Yesterday, the Trump administration permanently and drastically escalated tensions in the Middle East with the possibly illegal and wildly reckless decision to assassinate Iranian general Qassem Solelimani with a drone strike as he left the Baghdad airport.
The killing of Iran’s most beloved and powerful military commander in such a high profile and irresponsible fashion sent shockwaves through the Middle East. The Iraqi government, furious at the violation of their sovereignty and the bombing of their capital city has vowed to kick the United States out of Iraq entirely, while Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi called it “a dangerous escalation that will light the fuse of a destructive war in Iraq, the region, and the world.”
Iran has vowed “harsh retaliation” against the United States over the killing while Soleimani’s replacement as head of the elite Quds Force, Esmail Qaani, ominously warned the world to “be patient and see the dead bodies of Americans all over the Middle East.”
With such intense and potentially disastrous repercussions from the attack, one would think that the Trump administration would have prepared a meticulous and detailed plan as for what happens next — but it’s clear from today’s contradictory statements that nobody has any idea what’s happening.
Trump: We committed an act of war to stop a war.
Pompeo: Americans are safer now, but evacuate Iraq immediately, you're not safe.
Pompeo: We're de-escalating.
Esper: We're sending more troops.
— Mieke Eoyang (@MiekeEoyang) January 3, 2020
President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both have claimed that the attack was a pre-emptive strike to thwart some nebulous and likely imaginary planned attack against Americans by Soleimani but also insist that they are committed to “de-escalation” and, in a particularly bizarre argument, claimed that the U.S performed this act of war in order to “prevent” a war — though the killing of a major military commander of a nation we are not at war with is inherently a casus belli in its most basic form.
Trump, reading a statement in Mar-a-Lago, claims assassinating Soleimani was "to stop a war."
"We took action last night to stop a war. We do not take action to start a war." pic.twitter.com/jkqmz0gQhq
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 3, 2020
But while the President and his diplomatic team are busy claiming that we do not want any hostilities with Iran and are trying to “de-escalate” the situation, the Trump administration is rushing thousands of soldiers to the Middle East while Vice-President Mike Pence whips up war fever by lying to the American people and accusing Iran of participating in the 9/11 terror attacks.
Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on American diplomats and military personnel. The world is a safer place today because Soleimani is gone.
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) January 3, 2020
Supremely confident that the meek Democrats will be too scared of appearing unpatriotic to put up any real opposition and that the baying, bloodthirsty ghouls in the mainstream media will carry the water for them, the Trump administration is deploying the Iraq War playbook with infuriating carelessness and hubris.
Invoking 9/11 and drawing imaginary links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda was a very effective rhetorical device in the lead-up to the Iraq War despite being obviously preposterous to anyone with a passing knowledge of the Middle East; this time, there is literally a Congressional report that says that there has been no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the 9/11 attacks.
— Adam Bonin (@adambonin) January 3, 2020
The hijackers merely took advantage of Iran’s no-stamp passport policy towards Saudi Arabia, which was an effort to cultivate better relations between the two, but there was no active participation or knowledge on Iran’s part, which Pence’s use of “assisted” insists there was.
In fact, Iran and Soleimani were working to help the United States fight the Taliban until the Bush administration deliberately trashed Iranian-US relations with the infamous “Axis of Evil” speech, which was written by “Resistance” hero David Frum, who honestly shouldn’t be allowed to show his face in public ever again, let alone be allowed to publish repackaged white nationalist talking points at the Atlantic.
Soleimani himself had been on the verge of trying to sell better relations with the United States to the Iranian regime, but the Bush administration spat in his face. God only knows how many lives could have been saved if that opportunity hadn’t been squandered so foolishly.
The source is The Piece, which reports David Frum’s “axis of evil”* speech scuttled a rapprochement with Iran amid the early days of the war on terror. https://t.co/7eyM4k6lqH…
*three countries who were not allied with each other, two of whom were enemies pic.twitter.com/RZuBgy8kkk
— Charlie J. Johnson (@Charliemagne) January 3, 2020
Perpetually operating in a post-fact environment, the Trump administration isn’t even bothering to try to substantiate the lies they’re deploying to justify the likely illegal act of war against another sovereign nation.
The Trump team from Pence down to their lickspittles in the media are insistently pushing this narrative that Soleimani was “actively planning an attack” on American targets while Congressional intelligence aides argue that there was “nothing explicitly linking him to an imminent attack,” according to the Washington Post‘s Baghdad Chief Louisa Loveluck.
"The aide said no one doubts he posed a threat to U.S. interests, but the case for acting this week was not made." https://t.co/pWPmFahmjx
— Louisa Loveluck (@leloveluck) January 3, 2020
With all the contradictory messaging and outright lies being deployed by the Trump administration, it is painfully and terrifyingly clear that there was no real plan in place to deal with the backlash beyond continuing to fan the flames of war and recklessly plunge our nation headfirst into yet another Middle Eastern shooting war that we are not prepared for and cannot come close to winning.
BREAKING: Iraqi official says five people have been killed in airstrike targeting two vehicles carrying Iranian-backed militia north of Baghdad. https://t.co/daCVWswaL3
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 3, 2020
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.