On the second day of the new year Donald Trump launched a new conflict in the Middle East, this time with the region’s largest military, Iran. Contrary to his frequent promises to withdraw the United States from the Middle East, Trump’s assault is likely to result in another prolonged war that will be costly in both lives and dollars.
No American will mourn the demise of General Qasem Soleimani. He was the leading purveyor of Iran’s international terrorism and was responsible for hundreds fatalities among both Americans and civilians in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. But the mission to assassinate Iran’s second highest military leader in Iraq was nevertheless a provocative act that could lead to further unnecessary tragedies for the U.S. and the region.
This is particularly apparent since Trump has no coherent strategy, policy, or end game. He failed to consult members of Congress as the law requires and, therefore, had no legal authorization for the attack. And in a flurry of syrupy, worshipful retweets, Trump included one by disgraced pundit Dinesh D’Souza that shamefully implied that had Trump told Congress they would have told Iran. To date, the only one who has disclosed state secrets to hostile foreign nations is Trump when he speaks to Putin.
In fact, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that he discussed this attack with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in advance. So Trump informed Russia, but not Congress. It’s also notable that, by targeting an individual, as opposed to military assets, Trump possibly violated international laws against assassination.
Trump’s initial justification for the attack is that it was executed in order to prevent imminent future attacks on Americans. However, he provided no evidence of any such threat. It sounds very much like the false assertions of the Bush administration alleging nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Also familiar is the statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who baselessly claimed that “We have every expectation that people not only in Iraq, but in Iran, will view the American action last night as giving them freedom.” That recalls Dick Cheney’s preposterous assertion that “My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators [in Iraq].”
Immediately following Trump’s attack, Fox News predictably leaped to his defense with a vigor that can only be described as gleeful. Although he was on vacation, Sean Hannity called into his own program to insist that Iran had “put American lives in jeopardy and the president very quickly acted,” and that it was “a huge victory and total leadership by the president.” But Brian Kilmeade of Fox and Friends was representative of the Fox position when he rebutted Geraldo Rivera’s criticism of the attack by gloating that “I will cheer this on. I am elated.”
Geraldo: Don't for a minute start cheering this on, what we have done, what we have unleashed —
Kilmeade: I will cheer it on. I am elated.
Geraldo: Then you, like Lindsey Graham, have never met a war you didn't like.
Kilmeade: That is not true, don't even say that. pic.twitter.com/1VZ3tZJPRb
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) January 3, 2020
Make no mistake. This is the host of a popular Fox News program expressing his elation about a potential war that would result in untold casualties of Americans for a purpose that no one in the Trump administration has been able to define.
If you’re looking for a plausible reason for why Trump would take this action at this time, look no further than the news that broke earlier the same day. The release of newly unredacted emails from Trump’s national security personnel that state unequivocally that Trump knew his withholding of military aid to Ukraine was illegal. The discovery of this provides additional urgency for the Senate to agree to call witnesses and to introduce documents when it takes up Trump’s impeachment.
Trump knows this, and it escalates his fear that impeachment could result in his removal from office. So in order to deflect from the growing political peril he is enduring, Trump appears to have taken the course of action that he once falsely accused President Obama of considering: Start a war with Iran:
— News Corpse (@NewsCorpse) January 3, 2020