Yesterday, we awoke to find that Trump had ordered an airstrike that killed an Iranian general. The general’s position was equivalent to that of our Joint Chiefs of Staff, or even Vice-President, and he was evidently revered in Iran.
Critics don’t dispute the administration’s contention that General Suleimani posed a threat to Americans (although absolutely no evidence supports claims that an attack was “imminent”). Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama had decided against efforts to target Suleimani, because they were convinced that such an action had a high probability of triggering a war.
They were correct. The assassination is being reported in both the U.S. and Iran as an Act of War.
Of course, both Bush and Obama listened to their diplomatic and military experts, and consulted with Congressional leaders–none of which Trump did. The strike violated a longstanding executive order forbidding U.S. involvement in the assassination of foreign officials, as well as the requirement that a President seek Congressional approval under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Act. Of course, this is an administration that routinely ignores compliance with laws it dislikes.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that a military strike that allows Trump to brag about a “show of strength” comes at a time when his bungled and inept forays into foreign policy are being widely criticized.
Despite his much-hyped meetings with Kim Jon Un (meetings which gifted Un with an unearned but long-desired legitimacy), North Korea has announced its intent to resume nuclear tests. Trump’s approach to Iran–actually, his approach to the entire Middle East–has been wildly contradictory, as spurts of belligerence have alternated with troop pullouts and inexplicable decisions have been “justified” by Trump’s usual word-salad tweets and statements.
North Korea’s announcement, coming as the 2020 election campaign begins heating up, and the Iranian-backed attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, increased public attention to those failures, and triggered renewed allegations that Trump doesn’t understand foreign policy and is incapable of developing a coherent strategy. Those criticisms have been leveled throughout his term in office, but they have become louder and more frequent in the wake of recent events.
So, like the child he is, Trump blindly struck out.
Since 2016, it has become abundantly clear that the Oval Office is occupied by a profoundly ignorant, mentally-unstable man-child who is utterly incapable of understanding the likely consequences of his actions. The damage he has done domestically is enormous; the threat he poses to world peace and hundreds of thousands of American lives is terrifying.
Yesterday’s media was full of analyses by Middle East and foreign policy experts; most of the people who read this blog have undoubtedly seen many of them. I don’t have any additional insights to offer.
A deadly opening attack. Nearly untraceable, ruthless proxies spreading chaos on multiple continents. Costly miscalculations. And thousands — perhaps hundreds of thousands — killed in a conflict that would dwarf the war in Iraq.
Welcome to the US-Iran war, which has the potential to be one of the worst conflicts in history.
The Thursday night killing of Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who led Iranian covert operations and intelligence and was one of the country’s most senior leaders, brought Washington and Tehran closer to fighting that war. Iran has every incentive to retaliate, experts says, using its proxies to target US commercial interests in the Middle East, American allies, or even American troops and diplomats hunkered down in regional bases and embassies.
It’s partly why the Eurasia Group, a prominent international consulting firm, now puts the chance of “a limited or major military confrontation” at 40 percent.
This is what happens when self-described “patriots” cast their votes for an unhinged buffoon with limited intellect and a monumental ignorance of the ways of the world. Those voters weren’t a majority, but there were enough of them to elect the candidate whose only “qualification” was a pathetic eagerness to validate their bigotries.