Zijn opa mocht na afloop van de Eerste Wereldoorlog niet naar Duitsland terugkeren omdat hij als deserteur werd beschouwd. Wellicht is daarom aan hem een nazi-coryfee verloren gegaan. In dat geval was Donald nooit of te nimmer president geworden van het machtigste land ter wereld. Merkwaardig hoe de geschiedenis bepalend is voor onze daden.
Was Ronald Reagan ook bezield van de gedachte aan een groot rijk met een superieure leider, toen hij de gevallen SS militairen in Bitburg wenste te rehabiliteren? Wellicht onderkende hij op die plek pas hoeveel dank de USA Nazi-Duitsland verschuldigd waren. Zijn opvolger Trump is dat hoogstwaarschijnlijk al met paplepel ingegeven: Deutschland über alles.
A DANGEROUS GAMBIT
The FBI raided Donald Trump’s home in Florida, but we don’t know why. Early reports suggest a link to Trump’s alleged removal of classified material from the White House, but until we know more, there is no point in speculating on why the Justice Department has taken the remarkable step of searching the home of a former president. Republicans, of course, are now screaming that the FBI must be destroyed. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has gone so far as to suggest that federal agents planted evidence in Trump’s Florida manse; so much for the GOP as the party of “law and order.”
Investigating a former president and tossing his residence is a massive step, and normally, most Americans would, I assume, be reluctant to even consider it. But Trump, both in and out of office, effectively lives as a mafia don, thumbing his nose at the laws he was supposed to execute and the Constitution he was supposed to protect. He destroyed the norms that might have given him the benefit of the doubt now, leaving the rest of us to make a simple argument: No one is above the law.
And that includes the commander in chief. The raid on Citizen Trump is high drama, but I fear that the news from Florida is overwhelming an even more shocking story about President Trump and the American military. Law enforcement in the United States has always been an imperfect patchwork of fine departments and corrupt backwaters, of dedicated public servants and dangerous cowboys. But through it all, we have always been able to count on the armed forces of the United States as the apolitical and steady defenders of the American nation.
Trump wanted to change that and turn the military into his own praetorian guard. In an except from a forthcoming book, the journalists Susan Glasser and Peter Baker reveal an exchange between Trump and his then-chief of staff, John Kelly:
“You fucking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?”
“Which generals?” Kelly asked.
“The German generals in World War II,” Trump responded.
“You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?” Kelly said.
Trump refused to believe Kelly: “No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him,” he replied. “In his version of history,” Glasser and Baker write, “the generals of the Third Reich had been completely subservient to Hitler; this was the model he wanted for his military.”
Let us leave aside the problem that Donald Trump might be the most intellectually limited and willfully ignorant man ever to sit in the Oval Office. Still, we must ask: Nazis?
Donald Trump’s role models for the men and women of the finest military of the most successful democracy on Earth were … who? Wilhelm Keitel or Alfred Jodl, both of whom were hanged at Nuremberg? Wilhelm Canaris or Friedrich Olbricht, who were also executed—but by the Nazis for plotting to kill Hitler? Trump has a simplistic belief that the Nazis were effective, efficient, and loyal. (This is an old trope about the Nazis that even pops up in the original Star Trek series: Spock, in a 1968 episode, affirms that the Nazis ran the most efficient state in Earth’s history, which is historical nonsense.)
We should not console ourselves that Trump failed in this effort. It’s too easy, now, to say that “the system worked” or the “guardrails held.” Glasser and Baker point out that Trump, almost from his first days in office, started searching for “his generals,” the men—always men—whose loyalty would transcend trifling documents such as the Constitution of the United States. This is how Trump’s administration ended up infested with people such as Michael Flynn, Anthony Tata, and Douglas Macgregor—all retired military officers, political extremists, and crackpots. Fortunately, Trump failed to find senior officers still in uniform who would bend to his wishes—but mostly, it seems, because he ran out of time.
Trump will continue his war on the FBI as part of his ongoing struggle against democracy and the rule of law. But his attempt to corrupt the U.S. military—which, in the event of a national crisis, foreign or domestic, is the final line of defense for our system of government—was a vastly more dangerous gambit, and one we should not forget in the midst of the current scrum.
The Atlantic – 9 augustus 2022
Verdere info: Documents Taken From Trump’s Home Included Classified Material – The New York Times – 12 augustus 2022
Uitgelichte foto: gettyimages