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Trump’s Revolving Door

The US President wants an inner circle of loyal retainers; any doubt on this score leads to summary dismissal.

United States (US) President Donald Trump’s summary dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on 13 March in a tweet was not just a way of humiliating and publicly disparaging Tillerson, but also of displaying his utter contempt for the very office of secretary of state. What followed, on repeated imploring from Trump, was the firing by Attorney General Jeff Sessions of the former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Andrew McCabe. This, when McCabe had already stepped down after being repeatedly condemned by the White House, and was using his accrued leave so that he would be eligible to retire upon reaching the age of 50. That second firing seemed like petty vindictiveness for not being loyal. But it also indicated disquiet over the investigation being carried out by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. Mueller has issued a writ ordering the examination of records of the Trump Organization, Trump’s real estate and branding business empire, relating to its ties with Russian financial investors. He has also reportedly sent a list of questions to the White House that is likely to be followed by an interrogation of the President himself.

Journalist Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, released in January, has already brought out the fact that most of Trump’s closest aides had, within a couple of months in the White House, come to consider their boss as not only incompetent, uninformed, and ill-equipped to be President, but also narcissistic and mentally unstable. Surely Trump was aware of this. What followed was a series of dismissals of persons who were a part of the President’s inner circle. For the public at large, however, what is more pertinent is the fact that neo-fascist politics, bankrolled by a section of the “billionaire class,” managed to put an ultranationalist, racist, sexist, billionaire financial–capitalist into the top slot of the executive of the US. One cannot say that something like this was not on the cards, given the secular increase in inequality in the distribution of income and wealth in the US over the last four decades to a present, historically unprecedented, all-time high.

The evolution of an economy “of the 1%, by the 1%, and for the 1%” created the social conditions for the emergence of a character like Trump in the Oval Office. He believes that in order to make America great again, he as its ruler must be freed from legal restraints. He actually thinks that just as the chief executive officer of his Trump Organization, his authority was de facto absolute, so also as head of the executive of the US state, power ought to be concentrated in his hands. So in the aftermath of the “Unite-the-Right” Charlottesville protests, counter-protests, and racist violence in August 2017, arrogantly presuming he was the final judge of the rule of law, Trump lauded the neo-Nazis as “very fine people.” 

Who knows what he is up to in agreeing to a summit with Kim Jong-un of North Korea, for reportedly, he did not even take into confidence his then secretary of state, and his secretary of defense. He may just go on to stage-manage a collapse of the summit and thereby create a pretext for war. He has now nominated a loyalist, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mike Pompeo, as his new secretary of state. So a top intelligence official will now be the main US government representative of foreign affairs. And a person notorious for conducting the CIA’s torture programme in one of its prisons, Gina Haspel, will be succeeding Pompeo as Director, CIA.

In the post-Soviet era, along with its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, the US has engaged in wars in the Balkans, Central Asia, West Asia, and North Africa, and brokered a coup in Ukraine. Russia, now capitalist, has reacted by absorbing Crimea (which was a part of Ukraine), and has also intervened in Syria to counter the US–Saudi-sponsored proxy war against the Assad regime and has thereby prevented the toppling of its main West Asian ally. The US military–intelligence apparatus still, by and large, views Russia as its principal antagonist. But the Trump administration represents a section of the US capitalist class that instead views the Islamic State, Iran, North ­Korea, and China as the country’s principal antagonists.

Over the last one and a half years, the Trump administration has been trying to bring the military–intelligence apparatus into line, but without any real success. Indeed, the latter, aided by the Democratic Party, is pushing for the removal of Trump from presidency by resorting to a number of “leaks.” Fearing impeachment or severe indictment, Trump wants to be constantly assured of an inner circle that is an assemblage of retainers loyal to him alone. But neither of the two—the Trump administration or the military–intelligence apparatus backed by the Democratic Party—stands for policies, domestic and foreign, that will further the cause of democracy in the US and the world. Both are a danger to democratic rights worldwide.

Updated On : 29th Mar, 2018

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