Trump, Bolton and the impeachment process

January 28, 2020

As the process to impeach Donald Trump moves forward in the U.S. Congress, it raises important questions that need to be addressed by the progressive movement.

Which political grouping within the U.S. ruling class has the upper hand at this point? Is it those who favor liberalism, that is, the politicians who want to dampen the class struggle by making economic and political concessions to the people?

Or is the impeachment process being used to push a more militarist agenda by those more aggressively hawkish than Trump? And are mainstream Democrats in an opportunistic alliance with those forces?

Yes, it’s tempting to view favorably anyone in conflict with the odious multi-millionaire real estate tycoon in the White House. But we can’t. Evidence suggests that Trump has burned his bridges with many hard-liners in the military-industrial complex, who see him as incompetent, unpredictable and lacking in the slick political skills needed to keep the people in line when the Pentagon decides it needs a war.

John Bolton, the president’s former National Security Adviser, whom Trump forced out last September, has reemerged, announcing that he is eager to testify in the impeachment hearings. A former deputy to Bolton, Fiona Hill, has already appeared as a damaging witness against Trump.

Bolton is reported to have voluminous records showing what Trump did to pressure Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden, a potential Democratic candidate in the upcoming U.S. election.

So who is John Bolton? As we wrote in an editorial last November: “Bolton is a notorious foreign policy hawk. Prior to his resignation, Bolton was calling for a ‘tougher line’ against Iran, Venezuela and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (north Korea). He is credited with having torpedoed the talks between Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un held in Vietnam last February.”

Before Trump forced him out, Bolton got the administration to freeze Venezuela’s assets, boasting: “This is the first time in 30 years that we are imposing an asset freeze against a government in this hemisphere.”

This former Trump administration official is now reported to have written a book that “presents an outline of what Mr. Bolton might testify to if he is called as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial,” according to a front-page article in the Jan. 27 New York Times. It describes his revelations as “explosive.”

Bolton’s reemergence in the impeachment process should set off alarm bells in the progressive movement.

And there is more, much more, to show that some of the most hawkish insiders in the establishment want Trump out.

‘A bunch of dopes and babies’

The Washington Post on Jan. 17 published an article called “ ‘You’re a bunch of dopes and babies’: Inside Trump’s stunning tirade against generals.” The article is adapted from the book, “A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America,” published Jan. 21 by Penguin Press.

The book is misnamed. Trump’s “testing of America” detailed in this article is actually his testing of the military establishment. Even the president isn’t supposed to call the generals and admirals “dopes and babies,” as the book says he did in one of his first meetings with the Pentagon chiefs.

The military brass are not used to this. They expect and demand the utmost servility toward their power. No surprise if they would be furious and want him gone — impeached or even court-martialed, if possible.

Trump’s real “testing” of the people in this country has been through all his horribly reactionary, racist and sexist acts and statements, which are legion. His murderous policy against migrants. His assaults on the environment. His equating Nazis with progressive protesters. His stacking of government departments with appointees chosen by his corporate buddies — although this is certainly not a crime unique to Trump.

Why isn’t he being impeached for all this?

Inner struggles behind impeachment

We don’t have a pipeline to the inner circles of the Pentagon or the White House. We don’t know all the struggles that may have taken place over the attack on Iran — whether Trump eagerly backed the assassination of Iran’s leading general or carried it out under pressure from the military brass. Probably, at some point, someone will write a book on that.

It was clearly a war crime, one carried out by the Pentagon and Trump with absolutely no authorization from Congress. The U.S. Constitution says only Congress can declare war. So the military-industrial complex doesn’t bother to ask Congress to declare war any more — and hasn’t done so since 1941 when it authorized U.S. entry into World War II. They just make it happen.

Thus, flanked by all the generals, Trump went on TV to announce the attack. Whether he wanted it is moot. He has learned to carry out their orders, and not vice versa.

That’s what the movement needs to take away from all this. Getting rid of Trump may be popular with lots of people, even if it means Vice President Mike Pence becomes president, but it will not get rid of the oppressive imperialist state. Only the struggle of the masses of people can bring about real change.