You could almost taste the blood that Donald Trump was seemingly salivating over in his afternoon Twitter thread.
The president’s tweets were a warning to Iran not to retaliate against an America that Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal — a deal carefully negotiated by the Obama administration between Iran and America’s European allies — and then reversed the longstanding U.S. policy prohibiting the assassination of foreign leaders to kill the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards.
Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020
….targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2020
There are two giant problems here. First, if her followed through with his threat to target “sites … important to Iran and Iranian culture,” Trump would be committing a brazen war crime as purposefully destroying cultural sites is considered a war crime per UN resolution 2347.
Second, if the purpose of U.S. aggression is to undermine Iran’s enablers of terror and win the civilian populace to America’s cause, destroying treasures of Iranian/Persian culture would do the opposite, proving to the public that America is the villain.
In other words, Trump’s strategy is both illegal and terrible.
The criminal threats were immediately seized upon to drum up anti-U.S. sentiment by Iran, including these tweets from Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif:
Those masquerading as diplomats and those who shamelessly sat to identify Iranian cultural & civilian targets should not even bother to open a law dictionary.
Jus cogens refers to peremptory norms of international law, i.e. international red lines. That is, a big(ly) "no no".
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 5, 2020
Furthermore, Trump’s decision to symbolically target “52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago)” is an obvious attempt to rekindle the domestic outrage in the U.S. over the hostage crisis that took place in 1979 at the very beginning of the Iranian revolution that brought the downfall of the American-backed Shah and the start of a theocratic state ruled by Islamic clerics.
It was a crisis that saw 52 American diplomats held hostage for 444 days and was widely credited as ensuring that then-President Jimmy Carter did not win reelection, particularly since it was rumored that his opponent Ronald Reagan had secretly negotiated with Iran for a delay in the release of the hostages until after the 1980 presidential election to give himself an edge over Carter who was perceived to be weak towards the hostage-takers.
Trump’s bellicosity has all the hallmarks of someone wanting desperately to change the national conversation in the United States from his own impeachable offenses which dominated the holiday news cycles to his imagined “imminent” threat from Iran, despite the fact that his own Homeland Security Department has stated that it sees “no specific, credible threat” to the United States, outside of possible cyber attacks.
It’s just like the plot to the film Wag The Dog except that rather than concocting a fake war — shot on a film set — to distract from his domestic troubles as the fictional president in that film does, Trump is playing with loaded guns and real human beings’ lives as he emulates the type of polarizing threats his buddy Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator, regularly issues towards America.
Whether it was Trump’s instincts or the results of focus groups that led him to portray himself as the “tough guy” president — willing to respond to any retaliatory actions that Iran may decide to take with quick and overwhelming force — the president runs the risk of alienating a public that is already weary of our decades-long war in the middle east and to whom he promised a withdrawal of U.S. forces rather than the troop buildup currently taking place.
Trump’s desperately reflexive decision to assassinate one of Iran’s top military leaders to draw attention and sympathy away from his removal from office on the two impeachment charges he is currently getting set to be tried in the Senate over may yet prove to be his ultimate undoing and — if the subsequent events spiral into a global conflict as the trending hashtag #WorldWarIII indicates many people fear — the undoing of worldwide peace and prosperity as well.
While noted Republican President Theodore Roosevelt once said “speak softly and carry a big stick,” Trump’s softest voice is an angry rant at top volume that betrays the power of the sticks he controls` as president.
This president would be best served by paying attention to a quote from a non-presidential source, the 1970 hit by Motown soul singer Edwin Starr, “War.”
War! Huh, good god!
What is it good for?
Say it again. It needs to be said more than ever.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.