In a normal world, with a normal administration, the news of the unredacted emails showing how it was Trump who directed the extortion of Ukraine would have been the day's Big Story. That, and how Pompeo or Barr or Trump or whoever it was got the emails redacted in the first place, just because they were embarrassing to the administration (as in "showing impeachable intent), which is not a legal reason to redact anything.
But this is not a normal world, or a normal administration.
And so, now we have to deal with the United States killing Iran's beloved military leader, Qasem Soleimiani, when we're not at war with the country.
Is it possible that we had advance word, as the administration says, that Soleimani was planning an attack against U.S. diplomats and military personnel? Sure, it's possible. But this administration's credibility on honesty was completely used up long ago. Further, the question must also be asked if this action even stops that alleged attack? Moreover, as Middle East experts repeatedly pointed out, we know that Iran is regularly planning attacks against us for the past decade or so, but we've never taken peremptory action because of that.
Solemani was a terrorist responsible for the death of over 100 Americans. His death is not mourned in the U.S. But the question, as Sen. Chris Murphy noted, is whether Soleimani being dead offers more benefits to the United States than Soleimani being a martyr helps Iran? Because we can be sure that Iran will respond, and in as big and damaging a way as they can. And they'll do so on their own timetable, either very soon or being patient for many years? And then we will have to respond. And then Iran will again. And will they attack us directly -- or indirectly in Iraq ? Or Israel? Or Syria? Or Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain? And who else? And then will we have a major war in the Middle East? At the very least, this risks destabilizing the region.
And rest assured that unlike our other wars in the Middle East, Trump will not be putting together a coalition of our allies. "You're on your own" will likely be the most common response. And it all makes perfect, unfortunate sense, because after all, it's Trump who said that "I know more than the generals." And it's Trump who said, "I alone can fix it." And now, as I said yesterday about North Korea threatening to increase its nuclear program and protesters in Iraq, trained by Iranian forces, killing an American citizen and besieging our embassy, Trump is going to get the chance to show that he can't.
And then there's the question of whether Congress was informed before this attack because -- especially if it was unprovoked -- only Congress can declare war. But this morning, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez said he never was informed ahead of time and has yet to speak to anyone in the administration about the attack. And isn't aware of even any senator in the "Gang of Eight" being informed.
And this all came about because of Trump's psychotic ego and incompetence and his hatred of all things about that black man who was president before him who had a nuclear deal with Iran that Trump could not bear having exist and so tore it up. A deal which by the world's account was working on pretty much every level. Helping to keep the region and world safe.
Was this done as a diversion from impeachment? It's certainly possible, though it seems that Trump has had this on his mind for a long time, and may even have been why he brought John Bolton into the administration, At its foundation, this all likely came about, too, because Trump probably figures that -- for whatever his reasoning -- being president during a war is A Good Thing. For him. But it's actually a pretty awful thing for everyone else, most especially when it's started by the man at the top out of pique and egomaniacal angst that's run without order, rhyme or reason, and gets Americans killed. So, let us hope it doesn't come to that, somehow.
Unfortunately, what this also does is make it far less likely to create a new nuclear deal with Iran. And as many Iran experts have pointed out, this also serves to unite the dividing factions within the country.
This is why we have a State Department. This is why we have diplomats. This is why we have allies. This is why we have treaties. So that we can avoid little mistakes that grow into deep problems that become hellish disasters.
The problem is -- among many -- that when hellish disasters become armed conflict, most wars (as in "all") are supposed to be done with long-term planning and a goal and strategy. And it's pretty unlikely that any of that exists.
So, again, please let us hope it doesn't come to that and it's only a minor disaster.
Especially since 3,500 American troops are already on their way to the region. And to be clear, no, that isn't considered "strategy." Or a goal. Or long-term planning.
Meanwhile, there are those unredacted letters and the whole, you know, Impeachment thing.
But this isn't about Trump. We know who he is. We could see this coming. This is about the elected officials of the Republican Party who could also see this coming and enabled him and are complicit.
Let us hope for the best. Which means something less than total disaster.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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