US in­sti­tu­tions out­weigh per­son­al­i­ties

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

The score so far in the con­test be­tween the US es­tab­lish­ment and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is a clear 2-0. The re­pub­lic has been built on the foun­da­tion of checks and bal­ances. The Found­ing Fa­thers wanted to avoid the con­se­quences of an allpow­er­ful pres­i­dent who would be ac­count­able to no one. Don­ald Trump be­gan his term with a clear wish to ig­nore all the rules of the game and the in­sti­tu­tions that had lasted many years. For ex­am­ple, no one could have imag­ined that the chair­man of the joint chiefs of staff and the head of the coun­try’s in­tel­li­gence ser­vices would not sit on the “holy” Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and would be re­placed by an ex­trem­ist po­lit­i­cal coun­selor. Very soon, how­ever, we saw the push­back from the in­sti­tu­tions and the deep state that had never func­tioned on the ba­sis of po­lit­i­cal party cri­te­ria. The court rul­ings against the ban on cit­i­zens from seven coun­tries was the first ma­jor blow. One of the fed­eral judges who took the first cru­cial de­ci­sion had been pro­posed by Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush and was con­firmed unan­i­mously by the Sen­ate. No one could ac­cuse him of play­ing po­lit­i­cal games. The ju­di­ciary func­tioned as it should. Then came the case of Michael Flynn, with the con­tro­ver­sial re­tired gen­eral hav­ing to re­sign the key post of na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser. Many pres­i­dents have had to sack their chiefs of staff or na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers. But no one had to do this so early or un­der such cir­cum­stances. Pres­i­dent Trump must be in a state of shock. It is clear that he is not in con­trol and that his team does not know how to play the game. Al­ready, he ap­pears to be back­ing away from ex­treme cam­paign po­si­tions with re­gard to China and NATO. His more ex­pe­ri­enced aides and pow­er­ful economic in­ter­ests are bring­ing him down to earth. There is al­ways the dan­ger of an ac­ci­dent. Lead­ers like Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin may want to test Trump dur­ing a pe­riod of in­sta­bil­ity and chaos in key de­ci­sion-mak­ing cen­ters. Some aides may even pro­pose the fa­mil­iar play­book by which a pres­i­dent goes to war in or­der to es­cape the dead ends that he faces and to show that he is a steady hand in a cri­sis. Ev­ery­thing is pos­si­ble. The only thing that is cer­tain is that so far the in­sti­tu­tions ap­pear to be win­ning the game, show­ing that they are more im­por­tant than per­son­al­i­ties.

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