Between Donald Trump and the US “Deep State”
by Federico Pieraccini
http://www.strategic-culture.org (February 14 2017)
In just two weeks as president of the United States, Donald Trump has given indications of how he intends to tackle various international political situations. So far we have observed the controversy over Iran, the events related to Nato, rapprochement with Russia, escalation in Ukraine, silence on Syria, the US special-forces operation in Yemen, verbal clashes with the EU, and the absence of further criticism of China. This first article will focus on the US deep state’s possible sabotage attempts of the Trump presidency.
Tensions continue to rise unabated in the first two weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, as more decisions come across Trump’s table. While we have seen many executive orders and pieces of legislation, most regard domestic politics, which is a core focus of the Trump presidency. On the other hand, in foreign policy, Trump seems to be using the common tactic of many politicians, which involves much talk and little action. Since US foreign policy has been a mess for quite some time, militating against common sense, taking little action can actually be a positive thing, the best thing a US president has been able to do in almost thirty years! If there is one thing that is clear to everyone about Trump’s way of doing things following two weeks in office, it is that it is completely different from his predecessor, especially in relation to the press and his willingness to engage with it.
The use of executive orders looks more and more like a weapon to flood the press and news agencies with talking points concerning domestic policies, leaving little room for particular pressure on foreign policy from the media establishment. It almost looks like a tactic of guerrilla warfare to overwhelm the mainstream media. It could and probably is also a public relations stunt to show the American people he is doing what he promised. Stunt or not, acknowledging the power of the media in creating a pretext for war, and therefore putting a stop to the drums of war, is one of the first key marks of his success.
The main problem continues to be the ongoing war with the US deep state, something that will not be going away anytime soon, and a campaign that may have entered a new stage against the Trump presidency.
Sabotage or Incompetence?
The first two weeks of the new presidency have already provided a few significant events. The operation that took place in Yemen, conducted by the American special forces and directed against Al Qaeda, has reprised the previous administration. Being a complex operation that required thorough preparation, the new administration thereby had to necessarily represent a continuation of the old one. Details are still vague, but looking at the outcome, the mission failed as a result of incompetence. The American special forces were spotted before arriving at al Qaeda’s supposed base. This resulted in the shooting of anything that moved, causing more than 25 civilian deaths.
The media that had been silent during the Obama administration was rightfully quick to condemn the killing of innocent people, and harsh criticism was directed at the administration for this operation. It is entirely possible that the operation was set up to fail, intended to delegitimize the operational capabilities of the new Trump team. Given the links between al Qaeda, the Saudis and the neoconservatives, something historically proven, it is not unthinkable that the failure of the operation was a consequence of an initial attempt at sabotaging Trump on a key aspect of his presidency, namely the successful execution of counter-terrorist efforts against Islamist terrorism.
Another structural component in the attempts to undermine the Trump administration concern the deployment of Nato and US troops on the western border of the Russian Federation. This attempt is obvious and is one of the strategies aimed at preventing a rapprochement between Washington and Moscow. The EU persists in its self-defeating policy, focusing its attention on foreign policy instead of gaining strategic independence thanks to the new presidency. It is now even more clear that European Union leaders, and in particular the current political representatives in Germany and France, have every intention of continuing in the direction set by the Obama presidency, seeking a futile confrontation with the Russian Federation instead of a sensible rapprochement.
Europe continues to insist on failed economic and social policies that will lead to bankruptcy, using foreign-policy issues as diversions and excuses. The consequences of these wrongheaded efforts will inevitably favour the election of nationalist and populist parties, as seen in the United States and other countries, which will end in the destruction of the EU. For the US deep state and their long-term objectives, this tactic has a dual effect: it prevents the proper functioning of the EU as well as significantly halts any rapprochement between the EU and the Russian Federation. The latter strategy looks more and more irreversible given the current European Union elites. In this sense, the UK, thanks to Brexit, seems to have broken free and started to slowly restructure its foreign-policy priorities, in close alignment to Trump’s isolationism.
