Trump's perilous delusions about Tehran

  
Via:  john-russell  •  2 weeks ago  •  21 comments

Trump's perilous delusions about Tehran
that the U.S. had the opportunity to assassinate Soleimani in Baghdad on Thursday does not necessarily mean that they should have done so. The greatest military power in the history of human civilization, the U.S. could easily kill any number of bad actors. We could vaporize the president of Brazil with a missile. We could drone strike the military commanders in charge of the Chinese concentration camps where more than a million Muslims are imprisoned. We could have killed Syrian President...

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T




Trump's perilous delusions about Tehran



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David   Faris



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The United States   brazenly assassinated   Iran's most senior security and intelligence official, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad on Thursday, in a dangerous and wildly illegal act of escalation with no discernible underlying policy goal.

For Iran hawks, Soleimani had become a boogeyman, a shadowy figure at whose feet we could place responsibility for the past 30 years of unmitigated American policy disaster in the Persian Gulf. Yet Soleimani, though an important operator, was not at all the cause of Iranian foreign policy behavior or America's regional struggles. His assassination proves that President Trump is under the sway of a very dangerous delusion: that because he personally does not want a full-on shooting war with Tehran, he can engage in any insane provocation he likes without triggering one.

Sooner or later, he is going to run out of luck.

The murder of Soleimani is only the most recent manifestation of the Trump administration's dangerous policy of escalation with Iran. The president has consistently brought his very worst instincts to the Persian Gulf and to the Iranian file in particular. He sees Iranian aggression and perfidy behind everything, and reads almost all policy decisions through the lens of a paranoid and implacable hostility to Tehran. He has obviously spent too much time alone in rooms with smooth-talking Saudi majesties and potentates   eager to have the United States sign on   to another long era of bottom-lining Gulf Arab sovereignty with American lives and treasure. Trump wants to bully the Iranians while simultaneously making it clear that he is   terrified of an actual shooting war   with Tehran.

Here more than anywhere else, his total lack of even a cursory understanding of the history of U.S.-Iranian relations or even a third-grader's grasp of Tehran's motivations and goals is painfully obvious. He simply cannot fathom why Iran acts the way it does, cannot conceptualize that the regime has its own security goals and needs, and believes that Iranian leadership will respond positively to the kind of loose gangster bravado that the president regards as sufficient to achieve the easy foreign policy 'wins' he and his team dream of tweeting about triumphantly.

Since even before he was inaugurated, the president has been bent on ratcheting up tensions with Iran, first by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran nuclear deal, and subsequently by imposing new sanctions designed to make life as miserable as possible for the Iranian people in the vain hope that they will succeed in overthrowing the regime. Thus far these provocations, which have undermined American diplomatic and negotiation efforts around the world by making America seem like an untrustworthy partner, have achieved precisely nothing in the policy realm. They have not forced Iran out of Syria or Yemen, or led to fresh nuclear negotiations, or led Tehran to loosen its grip on Iraq. If anything, President Trump's actions have made all of these problems infinitely worse.

The end result is a worst possible scenario. The president feels free to authorize policies and actions that make war much more likely, while also confident in America's ability to manage the escalation before it gets out of control. And the administration remain committed to the third-tier Beltway think tank fantasy of a popular uprising.

The cult-like belief in America's power to trigger regime change shared by key decision-makers like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (who said on CNN 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") is behind the administration's whole strategy-without-a-strategy policymaking in the Gulf. Killing Soleimani is part and parcel of the hallucinatory belief that dragging Iran back to the negotiating table   and   fomenting some kind of Bay of Pigs uprising against the dictatorship can be produced by the same bellicose set of American actions and the same blunt instruments of economic strangulation and political encirclement.

Behind all of these fiascos is a shared faith in America's insulation from any consequences. For too long, Americans have become accustomed to living in a world where the only restraint on American foreign policy adventurism is the threat of subsequent domestic political disaster. In a world without a serious military peer capable of threatening or even checking us, the only reason that we are not already at war with Iran is almost certainly the bar graph of President George W. Bush's approval ratings before and after the Iraq War. That godlike, near omnipotence has utterly warped our ability to distinguish between what it is possible to get away with and what is required for our national interests.

In other words, that the U.S. had the opportunity to assassinate Soleimani in Baghdad on Thursday does not necessarily mean that they should have done so. The greatest military power in the history of human civilization, the U.S. could easily kill any number of bad actors. We could vaporize the president of Brazil with a missile. We could drone strike the military commanders in charge of the   Chinese concentration camps   where more than a million Muslims are imprisoned. We could have killed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a thousand times in a thousand different ways.

