With only weeks remaining before Election Day, both major candidates have resorted to tabloid-style campaigns that focus on Trump’s well-known crude misogyny and former president Bill Clinton’s sex scandals as main points. These cheap political tactics have served to divert attention from the elephant in the room: the escalation of the United States’ drive for war amid a deepening social crisis at home.
While Trump’s campaign has taken a more openly fascistic turn, Clinton has managed to attack him from the right, claiming Trump is the preferred candidate of Moscow and cannot be trusted to defend the interests of the U.S. corporate establishment. The Clinton campaign has alleged, without evidence, that the Democratic National Committee hack of several months ago was carried out by Russia in order to install Trump as the next president. During an August speech to the American Legion — a military veterans association — Clinton declared that as president she will “treat cyberattacks just like any other attack,” and “will be ready with serious political, economic and military responses.”
These statements are in line with recommendations from leading geostrategic policy think tanks on the need to prepare for a military confrontation with Russia or China. The Atlantic Council, for instance, bemoans that, after 15 years of the war on terror, U.S. Army personnel “have not been psychologically hardened by personal experience for the grim task of fighting through heavy losses.” Its report calls for the Army to be able “to grow by several orders of magnitude” to address a range of issues such as a nuclear conflict or domestic dispute.
Growing U.S.-Russian tensions over Syria, along with continuing protests against police killings in the U.S., highlight the significance of the Atlantic Council’s report. Discussion of these policies, however, has been carefully avoided during the presidential campaign. Masses of students and young people are concerned about the danger of war, even if the full scope of preparations is being hidden. Last month, as part of the application to establish a chapter of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality at NYU, I was able to secure 200 signatures in one afternoon in support of the founding of an anti-war club on campus. Many of the students who signed expressed their disgust with the past 15 years of uninterrupted war, and were angered by preparations for even bigger conflicts.
These anti-war views, however, find absolutely no expression within the main election choices, since both of the candidates have actively campaigned for U.S. interventionism. The IYSSE endorses the candidates of the Socialist Equality Party, Jerry White and Niles Niemuth, as the only principled opposition to the growing danger of world war. I urge students to make plans to attend our anti-war conference, “Socialism vs. Capitalism and War,” in Detroit on Nov. 5, and to join me in building our chapter of the IYSSE at NYU.
Isaac Oseas is a member of the NYU chapter of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality. Contact him at [email protected]