So Trump has waded into the swamp, new galoshes on, digging tools and materials in hand, a winning smile, and high hopes for the commencement of draining. He thought he might even find a few toads to kiss behind closed doors, like the old days of smoke-filled rooms, arm-twisting and DC deal-making.
Instead, his cigar is soaked, the soggy match won’t light, and he’s gotten a real whiff of the odor. Now the swamp creatures nip at his ankles, and the mosquitoes have proceeded to drain him.
Let’s call it a honeymoon in the tropics, and move on. But how might the four year marriage of Trump and Swamp proceed? One way or another, it will be draining.
The US government, far from consisting of the three traditional branches of government taught in civics texts, actually consists of large, career class of federal bureaucrats, congressional aides, judicial underlings, and other mandarins that fill the ranks of state beneath the shifting political appointees and figureheads of departments.
One segment of the permanent government that inhabits the swamp, year in, year out, as presidents and their staffs come and go, is the national security state, Intelligence community, the strong arm of the deepest reaches of financial, banking, corporate and military-industrial power.
They have their foreign policy preferences, and will try to take down any executive who gets in the way, whether for profit or misplaced patriotism.
So how does a new Sheriff ride into town and do anything, when spooks and hacks are surveilling his activity and selectively leaking info to Swamp press organs, and withholding other intelligence from the president and his staff?
He can’t, unless he can cobble a popular majority, and pick a side in the internecine intrigue within the Deep State itself, imbue it with his program, and twist the arms of Congress to carry out the core of his agenda.
The Deep State will either co-opt Trump or be co-opted by him: on trade, on borders, on foreign policy. It is time for Trump to plot a three dimensional chess strategy for the draining.
Trump, perhaps sensing this, is again going to take his case directly to the people. Hopefully he speaks on the matter of these leaks and their true motivation, to a crowd of Americans tired of it all, becoming wiser to it all, confused and divided, but still enthusiastic about their new President.
Foreign policy is the current rub of deep state, Trump friction, so let’s review.
There are only a few centers of real sovereignty in the world. The USA-EU combine, covered by NATO, aligned with ancillary Anglo states, Israel, Japan, the Gulf states, the western hemisphere, and those Asian states more in the US orbit than China’s.
The Middle East and parts of Asia are the blurred area of shifting trade pacts and proxy warfare, where the real world powers inch forward, back, and clash on the grand chessboard that gives politicians something to do with their time, our money, expensive military assets and cheap lives.
The second power is Putin’s Russia. For a fleeting moment, the US almost had Russia under its sovereignty, under Yeltsin and allied figures in Russia’s short lived oligarchy of underworld characters, acting on personal greed and Harvard and Wall Street wiz economic prescriptions to loot and privatize the former communist state.
Through hubris and a misreading of Russia, she slipped from their grasp, just as she had previously from other great powers in other circumstances.
Russian power today extends over its immediate neighborhood into allies like Iran and Syria, and is on the rise with a unified body-politic under a capable executive.
China is the third sovereign power of military significance, gradually extending its sphere of sovereignty around the Pacific at the expense of the United States, through commerce and mercantilism more than war. Yet, manufacturing might is prelude to military might.
The world is a finite resource, and so, beyond gains from trade, world politics is a zero sum game. It’s either US, Europe, Japan and Russia holding China in check, or China and Russia holding the USA in check, or some other combination.
It’s all about which network of power offer a realistic regime of peace, trade and sanity. Increasingly, that is not the US-EU led bloc, with its obsession with extinguishing national identity, globalizing economics, and sacrificing popular income share to mobility of capital and labor. Not to mention setting fires in the Middle East through proxy warfare, toppling heads of state and fueling the fire of Islamism.
This radical programme has lost the support of most Americans and the confidence of the world. The lack of unity in the American public, its confused ruling class, drunk on globalism, and the lack of freedom of action of its executive are severely jeopardizing the American influence in the world.
After a long period of foreign policy overreach following the collapse of the Soviet Union, fueled by neocon dreams of world domination on the cheap, the other sovereign powers have been driven into an alliance against American power. There’s no way that will be reversed without unified executive action and a disciplined American state not divided against itself.
The problem? America’s ruling class secures its golden ticket of capital mobility and consequent gains of world income share via the strategy of dividing its own citizens along lines of identity: Race, gender, newly invented genders, open borders, the politics of reproduction, bathroom access, gay cakes, and other such kabuki theater.
All this with a bloated bureaucracy of revolving door officials, from corporate boards to federal agencies and back, who don’t want to lose a penny of their plunder through the streamlining, fat-cutting or apple cart upsetting a strong executive with a business background.
For Trump to put America on an even footing with the rising powers of our new multi-polar world, he has to make the ultimate deal to unify a majority of the public against the ravages of identity politics, co-opt or ally with the realist branch of our conflicted Deep State, and discipline the rest of the permanent government to the new reality of a curtailed globalism, renewed national identity, and executive freedom of action on borders, foreign policy and trade from congressional gridlock and judicial activism.
Should he fail to make this Big Deal, we can expect more decline, more division, culminating in our eclipse on the world stage, and less loot for all of us. Though, not less war.