Howard Epstein



According to Israel’s Government Press Office, the schedule for the visit to Israel of (the still) president Trump listed dinner for the President’s entourage and the Israeli delegation at the King David Hotel, Jerusalem, under the aegis of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. It is not known whether Liberman’s Russian provenance was considered by the government to be an advantage but of one thing we may be sure: one or more of the USA’s fifteen security agencies, ranging from the longest-established (the FBI) to the most recent creation (the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)) will be investigating. Apparently, the US security community’s knives are out for anyone closely-connected with POTUS, and the closer the juicier, apparently – or maybe the Jewier the juicier, as rumour has it that Jared Kushner is the most-prized target. (While they are at it, they might like to investigate FLOTUS, too. Those with long memories will recall that her Slovenian origins mean that she has been connected with communism and the Russians from way back.)

In the meantime, Trump went down a storm in Saudi Arabia, where he could have had confidence that he was not going to be taken to task by his hosts for having a medieval attitude to women. Whether the hoped-for multi-billion dollar deals for US military-industrial complex and the rehabilitation of the Rust Belt come to fruition remains to be seen – as does whether that would restrain the Liberal Left and the not-quite-so-liberal FBI attack-dogs. That the whole alphabet soup of security agencies (the not-yet-conceived DHS apart, of course) failed spectacularly to prevent the disaster of 9/11 (so meticulously detailed by Peter Lance in his masterly examination “Triple Cross”) does not appear to have caused them any loss of self-regard. Belief in one’s infallibility, even after all credibility has been destroyed, is a wonder to behold.

What has got them into a real tizzy was the president’s expressed satisfaction (to the Russian foreign minister and his ambassador to the USA) at having awesome intelligence put before him that has led to the upcoming ban on taking laptop computers on flights from Europe and elsewhere to the USA. Without Trump, it seems, Da’esh would never have guessed that a deep-lying mole in their midst had spilt the beans. Oh really? What would they have thought – that one of the fifteen Mr Plod outfits had just guessed wildly and come up with it? To me it appears that what Trump gave away to the Russkies was nothing more than the blindingly obvious. If Da’esh have been able to carry out Nazi-style chemical warfare experiments on humans, and document their progress – and they have – they might just have been able to put two and two together.

In any event, it seems that I am out-of-step with Israel’s minders for it was reported that this massive Trumpian security breach has caused Mossad to be diffident about sharing intelligence with their American counterparts for fear of Trump being similarly careless in the future. Well, since sharing involves take as well as give, that is a line unlikely to be held for long. Compared to the US, Israel has far too few security outfits and one assumes that the Americans will know a thing or two before Israel does. It will be a shame if they will not share their morsels with Israel because of Israeli prissiness about the First Gentleman (or whatever you call the man who is married to the First Lady).

Then, too, it would be something if America were to embark on the impeachment route for a third time in less than fifty years. It is bad enough that many capable men will have been frightened off a political career because they may have behaved in the past as, well, men; it will make the available gene-pool even more shallow if impeachment is going to rear its head quite so soon into a presidency. High crimes and misdemeanors should indeed be discouraged but concurrently discouraging potential entrants with witch-hunt politics seems short-sighted. Both Nixon and Clinton were on the wrong end of investigations by special prosecutors into mendaciousness in the office of the president. Trump seems to be in that position by reason of an excess of candour about something that was self-evident.

Of course, if Team Trump used the Russians to win the election, that would be rather un-American, but first a general investigation and then, if there is prima facie evidence of wrong-doing, appointing a special prosecutor to take an in depth look at the president would seem the appropriate course. The haste to do Trump down is indecent, and distractions from the pressures of the business of the Oval Office are always bad news. They are what caused Clinton to overlook nine wake-up calls from Al-Qaeda over seven years: it was his job to knock together the heads of the heads of the (then) 14 security agencies to see whether there was any connection between (for example) the USS Cole attack and (for example) the attempt on his own life in Manila. Unfortunately, Clinton was off on a frolic of his own – something to do with cigars, little blue dresses and a DNA match that meant only one other person in 13 trillion could have been in the frame, but regrettably no-one knew who else that might have been. Result: the Deep State went for Clinton. But he out-foxed them all with his lawyer’s superior understanding of all the possible conjugations of the verb “to be”. (It also helped that all the Democrat members of the jury (Democrat Senators, that is) voted against criminal proceedings, together with a sufficiency of Republican Senators.)

Still, all is not lost where Trump is concerned. His first utility was to keep Israel out of the reach of the less than beneficent Hillary Clinton. His second will be (if removed) to facilitate the accession of Mike Pence, who, it is reported, is already limbering up to step up. In the meantime, the chances of Trump being able to force an unacceptable Partition (Two-State) solution down Israel’s throat may be beyond him, given his shrinking power base; and Pence is on record as having said that the Palestinians are “an invented people”. He may not hold to that line but he is more predictable than Trump and unlikely to perform a volte face just to achieve the greatest deal in history.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

© Howard Epstein – May 2017

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