When the system strikes back

Island Editorial

Republican billionaire Donald Trump’s anti-establishment outlook and rhetoric helped him secure the much-coveted US presidency. He was derisively described by his political rivals prior to the polls as an anti-establishment outsider surrounded by some like-minded wags. That label stuck. Paradoxical as it may sound, such criticism stood him in good stead thanks to the disillusionment of many Americans with the establishment which had thrown up several leaders who could not live up to their expectations. Trump has since lived up to his ‘reputation’!

President Trump may have thought he had triumphed over the establishment decisively, but the unforeseen difficulties he has had to face since his inauguration a few months ago show that the establishment has struck back with might and main. Did he underestimate his pro-establishment enemies who are all out to make life miserable for him? He sought to bulldoze his way through from the word go. His rule began with the sacking of an acting Attorney General, who refused to endorse his draconian travel ban which affected predominantly Muslim nations. Then he unceremoniously sacked an FBI Director. He went on the offensive. But, his rivals have regrouped; the establishment has put him on the defensive.

This cartoon Trumpty Dumpty googled and added by TWPeter Lewis - Australia, Politicalcartoons.com - Trumpty Dumpty - English - Donald Trump, FBI

President Trump stands accused of having asked FBI Director James Comey, whom he subsequently sacked, to hush up a probe into his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s associations with Russia. Such action amounts to the obstruction of justice, undermining the rule of law and abuse of power—all impeachable offences—which won’t go unnoticed by the irate Democrats. It is being argued that President Trump has the power to terminate the aforesaid investigation without anyone else’s assistance, but that fact cannot be cited in extenuation of what Comey accuses him of having done. Besides, Trump’s critics claim he has revealed highly sensitive, classified information, which was passed on to Russians. This is also a very serious allegation which, if proved, could cost him dear politically. It may be recalled that one of the reasons for the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye was the allegation that she had given one of her confidantes access to classified government information.

Nothing would have been more worrisome for Trump than the appointment of ex-FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel in charge of a government probe into his White House team’s alleged Russian links. This has been a very adroit move on the part of his political enemies to unsettle him. Ironically, Trump’s critics claim Russians influenced the polls in his favour through cyber means. He has vehemently denied the charge. So has the Kremlin but to no avail. He has had to face a probe.

The US, which has taken on Russia for meddling with its elections, has a history of engineering the downfall of many a foreign regime perceived to be hostile to it. Some of the US-backed regime change operations have plunged the targeted countries into bloodbaths. Chile is a case in point. In Libya, too, it backed an army of bloodthirsty terrorists, euphemistically described as militant groups, who captured power and executed President Muammar Gaddafi in a savage manner. The then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even exulted over the brutal killing of Gaddafi. As for interfering in the electoral affairs of other countries, one may wonder whether Russia has beaten Uncle Sam at his own game.

Trump’s kneejerk reaction to the high-level probe into the alleged Russian connection has been to play the victim. He lost no time in playing the sympathy card on twitter: “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” (We thought politicians had to face witch hunts only in the developing world!) He may be able to retain the sympathy of his optimistic backers, but his enemies are not likely to relent in their efforts to see the back of the ‘anti-establishment outsider’.