It seems that the entire world now knows that an Anonymous senior official on the White House staff has described an administration in chaos, headed by an “amoral” ignoramus, which only avoids disaster because a patriotic cabal within the West Wing that “puts country first” and constitutes a “resistance” has blocked or circumvented the president when he tries to do something unwise or dangerous. Or so the story goes.
My first admittedly quick reading of the op-ed “I am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration” that appeared in The New York Times a week ago left me with the impression that it was a hoax, possibly concocted via the connivance of a lower level official in the national security apparatus who sold a dodgy package to the Times.
The newspaper then cast aside all journalistic ethics to run with it in light of the near-simultaneous timing of the forthcoming Bob Woodward book Fear: Trump In the White House, which has a narrative that meshes nicely with the op-ed. The fact that the Times admits that it only had contact with the source, which may have been by phone, after dealing through intermediaries, suggests that they were hungry for the story and might not have carefully established the bona fides of the person claiming to be the author. And one has to wonder if the Times might have actively enabled a possible imposture to succeed or even engaged in some fabrication to delegitimize Donald Trump.
So it might just have been the latest symptom of Trump Delusion Syndrome, but then I read the piece through again and observed that the argument being made was logically consistent, i.e. that Donald Trump’s instincts and morals are so bad that he would end up destroying the American Republic but for the brave White House staffers who are taking steps to “box-in” the president on policies that those same staffers view as undesirable. Also, stylistically and syntactically, I noted how the writing and some on the contents reflect the worldview and linear thinking of someone who has been working in some aspect of national security. Indeed, it read like the sort of document that might have been produced by an intelligence agency.
Assuming that it actually was written by an individual in the Administration, one might profitably consider that many mid-level and even higher White House staffers are increasingly being drawn from the neocon ranks that infested the George W. Bush Administration. They hate their boss Trump and they also hate Russia, which features prominently (and somewhat oddly) in the op-ed.
In short, I now believe that the op-ed is serious, with intent to undermine the Trump Administration, written by someone or several someones in or close to the White House. The argument that the author should have gone public and resigned can be countered by two observations: first, the staffer might actually believe that he and his brethren staying in place and blocking Trump is for the good of the country. And second, if an increasingly paranoid Trump becomes consumed by searching through his staff for Anonymous “traitors,” he will become even more error and gaffe-prone, strengthening the case, if it should come to it, for impeachment.
The author’s possible neocon credentials surface in several places, starting with the reference to the “more robust military” before proceeding on to Russia. The op-ed describes how the good work of the dissidents in the White House, which he or she describes as “the Resistance,” have succeeded in “[calling out] countries like Russia … for meddling and [have them] punished accordingly” in spite of the president’s desire for détente. It then goes on to elaborate on Russia and Trump, describing how “…the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But the national security team knew better – such actions had to be taken to hold Moscow accountable.”
The op-ed is also notable for its praise of recently deceased neocon icon Senator John McCain,urging all Americans to “follow his example.” It notes “Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them.” One might point out that the combination of citation of McCain with expressions like “robust” military, “punishing Russia,” “malign behavior” and holding Moscow “accountable” are straight out of the neoconservative playbook.
They are also assertions that can be challenged. McCain was a flat-out warmonger. The “meddling” in any serious fashion in America’s 2016 election has yet to be demonstrated and the Skripal spy case in Britain is also based on questionable evidence, while “malign behavior” depends on which side of the fence one is standing on. To heighten tension with nuclear-armed and capable Russia is not necessarily in America’s interest. And Anonymous also forgets that Trump’s margin of victory in 2016 came from voters who found his calls for mending relations with Moscow appealing.
In passing, one other bizarre feature of the op-ed is the description of Trump as “amoral.” Compared to Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama that is quite an astonishing observation unless once considers rape, starting wars as a foreign policy option and assassinating American citizens to be just part of the job. And also the author might wonder about his or her own morality as he or she is betraying both his or her boss and plausibly the oath taken to uphold the Constitution.
But who wrote the op-ed and with what intention pales besides what the Times document appears to reveal. A cabal of senior officials who were not elected by the American people might be acting together and have possibly seen fit to circumvent the elected president by refusing to carry out his instructions as well as by actively and deliberately narrowing his options over policy issues to reflect what they think is best.
One might reasonably have problems with much of what Donald Trump does and how he does it, but our Constitution derives from the belief that the president and congressmen ought to be elected by popular vote and subject to the will of the people. Like it or not, the people spoke in November 2016. Nameless and faceless officials, many of whom are appointed purely on the basis of political connections, do not represent voters any more than they necessarily have any correct understanding about what is going on in the world. Their track record would suggest that they are wrong far more than they are right.
The Washington consensus has proven to be disastrous both for the American people and for many others worldwide. Anonymous represents the Establishment or Deep State or neoconservatism, call it what you will striking back to bring down Trump. He or she is party to boxing in a president who, in his best moments, appears to be eager to bring change. Make no mistake, it all amounts to subversion of the intent of the Constitution of the United States and no one should regard “the Resistance,” if it truly exists, as patriotic or heroic.
This article was originally published on American Herald Tribune.
Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests.
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