Yesterday, I spent some time discussing the impact of Donald Trump's presidency with two of my neighbors, both of whom work for the federal government. It was a scary conversation to say the least as it shed light on what it is like working for a government that has no leadership, no coherent philosophy, and no real belief in government itself. Both of my neighbors work in departments related to environmental protection and regulation, and both have witnessed massive departures, devastating drops in morale, and a sense of hopelessness permeate through their work environment.
While the media focuses heavily on Trump's insane Twitter feed, his idiotic gaffes, and non stop lying, the US government itself is collapsing under the weight of Trump's incompetence and destructive tendencies. He can't staff his administration properly because no one wants to work there, and there are huge vacancies in federal departments that are going unfilled because of the same problem. And amazingly, Trump does not care. He appears to be happy that the infrastructure holding American democracy together is disintegrating -- ostensibly because it helps further his own despotic ambitions.
This is what happens when a TV reality star and failed businessman bullshits his way into the presidency -- an unprecedented event in US history that will have almost irreversible effects.
Take for example, the collapse of America's State Department and Trump's schizophrenic foreign policy that changes on a day to day basis and has no basis in any particular philosophy. His stance towards Iran is predicated on a hatred of President Obama. He wants to smash the carefully negotiated nuclear deal because a black man with more star power than him was responsible for it. The rest of the planet wants the deal to stay intact, realizing the obvious fact that it will help prevent a total collapse of the Middle East and a descent into unimaginable bloodshed. Bringing Iran to the negotiating table was a brilliant move by Obama, who recognized the need for diplomacy and cooperation after eight years of neo conservative lunacy.
Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, is desperately attempting to salvage the Iran nuclear deal that needs to be re-certified on May 12th in a last minute Hail Mary that involves the only known method of getting Trump's attention: going on Fox & Friends. Reported the Guardian:
Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, pleaded with Donald Trump not to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal on Monday. Johnson, in the US but not scheduled to meet Trump in person, appealed instead via an opinion piece in the New York Times and a more direct channel: an appearance on Fox & Friends, the president’s news show of choice....
Johnson appeared on Fox after the controversial TV medic Dr Oz, who has just been appointed to Trump’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition alongside New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Incredible Hulk star Lou Ferrigno.
“The president is right to see flaws in [the deal] and he set a very reasonable challenge to the world,” said Johnson, offering praise of the president that he would repeat. “He said: ‘Look, Iran is behaving badly, has a tendency to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles. We’ve got to stop that. We’ve got to push back on what Iran is doing in the region. We’ve got to be tougher.’”
Johnson pleaded with Trump not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” and pledged to work with him to improve the deal. Elements which needed fixing, he said, included the “sunset clause” that meant “after 2025, the current deal allows Iran to go forward fast with enrichment programmes which could lead to a nuclear weapon, and no sanctions go back on”.
The fact that the British Foreign Secretary cannot sit down with the president of the United States and explain why staying in the Iran nuclear deal is vital for the long term peace prospect in the Middle East is a departure from centuries of diplomacy between the two countries. The fact that the British Foreign Secretary has to go on an entertainment news show designed for middle aged housewives to get the president to pay attention to him is truly insane.
It is a well known fact that Trump does not read his briefings, is not interested in them, and cannot focus during meetings with staff or foreign dignitaries. Trump spends most of the morning watching Fox News and tweeting out responses to the stories he sees on the right wing news network -- a well studied phenomenon that should absolutely terrify American citizens. That the British government now conducts foreign policy with America through Fox News is a sign that the US now functions as a pariah state that is no longer a member of the international community. With Trump as president, the country cannot be relied upon to engage rationally with the outside world, and must be treated accordingly. This would be manageable if the United States wasn't the most powerful economy and military on the planet, but it is, and the madman at the helm is pushing it ever faster towards the abyss.