Archive for the ‘Coup d’Etat’ category

A Coup Attempt, Not a Constitutional Crisis

May 19, 2017

A Coup Attempt, Not a Constitutional Crisis, PJ MediaDavid P. Goldman, May 18, 2017

Trump won by calling attention to the errors of his opponents and by dominating the news cycle. He played continuous offense. At the White House, by contrast, Trump has appeared cautious in stating his foreign policy goals, and defensive in responding to attacks on his performance and propriety. The policy issues that stood out clear during the campaign and helped Trump outflank the Republican Establishment have become fuzzy, especially after the firing of Gen. Flynn.

With the policy issues out of focus, Trump has lost control of the news cycle, and risks letting the news cycle control him. His opponents won’t succeed in dislodging him. But they have succeeded in distracting Trump from his policy agenda.

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A ranking Republican statesman this week told an off-the-record gathering that a “coup” attempt was in progress against President Donald Trump, with collusion between the largely Democratic media and Trump’s numerous enemies in the Republican Party. The object of the coup, the Republican leader added, was not impeachment, but the recruitment of a critical mass of Republican senators and congressmen to the claim that Trump was “unfit” for office and to force his resignation.

It’s helpful to fan away the psychedelic fumes of allegation and innuendo and clarify just what Trump might have done wrong. Trump will not be impeached, and he will not be harried out of office. But he faces a formidable combination of media hostility—what the president today denounced as a “witch hunt”—and a divided White House staff prone to press leaks. The likely outcome will be a prolonged dirty war of words that will delay Trump’s domestic agenda and tie down his loyalists with the chores of fire-fighting.

One thinks of Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians. Trump was elected by campaigning against the Republican Establishment as well as Obama, ridiculing their policy blunders in Iraq and Afghanistan and questioning their credibility. In the flurry of personal attacks, the underlying policy issues have faded into the background, and that gives the initiative to Trump’s enemies.

Nothing that has been alleged, much less proven, about President Trump comes close to the threshold for impeachment, as Prof. Jonathan Turley of George Washington University’s law school explained in a May 17 comment in The Hill. Even if Trump asked then FBI Director James Comey to go easy on Gen. Michael Flynn, Prof. Turley notes, “Encouraging leniency or advocating for an associate is improper but not necessarily” illegal. The charge of obstruction of justice presumes that there is an issue before the bar of justice, but as Turley adds, “There is no indication of a grand jury proceeding at the time of the Valentine’s Day meeting between Trump and Comey. Obstruction cases generally are built around judicial proceedings — not Oval Office meetings.”

The appointment of respected former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to look into allegations of Russian interference in the November 2016 election strongly suggests that the Trump team feels it has nothing to fear from a thorough review. In this case Trump’s detractors appear to be bluffing. Press reports of contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russian diplomats and businessmen appear to reflect the sort of conversations that every presidential campaign conducts with important foreign governments. It is not clear that Russia was responsible for the delivery of embarrassing Democratic National Committee emails to Wikileaks, moreover. Pro-Trump media report that DNC staffer Seth Rich was Wikileaks’ source. Rich was murdered on a Washington street in July 2016, and a counter-conspiracy theory is circulating about his death.

Then there is the alleged leak of highly classified intelligence on the laptop bomb threat to airliners, of which Wall Street Journal editors intoned, “Loose Lips Sink Presidencies.” Exactly what the president told the Russians is under dispute, but the salient fact in the case is that presidents and cabinet members frequently leak classified information without prompting the condemnations that piled up on Trump. Obama’s then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta leaked the role of Pakistani physician Shakil Afridi in locating Osama bin Laden’s lair, and President Obama himself revealed that Seal Team 6 had killed Osama, making the unit a subsequent  target for terrorists. Apart from inadvertent leaks, the Obama administration deliberately leaked British nuclear secrets to Russia, over bitter protests from London.

Why did Obama get a pass while Trump got the bum’s rush? Apart from the antipathy of the major media to a candidate who campaigned against them, there is the hostility of the intelligence agencies. That, the Wall Street Journal editors said, is Trump’s own fault: “Mr. Trump’s strife and insults with the intelligence community were also bound to invite blowback,” their May 17 editorial scolded. “In that case the public leaks about Mr. Trump’s actions, if true, will do more damage than whatever he said in private.”