It does not necessarily mean that we should do any of these things. For one thing, as the saying goes, you see the same people on the way up as you do on the way down. America's power is on the wane, and we should be doing everything in our power to encourage international cooperation and institution building rather than aggressively destroying our own reputation and needlessly alienating other decision-makers and publics. We might also recognize that the history of extra-judicial killings of foreign leaders is not a very happy one. Someone in Trumpworld should at least skim the Wikipedia page of   the Church Committee .

In the Soleimani assassination, the Trump administration's staggering policy incoherence meets a much broader failure to appreciate or act on the basic reality that Iran is also a country with policy interests and designs. Imagine for a moment that a vastly more powerful China had spent the past 29 years intermittently bombing and invading and occupying and manipulating Canada. Can we really convince ourselves that we would not produce, and even encourage, a Soleimani of our own to wreak havoc on the Chinese occupation, to build alliances with anti-Chinese state and non-state actors, and do whatever was in our power to forestall a Chinese invasion of our own country? What would be our response if after all that, the Chinese assassinated the U.S. Defense Secretary in Ottawa just because they could?










Of course, the Iranians will respond in kind, just as we would. Innocent people will perish. And because we do not exactly have distinguished game theorists in charge of our hollowed-out foreign policy apparatus, at some point one of these acts of aggression is going to lead to a truly catastrophic outcome. The Iranian Supreme Leader   has promised "harsh retaliation."   Thousands of American troops are   already en route   to the region. Again, what do we think that looks like to Tehran? Does anyone in D.C. even care? The Trump administration is full of very stupid people who are so high on their own Teflon that they think they can do anything to anyone.

The worst part is that we will all pay the price when they are proven wrong



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JohnRussell
1  seeder  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

I don't think Trump or his advisers understand Iran at all. 

The seeded article, while I dont agree with all his conclusions, explains why trump is in over his head. 

 
 
 
It Is ME
1.1  It Is ME  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago
I don't think Trump or his advisers understand Iran at all. 

And whom is it that actually does ?

 
 
 
Raven Wing
1.2  Raven Wing  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago
explains why trump is in over his head. 

Indeed he is. And his acting without following the required protocol and by-passing the Congressional process will backfire on him at some point. I would like to think that his advisers would have warned him about not informing the House or Senate of his plans to attack, but, knowing who his advisers are I doubt that they did, or dared to mention such requirement. If they did, then Trump acted without proper due course and that can and likely will backfire on him.

But, as some one who thinks he is God, he will ignore anyone who dares to warn him, and do what he damned well pleases no matter what the consequences are to our government and/or  our country.

 
 
 
Snuffy
1.2.1  Snuffy  replied to  Raven Wing @1.2    2 weeks ago
And his acting without following the required protocol and by-passing the Congressional process will backfire on him at some point

Maybe yes, maybe no. From what I've read it was a case of a target of opportunity and he  ordered the shot. Several of the past administrations have had that power and Congress has never formally taken it back. There are rules and if I understand things correctly this is all legal so long as Trump notifies the proper committees within a certain timeline. But a target of opportunity normally doesn't allow for taking time to go back and forth to get permission. As Soleimani and the Quds were labeled a terrorist organization by the Bush State Department and I believe they are still so labeled, I think the lambasting of the action is wrongly placed.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
1.2.2  Raven Wing  replied to  Snuffy @1.2.1    2 weeks ago
There are rules and if I understand things correctly this is all legal so long as Trump notifies the proper committees within a certain timeline.

I agree....however....the House, being a vital part of our government, is part of that committees that should have been informed prior to the attack. That they were seemingly deliberately ignored by Trump speaks volumes as to his disregard of the proper protocol under such circumstances. Because if he had followed proper protocol to inform other committees, then he also had time to  inform the House committee. 

Even if he notified the committees at the same time as the timely attack, including the House, he would have followed protocol. But, that did not happen either. 

There is no excuse for failure to follow the necessary required protocol.

 
 
 
Dulay
1.2.3  Dulay  replied to  Snuffy @1.2.1    2 weeks ago

Maybe no. 

Lindsey Graham confirmed that he was informed prior to the attack. Graham is NOT a member of the 'Gang of Eight'. 

 
 
 
Tessylo
1.2.4  Tessylo  replied to  Dulay @1.2.3    2 weeks ago

 His sons were informed also ahead of the attack 

 
 
 
WallyW
1.2.5  WallyW  replied to  Raven Wing @1.2.2    2 weeks ago
There is no excuse for failure to follow the necessary required protocol.

