Trump Playing Chicken Game with Democrats: American Prof.
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An American political analyst based in California described the government shutdown in the US as a crisis provoked by President Donald Trump and said he is playing “a game of chicken with his opposition”.
“It is all about who will have the upper hand politically during the remainder of Trump’s first term in office, the Republicans led by the President or the Democrats led by Pelosi,” Dennis Etler, a professor of anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, said in an interview with Tasnim.
“As with the other crises that Trump has provoked, he is playing a game of chicken with his opposition,” he said, adding, “Who will hold firm and who will give way? It is this tug of war that will determine the outcome.”
Following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: US President Donald Trump criticized Congressional Democrats on Sunday for rejecting his latest proposal to reach an agreement on funding for his proposed barrier on the US-Mexico border and end the government shutdown, saying they shot him down "before I even got up to speak." The shutdown began after Democrats refused to include more than $5 billion for the construction of a border wall in a funding bill. Trump has insisted he will not sign an appropriations measure that doesn't include money for a barrier, and Democrats have insisted they won't negotiate on border security until the full federal government is reopened. Both sides refuse to budge, and talks to reach an agreement have stalled. What do you think about the reasons behind the disputes and how do you predict the future?
Etler: The issue at hand has little or nothing to do with the so-called “wall”. It is all about who will have the upper hand politically during the remainder of Trump’s first term in office, the Republicans led by the President or the Democrats led by Pelosi. As with the other crises that Trump has provoked, he is playing a game of chicken with his opposition. Who will hold firm and who will give way? It is this tug of war that will determine the outcome.
At present, Trump seems to have met his match. He has too many irons in the fire. Trump’s trade war with China, plus the government shut-down is fraying his political base. Basically, Trump’s position is untenable. In order to shore up his base, he has to resolve both self-made crises in a fashion that will allow him to claim victory while making concessions that conceal defeat.
Tasnim: The budget impasse over the wall has resulted in the longest government shutdown in history, one that has left thousands of federal workers without pay. Amnesty International USA recently said Trump’s “unacceptable” proposal on border fails to protect human rights. What do you think about the human rights violations surrounding this issue?
Etler: The question is not one of “human rights” but the application of political power. The immigration issue is a political football used by both US political parties to energize their political bases. The Democrats when in power show little regard to the preservation of human rights, they are interested only in using their defense of “human rights” as a political bludgeon to defeat their adversaries both at home and abroad. It is a convenient cover for their abuse of people’s fundamental human rights which they constantly engage in. It was under the Democrats that the Central American refugee crisis escalated due to US intervention in the region supporting reactionary oligarchs in Honduras and Guatemala. They then turn around and portray themselves as defenders of immigrant rights. The Republicans use the same ploy but appeal to a different more nationalist demographic. They also defend “human rights” in their own cynical and disingenuous way.
Tasnim: Trump has floated the possibility of declaring a national emergency as a resort for building the border wall, to the chagrin of Democrats who say he's inventing a crisis. What do you think? Is he edging closer to declaring a national emergency?
Etler: Trump is using the possibility of declaring a “national emergency” as a bargaining chip. There is little support for such a move among Republicans. So it’s unlikely he will expend more political capital doing so.