As MacroGeo predicted weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration, U.S. federal agencies are now waging a fierce war against the president’s asserted opening to Russia, sabotaging any thaw between the two (former) archenemies. On a broader scale, the U.S. Deep State has been trying to hinder Trump’s perceived plan to unravel globalization, also known as pax americana. Military and intelligence officers at Arlington, Langley or Fort Meade genuinely fear that - if he got his wish - Trump would make the United States a conventional country; one merely pursuing mercantilist goals and putting its commercial interests before its strategic ones. As a result, the U.S. would stop being the world’s only superpower.
Barring an exceptional twist, the U.S. Deep State will surely win the ongoing clash. During conventional times an American president doesn’t marshal enough institutional power to set the U.S. strategy or declaw federal agencies. Absent an overbearing pressure stemming from the American public, bureaucrats and military officials usually have an easy time derailing or manipulating a presidential order they deem ill-conceived or outright wrong.
They (legitimately) regard themselves as the guarantors of America’s long-term interests and reject any freelancing and micromanaging coming from the White House. Moreover, they depend on Congress for their budget, not the president, and the massive federal personnel always survives any president or particular secretary.
Thus, in the next months Trump might succeed in making antagonists and allies pay more for accessing the American market or staying under the U.S. military umbrella. But he won’t turn America into a Russia’s ally, abandon NATO altogether, block illegal immigration or establish protectionism. Being unintentionally anti-imperial, Trump’s presidency will have to painfully adapt to reality, just as Michael Flynn’s resignation as national security advisor blatantly proves.
Given such dire straits, Trump’s realistic goal would be to minimize damage and try to obtain a larger room for maneuver from federal agencies, as any leverage could make a great difference and maybe even get him reelected. Lacking advisors able to penetrate the Deep State, Trump can only forge the circumstances providing him with extraordinary temporary powers by fighting a conventional war against a foreign enemy.
In case of war, the anxiety of the American public compels federal agencies to thoroughly follow a president’s agenda. Although for a short period of time, when at war presidents can get their orders through and reshape America’s foreign policy.
Trump could accept his fate without putting up a fight, settling for those goals also shared by Congress and federal agencies (mostly trade spats with China and Mexico). But if he wants to untangle himself, going to war is a development he might scientifically pursue, most likely in the Middle East. Even more so if he were plunging in the polls. And if left alone with his clique of advisors and ideologues.