Cesar Chelala
A physician and writer

Donald Trump’s Poisoned Legacy

For centuries, the U.S. — despite its shortcomings — was a beacon of democracy all over the world. Not any longer. Peace-loving people were watching with incredulity to Donald Trump’s invitation to his followers to assault the U.S. Capitol, in his efforts to stop the final counting of electors that chose Joe Biden as President. He failed in his efforts, and Joe Biden has been confirmed as President.

In a clear incitation to violence, Trump told his supporters to “be wild” and, urging them to march to the Capitol he said, “We’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you. You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

Showing further the total disconnect with reality and his complete disregard for the rule of law, Trump told the rioters who had stormed the Capitol, caused the death of four people and injured 14 police officers, “Go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

As these events were happening, Trump repeated his claims that the election had been stolen from him, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Trying to justify the rioters he said, “These are the things and events that happen when a landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away.”

His behavior shows that he is living in a fantasy world, which makes him a totally unpredictable and dangerous president who is unfit to remain in office. President Trump’s behavior amounts to sedition, and the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should be invoked to remove him from power.

The big question now is what to do until Biden formally assumes office on January 20. With less than two weeks to go, Congress has to make a determination on how to control an unpredictable person who can still cause enormous damage to the country, and to the world.

On January 4, 2021, Iran stoked the fires of confrontation with the U.S. by declaring that it had resumed enriching uranium to 20% purity at its Fordow plant, Iran’s newest nuclear facility, bringing it closer to developing the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon with six months. Iran could claim that it had taken this action as a response to Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal that allowed uranium enrichment to 4 to 5 percent levels.

However, in what may be considered an additional unnecessary provocation, Iran seized a South Korean chemical tanker, citing “environmental and chemical pollution concerns,” according to the semiofficial Tasmin News agency. Reportedly, Tehran is pressuring Seoul to release $7 billion in funds frozen because of United States sanctions.

To increase the level of tension in the region, U.S. acting secretary of defense Christopher C. Miller issued a statement saying, “Due to the recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other U.S. government officials, I have ordered the U.S.S. Nimitz to halt its routine redeployment.” His statement comes just three days after he had ordered the ship to head back home.

Iran’s actions come at a time when the political situation in the U.S. is particularly fragile, and the president shows increasing evidence that he could take any action dangerous to peace, either provoked or unprovoked.

Of the two actions that U.S. legislators can take to control the president’s unpredictable behavior, either impeachment or invoking the 25th amendment, only the second one is possible, although the chances of invoking it are very slim. It is clear that an impeachment process would take much longer, and would probably be as unsuccessful as the previous one carried out against President Trump.

The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows the vice-president and the Cabinet to remove the president from office under extraordinary circumstances, when he or she is “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the office. Although there is ample proof that President Trump has been unable to discharge the duties of office, most notably with his response to the coronavirus pandemic that has cost thousands of lives. His inciting rioters to march to the Capitol amounts to sedition and should be considered as that.

However, to pretend that the vice president and Cabinet members would behave in a reasonable way is as clever, and as futile, as to talk to a mosquito in Japanese, and believe that he will understand your words. We can only hope that American legislators will keep a watchful eye on the President’s actions so as to control what has been a poisonous legacy to the country.

About the Author
César Chelala is a physician and writer born in Argentina and living in the U.S. He wrote for leading newspapers all over the world and for the main medical journals, among them The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Japan Times, The China Daily, The Moscow Times, The International Herald Tribune, Le Monde Diplomatique, Harvard International Review, The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine, and The British Medical Journal. He is a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award and two national journalism awards from Argentina.
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