Monday, August 28, 2017


The growing Trump chaos is creating bewilderment, sarcasm (world wide) and adulation (from his base).   Most Americans are resigned to sweat it out but as of lately, patience is in short supply. The undisciplined pace of this president and his addiction to lies and personal attacks is becoming worrisome. The multiple personae he inhabits have only one goal in common, to deflect the attention from the various Russia probes which might well arrive at a moment of truth. It is impossible to predict the outcome but the rumors and the range of the inquests are visibly probing the nerves of the president. His pardon of the infamous sheriff Arpaio is actually a warning shot in the direction of the Russian connection inquiries. His future Pardons will likewise neither follow precedent, neither will they be the outcome of prior consultation with the DOJ : Le Pardon,c'est moi.

The Republicans are feeling the heat from their constituents. Their support for this White House might become more conditional. The coming month will be difficult, the more so given that Trump wants Congress to fund his (in)famous wall, while Republicans want to prioritize tax reform instead. The exhibitionist antics of the president add to a general malaise, aggravated by the kleptocratic DNA of his close Entourage and cabinet. 

Only his "base" continues to give him unconditional support. He orchestrates feelings of frustration and social marginalization, while he commutes between his resorts and the White House, which remain off limits for a base he pretends to care for. He redirects them to the coalmines where they will reconnect with bad health and no future.

Europeans are starting to regroup. The American conceptual wilderness and the amateurism of Washington's inroads in diplomacy by non-diplomats are disturbing.  They endanger the solidity of the Transatlantic bonds. France mostly, considers that the void so created needs to be addressed urgently, before an aggressive Russia and a patient China make a move. Paris is trying to claim a leadership role in Europe through a revamped French-German relationship, which President Macron wants to steer in the direction of priorities more in line with French thinking.  Given the growing frustration with all things Trump, he might see an opening for a wider role for the EU, be it with a French accent.

Trump will do anything to be re-elected and to avoid impeachment. He is ruthless and does not make room for niceties, other than some more faked behavior when meeting foreign leaders. Europeans experience the "winter of their discontent" and should concentrate on priorities of their choice:  free-trade, enlightened globalization, free flow of ideas. They were able to stem the rise of populism and should now negotiate the terms of Brexit with a constructive approach, even when London looks as if it prefers to sulk rather than correct the consequences of a historical mistake. The savoir faire can be claimed by the EU. There are enough challenges in the world--political, strategic or financial--wherein professional input can dislodge, for the time being, Trump's aberrations (trade, nationalism, immigration, climate). Europeans might consider revisiting the Helsinki Agreements which appear to be all but forgotten by Putin (and never heard of by Trump). The result of the German elections will change nothing since both candidates are pro-EU and share an almost visceral antipathy versus Trump. Chancellor Merkel should be the winner.  In the French-German duo she should be the negotiating force both with Russia and the US, while Macron could become the EU's new "grand architect".  The UK is in trouble since it will be the absentee in the EU and since the special relationship with the USA, under Trump, has become less desirable.

It is impossible to predict how the contradictory tides will affect world affairs. One way or another, Trump is a liability.  It is up to the Republicans to decide if they are willing to sever their mariage de raison with the president, or to suffer in silence a growing embarrassment. Theirs is not an easy choice because if they alienate Trump's base they might sign their execution in 2018. 

In the end, special counsel Robert Mueller is probably the only person on Trump's mind. This helps to explain the erratic moves of the president. If cornered, he might resort to desperate moves which could plunge America into a constitutional crisis with no respite in sight. The president is playing defense for the time being, but everybody waits for the "tweet" he holds in reserve. Observers watch this drole de guerre and wonder if the countdown has started or not.


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