- Monday, October 28, 2019

For anyone interested in the prospect, however remote, of improved U.S.-Russia ties, get this straight: It isn’t going to happen anytime soon, if ever. In an increasingly dysfunctional American political landscape, now melting down into a zero-sum game over impeachment, rational discussion of perhaps the most imperative question of U.S. global policy has become virtually impossible.

One of the telltale symptoms is that normal words don’t mean anything anymore. For example, take “allies,” as in the accusation that President Trump has benefited Moscow by “betraying our Kurdish allies” in Syria or balking on arming “our ally Ukraine.”

In fact, the U.S. has an alliance treaty with neither Kurds nor Ukraine. Conversely, Turkey actually is America’s NATO ally. As few Americans are aware, we just picked up a new treaty ally under the improbable moniker of “North Macedonia.” NATO expansion to counter “the Russian threat” marches on.

Or take “rule of law.” Salon’s  Chauncey DeVega writes that Mr. Trump has “co-opted … the rule of law through the Department of Justice as well as United States foreign policy.” How? By circumventing the career U.S. Foreign Service and other bureaucracies in a bid to investigate the foreign, including Ukrainian, role in FISA-gate.

Can these people read? The Constitution (Article 2, Section 1, Clause 1) says: “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” The president. Not the Foreign Service, not the intelligence “community,” not the FBI or other “inferior Officers” (Section 2), whose job it is to implement the president’s policies, not the other way around.

Impeachment-fixated Democrats and their Never-Trump GOP fellow-travelers think they have a smoking gun with current Charge d’Affaires in Kyiv William Taylor’s claim that there was indeed a quid pro quo between providing Ukraine with arms (for which the U.S. has no obligation) and America’s top law enforcement officer (i.e. the president) asking Ukraine to investigate criminal activity. But do they?

Mr. Trump‘s enemies keep hyping Hunter Biden’s profiteering as the object of his attention while downplaying the real issue: What was Ukraine‘s role in the criminal conspiracy inside the U.S. government to block Mr. Trump in 2016 (it failed) or to neuter and remove him if he happened to win (still ongoing)?

As anyone who’s been paying attention knows, along with British agencies the previous Ukrainian government under Petro Poroshenko, current President Volodymyr Zelensky’s predecessor, was integral to activities to that end by John Brennan, James Clapper, Andrew McCabe, James B. Comey, Peter Strzok, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Victoria Nuland and many others, probably including former President Barack Obama himself, plus some Republican Never-Trumpers and D.C. think tanks.

Even now, the “Resistance” inside the administration protects this anti-constitutional cabal, which is why Mr. Trump, despite his legal authority, is pathetically reduced to what he can accomplish personally or through private intermediaries. Will the long-awaited Department of Justice Inspector General’s report and the much ballyhooed Durham investigation (now reportedly after Brennan and Clapper) amount to much? I’m skeptical.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors ostensibly under Mr. Trump‘s authority are Johnny-on-the-spot in hammering Rudolph W. Giuliani and his informants seeking to uncover the conspiracy. The message from the Deep State to those seeking to help their nominal boss is clear: “Back off, or end up like Paul Manafort.”

As Matt Taibbi comments (“We’re in a permanent coup“): “I don’t believe most Americans have thought through what a successful campaign to oust Donald Trump would look like. … The real problem would be the precedent of a de facto intelligence community veto over elections, using the lunatic spookworld brand of politics that has dominated the last three years of anti-Trump agitation.”

If the Deep State plotters finally harpoon their Great Orange Whale, it will mark the end of even a pretense of a constitutional order in this country.

At this point, the odds are against Mr. Trump. His critics still hold their ace card: Russia. Coup-meister Clapper agrees with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that all roads lead to Putin. As Anne Gearan of The Washington Post asks, what’s Mr. Trump‘s common denominator in Syria and Ukraine? To help Russia of course!

Not just Mr. Trump but anyone who puts American interests before those of the permanent warfare state can count on being targeted as a Kremlin stooge: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Jill Stein, Sen. Rand Paul, former Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Tom Massie are among the brave few willing to face the smears.

As the impeachment witch hunt unfolds, the real treachery rotting our public life remains hidden. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, Mr. Zelensky faces his own Deep State thwarting both efforts to bring peace to the Donbas and to get the truth to Washington — as if anyone here really cared.

In such a climate, Russia isn’t a foreign policy issue; it’s Rorschach blot test for treason. Things have no place to go but down.

James George Jatras is a former U.S. diplomat and former foreign policy adviser to the Senate Republican leadership.

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