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Just as “fake news” is the epithet thrown around as a magic formula to justify refusing to pay attention to any fact you don’t like, so too is the “deep state” a magic formula used to justify ignoring the latest evidence of President Trump’s malfeasance in foreign policy. The formula is simple: wave any and all damaging testimony off as a political hit job by a secret cabal of unelected officials.
“Deep state” is a term borrowed from Turkey’s Kamalist dictatorship, which involved an actual large-scale conspiracy to suppress any threat to the regime. Ironically, the specter of this “deep state” has been used by Recep Tayyip Erdogan as an excuse to create a new dictatorship—which is why we should be leery of any attempt to import this terminology into an American context.
In America, there is no “deep state” in the Turkish sense. When Trump and his supporters use the phrase, it’s just an overdramatic, hair-on-fire way of whining about the mundane fact of bureaucracy.