At the end of last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said arresting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is now a “priority.”
Not long after, CNN reported that authorities have prepared charges against Assange, who is currently seeking refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Donald Trump’s response to these recent developments was “It’s OK with me.” Trump is not included in the decision-making process as to whether Assange should be charged.
Bear in mind, however, that Trump once told his fan-base, “I love Wikileaks,” and the fact that he is merely “OK” with the decision seems, if anything, to indicate he is claiming little to no say at all on what is going on in his administration regarding this issue.
Most of the world watched with horror — or awe, depending on your level of humanitarian indifference — as the U.S. military dropped the so-called Mother of all bombs (MOAB) on an ISIS position in Afghanistan.
Conservative estimates show that for every ISIS fighter killed, the financial cost of the bomb was $450,000.
Yet, according to Fox News, Trump was told of the decision to drop the MOAB after it had already been detonated. Fox reported:
“The new approach was on display this week in Afghanistan, where Gen. John Nicholson, head of the U.S.-led coalition there, decided to use one of the military’s biggest nonnuclear bombs—a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB—to hit a remote Islamic State underground network of tunnels and caves.”
“A senior administration official said Mr. Trump didn’t know about the weapon’s use until it had been dropped.”
This recent development is part of a broader strategy that has seen the Trump administration give enormous power and responsibility to generals on the battlefield with very little oversight.
The loosening of these restrictions was already done in Somalia and parts of Yemen but has now been deployed in the Iraq arena.
Supposedly, the process put in place under the Obama administration frustrated many within the military, even as they were still able to drop over 26,000 bombs last year, alone. Now, the military establishment has almost free reign to do as it wishes.
We have already seen the effects of this, as an air strike was recently ordered in on a civilian area in Mosul, killing over 200 civilians in a single bombardment. In March alone, the U.S.-led coalition killed 1,782 civilians in Iraq and Syria.
In the words of the New Republic, “the Generals have won their war with Trump.”
Donald Trump’s original pick for national security advisor was Michael Flynn, who was well on his way to restoring ties with Russia before leaked intelligence forced his resignation. Flynn was replaced by General H.R. McMaster, a staunch cold warrior.
It speaks volumes that not long after McMaster booted Steven Bannon off the National Security Council, the U.S. military struck the Syrian government directly. As noted by the New Yorker, Bannon, a genuine nationalist, would not have been in favor of such a move to strike Russia’s close ally:
“In the dystopian ‘Clash of Civilizations’ scenario that Bannon and his supporters subscribe to, Syria represents an important staging ground in the U.S.-led crusade against radical Islam, and an example of what future U.S.-Russian coöperation could look like.”
Asked about the decision to strike the Syrian government, Trump’s recollection of the cake he was eating at the time was far clearer than which country he actually bombed:
“I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We are now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you have ever seen. And President Xi was enjoying it,” Trump said, as reported by the Guardian.
“And I said: ‘Mr. President, let me explain something to you … we’ve just launched 59 missiles, heading to Iraq,’” he said before the interviewer interjected to clarify. He then corrected himself.
Without getting too entangled in these contradictory actions, it is also worth pointing out that Trump was dining with the Chinese president, a complete policy switch from his furious attempts to berate China in the early days of his political career.
Further, the following statement seems to cast doubt on how involved Trump really is in the formulation of these incredibly important decisions:
“And I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded. What do you do? And we made a determination to do it. So the missiles were on the way.”
What do you do? You say no. You say what you said at least 18 times previously before you became president, namely that the U.S. should “stay the hell out of Syria.”
On a side note, it was McMaster who presented the Syrian military strike proposal to Trump in the first place. Shortly after the MOAB was dropped in Afghanistan, McMaster took an unannounced visit to the war-ravaged nation.
According to the Military Times, McMaster’s visit was a surprise move not just to the Afghans, but also to Pentagon officials. As a result, the White House was forced to dispute the notion that McMaster is operating independently from the Department of Defense.
In the most recent development, which has resulted in the accumulation of Trump’s power giveaway, Vice President Mike Pence was busy last week threatening North Korea directly with war while the Donald played golf.
Of course, it is worth noting that Pence just recently announced this Saturday that this issue could be solved by “peaceful means.”
However, the fact still remains that the issue to be solved is the establishment of a “nuclear-free Korean peninsula,” something North Korea would be unlikely to accept in the face of repeated provocation from the U.S. government over the last decade or so (including Obama’s use of cyber warfare).
In North Korea’s eyes, the only thing stopping their country from turning into Iraq is their stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Pence has essentially given North Korea a lose-lose ultimatum: either give up their nuclear weapons and make themselves an easy target or prepare for a direct war with America’s naval fleet.
For those who voted Trump into office, his complete indifference — as demonstrated by him playing golf all day while the neocons completely infiltrate his administration to make important decisions on his behalf — is nothing more than a giant slap in the face.
The rest of the die-hard Trump supporters who will support him no matter what should know they are supporting Clinton-style policies that are being pursued by the neoconservatives inside his administration.
They may as well have voted for Clinton.
However, these Trump supporters can finally admit the fact that neither party represents them (something more and more people are realizing) and that America’s illusion of democracy is dangerous, at best.
Even if Trump was genuine during his presidential campaign, many of the most important decisions taking place right now are not being formulated by anyone who was democratically elected — especially not Trump.
In McMaster’s case, he wasn’t even involved in Trump’s original assembly. He is only part of the Trump administration because someone from within the intelligence community decided the restoration of U.S.-Russia relations was a complete dealbreaker and forced Flynn’s resignation.
At least when the American people were casting their votes for Trump, they were well aware of who Bannon was, for example.
McMaster’s name would have hardly been commonplace at anyone’s dinner table, yet this is a man who is advising Trump directly (including on his potential plan to send as many as 50,000 Americans to fight and die in Syria in a war that Trump dismissed numerous times in the past due to its projected catastrophic consequences).
Is this democracy?