The crisis of the American nation long predates Trump because it is an effect of the growing antagonism between old fashioned American ‘Bible and Gun’ populists and the transnational elite profiting from the most formidable and costliest military build-up in the history of mankind.
Oftentimes the American film industry anticipates on real events and at other times projects a theatrical but not so distorted image of the national or international political situation. Some action thrillers, though apparently unbelievable and cartoonish in their plots are more insightful than most mainstream media accounts about what is happening behind the scenes in the inner circles of power.
A good case in point can be made about the 2013 film White House Down, which met with mixed reviews and substantial disapproval in certain influential quarters for reasons that will become clear to the reader. The scriptwriter is James Vanderbilt, a scion of the famous American industrial dynasty who can be expected to have a ringside view of what happens in high places. He picked the German director, Roland Emmerich, renowned for his special-effect full high-octane blockbusters. Sony released the movie almost two years late and it achieved creditable financial success although the basic theme was far from original.
In short, early in the movie the Capitol is blown up and the White House taken over by an international gang of right wing extremists who turn out to be mercenaries acting in collusion with Martin Walker, the retiring chief of the Presidential Detail of the Secret Service who wants to take revenge on the (black) President. The latter, James Sawyer had ordered a botched operation on an alleged Iranian nuclear facility in which Walker’s son, a Marine was killed. Walker supported the clandestine strike but blames the President for not carrying it to its intended conclusion and subsequently for championing a peace agreement in West Asia, which to him amounts to criminal surrender to the enemies. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Eli Raphelson is also hostile to the deal which goes against the interests of the mighty military-industrial complex and says to the President that he will oppose it.
It turns out in the course of the hectically paced plot that Walker intends to take President Sawyer hostage in order to force him to launch an all-out nuclear attack on Iran. Since the head of state falls into the hands of Walker and his gang in the Oval Office, Article 25 is invoked by the cabinet gathered outside and Vice-President Hammond, who has been taken up on Air Force One by the security forces (as G.W. Bush was during the 911 attacks), is sworn in as President. However, the presidential Boeing is soon shot down by a missile fired on orders from the White House, whose command and control centre has been hacked by a former NSA cyber-operative who is a member of the occupying terrorist team. At that point, the third highest official in the State hierarchy, House Speaker Raphelson is sworn in as the new President according to constitutional provisions and he immediately orders a bombing strike on the White House in order to kill both the terrorists ensconced in it and the hostages they hold.
President Sawyer however is saved against all odds by a heroic Afghanistan war veteran John Cale who had applied to join the secret service on the same day. Thanks to Cale and his young daughter who had accompanied him to the White House on that eventful morning, the key terrorists and Walker are killed and the air raid on the presidential residence is called off at the last minute. Cale has realized at the final stage that Raphelson is the puppet master of the conspiracy and that he used Walker and the hired mercenaries to achieve the greater goal of getting rid of the President, becoming the POTUS in his place and cancelling the peace deal and the repatriation of US troops planned by Sawyer. When the proof of Raphelson’s treason surfaces in his presence the surviving President Sawyer has him arrested (“take that trash off my lawn”) and learns at the same moment that most governments including Iran’s have accepted to sign on the peace treaty.
The references to contemporary events in that film are obvious. In 2013, Barack Obama had been re-elected to a second term and was pushing the JCPOA negotiations with Iran against the furious opposition of the Republican majority in Congress and of several Democrats allied with the Israeli and Saudi governments, the main foreign opponents of the contemplated treaty. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was making every effort to undermine the “Iran deal” and discredit Obama, while calling for decisive military action against the Islamic Republic. His power over the legislative branch of government brought the Israeli Premier in direct opposition to the President, whom he unprecedently attacked in a plenary speech to Congress, making many observers feel that the tiny Jewish state was holding the USA hostage to force a new war of aggression in the Middle East. In Emmerich’s film the bloody attacks on the Capitol and the White House by extremist thugs sent in by an insidious high level insider, Raphelson—representing the “war lobby” bent on destroying Iran—against an African American head of state were an allegory of the role of the “Deep State” in domestic and foreign policy and they also foretold in a way the assault on the Capitol on 6 January of this year by hard line Trumpian hillbillies and rednecks. The crisis of the American nation long predates Trump because it is an effect of the growing antagonism between old fashioned American “Bible and Gun” populists and the transnational elite profiting from the most formidable and costliest military build-up in the history of mankind, which relies on the creation of ever growing foreign and domestic threats in order to secure public consent. It is not coincidental that Trump, though in close cooperation with Netanyahu, also came up with a peace deal in the Middle East and stopped short of attacking Iran military to the chagrin and anger of many in the political establishment. No wonder White House Down was filmed in Canada by a German director and greeted with suspicious disdain in the USA establishment.