The Journal editors imply that disaffection in the intelligence community is the result of Trump’s obstreperousness, but the source of the dispute is policy and accountability. Trump’s first national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, was fired by Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency for claiming that U.S. intelligence agencies bore some responsibility for the emergence of ISIS. The CIA funded Sunni rebels against the Assad regime including many from a branch of al-Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front, in its campaign to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Trump has shifted America’s priority to stopping the bloodshed in Syria rather than forcing out al-Assad, and is willing to work with Russia to achieve this—provided that the result doesn’t give undue influence to Iran, a senior administration official explained.

A shift to peacemaking and the limited possibility of a regional deal with Russia away from the covert war operations of the CIA under the Obama administration represents a major policy change. It threatens the credibility of Sen. McCain, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and the Republican Establishment, not to mention the CIA officials who made their careers on collaboration with Syria’s Sunni rebels.

During the campaign, candidate Trump delivered an effective message that he would abandon the costly and unpopular nation-building campaigns of his predecessors and focus instead on America’s own security. He attacked not only Obama but the George W. Bush administration and the Republican Establishment which had fostered a failing policy in the region.

Trump won by calling attention to the errors of his opponents and by dominating the news cycle. He played continuous offense. At the White House, by contrast, Trump has appeared cautious in stating his foreign policy goals, and defensive in responding to attacks on his performance and propriety. The policy issues that stood out clear during the campaign and helped Trump outflank the Republican Establishment have become fuzzy, especially after the firing of Gen. Flynn.

With the policy issues out of focus, Trump has lost control of the news cycle, and risks letting the news cycle control him. His opponents won’t succeed in dislodging him. But they have succeeded in distracting Trump from his policy agenda.

Destroying Donald Trump is all that matters in the newsrooms of the mainstream media

May 19, 2017

Destroying Donald Trump is all that matters in the newsrooms of the mainstream media, Washington Times,

(America can survive, and probably prosper, under President Trump. The “mainstream media?” Maybe not. — DM)

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Now anything goes. All restraints are loosened, all self-discipline trashed. There’s no cure or even treatment for Trump Derangement Syndrome, a disease as wild and as swiftly lethal as anything imported from the Ebola River valley of the dark continent. The rules and taboos that once guided even the sleaziest excuse for a newspaper no longer apply.

Destroying Donald Trump is all that matters in the newsrooms of the mainstream media, so called, and by any means necessary. Rarely have so many hysterics contributed so much of the national conversation.

A columnist in The New York Times, ground zero in the epidemic of Trump Derangement Syndrome, suggests that a mutiny at the White House is the “more appropriate” way to rid the nation of the legitimate 46th duly elected president of the United States. Why waste time on impeachment? Mike Pence, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell could organize the ambush. The columnist likens them to “stewards for a syphilitic emperor.”

Ross Douthat is regarded as a “conservative” at The New York Times, and he thinks impeachment would take too long, be too messy, and recommends invoking the Twenty-fifth Amendment, which permits the president’s Cabinet to remove the president if a majority of the secretaries tells Congress that the president can no longer perform his duties.

Ultimately, he writes in the newspaper once known as “the old gray lady” and which has become “the old crazy lady,” he does not believe “our president sufficiently understands the nature of the office he holds, the nature of the legal constraints that are supposed to bind him, perhaps even the nature of normal human interactions, to be guilty of obstruction of justice in the Nixonian or even Clintonian sense of the phrase.”

A half-century ago a certain magazine thought a long-distance psychiatric examination of a presidential candidate was in order, and asked 12,000 psychiatrists (who knew there were so many headshrinkers on the fruited plain?) whether they thought Barry Goldwater was crazy, and 1,189 responded with a diagnosis: Mr. Goldwater, the Republican nominee for president in 1964, was nothing less than nuts. The American Psychiatric Association, sensitive to the public outrage that followed, told their members never to do it again.

But since the psychiatrists wouldn’t do it, Ross Douthat was fitted out with degrees in medicine and psychiatry (honorary degrees, we must hope), and told to get to work. (He is expected to retire his shingle once President Trump has been dispatched to the nut house, but who knows? On the Upper East Side there’s never enough psychiatrists.) Dr. Douthat writes that the president has no aides, friends and confidantes who have any remaining regard for him. “They have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpate with contempt for him, and to regard their mission as equivalent to being stewards for a syphilitic emperor.”

Since impeachment would take so long, Dr. Douthat would “respectfully ask Mike Pence and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to reconsider their support for a man who never should have had his party’s nomination, never should have been elevated to this office, never should have been endorsed and propped up and defended by people who understood his unfitness all along.”

