I, like Nigel Farage, am deeply worried about Donald Trump. Let me explain because for me, this did not start with Syria but it started with Obamacare. True, there were ‘flip-flops’ before this – most notably on NATO following a meeting with Theresa May and right off on the bat on investigating and prosecuting Hillary Clinton but now Trump is starting to act out of character and that is the cause of most concern.
Trump campaigned on a complete repeal of Obamacare. In fact, he promised its repeal 68 times. Now you will say he was scuppered by House Republicans not getting behind the Bill to repeal it and you’d be right, that is true, however, what struck me as distinctly un-Trump-like, even ‘Anti-Trump’ that when the crunch came he refused to push it to a vote. He would have lost and in the short-term lost some face but in the longer run, those Republicans that had thwarted him would have been faced with the tricky task of having to justify themselves to their electors and in the longer-run, Trump could have won the war but that is not to be so it would seem, the White House is already “moving on”. He blinked first and that is not the Donald Trump we have invested so much in.
Other areas of concern exist (leaving aside foreign policy for now). The marginalisation of Steve Bannon is well documented as are the policy implications – the marginalisation of America First nationalists in favour of more orthodox neo-con voices. I want to add a further reason that this should worry us all. It strikes me that Bannon, whatever you think of his politics, is a man who absolutely will speak truth into power and will not be in any way intimidated by President Trump. This makes him a good person for any President to have around – especially one who, let’s be honest, has an elephant sized ego – when their ego will be being massaged by the siren voices of the neo-cons who are using this as a principal tool of manipulation. Give the order they say, you will look great and can go and play a round of golf.
Trump without Bannon by his side is proving to be more mailable. I don’t think it is a giant coincidence that Trump met the Saudis, then launched a Tomahawk Missile strike against Bashar Al Assad with absolutely no proof what so ever, nor is it a coincidence he has recently met with the Chinese and is now determined to do something about North Korea. Not only has Trump obliged the Chinese by looking to sort out its Fatboy Sl[K]im problem but he has totally reversed his long-standing hostility to the Chinese government on a wide range of issues and on domestic policy as well.
Let’s be quite clear. No conclusive evidence exists that Assad launched a chemical weapons attack in Gouta and indeed notice how the attack on a Syrian bus convoy near Aleppo isn’t on the receiving end of a) as much media coverage and b) as much moral opprobrium from world leaders – that, my friends, is called hypocrisy. Also, there is no conclusive evidence to justify the claim that the stark-staring bonkers regime in Pyongyang is anything but an immediate threat to its own people – in fact, its most recent bungled test suggests the complete opposite. However, there is plenty of evidence that the Saudis want Assad gone and the Chinese want Kim gone. In other words, Trump is turning his Presidency into a lap-dog one and no wonder his closest supporters are starting to cast a weary eye on his Presidency.
My red line is Bannon. If Trump takes action in North Korea then he is definitely off my Christmas card list. However, if he lets Bannon be pushed further to the sidelines or even entirely out then that will be confirmation that the ‘turn’ is complete and for real, not some too-clever-by-half-4d chess exposition of politicking. I hate to say it but I think those who say that Trump is essentially playing a game here are guilty of wishful thinking which flies in the face of the established facts – even if he is (and that is extremely charitable) he is rigging the game against himself which is exactly what his neo-con advisors will want; they, for example, will fail to point out that taking these positions, especially when it comes to involving a country in military conflict, leads a government into a situation it cannot easily control and that can, at any moment, fly off the handle in any direction. So, Trump may not sincerely think he is going to go into Syria at this moment but that is certainly where the Saudis – currently engaged in Yemen and therefore unable to act themselves – want to lead him, into Syria and into direct conflict with Iran and Russia. Since he has allowed public statements from the likes of Nikki Haley in favour of regime change without public rebuke he is now being hoisted by his own petard – if Assad stays he and the US looks weak and inconsequential but if he is to go then he has put Russia in such a position that it cannot afford to abandon Iran, which is facing humiliation in Yemen and Syria, and Assad – therefore the logic of Trump’s actions will eventually lead him into direct engagement on the ground in Syria.
North Korea offers him a small window of opportunity to change course. However, the signs are not encouraging with the media openly flaunting his cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party. He needs to change course before he becomes just another neo-con globalist puppet and the promise of ‘America First’ becomes a distant dream.