Originally published February 2, 2017
The worst case scenario, we wrote after the election on November 8, 2016, would be if Trump acted during the transition and his presidency like the Donald Trump we saw in the campaign, and in his earlier life.
The transition is over and he has been in office now for 14 days.
During the transition and since he assumed office, we can now conclude, the worst case scenario has been realized.
There is absolutely no reason to think that Trump will be any different going forward.
A small minority but an electoral majority have elected as president a profoundly ignorant man of authoritarian tendencies who has shown little respect for American political traditions, anti-nepotism statutes or principles of conflict of interest.
He has been acting as if he were an elected dictator, with absolute authority to shove through whatever conservative or alt-right proposal occurs to him, with absolutely no regard for the policies and achievements of the administrations that have preceded him.
Now, as he assumes control of the foreign policy of the United States, he is poised to undo policies, principles and positions earlier generations of Americans fought hard to establish, often with blood, sweat and tears.
He has not uttered a serious criticism of Vladimir Putin.
He has not criticized Putin or Russia for the war crimes Russia has committed in Syria, either directly or by complicity in the monstrous atrocities of the Bashar al-Assad regime.
He has not articulated any criticism of Russia for its invasion and annexation of the Crimea in February and March, 2014, or its invasion of the eastern Ukraine through irregular forces in the spring and early summer of 2014, and then the direct intervention of Russian troops in August, 2014.
Trump has been highly ambiguous about maintaining the economic sanctions against Russia established by the EU and the U.S.
Those sanctions were adopted in defense of the international principle prohibiting the threat or use of force across international frontiers, embodied in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter.
That principle and the United Nations Charter were achieved through the sacrifices of millions of U.S. soldiers in World War II (1941-1945), Korea, the Gulf War, and Afghanistan.
Nor has Trump made any statements about U.S. leadership in the struggle to promote and defend human rights in the U.S. and also throughout the world.
He may soon undercut the EU and U.S. sanctions against Russia by cutting a scandalous “deal” with Vladimir Putin.
He may soon undercut NATO by withdrawing U.S. support for robust measures by the alliance to station troops and equipment in member nations along the border with Russia.
He could soon share intelligence with Russia that would undermine the resources, methods and assets of the U.S. and its allies.
“Is there a Russian mole in the U.S. government? What fait accompli are Bannon and Trump plannng on Russia?” The Trenchant Observer, January 31, 2017.
He may soon become an even stronger conduit for the dissemination of Russian lies and propaganda than he was during the campaign.
Anne Applebaum. “Why is Trump suddenly talking about World War III?” Washington Post, October 28, 2016.
(W)e have a Republican presidential nominee who regularly repeats propaganda lines lifted directly from Russian state media. Donald Trump has declared that Hillary Clinton and Obama “founded ISIS,” a statement that comes directly from Russia’s Sputnik news agency. He spouted another debunked conspiracy theory — “the Google search engine is suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton” — soon after Sputnik resurrected it.
Now Trump is repeating Kiselyov’s threat, too. “You’re going to end up in World War III over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton,” he said this week. Just like Kiselyov, he has also noted that Russia has nukes and — perhaps if Clinton is elected — will use them: “Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk.”
Jonathan Freedland, “Don’t treat Donald Trump as if he’s a normal president. He’s not,” The Guardian, December 14, 2017 (7:00 a.m.).
The Trenchant Observer
“Is there a Russian mole in the U.S. government? What fait accompli are Bannon and Trump plannng on Russia? (updated),” The Trenchant Observer, January 31, 2017.
“Russia as the great white power: Behind Trump’s affinity to Vladimir Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, January 12, 2017.
“Russian intervention in U.S. elections is flagrant violation of international law principle of non-intervention, giving rise to right to adopt countermeasures including strong economic sanctions,” The Trenchant Observer, December 15, 2016.
“Donald Trump, Russian stooge: Putin’s Trojan horse within striking distance of victory over NATO, the EU, and the Atlantic Alliance,” October 30, 2016.