Tom Arms’ World Review: Cheney and Trump – Round One to the Cult of Trump v. the traditional Republican Party

The ousting of Congresswoman Liz Cheney from the number three spot in the Republican ranks appears to be a victory for Trumpists and supporters of the stolen election “Big Lie.” Or is it? It is true that 70 percent of Republicans believe Trump won the election despite the fact that every court and election official (including Trump’s own appointees) rejected the former president’s claim. It is also true that Republican Party grandees such as Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz are four square behind the Big Lie. But, by alienating Liz Cheney, the forever Trumpers have created a formidable opponent who has dedicated herself to the maintenance of the rule of law, the US constitution and ensuring that Donald J. Trump or his ilk never occupies the White House again. And she is one tough lady with impeccable traditional party credentials.

For a start, Congresswoman Cheney comes from Republican royalty. Her father was George Dubya’s arch-conservative vice president. And there is no doubt about Ms Cheney’s own conservative credentials. She is a right-wing anti-environment, pro-business neo-conservative with a pro-military stance. She supported Tump on many issues. But she has made clear that attempting to subvert the constitution and the rule of law puts Donald J. Trump well beyond the pale. She is a woman with whom the Cult of Trump – if they had any sense – should not want to tangle.

The ransomware attack which caused fuel chaos and closed down an oil pipeline which stretched from Texas to New Jersey originated in Russia, according to the FBI. President Biden is not as certain, but he is certain that Putin’s Russia used cyber warfare to interfere in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections and that Russia is either sponsoring cybercriminal attacks on Western targets, allowing its territory to be used by cyber criminals or simply turning a blind eye to ransomware activities which have doubled in the past year. Putin, of course, denies everything. But then he is well-practised in the art of denial. There are, for instance, no Russian troops in Eastern Ukraine and Alexei Navalny must have mixed us own near-fatal novichok cocktail.

They have done it again. The dailies (or should I say 24/7s) get much worse British media have largely missed an earth-shattering threat to the British constitution in this week’s Queen’s Speech. The speech, by the way, is an annual occasion in which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II travels to parliament to read a speech written for her by the Prime Minister. The short address outlines the government’s legislative plans for the coming year. This year there was lots about recovering from the pandemic, investment in green technology, voter IDs, promoting the union and “levelling up” the different regions of the UK. All quite important, sexy, and easily understood and communicated topics which the media reported ad nauseum. The journalistic equivalent of low-hanging fruit. But little was reported about a nicely buried throwaway line. Her Majesty’s Government “will restore the balance of power between the executive, legislature and courts.” These 12 words can have a dramatic long-term effect on every piece of past, present and future legislation. Based on recent performance and statements, Boris Johnson’s government wants to increase the power of the executive (which means the prime minister) at the expense of parliament and the courts. This is a major constitutional change which needs proper debate. It isn’t getting it – yet.

Britain’s overseas aid programme is not the world’s largest. But it has a reputation for being the most efficient and effective. This is because it carefully targets its contributions so that British cash has the biggest impact in specific areas, especially in the realm of public health. The downside is that the Conservative government’s proposed cuts in aid will have a disproportionate negative impact compared to other donor countries. This is made clear in a letter sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week by Action for Global Health, which represents a number of health charities in Britain and other countries. The charity says that the decision to cut global health spending by 40 percent during a pandemic is “unfathomable… and will result in decade’s long, catastrophic rollback on a myriad of health issues to which the UK has previously contributed so significantly and laudably.” Specifically, Action for Global Health wrote that the Johnson government’s actions would result in a 60-70 percent reduction in global funds available to programmes to reduce childbirth deaths globally; a 90 percent reduction in funds available for programmes to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in tropical countries and an 80 percent cut in programmes to improve public health and health education for girls. All of these programmes help to keep at bay the current pandemic and possible future ones. And, as we now know, disease knows no boundaries.

France is a secular country. It says so in Article One of the constitution of the Fifth Republic. The Catholic Church was stripped of many of its rights in the French Revolution in 1789 and then in 1905 the National Assembly passed a law (laïcité) effectively making secularism the state religion, although the constitution is also keen to point that there is freedom of religion in France. This leads to conflicting positions which are outlined by another constitutional clause (Article 10) which says, “no one should be worried about his opinions, even religious, provided that the manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.” Clearly murdering someone for acting contrary to Sharia law is disturbing “the public order established by law.” But what about actions that provoke the adherents of non-Christian religions? What about the wearing of the burka, niqab, turban or Christian cross? Macron is trying to tread a middle course, and like most who take such a path is being attacked by those on either side of it – at home and abroad. Pakistan and Turkey are leading the foreign charge. There have been a number of riots and attacks in Pakistan on French citizens and the French embassy has advised French residents to “temporarily” leave Pakistan. Many Islamic countries are boycotting French products. At home, the right-wing claims that Macron has yielded too much to the Muslims. French officers (retired and serving) recently signed a pair of letters accusing Macron of creating conditions for a civil war and warning that the army is prepared to “step in.” The letters have been condemned as cowardly and near treasonable by Macron, but embraced by fast-rising right-wing opponent Marine Le Pen 12 months from the next presidential election.

* American expat journalist Tom Arms is LDV's foreign affairs editor and Campaigns Chair for Wandsworth Lib Dems. His book “America: Made in Britain” was published on 15 October.

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5 Comments

  • John Marriott 16th May '21 - 5:41pm

    It’s been a quiet day, Tom. Perhaps folks have been too busy reading the Sunday papers or working out how to celebrate their limited freedom tomorrow to get round to reading your latest offering. I’ll just comment on the first bit.

    We appear to be witnessing the hollowing out of the GOP. What are the chances of a breakaway by those republicans, who still believe in the US constitution and the return to decency in politics?

    In today’s Sunday Times magazine, the one with the photoshopped picture of Clegg on its cover, there’s a series of photos of Americans and their gun collections. Are these people real? I guess they are all Trump supporters. If they are typical then heaven help us. I’m reminded of one of the senior officials of the National Rifle Association, following one of the many school massacres, saying; “The only answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”.

    I bet you’re glad you’re over here and not back home in the land of the free!

  • John Marriott 17th May '21 - 8:59am

    Well, Tom, I guess it’s thee and me then (unless anybody beats me to the ‘send’ key)

    Your comments about the Queen’s Speech are extremely apposite, particularly the Johnson government’s attempts to ride roughshod over the so called ‘balance of power’. What they tell me is that it’s about time that this little old country of ours had a Written Constitution and a Bill of Rights, as, I believe, the much maligned US has. Given the potential storms ahead, that might be all that protects its citizens from the machinations of the far right and its apologists on Fox News and at Mar-a-Lago.

  • John Marriott 17th May '21 - 9:16pm

    @Ian Sanderson (RM3)
    My quote from the NRA was a criticism of its stance. It is the clear stumbling block to a reform of US gun laws.

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