Trump Being Pushed Back From Power: "President Bolton" Appears in Washington
WASHINGTON, DC – January 14, 2018
President Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria has revealed the conflict with his administration and the entire system of power in the US. It’s not clear who is actually running the country at the moment: the official President or National Security Adviser John Bolton, who is being called “President Bolton” in the meda, by NewsWeek, for example, because of his political clout and ability to push decisions that run counter to Trump’s official stances.
The scandal surrounding the arrest of the daughter of the head of the Chinese corporation Huawei has led to a new special status and special opportunities for Bolton. By the reckless (or perhaps demonstrative) admission of Bolton himself, he was aware of this aggressive action against China in advance and was informed of the impending arrest prior to key personal talks between President trump and Chairman Xi.
The problem is that Trump didn’t know, which means not only did he hold talks with Xi in the dark, but also did not give the go-ahead for such sharp, unfriendly actions that could have serious far-reaching consequences, on the eve of such important negotiations no less. In this context, the situation begins to look like obvious sabotage, because how else do you explain the sabotage of his diplomatic efforts by the person in his administration who should be the most informed and trusted supporter? Trump has dismissed high-ranking officials for lesser offenses, but nothing has happened to Bolton. This makes one think that his status as a subordinate is nothing more than a formality.
The President himself has said many times that his main problem and political enemy is the Deep State--the unelected politicians, bureaucrats, and officials who de facto run the show, regardless of who is President. Judging by Bolton’s “unsinkability,” Trump hasn’t been able to drain the swamp as much as he would have liked, despite the fact that he is obviously trying to lead by more or less independent policies.
A striking proof of Trump's desire to change something was his unexpected decision to withdraw troops from Syria. According to "informed sources,” it was made with the open resistance of senior Pentagon officials and high-ranking State Department officials--Deep State representatives.
This is especially important given the fact that the Deep State already managed to cancel one of Trump's decisions on the withdrawal of troops from Syria in April 2018. A week ago, immediately after the announcement of the withdrawal, Bolton went to talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then actually said there would be no immediate withdrawal of troops, which shocked the American journalists who clearly did not expect such a direct contradiction between the President and his subordinate. At the same time, Bolton spoke as if it were he who governs.
The situation balanced between farce and comedy for several days: Everyone is making contradictory statements while also wanting to give the impression that everything is alright, while the rest of the world clearly saw the dual power that exists in Washington that is grappling for control of the military. In the end, Trump managed a tactical victory--the withdrawal of technology from Syria seems to have begun, at least according to outlets like the Wall Street Journal and NewsWeek.
Information is key in this standoff between Bolton’s “hawks” and Trump’s “isolationists.” NewsWeek stresses that the withdrawal of equipment was done against Bolton’s wishes, while the Wall Street Journal made sure to quote an anonymous high-ranking military officer who stated for all Americans to read: “Plans have not changed. We do not obey Bolton.”
In any case, it seems at least part of the army supports Trump over and against the Deep State.
But whether this is enough for Trump to fully realize his presidential powers is a big question. In any case, dual power and obvious internal political discord will most likely not be resolved peacefully because the contradictions between the parties are deep-seated and difficult to overcome. The rest of the world will only benefit from this confrontation: The more America weakens as a result of this situation, the easier it will be later to negotiate or “press down” those who win the war for Washington.