For Republicans, the current impeachment inquiry must appear a conundrum. Mostly because they approved President Donald Trump’s foreign policy from the outset. They are partially responsible for his current troubles. Yet because they crave power more than consistency, the GOP has also entrapped itself.
One by one leaders that opposed Trump’s correct observation that Ukraine was a hopeless case nevertheless try to prop him up. Mitt Romney, Susan “oh dear, oh my” Collins and of course, Lindsey Graham have abandoned their anti-Putin position to shore up Republicans in 2020. Perhaps if they had given Trump more leeway to begin with, the whole affair might have been avoided.
Instead, as the United States got more and more mired in the corruption in Kiev, Trump played along. In the end, his minion Rudy Giuliani was instructed to try to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. By holding back aid, which Trump never wanted to give in the first place, Republicans set him up without knowing it. And as with everything they have done in the Trump years, they tried to covertly control the president.
From the very beginning, Trump tried to improve relations with the Russian Federation. Instead, the Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, supported sanction on Russia. As the hearings have attested to, the National Security Council had its own agenda and disregarded Trump altogether. It was a crisis of the administration’s own making with Congress lending a hand.
But Trump unwittingly helped his handlers and his adversaries. Never did he present an alternative to the American people. He hinted but he never plainly stated that much of the post-war structure was out of date. Trump correctly criticized NATO as an outdated organization — a relic of the Cold War. But he refused to sell the American people on the idea. Once he got rid of John Bolton — the perennial hawk — the apparatus turned on him.
As with Richard Nixon’s obsession with leaks that eventually led to the Watergate break-in, Trump’s frustration with Ukraine led him to the smoking phone call. Both had arguments on policy and resorted to abuse of power. And, yes, both were betrayed by the non-elected bureaucracy. They should have trusted the American people more.
But it is equally true that from the outset, his foreign policy team adjudged him unfit to lead. Yet, when it came to Trump’s analysis, he was often more correct than they. Actions by Graham and others were meant to sabotage the president and make him more hawkish. Trump tried to be independent, offering fresh ideas on foreign policy — especially in regard to Syria and North Korea. The staffers leaked and leaked and then tried to lay the blame wholly at Trump’s doorstep.
Trump will survive but if he blames Democrats solely, he will be mistaken. These were problems started by neo- conservative operatives that wanted to continue endless wars and confrontation. They do not stand still — witness the coup in Bolivia. When Trump survives, he should re-evaluate his “friends” within the GOP and clean house at the NSC and State Department.