under the Weimar Republic. The United States military today is 40% people of color. To what degree are the progressives of this country not paying enough attention to actually organizing and reaching out to the enlisted troops of our country in terms of what’s going on? Because, clearly, back in the days of the Vietnam War, it was organizing among the military that really finally convinced this government that they could no longer continue to move forward with the war.

TIMOTHY SNYDER: That’s a really interesting question. I mean, I think, looking back at the last half-century, 60 years of U.S. history, the integration of the military is one of the most significant things that happened, not just in terms of obvious justice — you know, as everyone knows, we fought the Second World War against racism with an Army which was organized by race — but not just ethically, but also politically. I mean, before even getting to the point that you’re making, I think it’s very much the case that the commanders of our armed services are perfectly aware what it means to have integrated services. It means that any kind of attempt to get involved in politics in a Trumpian way would be extremely divisive. But it also means that people in the military, perhaps more than other walks of life— or, to be specific, white people in the military, perhaps more than other walks of life, are actually in contact with, and sometimes share points of view of, folks who have different backgrounds and different experiences than themselves.

I would agree completely with your point. I mean, it’s not always easy to be in contact with people who are in the military. They could be overseas. They could be on a base. But I certainly take your point that folks on the left sometimes have a certain tendency to pigeonhole all institutions and miss some openings.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you, Professor Snyder, about who was involved in this attack. Some have called it the “Coup Klux Klan.” That’s C-O-U-P, Coup Klux Klan. And you make no apologies about referring to white supremacists leading this. Let’s talk about the military and police involvement. It’s just coming to light right now. It looked like this sort of disorderly array of people who took an opportunity last week. But now as more and more video is coming out, it may well be that the frontlines were quite well ordered, and now this latest news that the Seattle police were involved, that New York police officers were involved, that Philadelphia transit officers came down en masse, that a PSYOPS person, at least one, was involved, psychological operations. Talk about this.

TIMOTHY SNYDER: OK. Well, I mean, number one, when we talk about the coup plotters, just to make the obvious point, the most important is Donald Trump himself, who has been creating an — he’s been creating the psychological and the moral environment that makes this possible by telling a big lie in which he is a victim and people who voted for him are victims.

I think, in the second rank, we have to put Senators Cruz and Hawley. It’s extremely important that these senators decided to make of January 6th a kind of carnival of mendacity, in which they were going to exploit their official position in order to tell the big lie, in an occasion which should be formal and solemn. I think that makes them the second ranks of the plotters.

Number three, as you say, there was a good deal of organization taking place. And the Anti-Defamation League and other nongovernmental organizations were tracking this but not able to get very much of a hearing, it seems to me, from government institutions. I mean, as a spectator from a long way away, it was obvious to me, as I say, that something like this was going to happen.

I think, Amy, what follows from this is that in this interval between impeachment, which is going to now happen, and a trial, which I’m going to bet is going to happen after Biden’s 100 days, there should be something like an independent blue-ribbon commission of forensics experts, digital forensics experts, historians, national security people, lawyers and activists, who put together a beautiful and organized and fact-based report about what happened, so that three months from now when there’s a Senate vote, which I believe there will be, there will also be this document that makes it clear how people should vote, but also a document which can go down in history, because, I mean, other days in infamy, compared to this one, don’t compare. I mean, this, the January putsch, is the day in infamy which we have to get right for historical purposes. If this becomes a myth of victimhood, if this becomes, as Mr. Trump says, something we should treasure, then the country is in trouble. We need to get the facts right and the history right and the story right on this one.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Professor Snyder, where do you see the Republican Party and Donald Trump going after Biden is inaugurated? Clearly, the party had hitched its star to Trump, and now there is enormous upheaval within it in terms of the road ahead.

TIMOTHY SNYDER: Yeah, I mean, not many people think this, but, you know, I’ll go out on a limb and say it: I think it’s going to be hard for Mr. Trump to continue to reside in the United States of America. He has a lot of debt, and he’s facing — even before the 6th of January, he was facing a number of criminal charges — or, not facing directly, but being investigated for a number of criminal charges in New York. I think it’s going to be hard for him to keep his feet in the United States of America. Perhaps I’m wrong.

As for the Republican Party, I mean, my way of seeing it, as I lay out in that article, “American Abyss,” is that the largest group of Republicans are people that you could call the gamers, the ones who work the system with the gerrymandering, with the dark money, with the voter suppression, who are in favor of the, quote-unquote, “democracy” that we have in America now, the unfortunately very limited democracy we have, because they know how to work it.

Then there’s a smaller faction, which in the article I call the breakers. Those are people like Trump or Cruz or Hawley, who have understood that one could actually come to power in the United States by entirely nondemocratic means, by way of the mob, by way of throwing an election and lying about it. And I think that faction is going to be there.

Then there’s a third, still smaller group, which you could call the honorable few, the people who have positions that I might disagree with, but who believe in the rule of law and who believe in telling the truth — right? — like Kinzinger or like Cheney or like Mitt Romney.

