SINCE Donald Trump has amply demonstrated, not just this week but over most of the past four years, that he is unfit to be President of the United States, it seems rather late in the day to be trying to force him out of the Oval Office when he is due to leave it in ten days anyway.
Admittedly, it was irresponsible and probably criminal for him to incite his rabble of supporters to assault the Capitol and terrorise elected Congressmen and women, causing five deaths, in a forlorn bid to halt ratification of his defeat in the Presidential election. But there are other ways to pursue those offences - and they certainly should be pursued by the proper legal authorities.
As for his fitness for office, I wrote here two months ago: “If anyone needed proof that Donald Trump was wholly unsuited to be President of the United States, this election has provided it. His peevish inaccurate Twitter claims about a “rigged” and “fraudulent” contest, supported by no evidence at all, are unworthy of any occupant of the White House, and the encouragement he has given to his supporters to take action on the streets is a disgrace to his office.”
In fact, the headlines on a number of columns I have written over the past year show that his craziness after losing the election should have come as no surprise: “Trump’s Lies and Follies Exposed, Fear of Trump the Wannabe Despot, The Moment I Knew Trump is Insane, The Manic Desperation of Donald Trump,” and so on. So why wait until now to do something about a man who is clearly, as a CNN presenter put it the other day, “a nutter”?
It is truly alarming to think that this narcissistic, mentally unstable man has had his finger on the nuclear button since 2016.
And it isn’t enough to assume that getting rid of Trump will solve America’s problems, because 70 million of his fellow citizens – an astounding number, more than the entire population of the British Isles - voted for him as their leader in a free election. If the Republicans are to offer themselves to future electors as an ethical party with a high sense of public duty, they must surely cut their links with Trump immediately.
There should be a public inquiry into Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol, which is both the symbolic and actual heart of American democracy, the place where the people’s elected representatives meet to make the country’s laws. The attack raises a number of disturbing issues. How could the Capitol be so easily invaded? Surely there was a plan in place for a terrorist attack – and if not, why not? And if there was, why wasn’t it activated before the rabble took over the Senate chamber?
An even more worrying fact is that the sluggish response of the police to this episode is in sharp contrast with the way they handled the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Only 52 white men and women were arrested on Wednesday, compared with the 427 blacks who were detained in the capital last June, not to mention the much greater violence shown towards the black protesters.
The charge of “double standards” seems apposite, suggesting that prejudice against non-white Americans are still a major problem in the police.
If a black leader had urged his followers to march on the Capitol, with the aim of subverting democratic debate and resulting in serious damage and deaths, we may be sure that he would be in jail by now.
Assange judge must stay firm
l HAVING written last week about Julian Assange, I was naturally pleased (and a little surprised) that a judge refused a bid by the United States to have him extradited for espionage. The judgement will be appealed by the Americans, which makes me still a shade nervous about his fate.
The judge didn’t deal with the press freedom arguments I raised last week. She seemed to accept the CIA’s case that he had materially assisted the former soldier, Chelsea Manning, to hack into government computers - which would be enough to get him a sentence of up to 175 years in jail if an American court were to agree. But she refused the extradition request on the grounds that he was medically unfit to be incarcerated in the kind of high security prison the US reserves for people who are perceived as threats to their national security.
I am fearful that the CIA will come back with promises to treat him gently – and that the court might believe them. When Abu Hamza was extradited, the US government gave an assurance to the court that he would not be detained in the dreaded Colorado ADX Supermax prison. But in fact he has been held there for the past five years. A US attorney has testified that “most inmates spend all day, almost every day, completely alone for years at a time,” with phone calls limited to one a month and family visits all but impossible.
The judge was right to fear that Assange, whose psychiatric condition is fragile, to say the least, would die in such conditions. We can only hope that the judge keeps her nerve and rejects any soft soap from the CIA.
As I said last week, Assange hasn’t killed anyone – unlike the wife a US intelligence officer, who ran down a British young man on a motor-bike.
Not to mention the many thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians who were killed by the American invaders and whose deaths were kept from the American people until Assange exposed them. Nor the dozens of prisoners rounded up for torture at Guantanamo Bay and then held for several years, even when they were found to be innocent.
Who is the real criminal: the person who commits the war crimes or the one who reveals them?
KLara, the champions champion
KLARA Kasparova, mother of the former world chess champion, has died in Moscow at the age of 83.
She was a strikingly attractive and highly intelligent woman.
I met her in Baku in Azerbaijan when I was helping Garry to write his autobiography, Child of Change.
She had been an engineer, running a laboratory that designed drilling machines.
Widowed from her Jewish husband, she devoted the rest of her life to encouraging her son to become the greatest chess player the world has ever seen. Without her lifelong inspiration I doubt if Garry alone could have won the many battles he fought to reach the world title.
These battles included the racial prejudice he suffered as half-Armenian and half-Jewish from the Soviet chess authorities, who would have preferred the more Slavic Anatoly Karpov to be their champion and put every kind of obstruction in Kasparov’s way.
Klara merits her own honoured place in the history of chess alongside her son.