Skip to main content

US backing off Iran strike (June 2019)

The US unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA (the "Iran nuclear deal") in 2018.

A year later, Iran announced that it would partially withdraw from the international agreement. Whereas, under the previous deal, Iran had agreed to sell its excess enriched uranium and heavy water to other countries, now it will keep those materials.

Then, bizarrely:

In June, Iran shot down a $200 million U.S. military drone. The U.S. President tweeted:

Once upon a time, war had to be authorized by Congress, but now everyone knows it's just the president's decision. Will America go to war? Americans will find out!

Ships and planes were in motion, and then:

Supposedly, it was a White House lawyer — not a military official — who provided the "150" casualty figure to Trump. The number represented a "worst case scenario."

First of all, ordering a disproportionate strike and then backing off upon realizing it's disproportionate isn't a great moral achievement.

Secondly, it isn't plausible that Trump would back off for moral concerns, given what we know about his character.

Thirdly, this story is not plausible given how the military functions. The military is always aware of potential casualties. They don't bring them up as a "by the way" ten minutes before they open fire.

"Something's wrong there," Shep Smith said during a Fox News segment on June 21. Chris Wallace said, "I talked to a former top national security official in an earlier Republican administration who says this just doesn't add up...The timeline for when he learned information and when he decided to act doesn't make a lot of sense....Maybe that's the biggest problem. You could argue: if you don't want to strike, don't strike. If you want to strike, do strike — but don't send mixed messages that confuse not only your enemies, but even your allies and people here in this country."

So how did he decide?

The New York Times reports that Trump sought out the advice of Fox personality Tucker Carlson. Later that night, Carlson said on-air that a strike would have been catastrophic.

Zachary B. Wolf wrote for CNN on June 23, 2019:

Recall that early in Trump's presidency he surrounded himself with former generals — James Mattis at the Pentagon, Michael Flynn and then H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser, and John Kelly first as DHS Secretary and then as White House chief of staff.

All of them are gone now.

Flynn was dismissed for lying about Russia contacts. Kelly had his authority undermined and was then pushed out. McMaster quietly exited after not gelling with the President. Mattis resigned without a public word but in spectacular fashion, sending a letter describing his differences with the President.

In the place of generals, and despite his pledges to drain the swamp, Trump has sought out former defense contractors. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, before running for Congress, ran an aerospace company. Outgoing acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan spent a career at Boeing. New Defense nominee and current Secretary of the Army Mark Esper worked at Raytheon.

Only one week previously, the New York Times reported that the Pentagon is reluctant to share information with this president because they expect him to betray the country by leaking the information to foreign adversaries.

[See also MSN]

August 30, 2019

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Castration at the Battle of Adwa (1896)

On March 1, 1896, the Battle of Adwa "cast doubt upon an unshakable certainty of the age – that sooner or later Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans." In this battle, Ethiopians beat back the invading Italians and forced them to retreat permanently. It was not until 1922 that Benito Mussolini would again initiate designs against Ethiopia; despite Ethiopia's defeat in 1936, the nation ultimately retained its independence. "Adwa opened a breach that would lead, in the aftermath of world war fifty years later, to the rollback of European rule in Africa. It was," Raymond Jonas wrote, "an event that determined the color of Africa." (p. 1) It was also significant because it upheld the power of Ethiopia's Christian monarchy that controlled an ethnically diverse nation (p. 333), a nation in which, in the late 19th century, the Christian Emperor Yohannes had tried to force Muslims to convert to Christianity. (p. 36) The Victorian English spelli

Review of Cliff Sims' 'Team of Vipers' (2019)

After he resigned his position, Cliff Sims spent two months in Fall 2018 writing Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House . Many stories are told, some already well known to the public, some not. One buys this book, most likely, to gape at the colossal flameout spectacle that is Donald Trump, as with most things with Trump's name. Sims exposes the thoughtlessness, the chaos, the lack of empathy among his fellow insiders in the campaign and later in the White House, but he does not at all acknowledge the real consequences for ordinary Americans — there might as well be no world outside the Trump insider bubble, for all this narrative concerns itself with — and therefore falls far short of fully grappling with the ethical implications of his complicity. Previously, Sims was a journalist. "I had written tough stories, including some that helped take down a once-popular Republican governor in my home state," he says. "I had done my best to be

War is still about power, not truth

President George W. Bush told the nation in his 2003 State of the Union that Iraq tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger. Months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when no weapons stockpiles had been found, the head of the Iraq Survey Group testified that it "turns out we were all wrong." President Bush had to admit this in Summer 2003, and he used the line "we were all wrong" in his memoir, Decision Points, in 2010 after he’d left office and while the war was still ongoing. Americans, then and now, rationalized the national error by compounding it, insisting on an additional mistaken belief that Iraq somehow contributed to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. A majority of Americans believed it at the time, and even today in 2018 the narrative still has traction. In reality: None of the hijackers were Iraqi. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz “was not able to justify his belief that Iraq was behind 9/11” but had the idea of “using” outrage over th