Ron Radosh

With His 'Code Pink'-Worthy Iraq War Stance, Is Donald Trump a Leftist in Disguise?

Donald Trump claims to be a Republican and a conservative, so there is something fishy happening when the far left praises him.

Huffington Post political director Sam Stein writes that he had emailed Medea Benjamin, the founder and head of the leftist “antiwar” group Code Pink, to ask her what she thought of Trump’s performance in the Republican debate, and that Benjamin replied:

Trump has gone farther than even Bernie Sanders. It was great!

Stein reports that Benjamin also wrote the following in her email:

It felt surreal to hear Donald Trump, the leading Republican contender for President, saying what we at CODEPINK have been shouting to the winds for 14 years now: that Bush and his cronies lied about WMDs, that the Iraq war was catastrophic, and that Bush never “kept us safe” because 9/11 happened on his watch.

On that issue, she would award him, she told Stein, “A Pink Badge of Courage.”

The leftist writer Glenn Greenwald tweeted:

What Trump just said was easily one of the most scathing denunciations of Bush & GOP on Iraq of any major presidential candidate ever.

The leftist former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who wanted to impeach Bush for going into Iraq, also hoped that Trump’s words would produce:

… a critical inquiry of why we went there, why we stayed, and why even those who voted against the war continued to fund it while saying they opposed it.

At liberal online publication Slate, writer Jim Newell praised Trump for criticizing the use of  “robust military action,” as well as for attacking Senator Lindsey Graham and President George W. Bush. Newell writes:

Bless Donald Trump, for he did each of these things in Saturday night’s South Carolina debate and was booed heavily — almost without interruption — for minutes.

Finally, at the left’s flagship print publication The Nation, columnist D.D. Guttenplan writes:

The Republican Party’s continuing failure to come up with a consensus alternative to the Greatest Shill on Earth hasn’t just made Trump the prohibitive favorite in the South Carolina primary on February 20. It has also given a television audience who wouldn’t believe Bernie Sanders if he told them the earth rotates around the sun repeated exposure to the notion that the Republican party is the tool of “lobbyists and special interests,” Jeb Bush is their creature, George W. Bush “lied us into war in Iraq,” Ted Cruz is an even bigger liar, while corporate America has stashed “$2.5 trillion offshore.” And by the way, Planned Parenthood does “wonderful things having to do with women’s health.”

After Saturday’s debate, the left discovered that they have a lot in common with The Donald.

They agree with him that not only was the Iraq war wrong, but that George W. Bush and his administration knew in advance that there were no WMDs in Iraq and lied about it.

Trump went even further in his Bush bashing, implying that Bush was somehow responsible for the al-Qaeda attack on The World Trade Center on 9/11 because he was president when it came down.

With those remarks, Trump crossed the line into the world of far-left conspiracy theory. He is essentially repeating the left’s “antiwar” refrain: “Bush lied. People died.”

As Trump put it:

They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none, And they knew there were none. … How did [Bush] keep us safe when the World Trade Center … came down … during [his] reign. He kept us safe? That’s not safe.

On the far right, Buchananite paleo-conservatives agree with the left and with Trump. In The American Conservative, columnist Daniel Larison argues that not only did Bush not keep the U.S. safe, as Trump has claimed, but that he and his administration ignored all warnings about an attack by al-Qaeda. As for lying about the presence of WMDs in Iraq, Larison writes:

This is obvious. It is what most of us have been saying for more than a decade in one form or another, and it’s true. There is no question that the administration distorted and misrepresented what they knew about Iraq’s weapons programs, and they treated as certain claims that were anything but that.

Are these arguments against Bush 43 correct? I refer you to an essential column by David Horowitz titled “Jeb Bush is Right About Iraq.” Horowitz takes on Republicans and conservatives who have accepted the Democrats’ narrative about the war in Iraq, and who “have joined them in obscuring the facts of the war and taking the wrong lessons from it.”

Horowitz notes that the primary reason for going into Iraq was not that it was thought there were WMDs there — a result of faulty intelligence that Democrats and Republicans both accepted as accurate:

[I]t was about 17 UN Resolutions that the Iraq regime had defied in violation of the Gulf War Truce, and that were designed to prevent Saddam from building weapons of mass destruction, which he had already shown his determination to do.

Saddam Hussein, Horowitz notes, had defied a Security Resolution that expired on December 7, 2002, and that gave no option except going to war to overturn his oppressive regime. Both political parties, Democrats and Republicans, supported the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution.

If Trump really wants to place blame for 9/11, perhaps he should point to Bill Clinton, who missed the chance to take out Osama Bin Laden and nip al-Qaeda in the bud before it began to grow. Someone should send Trump the video The Path to 9/11, the uncensored version of an ABC television production written and produced by Cyrus Nowrasteh. The five-hour miniseries revealed the ways in which Bill Clinton failed to prevent the Islamic terrorists from succeeding.

The powerful Clinton machine was most likely the group that exerted pressure to leave out parts related to the Clinton years filmed for the telecast, and to not allow the public to buy and watch the uncensored DVD. The Wikipedia entry on Nowrasteh’s docudrama reveals the following:

On May 13, 2012, the CBS news show 60 Minutes had as its guest, former CIA officer Hank Crumpton who confirmed that, in the late ’90s, CIA advisors and Afghan agents on-the-ground were prepared to take out Osama Bin Laden but could not get the green light from President Bill Clinton. The depiction of this scene in The Path to 9/11 was labeled by Clinton, at the time, as a “complete fabrication” and led to Disney/ABC … editing the miniseries [to leave this out.] A 2012 piece was written at the noted conservative website Big Hollywood claiming that this interview vindicated [the] scene edited [out] from the television broadcast.

Of course, we know that the Bush administration did not handle Iraq correctly after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Its disbanding of the Baathist army, the failure to restore order, and the collapse of authority were disastrous. It was not until Bush changed course, fired Donald Rumsfeld, and ordered the surge that the country was stabilized and al-Qaeda routed.

Trump does not seem to realize that it was Barack Obama’s decision to leave Iraq without a status of forces agreement and his withdrawal of U.S. troops that produced a setback — as well as the rise of ISIS.

Should Donald Trump win the GOP nomination and Hillary the Democratic one, many of Sanders’ supporters may turn to Trump, joining working and middle class Americans who have lost their jobs and way of life. There are many reasons for the widespread support of Trump (Charles Murray and Walter Russell Mead explain the roots of his support very well). It will be unfortunate if Republicans nominate as their candidate for president a man closer to the far left and the Democratic Party than he is to any conservative or Republican.