You mean the same scummy actors who are trying to remove him from office?

As  C-i-C he has legal authority to order this action`.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
2  Sean Treacy    2 weeks ago

When the  screed starts with a false claim about this being "wildly illegal," I'm out. 

 
 
 
Kavika
3  Kavika     2 weeks ago

The killing of Soleimani will surely spark a response from Iran. Where, when and how large remains to be seen.

It may not be in the middle east at all or even against the US. It could be against one of our allies. 

It may not be immediate but 6 months or a year from now.

IMO, we have not seen the end of this. 

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
3.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Kavika @3    2 weeks ago

It will be us as it was us who killed the general.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
3.2  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Kavika @3    2 weeks ago

I heard a guest say on a tv show that this is the first time in history a military officer of a sovereign nation has been named a terrorist for the purpose of justifying his assassination.  The U.S. is now on record as assassinating officials of other countries we are not at war with.  The truth is that if they wanted to kill this guy it needed to be done in secret, not in the open. 

This is one of the reasons no other country will state they agree with this action. 

Trump doesnt know what he is doing. 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
3.2.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  JohnRussell @3.2    2 weeks ago

Trump doesn't know what he's doing

Yet you claim he had the foresight to get the Bush admin to name the  the Al-quds force a terrorist organization in 2007, just so he could kill its leader in 2020.

 
 
 
Drakkonis
3.2.2  Drakkonis  replied to  JohnRussell @3.2    2 weeks ago
I heard a guest say on a tv show that this is the first time in history a military officer of a sovereign nation has been named a terrorist for the purpose of justifying his assassination.

The Quds have been on the terrorist list since 2007, of which Soleimani was the head. Are you suggesting that the Quds were put on the terrorist list so that, 12 years later, Trump could justify his elimination? Wow, now that's forethought. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
3.2.3  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @3.2    2 weeks ago
I heard a guest say on a tv show that this is the first time in history a military officer of a sovereign nation has been named a terrorist for the purpose of justifying his assassination. 

Seems like the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination disagree with you there.

They all said he was a supporter of terrorism in the region, responsible for hundreds if not thousands of deaths.

The U.S. is now on record as assassinating officials of other countries we are not at war with.  The truth is that if they wanted to kill this guy it needed to be done in secret, not in the open. 

We are in a proxy war with Iran and have been for some time. Killing him in the open is to send a message. 

This is one of the reasons no other country will state they agree with this action. 

Just because much of the world has lost its balls doesn't mean we have to be neutered, too.

 
 
 
Texan1211
3.2.4  Texan1211  replied to  Sean Treacy @3.2.1    2 weeks ago

Trump Campaign Slogan

"Trump--Outwitting Democrats since 2007"

 
 
 
Raven Wing
3.2.5  Raven Wing  replied to  JohnRussell @3.2    2 weeks ago
Trump doesnt know what he is doing. 

No...he doesn't. And he doesn't listen to those who do. He thinks he is God, the chosen one, and does as he damned well pleases. Those who pay the price are of no concern to him at all. 

His saying that the target was about to attack is merely a means to try and justify his kneejerk actions.

The price we will ultimately pay in unnecessary loss of life will bring shame to our country. And will make Bush look like a genius compared to Trumps stupid actions today. 

 
 
 
Drakkonis
3.2.6  Drakkonis  replied to  Raven Wing @3.2.5    2 weeks ago
The price we will ultimately pay in unnecessary loss of life will bring shame to our country. And will make Bush look like a genius compared to Trumps stupid actions today. 

I don't understand your point of view. It is as if you can't see that, because of Iran's actions, there has already been tremendous loss of life. Is that supposed to be ignored? How long to we let it continue? It is as if you are pretending what you fear isn't already happening. 

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
3.2.7  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  JohnRussell @3.2    2 weeks ago

Sleeper cells here will emerge and cause some major shit I am betting.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
3.2.8  Raven Wing  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @3.2.7    2 weeks ago

I agree. Our home grown terrorist cells will soon be letting themselves be known.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
3.3  Raven Wing  replied to  Kavika @3    2 weeks ago
IMO, we have not seen the end of this.

Agreed. Not for a long time. And our men and women in uniform will bear the real brunt of Trumps actions today. Not that he gives a damn about them in truth, he just pretends like they mean something to him for his forthcoming campaign.

 
 
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