Friday, 14 April 2017

Be careful what you wish for...

Do you remember FBI Director James Comey announcing, just eleven days before the US presidential election, that he was once more investigating Hillary Ciinton over allegations about her time as Secretary of State? Only once the damage was done did he let it be known that no charges were going to be brought. Many believe his intervention may have cost her the election.

It’s particularly galling that it has now come out that Comey was investigating Trump at the same time, for the contacts between his team and known or suspected Russian agents. Comey said nothing about that. Imagine the impact on Trump’s campaign if it had come out before the election that his campaign had clandestine contact with a foreign, and not particularly friendly, intelligence service.

Comey may have been instrumental in putting Trump into the White House, but that hasn’t stopped the President he helped create rounding on him. Trump now claims that Comey “saved Hillary Clinton's life” by not recommending charges against her. Comey may have given Trump the shove he needed to get in, but he has no control over him now.

James Comey: is Trump biting a hand that once fed him?
And what about Comey’s other investigation? Whether or not it ultimately discovers any wrongdoing by the Trump people, it’s fairly clear Putin was keen on a Trump victory and prepared to do what he could to facilitate one. Like Comey, he may be wondering now how wise that attitude was. Though candidate Trump was more than complimentary about Russia and Putin, during his visit to Moscow on 12 April, Secreatry of State Rex Tillerson described US-Russian relations being “at a low point”. In that, he was echoing Trump’s own views.

Meanwhile, Trump is finding it hard to deliver on his domestic pledges. Like so many other inept and authoritarian leaders, he’s resorted instead to military action. It’s so much easier to fire missiles at Syria or drop a massive bomb on Afghanistan, than to make deals with Congress (the “great deal-maker” Trump is proving he doesn’t deserve even that title), far less to improve incomes or extend employment opportunities at home.

Like Comey and Putin, many of those who believed Trump’s pledges to help them out of their difficulties, may soon be wondering whether they were as smart as they might have been in backing an amateur’s bid for the White House.

Meanwhile, back in Britain, it’s becoming increasingly clear that leaving the EU won’t increase opportunities or improve trade. On the contrary, the country is likely to find it hard to sign trade deals that would be as beneficial as the arrangements it currently enjoys with its European partners. Nor does it seem that Brexit will even lead to any decrease in immigration – Britain needs the foreign manpower – even though that was the principal aim of many Brexit supporters.

Comey and Putin may just be the tip of the great wave of disappointment likely to sweep the US and UK in the coming years. It would be gratifying if that disappointment would drive people back towards more sensible positions than backing Trump or Brexit. Sadly, disappointed people aren’t always the most rational. The reaction may be a switch to even more extreme positions.

We’re going through difficult times. They may become a great deal more difficult still. But we need to get through them if there’s to be any hope of resuming progress once this retroactive period is over.

In the meantime, it’ll do none of us any harm to be a little more careful what we wish for.

No comments: