The US Department of Justice’s decision to execute a search warrant at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home was unprecedented.
Rising Republicans reacted with anger and severe threats of retaliation against the US Attorney General. These were acts of malice based on a belief that the FBI’s behavior was politically motivated rather than legally necessary.
In doing so, they ruthlessly and knowingly undermined respect for a law and order institution and the men and women who risk their lives to protect us. We are confident that Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, both honorable men, thought carefully before authorizing a search of Trump’s home.
The controversy should not overshadow the far larger issues surrounding the former president’s conduct. The House Inquiry Committee on January 6, 2021 presented compelling evidence that Trump and his supporters were pursuing an orchestrated six-step plan to prevent the peaceful transfer of power that culminated in the attack on the US Capitol.
We share disgust and deep disappointment that decency and respect for the rule of law have been reduced by the Republican Party to a cultic devotion to a demonstrably unprincipled man.
Unfortunately, the task of saving the banner of conservatism was left to Republican representatives Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Peter Meijer, and others willing to fulfill their pledge of allegiance to the US flag and the Constitution. They were noble exceptions to those who cling to their titles and sacrifice their honor.
We should not ignore what is at stake for America’s role in international affairs.
In November 2021, nearly 100 former national security officials, both civilians and military from both parties, signed a letter denouncing the threats the Trump presidency had created for the United States internationally.
“The January 6 uprising,” the letter said, “has caused other countries to question whether the American experiment is failing and whether American democracy is the best way forward.”
Our allies are rightly concerned about the possibility of a resurgence of Trump and his hypernationalist methods of government. Foreign adversaries, believing we are in a state of moral and social decline, see the deepening racial, ethnic, and cultural divisions of our society as targeted opportunities for exploitation in the age of cyber and social media propaganda.
In her book How Civil Wars Start: And How To Stop Them, political scientist Barbara F. Walter raises legitimate concerns that the United States is slipping into a place where civil war is a possibility. She writes about an underworld of anocracy—between democracy and autocracy—a breeding ground for political violence where the grievances and resentments of a large white underclass have greatly increased the potential for civil war.
These predictions once sounded like the dreams of far-right lunatics; today such predictions come from responsible voices like Walter and others who have studied this phenomenon around the world.
Not so long ago we thought that with the collapse of the Soviet empire, the advance of freedom and democracy would be inexorable. Today the tide is moving in the opposite direction. Autocracies are even emerging among NATO members such as Hungary and Turkey. Similar anti-democratic forces are gaining strength in France and Italy. Without America’s sustained pro-democracy leadership, this trend is bound to accelerate.
Garland’s actions, upholding the principle that no one is above the law, extend beyond US borders. He certainly doesn’t want to be the first to initiate criminal proceedings against a former president. This will set a deplorable, if justified, precedent and potentially unleash a level of civil war not seen in more than 150 years.
But our nation’s top lawman, a man with an impeccable record of fairness and impartiality as a respected jurist, cannot match his judgment to the anger of the outlaws. (©Washington Post)
William S. Cohen is a former Secretary of Defense and a former Republican Senator from Maine.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/the-spectre-of-us-civil-war-is-more-than-just-far-right-fantasy-41945545.html The specter of the US Civil War is more than just a far-right fantasy