FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Calculated Destruction of America’s Government

by

t is truly extraordinary: the still-new Trump administration keeps appointing people whose common priority is the destruction of the agency they head. Their mission is therefore the opposite of their agency’s: priority to management over responsibility, product over people, and private interests over public service. In essence, Trump is presiding over a government that rejects governing and seems intent on creating a state within a state.

The examples are well known. Consumer protection is now in the hands of an anti-consumer, pro-business guy, someone who once called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “a sad, sick joke.” The Environmental Protection Agency is under an oil and gas industry proponent who despises environmentalists and denies human agency in climate change. He is removing environmental reporting from the EPA website and preventing government scientists from speaking to the public. Housing is under a well-known surgeon and political airhead who hasn’t the slightest idea about his department’s purposes. A millionaire who leads the department of education has no experience in public education and is busily trying to privatize it. Trump’s pick for health and human services is a drug company executive who had a hand in raising drug prices. And then there’s the justice department, run by a racist who is determined to keep non-whites out of the country, limit enforcement of civil rights laws, and disenfranchise minorities. Other government agencies, such as defense, homeland security, and immigration and customs (ICE) follow the same pattern of politically skewed missions that undermine our most cherished values, not to mention common sense.

But the best example is the state department under Rex Tillerson. He announced his purpose as being to reorganize the department and save money, not promote diplomacy or refine America’s interests abroad. Tillerson’s notion of good management has resulted in a gutting of the department and loss of considerable expertise in precisely those regional specialties—East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa—that demand constant attention. Following the lead of the president and his inner circle of inexperienced know-nothings who spout a white nationalist agenda, Tillerson is showing career staff the door in disdain for “bureaucrats.” Even when he makes a feeble mention of peacemaking, as with North Korea, Iran, and Israel-Palestine, Trump immediately pulls the rug out from under him—as he just did with recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The state of State is disheartening, to say the least, and the rumored removal of Tillerson in favor of CIA director Mike Pompeo will not make the slightest difference. Career diplomats are leaving in droves, the budget is being cut by nearly one third, and the number of new applications for the foreign service is down by one half. The new guy in charge of personnel, who would normally be a senior diplomat, has only eight years of experience. (But then, who needs an experienced personnel manager when so few people are left to manage?) Another Tillerson appointee who was supposed to manage the downsizing has resigned after only several weeks at the job.

What we are witnessing is the destruction of the government we pay for and to which we are asked to pledge allegiance. Every week some government service we took for granted is weakened or eliminated by official fiat. By my count, Trump has now severely criticized or attacked outright seven American institutions: the media and various courts; the departments of Justice and State; the FBI; and both political parties. No public official who defies presidential preference is immune from Trump’s wrath. He has played with the idea of establishing a private spy network to get around the CIA—an idea being peddled by none other than Erik Prince (of Blackwater fame) and Oliver North (cf. Iran-Contra). This president is totally committed to sustaining an oligarchy in the image of Vladimir Putin.

Those critics who point to the Trump administration’s failure to pass any legislation as evidence of the strength of the resistance are only partly right. When you put together all the Obama-era administrative regulations that have been rescinded and the legal cases in defense of the public interest abandoned, and add to that the reactionary actions of right-wing dominated state legislatures and the Supreme Court majority, you have quite a record of intentional destructiveness as prescribed by Steve Bannon.

There is no law that says weakening the federal government’s role is a crime. But deliberately subverting the US government is reason enough to seek Trump’s impeachment. He is doing to America what no foreign adversary could do. Some might call it treason.

More articles by:

Mel Gurtov is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University, Editor-in-Chief of Asian Perspective, an international affairs quarterly and blogs at In the Human Interest.

Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Seth Sandronsky
Misreading Edu-Reform 
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
David Yearsley
Winston and Paddington: Marianelli’s Musical Bears
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail