This will be a week that students will read about. It is as consequential for the current administration as the Saturday Night Massacre was for the Nixon White House. It will, in my mind, be far more consequential for American history. This is the week the United States, to the delight of its enemies, and the horror of its allies walked away from the world.
With the resignation of Secretary Jim Mattis, we are now at a deep crisis point. It is now clear that the world is far more dangerous. It is also transparent the United States has retreated from the world.
This moment marks the official end of Empire: All empires rise and fall, and the American Empire is unwinding, with the chaos that this implies. This chaos is not like anything we have seen in recent American history. It is purposeful, and the President is not done with the wrecking ball.
Donald Trump is accelerating this dynamic and our move away from Empire. We must ask if this was agreed upon in Helsinki. Because we are walking away, while enemies of the United States fill in the vacuum we are leaving behind. And we must remember, there is no readout of that meeting. It was Trump, Vladimir Putin and a translator. We know the president has lied over everything. He likely lied when he said he was putting the United States ahead of anything else.
The United States is already a second tier power, no matter how much we like to pretend otherwise. We are losing influence around the world. And it is not just military. We are also unable to stop a new Cold War with Russia, and a new one with China. Why? We are withdrawing from the world as fast as possible.
The US Is pulling from Syria. The decision was sudden, and without consultation with the adults in the room. In fact, the adults in the room are running for the exits. It is not just Secretary of Defense Mattis. It is also Chief of Staff John Kelly.
The same day we learned this president ordered a partial pullout from Afghanistan. Again, there was no consultation. It was done because this president does not understand the grand strategy at play.
Will this president pull out of NATO? I do not discount this. At this pace, this is one of the few pillars of the last seventy years remaining. And it is already cratered.
These policies are gifts to Russia, and to a lesser extent China. There are regional powers that are also as happy as can be. Among them, I count Iran and Turkey. They will grow in influence in the Middle East, as we leave. And incidentally, we surrendered to Russia as well. Which brings back Helsinki and Kompromat. We need to ask why is this president acting in ways that benefit Russia and not the United States?
The global order as we know it is over. Historians will definitely be puzzled over this. Most empires unwind, but never willingly.
The wall and a Government Shutdown
Then we come to the domestic side of this week. If the President was not done creating chaos abroad, he is busy creating it at home. We are headed for a shutdown over an issue that he lost already. Americans voted in a democratic house because they are tired of the racism and division. And then there are experts who have told the President repeatedly that walls don’t work. Or For that matter, that immigration through the southern border is at early 1970s levels. In other words, they are low.
The President is fixated on a wall that is not needed. His racist base also wants to hide behind physical walls from the world. America first, and make America great again have direct links to the 1930s white supremacy movements. They benefit others who would love a closed in the United States. Ironically his base seems to miss this.
The border is secured and has been for a while. We know this. Immigration through the southern border is at 1970s levels. Drug trafficking happens through ports of entry, seaports, and airports, according to The Drug Enforcement Agency. It mostly comes in through areas that have a positive control. And then there is the Postal Service, used to ship Fentanyl from China. A physical wall will do nothing for any of this.
What Trump is doing is relying on fear of the other. Xenophobia is a tool of right-wing populism.
There are clear dangers to this state of affairs. We are facing further division and instability. This, once again, benefits states like the Russian Federation. Everything that the president has done benefits authoritarian states and the president is acting like one as well.
The shutdown is a symptom of this. It’s just the latest in a series of signals. It is government by chaos, which likely has an end, and not a good one.
The President is mercurial and none can take his word. This reflects the way he did business. He also could care less of who gets hurt (or killed) as long as he gets his way.
He relishes chaos. He also believes he can control chaos. Ultimately it will destroy him. It’s all about Trump, and what he has done is to take the nation hostage.
Cui Bono? Who benefits? Because it is not the United States or her people.