A President Held Hostage?

Poor Nikki Haley: she doesn’t get that having presidential ambitions and actually being the President are two different things! She went ahead and announced new sanctions on Russia – and was promptly contradicted by the White House, which averred that Nikki is “confused,” and that no new sanctions are contemplated. “I don’t get confused,” said Nikki – and yet she clearly doesn’t understand that nobody voted for her. They voted for Donald J. Trump, who campaigned on a platform of “Wouldn’t it be good if we could get along with Russia?” Trump’s preferred Russia policy has a mandate from the voters – and yet we don’t see it being implemented.

Why is that?

A remarkable bit of reporting in the Washington Post perhaps explains what is happening in the White House. When the phony “poisoning” of Sergei Skripal was cited by the Usual Suspects as evidence of Russian perfidy – despite the lack of credible evidence that the Russians were responsible — the Europeans expelled Russian diplomats and Trump went along with it, specifying that we would expel an equal number – that is, a number equal to each individual country. When he discovered that his aides had lied to him, and the US expelled the total number expelled from Europe, “There were curse words, a lot of curse words.”

Surrounded by warmongering liars, Trump is being held hostage in the White House – at least that’s what the Washington Post would have us believe:

Some close to Trump say the recent measures are the product of an ongoing pressure campaign to push the president to take a more skeptical view of the Russian leader….

“Others note Trump’s ongoing unease with his own policy. Even as his administration has ratcheted up the pressure on Putin’s inner circle, Trump has continued in recent weeks to make overtures to the Russian leader, congratulating him on his election win and, in a move that frustrated his national security team, inviting him to visit the White House.”

“His own policy”? But is it his policy, or is it being imposed on him by a White House staff that seems to be working against him and a Deep State apparatus that is actively seeking to oust him?

His aides combined to convince him to support arming with “lethal aid” the Ukrainian government, which has been busy slaughtering its own people. Trump refused, initially, saying “I want peace,” words which must have caused Haley, Mattis, and the rest of the warmongering hacks no small amount of heartburn. When Trump finally allowed himself to be hectored into it, he did it on the condition that it be kept under wraps: but the War Party and their Deep State allies, always eager to advertise their power, leaked it. Trump, we are told, was “furious.” But what’s done is done. And then came the Skirpal “poisoning,” another occasion for his traitorous aides to play their role as saboteurs:

Initially, the president was hesitant to believe the intelligence that Russia was behind the attack – a fact that some aides attributed to his contrarian personality and tendency to look for deeper conspiracies. To persuade him, his advisers warned that he would get hammered in the press if he was out of step with U.S. allies, officials said.”

Yes, because only a “contrarian personality” would demand proof – something that we have not seen as yet. The assessment by the Brits and our alleged “allies” in Europe was made on the basis of … social media reports! In short: we’re taking the word of the “Army of Islam” that occupied Douma. Because jihadis affiliated with al­-Qaeda wouldn’t lie – would they? Oh but to doubt these head-chopping barbarians would be “to look for deeper conspiracies.”

The real Trump — as opposed to the Trump who is sanctioning Russia, bombing Syria, and arming Ukraine – is closer to the Trump who campaigned for a foreign policy of “America First” and promised no more regime changing. He was in constant conflict with H. R. McMaster, a real Russia-hater:

“Anytime McMaster came in with a recommendation, [Trump] always thought it too much. They were oil and water on everything. So [Trump’s] natural impulse was, if this is your recommendation, it must be too far.”

But hold on – how can this be? Isn’t the President the most powerful person on earth? Doesn’t he (or she!) determine US foreign policy?

Well, no, the President is not a dictator, nor is he the final arbiter of US policy: he is, in large part, at the mercy of the “permanent government,” i.e. the career bureaucrats who persist no matter which party is in power, and without which the government cannot function.

Yes, but then why is Trump appointing people like Haley, and John Bolton – the archetypal warmonger?

I think he appointed Haley for the same reason Barack Obama appointed Hillary Clinton to head up the State Department – he saw in her a potential rival, and sought to defang her by bringing her on board. As for Bolton, it seems that Trump likes to have a variety of opinions at the table, and Bolton’s is just one, while Mattis – a restraining factor – is another. And there’s also the politics of it: appointing Bolton is a crumb thrown to the neocons and straight-out Republican militarist types of the Rumsefeldian variety. It doesn’t mean they’re going to get the whole cake.

Trump’s invitation to Putin to visit the White House is opposed by the White House staff, and, we are told, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Which is very odd, to say the least: what’s preventing it?

They’re blackmailing him with this eternal Russia probe – imagine the brouhaha if the visit actually happened! The War Party would go ballistic:  Bob Mueller would drop a few more indictments – and suddenly we’d be inundated with yet another “invasion” of Russian “bots.”

The whole thing is one great big hoax: the “collusion” investigation, the Skripal “poisoning,” the “poison gas” attack by Assad – fake faker fakest! And it’s brought to you by the same people who brought you “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq – our clueless power-hungry “intelligence” agencies, various and sundry discredited neocons, and Hillary Clinton and her numerous enablers and excuse-makers.

Surrounded by liars, leakers, traitors, and saboteurs, President Trump has managed to minimize the damage done by the War Party, while he’s not entirely able to neutralize them. His Korean peace initiative is going ahead, as both North Korea and the South jointly declare the never-settled Korean war to be finally over.

There’s a battle going on inside this administration, and as yet we don’t know who the victor will be. It’s Trump versus practically everyone else – which basically means the two sides are evenly matched. I know who I’m rooting for….

A final note: And I have to say that this “Trump held hostage” scenario is a bit far-fetched – after all, what’s preventing him from following his policy instincts when push comes to shove? One possible factor I haven’t brought up and that is the blackmail scenario. What if there is a “pee tape” – or some kind of incriminating evidence that our spymasters of the Deep State are holding over his head? Remember the power that J. Edgar Hoover wielded: it’s not like such a thing is unprecedented.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

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Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, and a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He is a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and writes a monthly column for Chronicles. He is the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].