Monday, 15 May 2017

The US State Is Coming For Trump

Hour after hour, there was an unprecedented assault on Donald Trump, in the US weekend political shows.  I remember the media coverage, and the way the Nixon administration gradually fell apart as a result of the uncovering of the Watergate scandal, but not even that compared with what was seen at the weekend, and this is only the start.

For three solid hours on CNN, first Inside Politics, then The State of The Union, followed by Fareed Zakaria, Trump's administration was eviscerated, and and the mauling continued with NBC's Meet The Press.  But, this was not just a matter of the media ripping the insides out of the Trump White House, that could be and is explained by Trump as simply "fake news" perpetrated by a hostile liberal media establishment, this was former, and recent senior members of the US Intelligence and Security establishment coming out to say that Trump is a threat.

They are not as yet declaring Trump to be a traitor, as a result of collusion with a foreign power, i.e. Putin's Russia, but they were coming close to it.  More than one commented that Trump's actions, on several occasions, have already been such that in previous times, they would have provoked impeachment proceedings.  But, to hear a former head of one of these agencies come out and to declare that Trump is a danger to the constitution is unheard of.

The sacking of FBI head James Comey seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back as far as the US permanent state apparatus is concerned.  Over the last 120 days or so, of the Trump Presidency, that state has acted to constrain Trump's actions over the travel ban, and so on.  As I wrote recently, that experience of Trump, and the similar experience of Theresa May over Brexit, was probably one of the main reasons she called the election so as to fire a shot across the bows of the British permanent state apparatus.  But, these authoritarian leaders like Trump, May, Erdogan, Putin all learn political lessons themselves about how to deal with that state.

Trump has no doubt learned from the lessons of the state acting against him to frustrate his actions, and has also learned from May and from Erdogan, to launch a strike at the head of the beast.  In this case, Trump went for the head of the FBI Comey.  In doing so, he opens up the door to appoint a replacement of his choosing, in the hope of cowing other opponents.  That is not likely to succeed, because rather as is said about killing terrorists, when one is struck down there are ten more standing waiting to take their place.  In the case of an organisation like the FBI, the CIA or the NSA their is a bureaucracy of thousands able to frustrate any political figurehead placed above them that is hostile to the organisation.

Moreover, Trump's action has only unleashed the forces of the state against him on a much wider basis.  The permanent state may be concerned at the fairly apparent links between the Trump election campaign, and subsequently the Trump White House with Putin, but it is equally likely that they are primarily concerned at the maverick nature of Trump's administration.  The permanent state can put a firewall around a President, who may have been compromised by a foreign power, and thereby neuter that effect, but a President whose actions are not predictable from one moment to another, and who may also, as with the Comey sacking turn quickly against the heads of that apparatus, is another matter.

After all, whether the coup attempt against Erdogan was real or a Reichstag Fire, the fact remains that Erdogan has substantially strengthened his position, and succeeded in removing tens of thousands of his opponents from positions at all levels of the Turkish state.  States can be overturned via political revolutions and counter revolutions, provided those that carry them out can mobilise sufficient military power.

And the US state may be concerned about such developments, precisely because of the connection with Putin's Russia.  Its not a question of a conspiracy theory, because conspiracies are undertaken in secret.  There is nothing secret about the involvement of Russia in the US elections.  Every intelligence and security organisation in the US says that they have clear evidence that it happened.  Nor is their anything secret about the relations between Putin's Russia and the various right-wing populist parties across Europe such as Le Pen's Front National, Wilders Freedom Party, or with Farage and UKIP, and with the Tory Party.  The common theme, as I wrote the other day, is Putin's attempt to break up the EU.

We know that Russia intervened in the US Presidential election, it appears they tried to interfere in the Dutch and French elections, so it would be odd if they did not interfere in last year's EU referendum, or in the current General Election.

The US permanent state is no doubt aware of these connections, and the extent to which a global network of right-wing populist regimes is being established with a myriad of financial ties that lead back to the Kremlin.  Having Trump sitting at the top of that network gives it considerable weight.  It appears that Trump himself is feeling the pressure, and is reported to be looking at sacking many of his inner circle, as he blames them for his own failings.  In opinion polling done last week, by far the biggest single word given to describe Trump by respondents was "Idiot", though other similar epithets including dishonest, ranked highly.

Trump for all of his bluster about being a great businessman and deal maker etc. clearly, like many who find themselves in such positions for reasons that have very little to do with ability, is being exposed as actually a rank amateur, and incompetent.  Many of the problems he encountered this week appear to be down to simply refusing to take the advice he was given.  So, as many commentators reported, his advisors would no doubt have told him not to link his sacking of Comey with the FBI's investigation of Russia's involvement in the election campaign.  Having sent all of his spokespeople, including the Vice President, to effectively lie, by saying that Comey had been sacked on the basis of the advice of the Attorney General and the Justice Department, Trump hung them all out to dry, by himself appearing on TV to say that he had decided himself, prior to that advice, to sack Comey because of his undertaking of the Russia investigation.  As one commentator said, that is effectively admitting in public that he acted to frustrate an FBI investigation, for which he could be indicted!

Sooner or later, the US permanent state is going to bring Trump down.  But, the question also, as I said the other day, is why given that all of these links between right-wing populist parties, and Putin's regime are fairly out in the open, why we are seeing no similar investigations here.  The fact that these connections between the UKIP/Tory Party exists, as with the connections with the FN, Freedom Party etc., is not in question.  The motivation for a British government given the number of oligarchs living in London, is also not difficult to fathom, the only real question is how extensive, and how deep those connections run, and what effect they are having on Britain.


Sean Myerscough said...

Does this mean we can look forward to President Pence? From the frying pan to the fire...

Boffy said...

That would be the constitutional position, unless Pense is also implicated. The Republicans will look to save their bacon and have someone they think they can control. If Pence is also taken out, I think constitutionally it goes to the House Speaker.

It looks likely that the Democrats will also take control of at least the Senate next year, and the way its going they might even get the House.

Sean Myerscough said...

I remember seeing the Trump/Pence signs in the election build up. I thought the man is a megalomaniac, he even wants to introduce his own currency!

Sorry, I'll get me coat...