A perilous position

posted January 16, 2020 at 12:00 am
US senators begin an impeachment trial next week, but from all indications, the Republican Party to which President Donald Trump belongs will use its majority to railroad a speedy acquittal. That is a pity, given the damage Mr. Trump has done—not only to America but to its allies.

A perilous position

Mr. Trump was impeached in December last year by the House of Representatives on two counts: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Now he is scheduled to be tried by the Senate, with the chief justice of the Supreme Court presiding.

Nobody expects the Republican-led Senate to convict Mr. Trump, even though it is clear that he abused his power when he sought to pressure the Ukraine into announcing an investigation into his political rival, former US vice president Joe Biden, by threatening to withhold military aid that the US Congress had already allocated—assistance that was critical, given that Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula and annexed it in 2014, on orders from Mr. Trump’s bosom buddy, President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Trump’s subsequent refusal to permit any of his subordinates to testify during an investigation, and his refusal to release any pertinent documents related to his pressure campaign on the Ukraine make clear, too, that he was guilty of obstruction of Congress.

None of this matters, however, to the Republican senators headed by Senator Mitch McConnell, who had made it abundantly clear that he does not intend to conduct an impartial trial, and also said he would be coordinating in lockstep with White House lawyers. With no interest in admitting an inconvenient truth, the senator has even refused to allow any new witnesses to be called during the Senate process—surely a mockery of the notion of a trial.

All this would be a purely domestic American affair, had it not been for the fact that in between his impeachment and his trial, Mr. Trump ordered the assassination of a top Iranian general in a drone strike in Iraq.

Seeking to justify his decision, Mr. Trump merely spoke of an “imminent attack” and later seemed to conjure up a plot to bomb American embassies—a claim nobody else in the intelligence community or the US Defense Department has been able to confirm.

Given Mr. Trumps poor track record in telling the truth, it is apparent that he approved the attack as a way to distract from his impeachment—and to score political points with his base of ignorant and jingoistic supporters.

But the unfortunate truth is that Mr. Trump’s rash decision—regardless of how despicable his target of assassination may have been—has consequences, not only for the United States.

In the aftermath of the drone strike he authorized, tensions rose worldwide over the possibility of war. When Iran shot down a Ukrainian commercial jet killing all 176 people on board, that was in response to Mr. Trump’s belligerent warnings that he would target Iranian cultural sites if they tried to avenge their general’s death.

Closer to home, the Philippines scrambled to launch a massive effort to bring home thousands of Filipino workers in Iraq, whose lives were now in danger—again thanks to Mr. Trump’s rash actions.

If, as it seems, Mr. Trump survives his impeachment trial, we can only hope that the American public will finally wake up from its four-year nightmare and gift the world with a more rational US president that will not put us in such a perilous position.

Topics: Donald Trump , House of Representatives , Joe Biden , Vladimir Putin , Mitch McConnell , Iran , Iraq
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