The end of Trump

Mattis breaks silence, harshly condemns Trump's actions — 'He ...

[Defence Secretary Mattis and Trump]

Sometimes you know when a political leader’s career has ended. Losing an election, of course; in Donald Trump’s case, however, when General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the former US defence secretary, published a damning essay yesterday in the Atlantic magazine. The presidential election will just be a formality, clearing the White House of Trump. The Donald is a lame duck.

In the critical part of his article, Mattis says of Trump that he has “made a mockery of the Constitution” and “is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.” This is a straightforward plea to Americans to vote out Trump.

From the time of a rising Athens, the military has always been held in the highest regard in democracies because it represents in the most basic sense the people’s voluntary participation in their own defence and as the means to realize their ambitions for the nation. This slight digression about Athens is because US Marine General Mattis, known in the American military as the “warrior monk” and with a personal library of some 7,000 books, always carried into battle copies of Thucydides’ The Peloponnesian War and Herodotus’ The Persian Wars. Any military man so aware of Athenian history would be only too conscious of how great a liability a half-literate demagogue and, by definition, incompetent leader is for a democratic country. The prompt for Mattis’ sounding the tocsin was Trump’s calling out US military units to deal with citizens taking to the streets in most large American cities to protest the public murder of an unarmed, unresisting, black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis.

Mattis’ slamming Trump has particular significance because the President had wrapped himself round the General when he inducted him in his cabinet in the first year of his term. His charge of the president undermining the Constitution arises from the 1st Amendment right freely to peacably protest. As many American stalwarts expect, Mattis’ coming out openly against Trump will motivate more senior military officers to do the same and undercut the incumbent president’s nationalist credentials. Moreover, so many and so highly regarded retired military leaders emerging in opposition will have a multiplier effect of influencing millions of military veterans — a large domestic constituency, to mobilize against Trump.

He has specialized in fakefully building up a reputation as a successful businessman, but it is unravelling. His flagship Trump Hotel in Washington, DC, for instance, is up for sale, he paid millions to the gullible who sought real estate business wisdom from his scam Trump University and paid very high fees, and threatened to take Trump to court, etc. Politically, other than his base — less than 30% of the white, evangelical, less educated crowd, he is becoming anathema to everybody else.

And things are not smooth sailing on the other fronts that matter either. There is Trump’s usual bluster but neither he nor his Republican Party have any solution for the corona pandemic, a slumping economy, trade war with China, 30 million unemployed, internal unrest owing to the racially-motivated police and vigilante killings, and alienated allies in Europe and Asia. In the event, the US presidency will be handed to Joe Biden of the Democratic Party on a platter along with control of the US Senate.

To paraphrase John Milton’s line, all Biden has to do to gain is stand and wait!

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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55 Responses to The end of Trump

  1. vivek says:

    well talking to my colleagues and some other (whites) here in US , i can still say trump has good support to secure second term

    • So, let’s await the election outcome.

      • vivek says:

        Btw I still believe that Trump is better for India compared to others, not sure about Biden though.

      • I agree. Because as I argued when Trump got elected in 2016m his wayward ways compels potential partners such as India to look out for themselves.

      • manofsan says:

        Sir, what’s missing from your analysis:

        Given that America is currently a very polarized society, the conservative political base are overwhelmingly with Trump. The Democrat-led Russia Collusion inquisition against Trump only helped to harden conservative opinion. The fact that some Republican politicians and elites have public misgivings about Trump mean little in terms of votes. The only people who care enough about military generals and what they have to say are conservatives, and they won’t side with the generals over Trump. Note that Trump has delivered strongly on the economy (the downturn due to the pandemic isn’t any more his fault than an earthquake or hurricane could be blamed on him). By bringing issues dear to Conservative hearts back to the fore, including even his Supreme Court picks, Trump enjoys a popularity higher than Reagan. And that again underscores Trump’s key advantage over those in his party, which is that he alone among them is a populist.