It’s hard to imagine anything more calculated to invoke a Second Amendment answer to such a Twenty-fifth Amendment coup, and it would be nothing less than a coup by the Republican elites and the press that so many Americans believe have “rigged” the elections meant to express the nation’s will. You don’t have to be a Trump friend, supporter or voter to see where this would inevitably lead. The United States has never been a banana republic or a third world dump where elections are ultimately determined in the streets, but this would be the ultimate national indignity, wrought by just those who would go to civil war to depose an indignity.

The two stories that have dominated the news this week were the work of the very two newspapers, The Washington Post and The New York Times, that have become the not-so-loyal opposition, drivers of the coup with tales told in every edition. The Post accuses the president of dispensing national secrets to the Russians, based on the word of an anonymous source who concedes he wasn’t in the meeting, and denied by those who were. The New York Times says it heard a passage read from a memo written by James Comey, telling how the president asked him go easy on Mike Flynn, and denied by the White House.

All this to support tales of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, which Democrats and Republicans agree that no one has yet found any evidence of. There’s no fire and only a few wisps of something that might be smoke, or more likely, the passing of partisan gas.

How to Defuse the Crisis with North Korea

May 2, 2017

How to Defuse the Crisis with North Korea, American ThinkerHerbert E. Meyer, May 2, 2017

(There is no excellent solution and the concept behind the suggestion needs to be expanded. However, something along its lines may be the best we can do. North Korean peasants would be better off as East German clones and China would prefer the arrangement to a reunification of North and South Korea. Please see also, Krauthammer: U.S. does have cards to play against North Korea and my parenthetical comment there. — DM)

North Koreans would have far more confidence that a guarantee of sovereignty by the U.S. and South Korea would hold if China’s leaders backed it publicly, as well as privately. And if the Chinese would promise to provide the level of economic support that North Korea needs to keep it at least stable, and perhaps more prosperous than it is now, that would help encourage the generals to act. Let’s hope that President Trump at least talked about all this when he met at Mar-a-Lago last month with his new best-buddy, Chinese president Xi.

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The looming crisis with North Korea provides a perfect illustration of what’s gone wrong with the way Washington works. Everyone is so eager to propose a policy, no one can be bothered to articulate an objective. So policymakers start arguing about what to do, before deciding what they want to accomplish. That’s like arguing over what route to take, before deciding where you want to go. (Which, to point out the obvious, is why we keep ending up in the middle of nowhere, or upside down in a ditch.)

Here’s one possible objective that would defuse this crisis and perhaps even bring a few decades of stability: to turn North Korea into a modern version of East Germany.

For those of you too young to remember the Cold War, during those decades after World War II Germany was divided. West Germany was free, prosperous, and an American ally. East Germany was a miserable dictatorship, not very prosperous, and a Soviet satellite. (To get a feel for what life was like in East Germany, watch the great movie The Lives of Others, and the German television seriesWeissensee.) But during all these decades, East Germany was never a threat to West Germany, or to the U.S. Its communist regime wanted only to be left alone. And in return, the West Germans and the Americans made it absolutely clear they had no intention of unifying Germany by attacking or otherwise bringing down the East.

When the Korean war ended with an armistice in 1953, that country was divided. South Korea became free, prosperous, and an American ally. North Korea became a miserable dictatorship, not very prosperous, and a sort-of satellite of China. The difference between Germany and Korea is that while East Germany wanted only to be left alone, North Korea keeps threatening to conquer South Korea and reunify the country under its control, and to fire nuclear-armed missiles at the U.S. itself.

President Trump’s Got Their Attention

But now, for the first time in its history — and thanks entirely to President Trump — North Korea faces the real possibility of a massive military attack, certainly to destroy its nuclear facilities and perhaps even to obliterate the regime itself. And there’s nothing like the looming prospect of an attack by the United States to get a government’s attention.

Simply put, it may be possible to defuse the current crisis without a war by cutting a deal along these lines: If North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons and cease threatening South Korea and the U.S., the U.S. and South Korea will guarantee North Korea’s sovereignty.

