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    U.S. President Donald Trump. | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 August 2017
Trump's chaotic White House has led to a chaotic Russia policy.

The high-level individuals leaving the Donald Trump administration must be a record. Eleven since the end of January averaging out to almost two per month. The latest, Anthony Scaramucci now holds a record of sorts as the shortest serving White House communications director in history. He was in office exactly 10 days when the White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly, himself a new hire, fired him Monday.

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Among other problems, this chaos in the White House has also prevented a coherent policy on Russia. The president wants to improve relations with Russia, a view supported by the major European powers. That this commonality of interests could have been turned into concrete support is plain to see, and that it was not, makes White House incompetence transparent. Had Trump been so armed, he could have gone to the people of the United States and talked about the negative consequences of the sanctions, the economic costs to Europe, plus worsening relations and the upping of tensions with the only military power capable of destroying the United States.

Instead, a naked president received a bill passed by veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate, the latter in a vote of 98 to 2. Not only does the bill increase sanctions on Russia, but it impedes any effort on Trump's part to remove them.

In six months Trump has been unable to muster any kind of support on Russia in congress; he is unable to use the bully pulpit to speak directly to the U.S. people or make any effort to sway any but the most ardent of his supporters, such failure for a move towards peace, which most people in the U.S. correctly informed about Ukraine would welcome. Instead, we get 2 a.m infantile rants on real and perceived slights.

Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of history should know Ukraine was a Russian province for centuries. Crimea was added to it in the 1950s to facilitate the administration of a large bridge construction project. All part of the Soviet Union then little did it matter which local authority administered the peninsula. To make an issue of it now, when the population is overwhelmingly Russian and voted to leave the Ukraine, is as hypocritical as spending the US$5 billion to destabilize and remove the democratically-elected government of Ukraine in the first place.

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Iran has decided to ignore the slights against it in the sanctions bill, and it is understandable when both Trump and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu together are spoiling for a fight. The last object of congressional ire in the bill, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, has delivered a metaphorical middle finger raised from a closed fist in the form of a missile rising straight up. Experts allege that its trajectory and height demonstrate a capacity to reach any city in the United States.

Trump's response was belligerent and telling. He assured us any war would be fought over there. During the Korean war, the north wanted to bomb Japan because it was being used as a bomber base, but its Chinese and Russian allies were afraid of expanding the war. As for the other U.S. staunch ally, South Korea, a third of its population lives in Seoul and its suburbs and it is armed to the teeth. The resulting carnage could cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

It's an ill wind ... as the saying goes, and it is blowing some good. The late night talk show comedians are having a ball. Belly-splitting skits and satire abound. Michael Moore the activist film maker has a show "The Terms of My Surrender" that has just opened on Broadway. The tagline "Can a Broadway show bring down a President?" might appear far-fetched until you realize Moore predicted early that Trump would win and even gave the reasons why. He believes the way to bring down this absurd presidency is by laughing at him. "His thin skin is so thin," he says "he can't take being laughed at."

Dr. Arshad M Khan is a former professor whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and internet media.

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