        The fact that Leftist opponents have only hardened themselves by taking even more extreme positions, while also raising their shrillness, means they’ve automatically alienated the mainstream voting public. Biden himself looks to many liberals like a depressingly bland status quo candidate. Also, there are questions about his declining mental faculties. The flare-up in racial tensions has of course presented Democrats with the opportunity to pounce, and yet the accompaniment of riots and looting will only serve to drive mainstream voters towards Trump and his law-&-order message. Military generals may not like the idea of regular army troops being deployed to secure cities on Trump’s order, but those whose shops and neighborhoods are on fire may strongly disagree.

        One thing is clear, though – the stakes couldn’t be higher, as the fundamental direction of US policy, domestic & foreign, hangs in the balance.

      • My post was not meant to be a comprehensive analysis of Trump’s election prospects (or lack of ’em)! Moreover, whatever the problems with, and characteristics, of the candidates, the choice is only between Trump and Biden.

  2. Jim says:

    No Indian understands American politics.

  3. Sohamg says:

    What is the bottom line in the recent Sino-Indian skirmish? Has India lost any land or have we held our ground?

  4. Bharat kumar says:

    With MOD clearing twin engine tejas for navy would the air force try to sabotage it… Like they did with tu22 ???

  5. RG says:

    Would Biden be soft on china? How would he treat china? As ppl are saying that there is now almost a bipartisan concensus on Chinese designs within the US,would Biden go with that? Whats ur take on this Mr. Karnad?

    • It is a Kargil type situation in Ladakh but we’ll have to be more offensive-minded to do anything about it.
      (Re: other issues you have raised, await my next post — a piece The Week will publish in its forthcoming issue.)

  6. Indian says:

    Mr Karnad,
    I follow your blog and interviews. Made comments on few. I think Trump will have a second term (Indian at heart, but, based in US). When speaking to colleagues, they feel like he gets bad end of stuck In whatever he does (one may agree or disagree with him) and they think media’s constant whining about him really gets his base going. Again, it’s anybody’s guess.

    I’m willing to bet a biryani (if you are into it) about this! 🙂

  7. Debanjan Banerjee says:

    Another wonderful, eye opening and thought provoking article by Mr. Karnad. I however believe that Trump has managed to win over two of the most important power blocks in the US. One of them is the Israeli lobby and the other is the Evangelical Christian lobby. Now both these two lobbies see America as a white-supremacist, judeo-christian exclusive nation and I am pretty sure Trump will win if he can consolidate these two key lobbies’ support behind himself. Remember these two lobbies control wall Street and much of the American wealth and therefore Trump will still be able to win if he can win the support of these two lobbies irrespective of how many Americans die by either Covid or race riots. I would love your views on my analysis.

    • The Israeli lobby is supported by the most liberal sections of American Jewish society and Trump’s regressive attitude to law & order (race) will overwhelmingly tip this vote against the incumbent. Besides, there are now widening divisions within the evangelical circles supportive of Trump owing to his essentially un-Christian impulses inherent in his actions.


        Thanks a lot for your prompt reply. Do you think from the US perspective is it looking at a possible civil war situation in future may be in a decade irrespective of whoever wins the elections in 2020 ?

        From the perspective of three powers (India, China and Pakistan) who do you think will be better ? Trump or Biden ?

        Looking forward to your viewpoints on these issues.

      • From India’s Trump definitely; from China’s and Pak’s perspective Biden ‘coz he’ll revert to the old set of policies.

  8. Shaurya says:

    There is the Biden factor, in the fact that he is not the strongest candidate and does not enthuse the young voters.

    There is a strange sequence of events whereby such brutal methods of policing would be overshadowed by some event which would highlight why the police have to resort to these methods, justifying their ways and doing an equal-equal. The media plays a big part in these narratives and no I am not referring to the national media but social and local. So, watch for these changes in narratives.

    On the economy, we are still a solid 5 months away from voting time and miracles can happen, the stock market and unemployment numbers were at their all-time best less than three months back and is only 10% away from those all-time highs now. The quantum of stimulus pumped in, most of who have been furloughed are not hurting so far.

    Personally, I am amazed how the US electorate has voted such a scumbag into power!