I think the interesting thing to watch for is whether the center of power in the Republican Party now shifts from being the breakers and the gamers together to being the gamers and the honorable few together. I think that’s now likely to happen. And it would be, frankly, a very good thing for the Republican Party, because the Republican Party, by way of generations of voter suppression, has now got itself into a cul-de-sac. It’s got itself into a dead end, where what’s happening now is, honestly, the only thing which can happen. If you don’t try to win campaigns with policy, but you try to win them by gaming the system, eventually there are going to be people who say, “Hey, let’s not game the system anymore. Let’s just break the system.” And that happened in January 2021. And there’s nowhere to go from there except further down into chaos and blood. So, I think — I mean, the Republican Party is not my party, but I think this is an opportunity for them to regroup. And I hope a number of them will see it that way.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s talk about what’s going to happen in the coming days, what you expect, the word of all 50 capitals, state capitals, deeply concerned about attacks, the FBI warning about those attacks right through Inauguration Day. Then you have congressmember — as you mentioned, third in line in the House Republican leadership, Congressmember Cheney, who said, “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the President.” Many are asking why it took her so long. But then, privately, McConnell speaking with Biden and working out what would happen. Like, today he will be impeached by the House. But then a trial could determine — if they convict President Trump, they could decide the sanctions, like he can never run again for public office or for president, could end the pensions and the millions of dollars — people don’t realize former presidents get that kind of thing — but working out this bifurcation deal, where Senate will work both on approving Cabinet members but then also holding a trial, whether it goes from the leadership of McConnell to the leadership of Schumer. Can you explain what will be taking place and if you expect this time, unlike last time when Trump was impeached, that he will be convicted in the Senate?

TIMOTHY SNYDER: No, you know, you’re asking a historian. I’m just going to answer as an American who doesn’t know any more than you do, probably a lot less. I mean, my gut feeling about this is that it works very well for both Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell to have impeachment now and trial after a hundred days of Biden.

It works very well for Biden, because he’s got a hundred days of stuff that he really needs to pass, and he needs to get his appointments made as quickly as possible, especially after this terribly chaotic transition.

It works well for McConnell, because it gets Republicans out of the heat of the moment, gives them some time to think about what happened. Right now, of course, Mr. Trump is very popular. Three months of Twitter silence, he probably will be less so. Probably some other things will happen in the meantime to make him less popular.

I mean, for me, as a historian, for someone who’s concerned about facts, a very important element of this is, in three months, we could have a really good, nonpartisan, expert-based investigation of what happened in the Department of Defense, in Homeland Security, in the FBI, in police departments and on Capitol Hill that day, a report which could then be used in April, or whenever, when the trial happens, to make sure that people see, at least people of any amount of reasonability see, that what’s happening is a trial based upon the finding of fact, and not some kind of emotional, partisan exercise.

So, I can see how both sides have an interest in working it that way: impeachment now and a trial later. And yes, I think the Republicans — what I feel is that the Republican gamers, as I think of them, I think they’re shifting towards conviction. I think conviction is now a reality.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, I wanted to ask about your new book, Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary. In it, you write, “The word freedom is hypocritical when spoken by the people who create the conditions that leave us sick and powerless. If our federal government and our commercial medicine make us unhealthy, they are making us unfree.” Since we last spoke, Professor Snyder, you almost died, on New Year/Christmas Eve in 2019. If you can link what happened to you then, and describe what happened, to what we’re seeing — this was pre-pandemic — today?

TIMOTHY SNYDER: Well, I think there’s a big misunderstanding in America about what freedom is. And you can see that in the behavior and comportment of a lot of the people who stormed the Capitol. A lot of us seem to think that freedom is just about believing whatever we want to believe, even if it’s not true, and freedom is just about acting on our impulses. We don’t seem to understand that you can’t really be a free person unless there’s some factual world that you share with other people. We don’t seem to understand that you can’t really be a free person unless there are values that you can talk about out in the world.

One of the things which has been clear for a long time in the U.S., and it’s only been clearer — it’s even been clearer in the last year, is that if you deny people healthcare, you’re making them less free. If you put people in unnecessary risk and make them more subject to disease or the fear of disease, you’re making them less free. You’re also making them more vulnerable physically and mentally to various kinds of demagoguery.

So, what happened on January 6th is partly the result, I would say, of a sick country. When you look at the people who carried this out, I mean, when you have a hard look at their comportment, at their faces, at the way they carried themselves, I mean, apart from all moral judgments, you’re not looking at a healthy society there.

So, I think part of the renewal of American freedom in 2021 has to be the concept that we all have health as a human right, that Americans, people living on this territory of the United States of America, should have access to health as a human right, that health is one of the things that should come before profit. If we do that, we’ll not only feel better and be freer, we’ll recognize each other better as Americans, because we’ll be sharing in this together. So, that’s a way to bring it together. Thanks for the question.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, thanks so much, Timothy Snyder, and thank God you recovered from your appendicitis, misdiagnosed, from where you were to right here in the United States. Timothy Snyder, Yale University professor, fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, Austria, where he’s speaking to us from. He’s got the cover story of New York Times Magazine, “The American Abyss: A historian of fascism and political atrocity on Trump, the mob and what comes next.” We will link to it at

And when we come back, another record-smashing day of coronavirus in the United States. We go to Los Angeles. Stay with us.

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