By Haviland Smith
Editor’s note: Haviland Smith, a long retired CIA operations officer who has watched democracies fall.
During the Putin era it has become clear that the Russians are in the process of trying to reestablish themselves among the most powerful and influential countries in the world. To do that, they see the diminution of American power and prestige as critical for their goals. They must be encouraged by what is happening in America right now.
Our democracy looks more fragile every day. The U.S. is a chaotic place. Nothing really works. Our legislature is paralyzed by hostility between the Republicans and Democrats. This is a reality recognized around the world. It makes “democracy” anything but attractive.
Despite the likelihood that most Americans are democratically disposed, there are clearly some who believe that there is not sufficient central authority being used to change the situation, reduce conflict and force stability on the nation.
Back Lives Matter began as a spontaneous, peaceful reaction to what were viewed as police excesses. It was widely supported in both the white and black communities in this country and continues to be today.
But recently BLM has been actively and often violently opposed by racist and white supremacist groups as well as by outside activists who appear to be interested solely in fanning disorder and conflict, fomenting violence.
It is probably fair to say that the White House, if it were so inclined, could slow, if not completely stop the violence. An appropriate word from the White House could blunt the motivation of those violently opposed to the BLM. And yet, that does not happen as the White House even praises various violent anti-BLM supporters.
That praise has been reinforced by continuing statements from White House personnel, most emphatically including the president, which have praised the character of those racists and white supremacists. The retiring adviser to the president, Kellyanne Conway, recently said that the more violence there is, “the better it is for Trump’s re-election prospects.”
How could this be? Is it not the primary job of any White House to calm and quiet discontent in our country rather than encourage it?
Where most Americans work to maintain, increase and exploit cooperative democracy, others seem to be working to destroy it. Why?
If you look around the world strictly in terms of existing strict law and order, at the top of the list would sit all of those dictatorships run by autocratic leaders who use the power of government to quash all opposition, all dissent. At the bottom of the list sits America and all those democratic countries that have strong internal competing political components. If you want imposed and maintained law and order more than freedom of speech and activity, you will be drawn toward the autocracies.
He claims to be the president of “law and order” whilst encouraging violence in order to warrant the need for more “law and order.”
If the conflict in America were to get out of hand, only a White House could contain it. They could declare a “national emergency” and bring on the troops to quash it, thus, assuming total power. However brutal and anti-democratic that would be, it is the autocrat’s standard way of manipulating free societies and seizing absolute power. Such a chain of events would leave a White House totally in charge of the nation and able to dictate the future.
Is it not curious that we now have a president who is in the process of alienating all of our old friends and allies abroad, those who run the last remaining democracies in the world? And at the same time, the leaders he praises are the autocratic dictators and anti-democrats of the world. Vladimir Putin of Russia, Rodrigo Duterte of the Phillipines, Kim Jung Un of North Korea, Xi Jinping of China, Abdel-fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey seem to be his favorites.
An important question that no one seems to ask is “Why are the Russians supporting President Trump?”
Russia is anti-democratic and authoritative. It maintains order through internal, often suppressive, controls. It is the antithesis of the U.S.
Their support of Trump can only be because they see him as a president whose own policies and philosophy are compatible with theirs. Examination of his policies will reveal that Trump has never done anything in either domestic or foreign policy that contested Russian policy or goals.
The really big question for us to ask is if our president is consciously in the process of emulating autocratic leaders like those in Russia. The president has spoken of his having more than an additional four years in office, maybe even eight or 12!
Are we now in the process of heading in that direction at the expense of our democracy?