    Do not count on the mouth-watering biryani yet! 🙂

  9. RG says:

    Mr. Karnard, answer this too please: does the gov,, Modi ,whoever, know about your suggestions of using atomic fusses etc in ladhak as an option ?


    • Atomic demolition munitions in contested mountains. Senior persons in the govt and military know about my advocacy of this option.

      • RG says:

        What u recently suggested of lifting the nuke first use against China, Adm. Prakash said something similar yesterday or at least pointed it out in The Indian Express ,and that dolt Narang meekly said he doesn’t see such scenario against china.

        Mr. Karnard I asked u about this earlier but maybe I didn’t articulate it properly, ur take/thinking has very less space in our security circles I sense, u could mentor some people. For our benefit, for taking on ppl frm west who seem to peddle narratives against India.

        Here is the link for Adm Prahash article,:

        excerpt : “While Indian troops have, so far, shown courage and restraint in these ridiculous brawls with the PLA, there is no guarantee that in a future melee, a punch on the nose will not invite a bullet in response. In such circumstances, rapid escalation into a “shooting-war” cannot be ruled out. Thereafter, should either side face a major military set-back, resort to nuclear “first-use” would pose a serious temptation.”

      • Glad to see ADM Arun Prakash and other military men are coming round to First Use I elaborated in my 2018 book — ‘Staggering Forward’. But I was most criticized for proposing it.

  10. Sohamg says:

    Mr.Karnad, while u have been largely critical of Mr.Modi’s policies on China,would u deny that his predecessor had adopted an even more passive stance against China and Pakistan? Though India needs a more aggressive approach to China (as u advocate), the infrastructure development at the border has received a boost under this regime.Also,India has supported the recent petition at the un for a transparent investigation into covid and we have held our ground a few times against China. So, isn’t Modi’s ‘something’ better than Singh’s ‘nothing’s? And by the way, I’m not a Bjp Bhakt(As some people feel sometimes)

    • Was just as critical, if not more, where Mammohan S and Vajpayee were concerned. Look up my articles, books posts from then.

      • Sohamg says:

        I have listened to your talks on youtube and read your articles.But I meant to ask whom you find comparatively better between the recent 3 prime ministers.

      • The three PMs — Vajpayee, Manmohan S & Modi — have been fatally weak but in different ways.
        This subject tackled in my last three books!

  11. Surya says:

    When do you think the PLA will attack Taiwan?

  12. Surya says:

    When do you think the PLA would unite Taiwan by force?

  13. Sohamg says:

    Mr.Karnad,I had watched one of your lectures on kootyuddha.Do you believe that under Ajit Doval,in the upcoming years,India will have the capability of conducting hit operations like the mossad ? The surgical strikes went very well. Could we climb the ladder to reach higher?

  14. Vidyasagar says:

    Sir, today there was a news in indian express that BRO seeked workers for Ladakh and jharkhand asked for a better deal. Is the timing of such a demand justified or they could have waited a month or two for the same. Would it delay the recent infrastructure development on our side in the wake of recent Chinese intrusion?

  15. Bharat kumar says:

    Is IRNSS real time images available for ladakh ??? How come images of PLA infrastructure buildup and encroachment went unnoticed… Some body would have raised the alarm.. would you blame army for it?? Are our satellites reliable??

  16. Pratap AR says:

    The post says disengagement has happened and Chinese have withdrawn from all intrusions except the finger 4 area.Is this accurate?
    What’s your take on this?

  17. Surya says:

    In your opinion what should be the composition and structure of our Mechanised forces without a pacified Pakistan?

  18. RG says:

    Mr. Karand you might want to edit ur upcoming article in The Week, as of this moment, the chinese have increased deployments all along.

    This is sickening, Modi is just quite! MEA seems to have changed their tune though but GoI is not making any noises. And as per Gen Panang keeping quite can cost us.

    Construction on our side continues.

  19. PRATIK KUMAR says:

    Hi Bharat sir. The way Rodrigo Duterte is behaving these days, seems like he is somewhat becoming pro-China. So sir do you think Philippines can be a trusted partner for India against china, even if India becomes disruptive against China (just assuming)? Or what Duterte is doing is because of uncertainty of India and unreliability of US?

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