The American Government is compromised. The Trump regime is under the sway of a superpower whose interests do not align with those of the American citizenry, or indeed, most of the people on earth. This global actor has spent years pursuing its agenda by pumping the world’s media with lies; and in doing so has eroded the very foundations of liberal democracy. Every day, it commits human rights abuses on a colossal scale with impunity.
The evidence that it has corrupted the US administration is now beyond dispute. As well as giving millions of dollars in overt and covert assistance to the Republican election campaign, and having a clear influence on foreign and domestic policy, this power has financial ties with the very highest levels of The White House. With grotesque revelations breaking the news every day, it can be easy to forget the outrageous connections we’ve known about all along. For example, the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Rex Tillerson, was the Chief Executive Officer of Exxon-Mobil.
Who did you think I was talking about?
Those sneaky Russians? What a quaint and archaic idea. This is the 21st century, baby. When it comes to global economic powers, nation-states barely make the league table. Exxon Mobil has more revenue than the entire Russian government. In concert with other fossil fuel corporations, it has parastised the Republican Party and this week blew up the Paris climate agreements, which was possibly the last, best hope for the survival of a great number of people. The only red menace we should be worried can be seen on any map of projected global temperatures.
Oh sure, the Russian Government tried to influence last year’s election, as governments often do. The US wrote the book on it. According to Carnegie University research, they interfered with at least 81 foreign presidential elections between 1946-2000. (That’s not including all the fascist coups America backed to dispose of democracies altogether, from Chile to Iran.)
And, as always, there are business links between the shills and oligarchs in government and the shills and oligarchs outside of it, including those abroad. Mobsters, like opposites, attract.
But what these grand corruptions all have in common are corporate bottom lines. Behind every great junta there’s a great banana company, and behind most of this ruski-yankee hanky panky lurks good old-fashioned oil interests.
The private sector is by definition undemocratic, but holds unprecedented influence over our democratic institutions through marketing, lobbying and court-sanctioned bribery. The most powerful companies are still fossil fuel companies: five of the world’s ten richest businesses exist to extract and burn carbon. And even as climate change kills 400,000 innocent people a year, and is on track to kill 700,000 a year by 2030, their power shows no sign of waning.
In 2013, the fossil fuel industry played a critical role in ousting Australia’s minority Labor government and made the island nation the first on earth to ever repeal a carbon tax. It has spread the lie of climate scepticism, just as tobacco companies spread the lie that smoking is safe – the only difference is that this time, the death toll will be orders of magnitude larger. In 2016 it was largely responsible for foisting the inept and capricious Trump regime on the world and remains the driving factor behind of most the administration’s most odious and inscrutable policies.
Take last week’s $110 billion dollar arms deal with the House of Saud, an institution from which a significant portion of the world’s Jihadist fanaticism springs. That sticky poison trickles out in the form of extreme Wahabist propaganda, capital, and, indeed, arms; then pools in geopolitical wounds to feed abscesses like Daesh. There’s nothing new about the irony of the US unwittingly arming its foes. The Viet Minh and Mujahadeen inevitably turned on their Imperial patron to become the Viet Kong and Taliban, and each devastated American ambitions with American weapons for a decade. But never has the cycle been so short. As the rhetoric around destroying ISIS rises to Wagnerian crescendo, the West continues to fund it.
This is not to say that any of this is being done on purpose. As comforting as it would be to believe, there’s no global cabal conspiring to keep us in perpetual war – just unimaginative lobbyists doing their jobs and compounding system failures with multiple feedback loops. But let’s not pretend that the Trump administration will reduce terrorism when they’re not even working to cause it less. And what do they get for providing the equipment to execute queer people, slaughter Yemeni civilians and sponsor the other side of the so-called war on terror? Sweet, expedient oil, the burning of which will plausibly cause more violence than the bullets it was swapped for.
If I worked for the fossil fuel industry, I would be legally obliged to use every resource at my disposal to advocate for the interests of my shareholders. The lives of strangers on the precipices of the swelling Pacific Ocean or yawning North-African deserts would simply be outside my remit. And if I quit, someone else would step into my place – perhaps at slightly higher pay, if enough people boycotted working for the industry that further incentives were required. Malice is not a prerequisite to harm.
The Paris Accord was far from perfect (though better than activists had expected) and the Trump withdrawal may not have been fatal, given that if his government remained in negotiations it would have been in the role of a saboteur. But in the twentieth year since the US and Australia’s refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol, it’s difficult to think that the further delay of unilateral action could possibly be helpful.
Even the increasingly PR savy Exxon-Mobil has claimed to be critical of the move, drenching their scaly snouts with tears. Meanwhile, because of their and their rival’s core business operations, oceans gnaw at island shores. It’s not a coincidence that the Republican administration does not believe in anthropogenic global warming. They have been placed and paid to advocate against the interests of the earth.
Fossil fuel corporations have prevented action on climate change because no self-perpetuating system can countenance its own destruction. We have reached a point where the continued existence of these companies and the continued existence of millions of human lives are mutually incompatible. Either these organisations are dismantled or people will die on a genocidal scale. There are no other options left.