Finally the most obvious attempt to sabotage the administration can be seen in the events in Ukraine. Unsurprisingly, Senators Graham and McCain, two of the deep state’s top emissaries, visited Ukraine at the beginning of the year, prompting Ukrainian troops to resume their destructive offensive against the Donbass. The intentions are clear and assorted. First is the constant attempt to sabotage any rapprochement between Moscow and Washington, hoping to engulf Trump in an American/Nato escalation of events in Ukraine. Second, given the critical situation in Europe, is the effort to push Berlin to assume the burden of economically supporting the failing administration in Kiev. Third is the increasing pressure applied to Russia and Putin, as was already seen in 2014, in an effort to actively involve the Russian Federation in the Ukrainian conflict so as to justify Nato’s direct involvement or even that of the United States. The latter situation would be the dream of the neoconservatives, setting Trump and Putin on a direct collision course.
The new American administration has thus far suffered at least three sabotage attempts, and it is the attitude Trump intends to have with the rest of the world that has spurred them. In an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox News, Trump reiterated that his primary focus is not governed by the doctrine of American exceptionalism, a concept he does not subscribe to anyhow. The religion driving democratic evangelization looks more likely to be replaced with a pragmatic, realist geopolitical stance.
This is how one could sum up Trump’s words to Bill O’Reilly:
“There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers!, Trump said. “Well, you think our country is so innocent?”
What the deep state refuses to accept is that they have lost the leading role in educating the rest of the world on humanitarian issues related to the concept of democracy. The main actors of the deep state clearly understand the negative implications for them personally in economic and financial terms associated with the abandonment of the pursuit of global hegemony. For over a hundred years, no US president has ever placed their country on a par with others, has ever abandoned the concept of a nation (the US) “chosen by God”.
In an article a few weeks ago, I tried to lay the foundations for a future US administration, placing a strong focus on foreign policy and revealing a possible shift in US historic foreign relations. In a passage I wrote:
Donald Trump has emerged with in mind a precise foreign policy strategy, forged by various political thinkers of the realist world such as Waltz and Mearsheimer, trashing all recent neoconservative and neoliberal policies of foreign intervention (R2P – Right to Protect) and soft power campaigns in favor of human rights. No more UN resolutions, subtly used to bomb nations (Libya). Trump doesn’t believe in the central role of the UN and reaffirmed this repeatedly.
In general, the Trump administration intends to end the policy of regime change, interference in foreign governments, Arab springs and colour revolutions. They just don’t work. They cost too much in terms of political credibility, in Ukraine the US are allied with supporters of Bandera (historical figure who collaborated with the Nazis) and in Middle East they finance or indirectly support al Qaeda and al Nusra front.
The recent meeting in Washington with Theresa May, the first official encounter with a prominent US ally, revealed, among other things, a possible dramatic change in US policy. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom expressed her desire to follow a new policy of non-intervention, in line with the isolationist strategy Trump has spoken about since running for office. In a joint press conference with the American president, May said:
The era of military intervention is over. London and Washington will not return to the failed policy in the past that has led to intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
During the election campaign, Trump made his intentions clear in different contexts, but always coming from the standpoint of non-interventionism inspired by the concept of isolationism. It is becoming apparent that these intentions are being put into action, though the rhetoric regarding Iran has become alarming. In typical Trump fashion (which contrasts with the Iran issue), the situation in Syria is normalizing and the initial threats directed at China appear to have been put aside. The case of Iran is a different and complex story, requiring a deeper analysis that deserves a separate article. What will gradually be important, as the Presidency progresses, is understanding the necessity to distinguish between words and actions, separating provocations from intentions.
Conclusions and Future Questions
There is a whole list of Trump statements that are seen as threats to other countries, primarily Iran. The next article will further explain the possible strategy to be employed by Donald Trump to fight these attempts to sabotage his administration, a strategy that seems to be based on silences, bluffs and admissions to counter the perpetual attempts to influence his presidency. If one wants to place weight on his words during the election campaign, it should be taken into consideration that Trump won the election thanks to the clear objectives of wanting to avoid a further spending spree on destructive wars. This priority was made clear and expressed in every possible way with the adoption of an America First policy, especially regarding domestic policy.
The bottom line is always that Trump has the ability and willingness to be resilient to the pressures of the deep state, focusing on the needs of the average American citizen, rather than caving in to the interests of the deep state such as intelligence agencies, neocons, Israel lobby, Saudi lobby, the military-industrial complex, and many more. It is only in the next few months that we will come to understand if Trump will be willing to continue the fight against war or bend the knee and pay the price.
Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal http://www.strategic-culture.org.