calendar Tuesday, 2 March 2021 clock
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WHEN most executives are fired from a top job they are escorted from the building with almost immediate effect or simply told in a late night phone call not to return to work the next day. 

Stepping down can be quite a brutal affair but that is the nature of some jobs, especially during company takeovers or when new regimes sweep in.

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I should know as it has happened to me on several occasions! The most abrupt exit I recall happened to my old boss, the irascible Piers Morgan who, as editor of The Daily Mirror, wasn’t even allowed back in to his office to collect his jacket. That, along with a cardboard box containing his personal effects, was returned to him later.

So why on earth Americans allow their outgoing president more than 100 days of handover before the inevitable ‘walk of shame’ is beyond me. We are  now counting down the final days of Donald Trump’s administration which has the potential to plunge the world into even more chaos since he was first elected US President. 

Let’s remember, this man can still order a nuclear attack or throw America into yet another military misadventure because he is still Commander in Chief of the US forces. Although to be fair to Trump, he was just as big a critic of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and US-led invasions as anyone in the antiwar movements.

However, as Trump unravels during his final days, the consequences are frightening. His decisions have already had a devastating impact on millions of ordinary Americans caught up in the global coronavirus pandemic.

If you think I’m being paranoid, I urge you to watch the The Final Days, a 1989 television movie adaptation of the book written by brilliant US journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who originally exposed the Watergate scandal.

The movie follows the events of disgraced President Richard Nixon in his final days as the most powerful man in the Western world.

Unlike Trump, Nixon did win a second term as US President but on August 9, 1974, facing almost certain impeachment and removal from office, he became the first American president to resign.  

Mired in scandal he knew he would have to go. Actor Lane Smith gives a powerful portrayal of out-of-control Nixon careering drunkenly through the corridors of power, threatening all sorts of reprisals.

During one heated exchange with fellow politicians he boasts how all it will take is one telephone call “and in 25 minutes millions of people will be dead.”

Far from this being regarded as an idle threat from a broken man, the then Defense Secretary James Schlesinger took the unprecedented step of ordering señor military to check with either him or Secretary of State Henry Kissinger before following any presidential order.

Mercifully, Nixon left office without causing mayhem but the same cannot be said for Trump who lacks the wise counsel which surrounded Nixon.

While Trump appears to be having a very public meltdown, he’s firing and turning on the very cabal of sycophants he brought in to his administration and has replaced some of them with even more extreme political parrots.

According to White House observers, he believes those closest to him have let him down because they’ve had the temerity to suggest that his continuing efforts to overturn the election is a hopeless cause.

He has even turned against his own Vice President, Mike Pence, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Trump spends his last days in office focussing on the worthless efforts to overturn the presidential election – at least that way he can do no harm.

But I fear that once he realises the end is near he will focus on even more crazy presidential pardons. He has already pardoned aides who lied in the Russia probe, Blackwater guards convicted of war crimes and a few corrupt Republican politicians.

It is a blatant misuse of his presidential powers but it is a sure bet there are far worse events around the corner. It is clear that as long as he is US President those around him will never pay a legal price for committing illegal acts.

One man in particular is US citizen and renegade Libyan General Khalifa Haftar who is being sued by four Libyan families for war crimes.  

The families gave evidence in a US Federal Court last year exposing an indiscriminate bombing campaign in their home country that claimed the lives of innocent civilians on the outskirts of Tripoli.

The lawsuit demands $100 million dollars in damages and $25 million dollars in compensation for the suffering and trauma caused by the attacks.

Haftar, who is fighting to topple the Tripoli-based Libyan government recognised by the United Nations, “carried out his actions in a malicious, outrageous and willful manner without any regard for human life,” the lawsuit states.

“The terrorist activities committed by Defendant Haftar constitute a violation of the laws of nations prohibiting torture, mass murder, indiscriminate destruction of civilian property and genocide,” the lawsuit states.

While Trump, France, the UAE, Egypt, Russia and other foreign powers have lent strong support to Haftar, who has portrayed himself as a powerful figure who can deliver stability to Libya and crush Islamist militants, the rest of the world sees him for what he is – a war criminal who should be brought to justice.

The former general under Moammar Gadaffi’s regime, had to seek safety with US intelligence after he broke with the late dictator. He lived in exile for 20 years, attaining US citizenship and settling in Virginia. He returned to Libya after Gadaffi was toppled in 2011 by forces backed by NATO airstrikes.

At the time of writing I hear Trump is considering granting Saudi’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman immunity in a lawsuit accusing him of trying to assassinate a former intelligence chief in Canada.

Saad Aljabri, a former counter-terror officer and US ally in Riyadh, claims that 50 ‘Tiger Squad’ hitmen were dispatched by the Saudi monarch to kidnap his family and kill him in Toronto in 2018. 

If Trump agrees this will almost certainly lead to the dismissal of further lawsuits filed against the Crown Prince, including ones accusing him of ordering the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 at the consular offices in Istanbul.

It’s worth remembering that in any other top job the departure of outgoing chief executives and directors is virtually instant – and with good reason.

Leaving Trump time to consider what damage he can do in his final days in office should make us all very concerned.