IT may be recalled that prior to his election, Donald Trump demonstrated a liking for Russian President Vladimir Putin. There was an impression that Trump seemed to encourage Russian involvement in the elections, if only to ensure the defeat of Hillary Clinton. Then there were reports of hacking allegedly emanating from Russia that favored Trump. Of course, these have yet to be substantiated, and as such tagged as “fake news.”
But the ouster of Trump’s security adviser, Michael Flynn, for disclosing to the Russian ambassador to the United States the sanctions on Russia and later misleading Vice President Mike Pence on the conversations has re-ignited the suspicion of pre-election ties between Trump and the Russians.
Already there is bi-partisan call for congressional inquiries on the incident that should cause Donald Trump sleepless nights. Though the Republicans have control of both the US Senate and Congress, the US president cannot for certain depend on party mates to defend him. Trump was never seen as a true-blooded Republican, being an outsider who defies some of the GOP’s core values. Quite a number of the Republican leaders were caught by surprise on Trump’s victory and have laid low, if only to give him the benefit of doubt.
For all the missteps he has done so far, the Russian connection if established may bring about his downfall, in the way that Watergate brought down Richard Nixon. But this could be worse, as this would be more like sleeping with the enemy. While Russia is no longer the superpower that it once was, Putin has reestablished his country’s influence with strategic moves by annexing Crimea and its role in defeating rebels in Syria. Barack Obama looked at Russia with suspicion consistent with past administrations. Trump, for his part, has taken a soft-glove approach, and this has caused confusion in the US military.
Nobody dares question the commander-in-chief, especially those serving in the military based on respect for the chain of command. But Gen. Raymond A. Thomas, who leads the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command, just did that. The New York Times reported that he told an audience, “Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil,” adding, “I hope they sort it out soon because we’re a nation at war.”
President Trump’s United States is definitely a nation at war with itself. While it is generally populated by migrants, its leader wants to barricade its borders and airports. While it believes in democracy, its leader believes only in himself. While it functions through administrative processes, its leader takes to Twitter.
If they were alive today, the founding fathers of the United States would not only be shaking their heads but also rising in arms against a threat to the very existence of their nation.