Lest upon initial reading you presuppose that this blog is a turn of events for me, I encourage you to read on. What begins as an entertainment review of a new and timely Netflix mini-series has an ironic relevance in today’s news environment.
Literature, whether fictional or factual, provides deep insight to the issues of a culture at a specific time and place and beyond. Dickens, Swift, Bronte among the many others come immediately to mind as illuminating social and political wrongs, championing a way forward that changed the world. Today, as readership succumbs to viewership, television dominates entertainment and occasionally rises to a form of literature. As a passive source of information it easily seeps into the broader public consciousness unnoticed.
Such may be the case with “The Spy,” a new Netflix mini-series starring the faux-docu-prankster Sasha Baron Cohen in a startlingly, serious dramatic role as the Israeli spy, Eli Cohen. Sasha brings this true story to life, that of an ordinary man who is recruited by the Mossad to become Israel’s top spy in Syria. So embedded is he, that he is offered the position of becoming Syria’s Defense Minister. His access to the designs and plans of the Syrian government and military operations are remarkable and his careful social placement enables Israeli defenses to thwart major Syrian offensives. Having watched this only the day before the following news stories broke, I found it provided added clarity and a deeper understanding of the potential repercussions we face. I encourage everyone to see it.
As Trump announced that he was withdrawing his invite for Taliban terrorists to join him at Camp David on the eve of the 911 attacks, for the purpose of signing a peace treaty with the U.S. and Afghanistan, a brain-dead move (the invite not the withdrawal), it was quickly revealed that his motivation was to claim a dealmaker’s glory in a two year process negotiated entirely by others. In fact, the deal had been agreed to and all that remained was for Trump to sign the treaty. Instead, he decided in his typically narcissistic way to make it all about himself with a giant publicity photo-op stunt at Camp David, thereby cementing his role as the ultimate peacemaker, surpassing Clinton, Bush and Obama, when in actuality he remains nothing more than the “Sharpie King” of rubberstamps. The blowback was swift and this ill-planned event became the undoing of the peace process and the previous two years of hard work.
Trump acted swiftly by firing John Bolton, National Security Advisor, the very next day. Now I’m no Bolton fan and celebrate his demise, but is the timing just coincidence or is Bolton the sacrificial lamb of Trump’s failures? Trump’s solution, one that he is reportedly seriously considering, is to have Pomeo do two jobs, Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. It’s not completely unprecedented as Trump retreads old Nixon ideas into those of his own. In the 70’s Henry Kissinger, still a wanted war criminal in France, held both positions simultaneously
How swiftly Trump can undo many years of productive work in all areas of governance has been amply demonstrated over his three year reign. We do not need to revisit or enumerate the many instances of his deviant skill. But one very significant instance was revealed at the very same time that we learned of the Camp David debacle. In 2017, the NSC extracted an asset (we can assume a CIA asset) who had managed a secure position high in the government of Russia, so high as to have access to PUTIN, his very desk, papers and plans, a position that is virtually irreplaceable and whose loss incurs irreparable harm. Like Eli Cohen in “The Spy” this asset had actually photographed papers on the President’s desk. How rare is that? How valuable is that
U.S. intelligence reacted to protect the life of the asset by removing him or her from Russia over their concerns that Trump was a potential security risk and therefore a threat to the life of the asset. 2017 was the same year that Trump took a private meeting with Russian Ambassador Kislyak and Foreign Minister Lavrov in the Oval Office, the day after he fired FBI director, Comey, a joking matter for the three amigos to yuk it up about. The Russian press, Tass, provided the only photojournalist to the meeting. Does anyone else see anything wrong with this? A Russian photographer was included while access by all American journalists was denied. Later we learned that Trump had leaked highly classified information to the Russians in the process compromising Israeli interests and may have exposed Mossad methods and assets by providing the connection for reverse engineering that portion of Mossad’s spy network. As might be predicted, Mossad expressed concerns over sharing future secrets with U.S. intelligence, knowing that ultimately they might be revealed at the indiscretion of President blabbermouth.
Trump goes to great lengths to keep his conversations with Russian leaders very secret. At his Helsinki meeting with Putin, only the two interpreters were present and the written notes of the American interpreter were taken by Trump and destroyed leaving the only records of that meeting, like that of the Oval office meeting, in Russian hands.
Lately, Trump has been whining in the corridors of the Whitehouse to his closest associates and Whitehouse staffers that he doesn’t like spies. He says that they interfere with his ability to maintain the personal relationships he has built with his foreign dictator buddies, as if that wipes the slate clean on the loss of our highly placed Russian asset and future intel, which incidentally he claims can’t be trusted. What may be secrets in these meetings to United States government officials is actually well known intel to a variety of Russians with connections and a need to know. What could make Trump say such a thing as he doesn’t like spies? Might it be that a highly placed source could gain access to the notes regarding his secret meetings and his criminal conspiracy against the people of the United States might be revealed? Sure seems logical to me.
But if tweets are any indication of Trump’s priorities, one has to look no further than his battle with NOAA over his alteration of the weather map of hurricane Dorian’s path to create fear among Alabamans. To Rex Tillerson’s Trump moniker, “a fucking moron,” I would have to add a “shameless buffoon.” That the President of the United States would degrade the office and humiliate himself by altering a weather map with his sharpie is beyond the pale of rational thought. After Mike Medavoy ordered Wilbur Ross to provide cover for the President’s lie by threatening the NOAA forecasters who contradicted the President with firing, it must surely be apparent to reasonable citizens that Trump and his cronies are unfit to govern.
But that simple minded idiot just can’t seem to get anything right, even the weather. He’d rather lie than look outside, as he claimed that the crowd for his Fayetteville rally stood outside waiting in the pouring rain to get in, such is their devotion to him. Trouble is, it wasn’t raining in Fayetteville that day.
Now as we question the efficacy of the “rule of law” concept, we are reduced to getting any satisfaction by hurling invectives back at this immature bully we have elected. It’s rather like cursing at the plague of bad drivers that populate our streets and highways. After Trump picked a fight with singer, John Legend and his wife, Chrissie Teigen she tweeted back, calling Trump a “pussy ass bitch,” currently gone viral with 122,000 retweets and 775,000 likes. Take that you dumb ass!
Not to stay out of the cursing fray, Beto O’Rourke, who said “this is fucked up” in an on air interview has capitalized on this popular sentiment raising campaign funds by selling T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “This is so f*cked up.”
It may be satisfying fun to kick this sot, but the fun’s over and we need to get down to business.