I’ve been predicting for months that Trump would resign, but today something happened that can only be called mutiny: the president’s secretary of defense has resigned over military policy, in the traditional form of mutiny. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who, like Robert Mueller (head of the Russia investigation) and many other present or former high ranking military in Trump’s cabinet, enjoys a stellar reputation. He quietly ignored the President’s ban on trans-gender military, but neglect hardly suffices when ordered to pull troops out of a theatre of operations.
One day after President Trump announced that the US would withdraw from Syria, handing the field to Russia, Iran and Turkey, Mattis resigned. However, in a model of double-speak, he spelled out the rationale for America’s intrusive foreign policy using hackneyed assurances that it is motivated by the desire to ‘defend the world’ from malevolent actors:
Dear Mr. President:
Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.
Our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances.
Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.
We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Before continuing, it must be said that General Mattis is not alone in his opposition to the President’s order to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and Syria. He is vociferously upheld by the entire congress, whose views are broadcast far and wide. Furthermore, thirty-seven people have resigned to-date from the Trump Presidency, including two former generals, John Kelley, former White House Chief of Staff and Michael Flynn former head of the National Security Council, currently facing serious national security charges.
Not only is the president’s desire for the US to no longer be the international policeman decisively rejected by the entire foreign policy establishment, it is hidden behind the pretense of saving the world from malevolent enemies. Russia and China are depicted as twin evil empires seeking to dominate the world, when in fact their aspirations are to jointly solve problems together with the United States. Their long standing invitation is systematically dismissed as reverting to an earlier historical period known as ‘spheres of influence’, which is alleged to have indirectly caused two world wars. In reality, experts believe the nuclear clock has never been so close to midnight since the Cuban missile crisis.
Aside from its really scary military aspects, Mattis’ resignation is sending shock waves through Washington because it comes at the end of a turbulent year during which the Justice Department has been investigating the President not only in terms of Russia’s influence on his 2016 win, but with respect to his business practices, which are compared to those of The Godfather. This situation, in turn, has resulted in the biggest end-of-the-year stock market drop in decades.
The up-side is that the Syria bombshell affords the rest of the world a clear-eyed view of US motivations: The so-called ‘indispensable’ nation’s main foreign policy principle is, in the words of Paul Wolfowitz, who authored the country’s twenty-first century security goals in 1992, to prevent any other nation from challenging US hegemony
Consistently dressed up as a US responsibility, the message is consistent and unequivocal: the US must rule the world. But how to do that when ‘the people’ have elected a president immune to advice from ‘experts’? His principle of ‘America First’ implies a shift toward what has been known since the early days of the republic as ‘isolationism’, the Founding Fathers having been determined to shield the young nation from ‘foreign entanglements’. Here is the first President of the United States, George Washington, on the subject of ‘maintaining good faith and justice toward all nations’.
“In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations has been the victim.”
How far the United States has come from those lofty ideals! And this, at a time when ‘foreign entanglements’ should be the least of our worries: A study just published in the journal ‘Science’ collated research on world ecosystems showing that they can irreversibly tip to another state, such as coral reefs bleaching and being overrun by algae, forests becoming savannas and ice sheets melting into oceans.
Humanity is going to have to come together to deal with the impact of
30 types of ecological threats to human society.
Nor is climate change our only worry other than ‘security’: The President appointed as Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department a man who has just been revealed as backing Trump’s condemnation of the Mueller investigation (while the ‘acting AG’ has decided NOT to recuse himself from overseeing it). Adding insult to injury, as the year comes to a close, the president threatens to literally shut down the government (including employees’ paychecks) because Congress refuses to allocate five million dollars to build a wall on the southern border.
The fact that Trump’s children are vulnerable to prosecution regarding their far-flung business empire almost guarantees that he will choose to resign before impeachment proceedings can begin January, hoping Congress will want to spare the country the international embarrassment of a presidential indictment. And with America out of Syria, Russia and Iran will be better able to assist Assad, as he requested, and nothing says they will not also act to protect the Kurds, who, unknown to the American people have been at risk for decades.
By the end of the day on which Trump announced the total withdrawal of US troops from Syria, Americans began to realize that the next chapter could well be a concerted agreement among the major personalities of the government and congress to declare the president unfit for office.
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years, exlusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook”.