Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Donald Trump cannot stay as president. But the House impeachment inquiry is unlikely to provide sufficiently credible evidence for conviction. And if Trump survives this process, a good bet, do not discount his chances for re-election. How can this be?
The Trump base will remain loyal to the president, regardless of his conduct and whatever laws or rules he may have broken. His own incompetence and his policies -- from unleashing unlimited debts and deficits to disengaging from friends and allies abroad and the inability to understand, accept or appreciate truth and fact are prima facie reasons for removal for office. Yet, these will not be ample grounds to terminate his presidency.
For objective observers, little doubt exists that Trump abused his office to threaten withholding aid to Ukraine until its president publicly called for investigations on the Biden family, his political rival. Whether that rises to a high crime and misdemeanor or not, and whether Trump has obstructed justice by refusing to provide material to Congress, do not appear to catalyze a large majority of Americans to support the president's removal. Still, other evidence underscores the foreign policy disaster this administration has wrought.
How can any president oversee and orchestrate a foreign policy without fully understanding the key issues, while dismissing coordination and depending on family ties for advice and an attorney without a security clearance or foreign policy authority and credibility? Regarding Ukraine, three ambassadors, a Cabinet secretary and this wild card lawyer formed a toxic mix that would lead to disaster.
Who was in charge of Ukrainian policy? No one. Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, a post bought with a million-dollar contribution to the inaugural committee, had no foreign policy experience, let alone with Ukraine. Ambassador Kurt Volker, a highly experienced and able former Foreign Service Officer was the special envoy who should have been in charge. And acting Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, who had held that post before, lacked a mandate.
Engaging Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who likewise is a foreign policy novice, made little sense. Confounding these different lines of communication to Ukraine was the role of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Hired pro bono to defend the president from impeachment, Giuliani was directed by Trump to strong-arm Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine's new president, to publicly announce an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden over the Burisma company.
The Keystone Kops were geniuses by comparison. How could this organizational scheme work, or better put -- how could it not fail? Suppose Trump had innocent intentions and genuinely wanted corruption in Ukraine reduced before U.S. aid was transferred? That was not illegal or wrong. Yet the manner in which the White House executed even this benign interpretation of Trump's aims should be grounds for relieving the president for incompetence. The Constitution, however, does not allow that. Remember, George W. Bush invaded Iraq, for which he should have been fired.
Where does that leave the nation? The answer is in existential limbo. The House will find it difficult to produce evidence as devastating as the Nixon tapes were in forcing resignation. Should the Supreme Court decide 5-4 or even 6-3 along partisan lines to forbid disclosure of the president's income taxes, that will incite a nuclear political backlash and the end of the notion of an independent judiciary.
That America now has two failed political parties -- the Democrats have moved so far left and so anti-Trump as to be incredible, and traditional Republicans have been inhaled by the party of Trump -- is potentially politically fatal. Unless a candidate emerges from the wilderness on both sides to challenge Trump and Democratic contenders, a very unlikely prospect, the president must be favored to win in 2020.
America has experienced bad times before. The Civil War, the Depression, the Vietnam War and Watergate all threatened the foundation of this country. The reasons for each of these earlier debacles were very visible. The difference today is that damage being done by this president is submerged and less visible. One can argue that this warning is exaggerated: The economy may be stronger than we think; and the Trump presidency will not have lasting negative consequences.
The crisis today is different. In simple terms, it rests on this idiosyncratic and erratic president. Trump's "unconventional" conduct and casual demeaning and disregard for the law will create possibly irreversible divisions among a highly polarized society. In these conditions, impeachment could prove to be a 21st century equivalent of firing on Fort Sumter, starting the Civil War. Americans should be very worried.
Harlan Ullman is a senior adviser at the Atlantic Council and was a professor of military strategy at the National War College and the Naval War College. His latest book is "Anatomy of Failure: Why America Has Lost Every War It Starts." Follow him @harlankullman.