ON Monday morning British politics had entered another phase of Brexit turmoil. David Davis had walked. Rumours circulated about who might go next. Would this be the end of Theresa May? Or perhaps a snap General Election was coming into view? All of this in the same week that Donald Trump visits the UK.

I wanted to find out what the First Minister – an avid tweeter – had to say about the situation. Nicola Sturgeon is a highly intelligent politician and stands head and shoulders above her rivals in a great many ways. She has an ability to connect with members of the public at the same time as consistently impressing the world of politics, not just in Scotland, but internationally. For many, she is an inspirational figure. And importantly, she is seen by her supporters as a source of confidence and security. Her progressive ideals seem to embody hope in a world of fear and division.

Her Twitter feed that morning though tells us something else about her approach. She posted an article by the notorious Henry Kissinger, one of the key figures in the American foreign policy establishment. This was followed by a retweet of a Madeline Albright piece. Ms Albright is well known for her response to a question about the US sanctions regime on Iraq which led to the deaths of half a million children. Asked if this was a price worth paying, she replied: “We think it is worth it.”

I enjoy reading people who have different views to my own. It’s interesting to see how others interpret world events, or to uncover what interests they are promoting. Kissinger’s article was not uninteresting. But it begs the question: why are people who commit high crimes being promoted by the First Minister? And why especially when the US media will be keeping a close eye on her statements on the run-up to Mr Trump visiting Scotland? It was no mistake.

For anyone who doesn’t know the big picture in relation to someone like Kissinger, it’s worth reading up. A good place to start is Christopher Hitchens’ book The Trial Of Henry Kissinger. Whether it be anti-democratic coups, death squads in South America or the largest ever bombing campaign in Indochina which left millions dead, Kissinger is one of the most notorious players in the history of American imperialism.

I don’t doubt that Ms Sturgeon knows this to be the case. And so I scratch my head. Was there really any need to tweet his article? And similarly with Ms Albright. What message is this sending in the week of the Trump visit?

The Albright article was also not uninteresting. But she personifies the failed “liberal” establishment in a similar way to Tony Blair. It is unsurprising then that Ms Sturgeon also tweeted about Mr Blair favourably on the question of the EU when she praised his “quality of analysis and argument”. Surely these are people to be shunned, rather than praised, given the grave consequences of their policy?

This attitude follows a pattern. In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in 2015, Ms Sturgeon said: “Do not think that the SNP and the Scottish Government take a markedly different position from the UK Government on the vast majority of international issues, we don’t.”

She is keen that Scotland is not seen as a threat to the world order. But isn’t that world order in flux? Isn’t now the time to show political leadership? I am reminded of Alex Salmond’s speech in 2013 to the Brookings Institution. He said: “We seek a Scotland whose importance is judged on its usefulness to the rest of humanity, not on fading imperial grandeur.” I am quite sure he would not make any public approval of a Henry Kissinger article.

Ms Sturgeon’s strategy seems to be to show that she will not confront the establishment. Sure, she will speak in the most progressive terms and rail against Jacob Rees-Mogg. But her world view is firmly rooted in the “centre ground”, willing to appease powerful figures despite their legacy.

That leads us to a question that is rarely examined in the hubbub of Scottish politics. What is Ms Sturgeon’s ideological disposition? Bernie Sanders, who famously declared “I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger,” is certainly to her left. Indeed, she fits much more with Hillary Clinton, whom she clearly admires politically.

If the Growth Commission is anything to go by, she wants to placate the financial establishment too. Yes – let’s have the Institute of Directors, but not the STUC. The SNP was granted political hegemony by working class Scotland, yet even very menial reforms like scrapping the council tax were shelved despite being a previous manifesto pledge. That’s not to mention the timidity around land reform, and the lack of an industrial strategy.

We are now beginning to see Ms Sturgeon the leader in context. But I can’t help but see that much of it is pre-2008 crash, mid-1990s Third Way politics. And that is going to be a problem. Because that world order is on its way out. What is needed is to show vision that goes well beyond this and into a different future.

In a world where Donald Trump is president, Ms Sturgeon appears as a source of progressive values. I have no doubt that these are deeply and sincerely felt. But the First Minister is attempting to resuscitate a project that died with Mr Blair and the rest. More than that, she believes that by being as compliant with the establishment as possible, that Scotland will be granted safe passage to independence. This is not the case. Dismantling the British state is by its nature a major shock to the Western system. And the notion that Scotland can become a stronghold for a neoliberal, hawkish establishment is on a collision course with reality.

In these fast changing times, unifying with a failed political order is a bigger risk than taking a principled stand, even if it draws attacks from the ailing Anglo-American establishment and the bond markets. If Scotland is to win full independence, it will require leadership that can sustain such fire.

Iain Macwhirter is on holiday.