A crime worthy of impeachment? Not really, just another unethical, improper, crass act by President Donald Trump.
Many Democrats are cock-a-hoop over the idea of impeaching Trump. They would bed down with the Devil just to get rid of the boor in the White House. But unless really damning information emerges regarding Trump’s efforts to dig up dirt on his presumptive presidential rival, Joe Biden, it looks so far as if Trump may survive this latest scandal. Unless, of course, the mounting pressure on him seriously affects his health. He is showing clear signs of stress.
In a recorded 25 July phone call, Trump, a former reality TV star, asked Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, a former TV comedy star, to dig up dirt on Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Trump’s request came after a fawning Zelensky, who called Trump ‘teacher’, asked for more US anti-tank missiles.
Trump and Zelensky deny there is any quid pro quo. But of course, there was. It just went unstated. This is how statecraft is exercised. Washington rules its empire – that I call the ‘American Raj’ (title of my second book) – using a well-tested combination of trade concessions, velvet gloved threats, special favors, military pressure and good old quid pro quos.
When word of this sleazy business got out, thanks to a CIA whistleblower, Trump claimed he ordered his minions to suspend almost US $400 million in aid from Washington to Ukraine because of that nation’s ‘corruption.’
What a joke. The Trump administration has provided billions of military loans or grants to utterly corrupt Nigeria, Mexico, Kenya, India and Iraq, to name some of the most unethical recipients. Arms are lavished on Trump’s head-chopping Saudi pals. Israel gets carte blanche, no matter what it does.
Ukraine is a frontrunner in the world’s most corrupt marathon. I recall Soviet officials tearing their hair out at the stunning chicanery, malfeasance and gangsterism going on in Ukraine. One called it ‘the Soviet Sicily.’
I’m a long-time admirer and friend of Ukraine and its colorful, zesty people. But how dismaying it is to witness Ukraine’s political mud fight, its ubiquitous corruption, rampant oligarchs, neo-Nazi gangs and bitter squabbles with its Russian-speaking minority. Ukrainians deserve much better.
Ukraine is a tar baby of corruption. So what was Joe Biden’s son Hunter doing there on the board of an oil and gas business? Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was thrown into jail because of her dealings in this murky, crime-fraught business. The son of a vice president of the US had no business mixed up in this energy snake pit. Papa Joe should have ordered him home.
Detaching Ukraine from Russia has been a key US strategic goal since the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Ukraine was a key component of the Soviet industrial and commercial system, not to mention Moscow’s geopolitical Achilles Heel. Detaching Ukraine would be like removing Texas and California from the United States.
Many Ukrainians were happy to be out of Moscow’s control and, hopefully, headed for union with Europe. The US and EU have funded Ukraine with $16 billion in aid that will never be repaid. Much of the money has vanished into Swiss banks.
But Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine’s industrial heartland in the east were violently opposed to rule by Kiev. So a low-grade war simmers between the two in which the US and Canada (with its large ethnic Ukrainian population) have gotten involved raising risks of an accidental war between NATO and Russia.
Trump, the master ethnic politician, was trying to capture the ethnic Ukrainian vote in the Midwest as he has successfully done with voters of Polish and Jewish origins. He has done the same with Evangelical voters by backing a Greater Israel and portraying himself as a later-day Biblical prophet.
It’s hard to believe the Democratic Party leadership – the people who rigged the last primary against the popular Bernie Sanders – believe they can unseat Trump. The math is totally against them. One supposes their hope is to whip up political chaos against Trump right up to next year’s election. That’s a feeble strategy and may help rather than hurt him.