US bureaucracy at war with Trump

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Geopolitical Notes From Idia

M D Nalapat

CNN has been a reliable medium for the permanent US bureaucracy to get its views telegraphed across the globe. Embedded in US policy, the channel has seldom deviated from the messaging favoured by the Washington Beltway, whether this be the refrain that Saddam Hussein was storing mountains of WMD in his closets or that Muammar Kaddafy tortured and killed his fellow citizens on an industrial scale. During the past two years, it has served as a potent recruiting tool for IS, by constantly repeating the falsehood that Bashar Assad in Damascus is conducting a genocide of Syria’s Sunni majority. This when wife Asma as well as 70% of his ministers are themselves Sunni.
Interestingly, there are only anonymous “government sources” that CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and other media outlets committed to ensuring the successful impeachment of the 45th President of the United States. Perhaps because these are all either serving or retired members of the Clinton brotherhood within the permanent bureaucracy. During their eight years in office, followed by eight George W Bush years, the
Clintons ensured that those loyal to them were protected, and indeed had their careers boosted. This because easier once Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the US, given that the “Obama administration” was in large measure a continuation of the Clinton administration of the 1990s. The other side of such generosity was a feral vindictiveness fixated on those whom the Clintons believed were disloyal to them or did something opposed to the Clintons or to their favourites.
The Clinton machine quickly drew first blood after the swearing in of Donald John Trump, securing the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn for behaviour that is a commonplace of the Washington Beltway, which is to meet foreign diplomats and make money from speeches and appearances after retirement. Some of those close to Trump panicked at the media assault on Flynn and got his exit organised, thereby boosting the oxygen levels of the “Impeach Trump” crowd, led by the Resister-in-Chief, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has acted as though he were still Republican National Committee Chairperson, seeking to accommodate different factions in the pile of jobs available for selection by the new administration. Priebus has chosen people who are seen as less than
personally loyal to Trump, and many are indeed known to be negative about him. This has given hope to the Clinton machine and to that section of the permanent bureaucracy that they are championing that the Trump Cabinet or the Republican Congress would come around to forcing the exit of the elected Head of State & Government of the world’s most powerful country.
As in the case of jiu-jitsu, President Trump’s very strengths are being used against him, including his openness and his candour. Hillary Clinton is completely scripted, with even her “spontaneous” remarks having been tested before focus groups multiple times. This is the reverse of Trump, who has the confidence to be himself. Given that traditional US policy is no longer working very well, changes are essential, and these can be effected only by a leader who is open to new ideas. Indeed, several within the permanent bureaucracy are aware of the need for change, some of the finest US citizens being part of the gargantuan administrative machine that ensures reasonably smooth passage for the country. Where Donald Trump miscalculated is in committing the same error as did Nixon. This is not obstruction of justice, for the shrill cries of CNN and other anti-Trump media outlets nothwithsanding, there was no such deed committed by the President of the US.
However, it will be remembered that at the very start of his second term in office, President Richard Nixon held a meeting of officials and demanded that they each submit their resignations. From that hour onwards, he was a political “Dead Man Walking”. The permanent bureaucracy, aware that the US President represented a possibly fatal threat to their careers, began the patter of leaks and innuendo that finally forced Nixon to quit. In like fashion, President Trump telegraphed his contempt for the permanent bureaucracy by appointing as Departmental heads individuals with a track record, often of decades, of opposing the very bureaucracies they were now in charge of. It has not helped that Chief of Staff Priebus, in his anxiety to secure a post-Trump future by accommodating each faction of his party in the spoils of office, has slowed down recruitment of Assistant Secretary and above levels to an unprecedented extent, thereby further reinforcing the perception that to President Trump, the less appointments get made, the better.
Once again, as during the final period of the Nixon Presidency, leaks and innuendo are filling (the largely compliant) media space, creating an impression of crisis where none exists. However, this time around, they may not succeed in driving out a President from office. Not unless the US public actually begin to believe in the falsehoods being retailed against President Trump and overwhelmingly turn against him. Provided Trump does not panic the way his team did in the matter of Michael Flynn, this seems a very unlikely prospect. After having beaten Bernie Sanders to pulp during the Democratic Presidential primary, it would appear that the Clintons will taste defeat yet again, this time at the hands of Trump rather than Obama.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.
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