By David P. Goldman, 6/20/2017
The distinguished political scientist Angelo Codevilla has coined the ominous term “The Cold Civil War” to describe America’s precarious condition today, adding, “Statesmanship’s first task is to prevent it from turning hot.”
The attempted massacre last week of Republican Congressmen and their staff by a deranged partisan of Sen. Bernie Sanders turned up the heat a notch, but it would be mistake to attribute much importance to this dreadful outburst of left-wing rage. A considerable portion of America’s permanent bureaucracy, including elements of its intelligence community, is engaged in an illegal and unconstitutional mutiny against the elected commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump.
Most of the Democrat Party and a fair sampling of the Republican Establishment wants to force Trump out of office, and to this end has undertaken an entrapment scheme to entice the president and his staff into actions which might be construed after the fact as obstruction of justice. The mutineers forced Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn from office and now seek to bring down the president for allegedly obstructing an investigation of Gen. Flynn that arose in the first place from the entrapment scheme.
A “cold coup” is underway against the president. Gen. Flynn has no choice as a matter of self-preservation but to hold his peace and presently cannot defend himself in public. By no coincidence is Gen. Flynn the central character in this scenario. There is no doubt the CIA really is out to get him. Flynn’s Defense Intelligence Agency produced a now-notorious 2012 report warning that chaos in Syria’s civil war enabled the rise of a new Caliphate movement, namely ISIS. Flynn humiliated the bungling CIA and exposed the incompetence and deception of the Obama administration, and got fired for it.
The mainstream media makes no effort to disguise its hatred for Trump. I think it more likely that Comey showed insufficient zeal in uncovering the pattern of press leaks and other sabotage which the mutineers employed against the president. Faced with a mutiny fed by illegal actions (leaking classified information is a felony that carries a 10-year prison sentence), the president requires a Pitbull for a counterintelligence chief. Comey is more of a Pomeranian.
If it is proven that Russian cyber-spies hacked the email account of Democrat National Committee Chairman John Podesta and handed embarrassing information to Wikileaks, we will know that Russia has done what all intelligence agencies have done for centuries: Leak embarrassing political information to the press.
Podesta and his gang at the DNC used unethical and perhaps illegal means to sandbag the campaign of Sen. Sanders, leaks about which embarrassed Hillary Clinton. Sanders, knowing on which side his bread is buttered, declined to make an issue of the sandbagging. Sanders’ cowardice thus allowed Trump’s enemies to transform what should have been an investigation of corruption in the Democrat Party into a fairy-tale about Russian spies stealing an American election with implied collusion by the Trump campaign.
The Trump-Russia collusion story is nonsense, as its disseminators know better than anyone else. The object of the exercise is not to support the innuendo, but to launch an investigation which can provoke the White House into responses that might be construed as illegal. The intelligence leaks involved in framing the story alone are probably sufficient grounds to put several dozen senior officials in federal prison for double-digit terms. That consideration gauges the scale of the problem: the mutineers have committed multiple felonies, and their downside should the mutiny go wrong is not ignominious retirement but hard time at Leavenworth.
For the moment, the mutineers have the momentum. The Trump administration continues to run on a skeleton staff, with the vast majority of key positions still unoccupied (by Democrat stonewalling the confirmation process).
Most mainstream journalists consider Trump a threat to a desirable social order and are not squeamish about the means they might employ to undermine him. And there are any number of former Obama appointees prepared to convict the president in the media.
The White House and in particular the National Security Council meanwhile remain riddled with Obama Administration holdovers, forcing Trump to rely on a close circle of trusted advisers. That limits the president’s ability to reach out for allies against the mutineers.
The installation of former FBI director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to chase the Russian McGuffin also constrains the counterintelligence operations of the White House. If senior intelligence officials claim to be engaged in counterintelligence investigations against Russian interference in US elections, is it obstruction of justice to investigate their illegal contacts with the media?
The mutineers also can count on the support of Establishment worthies like Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), for whom Trump’s election was an intolerable humiliation. Trump ran against the Bush wing of the Republican Party as much as he ran against the Democrats. The NeverTrump Republicans are complicit in the destruction of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and the Sudan, and would have wrecked Egypt had Gen. al-Sisi not overthrown a Muslim Brotherhood government that the Establishment Republicans helped incubate.
The President’s free-wheeling style, more suited to the management of a family business than the Executive Branch, makes minor missteps more likely. Minor missteps are dangerous when a desperate and determined enemy is ready to exploit them. Trump’s one great advantage in all of this is that he has done nothing wrong. He did not obstruct justice because there is no crime. The mutineers’ only hope is to provoke him to take actions which might be construed as obstruction of justice in an investigation with no crime and no victim. Still, it is a moment of great danger for the American Republic.
The mutiny has burned its bridges, its ships on the beach, and its perpetrators will risk everything to make it succeed. Whatever the outcome, the legitimacy of a political system designed to be litigious and oppositional will be called into question, and the polarization of American opinion will become more rather than less extreme.
David P. Goldman is renowned as “Spengler” for Asia Times Online; his latest book is How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too).