It’s Not Hard to Make the Case for Killing Soleimani. Even Easier to Cite How Wrongly This Was Carried Out.
I really wanted to talk about something other than politics today
I had a nice blog on something completely different ready to offer you. But the real world does intervene, doesn’t it? Many will be speaking out on this over the next few days, but this one is just too important to let slide, so I too am joining the parade. This is The Mother of Unintended Consequences and Poor Execution. The price will be steep in many corners. And this one feels a bit personal. That was my old division that was deployed to the Middle East over the weekend. I know what those soldiers and families are dealing with today. This should only happen for really, really good reasons.
To be clear at the outset, Suleimani was a very bad guy. Several administrations had looked at options to take him out and the world is surely a better place without him. Iranian international misdeeds, and abuse of protestors at home, will not cease with his passing, but they have lost a key player for sure.
So, What’s the Problem?
Let’s look at a short list of the issues and ramifications:
- There can be justifications cited, but this was not a byproduct of war. This was an assassination of a high government official. What goes around, could come around.
- It was done in a 3rd party country, without consultation of any sort. We complain when Russians poison critics in other countries of Europe. Kind of puts us in the same basket. We clearly had the intelligence. We could have taken out his plane in flight in international waters or over Iran without this complication.
- None of our allies got any warning or consultation – none. Yet many of them will suffer some of the inevitable blow back. I cannot imagine there are many countries left that consider us a reliable ally.
- Congress, except for a couple of golfing buddies, was not consulted or advised in advance. That has not happened with any president of any party, for good reason. One would think that is a further ground for impeachment and Congressional legislative action, but that would require a GOP delegation with a modicum of morality and constitutional grounding.
- Every American diplomat, military person, international businessperson, or tourist is now a target for Iran and their many friends abroad. This will be the case for a very long time. Don’t expect a fast retaliation. Glad I don’t have an international trip on tap anytime soon.
- Whether one believes it is the case or not, it is difficult to ignore the Wag the Dog scenario. Did Trump do this now to say, “How could you have an impeachment trial now, when we are nearly at war?” His buddies on Fox are already saying that. The response, of course, is that this conduct makes his removal all the more urgent.
- We have been enduring politics by tweet and government by tweet. Now we have war by tweet. Trump actually tweeted that he did not think he had any requirement to notify Congress (wrong) but his tweet should be construed as notice of possible future strikes. Think about that. A tweet.
- Trump has threatened to attack cultural and historic sites in Iran if further strikes take place. That is as shortsighted as one could imagine. Nothing would further unit Iranians, just when real internal resistance was gaining traction. Now there is no chance of a domestic opposition to take hold. Oh, and this would violate international law (not the first time Trump has advocated that, either).
- Doing this in Iraq put their government, and at a time of political transition, in an impossible position. So, the Parliament has asked us to leave and the President says he is starting the process. Whether that happens in the end or not, ISIS has to be delighted. First, Trump ensures thousands of their fighters go free in Syria. Now he undercuts the training effort to fight ISIS in Iraq, a likely place for their resurgence.
- I would make a heavy bet that we will find over time that damn few real experts in State, DOD, or our embassies had any input into this. Trump went for the flashy option with about zero consideration.
That is Only a Short List
There is more, of course. Here is a bottom line to consider:
When Trump took office, we had friends and allies around the world. ISIS and its cohorts were on the ropes. Most countries either feared us or felt loyal to us – both sides knew what we stood for and what we were likely to do in a given situation (Not always, of course. Obama dropped the ball on the Red Linein Syria and that started a host of problems still in effect). Iran was a problem on several fronts, but not on the nuclear front. A deal was in place that was working, with many countries involved. Their ability to go nuclear was getting ever longer, while hopes were raised of a more moderate Iran in the future and homegrown democracy advocates growing. North Korea was a major danger, but at least at bay.
Today, None of That is True
No one trusts us, many are angry at us, no one has any confidence in our policies or processes. Our enemies are stronger than ever and are increasingly bold. Trump furthers that by admiring them. North Korea feels it got teased by Trump and is likely to be even more dangerous. Iran is back on track for the most part to go Nuclear. ISIS has a second chance.
We always knew there was a risk of Trump unconstrained and totally out of his depth. Here we are. I feel as though I am watching Nero fiddle as Rome burns.
You would think by now enough Republican Senators, for the right reasons and for the salvation of their party (likely too late) would take conviction of impeachment charges as a golden opportunity. You would think….
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