The high level individuals leaving the Trump administration must be a record. Eleven since the end of January averaging out to almost two per month. The latest Mr. Anthony Scaramucci now holds a record of sorts as the shortest serving White House communications director in history. He was in office exactly ten days when the White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly — himself a new hire — fired him on Monday.
Among other problems, this chaos in the White House has also prevented a coherent policy on Russia. The president wants to improve relations with Russia — a view supported by the major European powers. That this commonality of interests could have been turned into concrete support is plain to see, and that it was not makes White House incompetence transparent. Had he been so armed, he could have gone to the American people and talked about the negative consequences of the sanctions, the economic costs to Europe, plus worsening relations and the upping of tensions with the only military power capable of destroying America. Instead, a naked president received a bill passed by veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate — the latter in a vote of 98 – 2. Note only does the bill increase sanctions on Russia, but it impedes any effort on his part to remove them.
In six months he has been unable to muster any kind of support on Russia in Congress; he is unable to use the bully pulpit to speak directly to the American people or make any effort to sway any but the most ardent of his supporters — such failure for a move towards peace, which most Americans correctly informed about Ukraine would welcome. Instead we get 2 a.m. infantile rants on real and perceived slights.
Putin’s patience has run out. His response to the sanctions: an unprecedented expulsion of 755 U.S. diplomats. Crimea will never be given up.
Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of history should know Ukraine was a Russian province for centuries. Crimea was added to it in the 1950’s to facilitate the administration of a large bridge construction project. All part of the Soviet Union then, little did it matter which local authority administered the peninsula. To make an issue of it now, when the population is overwhelmingly Russian and voted to leave the Ukraine, is as hypocritical as spending the $5 billion to destabilize and remove the democratically elected government of Ukraine in the first place.
Iran has decided to ignore the slights against it in the sanctions bill, and it is understandable when both Trump and Netanyahu together are spoiling for a fight. The last object of congressional ire in the bill, North Korea, has delivered a metaphorical middle finger raised from a closed fist in the form of a missile rising straight up. The experts inform us that its trajectory and height demonstrate a capacity to reach any city in the United States.
Trump’s response was belligerent and telling. He assured us any war would be fought over there. In other words, ‘America first’ applies also to South Korean and Japanese lives. In the Korean war, the north wanted to bomb Japan because it was being used as a bomber base, but its Chinese and Russian sponsors were afraid of expanding the war. No such constraints now. As for the other U.S. staunch ally, South Korea, a third of its population lives in Seoul and its suburbs all within heavy artillery range. The resulting carnage could cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
It’s an ill wind … as the saying goes, and it is blowing some good. The late night talk show comedians are having a ball. Belly-splitting skits and satire abound. Michael Moore the activist film maker has a show ‘The Terms of My Surrender’ that has just opened on Broadway. The tagline “Can a Broadway show bring down a President?” might appear far-fetched until you realize Moore predicted early that Trump would win and even gave the reasons why. He believes the way to bring down this absurd presidency is by laughing at him. “His thin skin is so thin,” he says “he can’t take being laughed at.”
Dr Arshad M Khan (http://ofthisandthat.org/index.html) is a former Professor based in the U.S. whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and internet media. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in the Congressional Record.