Our troops are in the worst possible situation. We have an unstable, television-addicted Commander-in-Chief who listens to a pit of vipers whispering in one ear and cable news screaming in the other. The troops do not have a Secretary of Defense standing up for them, and in fact, like many of his cabinet posts, have not had one for this entire year. The acting secretary resigned abruptly last week.
The troops just have to hope like hell they won’t wake up finding themselves in a war with whomever just because of the last person the president talked to or heard on one of his programs during his marathon “Executive Time”. Thankfully, although Trump’s TV once again told him what to do, this time it was the right thing to do–even if it was for the wrong reason:
He heard from his generals and his diplomats. Lawmakers weighed in and so did his advisers. But among the voices that rang powerfully for President Trump was that of one of his favorite Fox News hosts: Tucker Carlson.
The hawks did not have the president’s best interests at heart, he said. And if Mr. Trump got into a war with Iran, he could kiss his chances of re-election goodbye.
Keep this in mind for 2020: Imagine what would have happened if he wasn’t worried about re-election.
Along with every other disaster, we will be at war with Iran at some point if the president manages to win the Electoral College again. Let me count the ways this would be bad:
Regardless of what some in the media say, bombing Iran would not be the same as the limited airstrikes against Iraq that Trump’s hawks are trying to convince everyone it would be like. Make no mistake, it would be an act of war that would quickly devolve into a full-blown war. Iran would be able to create chaos in both Syria and Iraq, and our troops would be targeted in those areas. Iran would likely “fire ballistic missiles at population centers, supply the Taliban with guided missiles, or fire anti-ship missiles at U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf”. More importantly, due to America’s vacuum of leadership in the Middle East, Tehran has recently developed significant influence in several nations in that region.
Iran is NOT Iraq, where their entire apparatus revolved around one dictator. Iran’s government, as awful as it is, is far more stable and harder to remove. Although it is very unpopular with its people, it would easily be able to rally support due to an outside invasion. Iran is twice the size and has three times as many people. With no allies and no plan for the aftermath, we’d be looking at a far bigger disaster than the Iraq War, which cost thousands of Americans their lives and over a trillion dollars.
It’s a good thing Trump’s TV was able to talk Trump out of this.
With 10 minutes to spare, according to Trump’s own words, he reversed course. Pentagon officials who were preparing for the attack were caught completely off-guard.
This isn’t even the first time in the past six months where TV set major policy.
Recall a few months ago when there was bi-partisan agreement on a budget, and then Fox News hosts yelled at Trump for “caving” on his stupid wall. Trump “alternately seethed and panicked” when his favorite hosts on TV stopped praising him, so he pulled out the deal he had just agreed to and created the “Fox News Shutdown”. It turned out to be the longest, and dumbest, shutdown in our history. Thousands of government employees entrusted with our safety were forced to work without pay, and the stunt cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
Nancy put an end to that, but it wasn’t the only time Trump went to Fox for advice. It’s a twisted feature of his entire presidency:
At least this time, Fox News helped steer him from a monumental disaster that Bolton and Pompeo are constantly pushing him towards. Even if the appeal was primarily to just think about himself, which is always effective, lives were not needlessly lost.
I’m also sure it helped that Fox News told Trump that Vladimir Putin came out against it on a call-in show. This I can guarantee you: if Fox News AND Putin want something, it will happen. In this case, they wanted Trump to call off the attack. I have little doubt, however, that if the president had gone through with the attack, Fox News would immediately go into propaganda mode and would be justifying and promoting our new war—just like they did the last time.
Yet credit where credit is due, Tucker. All of us, especially those serving the military, pine for the day we won’t have to rely on a conspiracy-laden, racist talk show host to be the sensible one and give advice to not needlessly take away American lives.
But that’s where we are.