Trump on the Warpath, Puigdemont Arrested in Germany

Donald Trump’s personnel changes hint at a future war with Iran. The Catalan independence leader awaits extradition.

American president Donald Trump arrives at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, February 1
American president Donald Trump arrives at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, February 1 (USAF/Robert Cloys)

Donald Trump’s personnel shakeup is deeply troubling, argues Andrew Sullivan in New York magazine — especially the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, “two individuals who simply couldn’t capitulate to the demand that they obey only Trump, rather than the country as well.”

Tillerson is being replaced by CIA director Mike Pompeo, “a man whose hatred of Islam is only matched by his sympathy for waterboarders.”

H.R. McMaster is being replaced as national security advisor by John Bolton, whose agenda, as Fred Kaplan puts it in Slate, is not “peace through strength,” but regime change through war.

Gary Cohn is being replaced as chief economic advisor by Larry Kudlow: according to Sullivan, “a sane person followed by a delusional maniac Trump sees on Fox.”

The State Department, indeed, the entire diplomatic apparatus, has, it seems, been replaced by Jared Kushner, “a corrupt enthusiast for West Bank settlements who no longer has a security clearance.”

Not only do the changes suggest Trump is preparing to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election; they also hint at a future war with Iran.

Everything we know about Trump’s character tells us that war is the only aspect of foreign relations he understands:

He cannot exist as an equal party in an international system. He has to dominate other countries the way he does other human beings.

Puigdemont arrested in Germany

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has been arrested in Germany on his way back to Belgium from a speaking engagement in Finland.

The independence leader, who was deposed by Spain after proclaiming a Catalan Republic in October, is wanted on suspicion of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds. Germany must now decide whether or not to extradite him.

Some 100 protesters were injured in altercations with riot police in Barcelona on Sunday night, when tens of thousands of Catalans demonstrated for Puigdemont’s release outside the German consulate and the local office of the European Commission.

Other Catalan leaders have sought refuge in Switzerland or are awaiting trial in Spanish jails.

Spain’s legal offensive has made it difficult for the Catalans to form a new regional government. So long as they are unable to, Spain maintains direct control of the region.