Once again, there’s an historic parallel between Korea and Germany: Adolf Hitler was crazy; a foaming-at-the-mouth, chewing-the-carpet raving lunatic. He was also a brilliant, cunning politician who not only held onto power, but who kept within his grip the total loyalty of Germany’s military leaders. These generals weren’t crazy; they were hard, practical, highly intelligent men who had fought and lost World War I and then rebuilt Germany’s war machine. They knew in their bones that another world war would devastate their country. They understood that invading Russia would end in catastrophe.

Yet the generals didn’t get rid of Hitler. While a small number were prepared to overthrow Hitler, most were caught up in appalling, fawning loyalty to him that had more to do with twisted psychology than with military strategy. The minority willing to act received no encouragement from the Western Allies. The others plunged ahead, caught in Hitler’s hypnotic spell. There’s no way to know this for sure, but it’s widely accepted among historians that if the generals had gotten rid of Hitler in 1937 or 1938, there would not have been a Second World War. (Plots to overthrow Hitler by some brave German continued after the war started, but by that time it was too late; all their efforts failed.)

We can argue all day whether Kim Jong-un is crazy, but it’s obvious he isn’t, um, normal. He’s held onto power, and he’s kept within his grip the loyalty of North Korea’s generals. These generals aren’t crazy. Crazy people cannot build weapons, organize complex programs to develop nuclear bombs — or build roads, operate electric power systems, keep the trains and buses running, assure that at least some food gets produced and distributed, operate schools and hospitals. They must be hard, practical, and highly intelligent. And while they may not be charming and fun to hang out with, they aren’t suicidal.

How to Organize a Coup d’Etat

Today, just like the German generals in the Spring of 1939, North Korea’s generals are careening toward war. But the point of studying history is to learn from it. Back in 1939 there was no serious effort in London, Paris, and Washington to try and break Hitler’s grip on his generals and to help them organize a coup d’etat. So the world plunged into war. Might it be possible to do this now? Is there some way to break Kim Jong-un’s grip on his generals — to snap them out of their hypnotic spell and help them to organize a coup before it’s too late?

For an effort like this to have even a chance of success, we’ll need answers to these questions:

Who are these guys? Presumably our intelligence service knows at least something about the two or three dozen officials who actually run North Korea. Well, which ones are most likely to abandon Kim and work with us? Who are the ones we would like to see take power?

How do we reach them? Of course, we can communicate with these generals over the airwaves, so to speak. That would involve official statements by President Trump and his national security team threatening war, and clearly offering a guarantee of regime survival in exchange for disarmament. But there must also be ways of reaching these officials individually — and very privately.

What precisely do we want them to do? We want the generals to replace Kim and his closest advisors with officials who will work with the U.S. to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, then work with South Korea to establish the kind of sullen but stable peace that existed for decades between West and East Germany.

What help do they need? It’s possible that a serious threat to attack by President Trump, combined with the offer of regime survival in return for disarmament, will be sufficient to push at least some of the generals into taking action. But they may need more help, for instance a massive propaganda campaign to generate support for them before they act by telling the North Korean population how their lives will become immeasurably better once Kim is replaced. The generals also may need the kind of help that only a powerful intelligence service like ours can provide, for instance a covert communications system so they can be in touch with us, and with one another, without being overheard by Pyongyang’s security officials. They may even need the kind of help only the Pentagon can provide, for instance SEAL Team Six.

China’s help would vastly increase the chances of success. Beijing’s diplomatic and intelligence services probably have a better grasp of what’s actually going on in Pyongyang than ours. And they can probably provide detailed information about which generals to work with, and which to avoid — or remove. Most of all, the North Koreans would have far more confidence that a guarantee of sovereignty by the U.S. and South Korea would hold if China’s leaders backed it publicly, as well as privately. And if the Chinese would promise to provide the level of economic support that North Korea needs to keep it at least stable, and perhaps more prosperous than it is now, that would help encourage the generals to act. Let’s hope that President Trump at least talked about all this when he met at Mar-a-Lago last month with his new best-buddy, Chinese president Xi.

Don’t bother asking the usual Washington policymakers whether turning North Korea into a modern version of East Germany might actually be possible. They will reply — in unison, within two-billionths of a second — No, this is impossible! Kim Jong-un is crazy, and the North Koreans will never give up their nukes or agree to stop threatening South Korea and the U.S. Well, they may be right. On the other hand, these are mostly the same geniuses who told us, also with 100 percent confidence, that it was impossible to win the Cold War, and impossible for Donald Trump to get elected president. Impossible things sometimes do happen, even in politics — especially in politics. Given the risk we face of nuclear war, this is worth a shot.