Fast and Loose

As a New York Times editorial (Jan. 3), cogently puts it: “The real question to ask about the American drone attack that killed Major General Qassim Suleimani was not whether it was justified, but whether it was wise.”

Several years ago at Christmas time, I gave some money to a homeless man sitting in front of the local post office. Before handing him the cash, I said, “Use it wisely.” He took the money, stuck it in his shirt pocket, smiled and said, “Wisdom is not my forte.”

When it comes to critical decision-making, wisdom is not Donald Trump’s forte. He acts on impulse not advice.

Suleimani — the second most powerful official in Iran behind the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — was a murderer “responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and a great many others in the region, from Yemen to Syria,” the Times writes.

With no coherent strategy for Iran, much less the Middle East, the man who said he wanted to avoid all war; the president who declared that the Iran nuclear deal was “the worst deal ever negotiated,” and so “terrible” that it could lead to “a nuclear holocaust”; a deal that was signed by the European Union, France, the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, China and Russia; a deal that was working; has unilaterally – without consultation, much less notification of Congress, the U.N. or our allies, before his attack on Soleimani – has put the U.S. and citizens working in the Middle East at serious risk.

As former National Security Advisor Susan Rice puts it, “Full-scale conflict is not a certainty, but the probability is higher than at any point in decades.”

As Rice points out (Jan. 4), “even if the killing of General Suleimani is justified by self-defense, it doesn’t make it strategically wise. Given the demonstrably haphazard and shortsighted nature of the Trump administration’s national security decision-making process (including calling off strikes against Iran 10 minutes before impact, inviting the Taliban to Camp David and abandoning the Kurds), it’s doubtful the administration spent much time gaming out the second and third order consequences of their action or preparing to protect American military and diplomatic personnel in the region. … It’s hard,” Rice concludes, “to envision how this ends short of war.”

Is anyone surprised by this?

Is there any reaction from Republicans in Congress?

Nothing publicly. As they prepare for the upcoming Senate impeachment trial, they quietly sit contemplating their futures in Congress while avoiding negative tweets from this president. Meanwhile, the man whose words and actions they shamefully defend is putting Americans at risk every day through his thoughtless tweets and reckless decision making.

While I’m currently reading “A Warning,” authored by an anonymous former Trump administration official (review to come), news story after news story confirms what this official writes: that Donald Trump willfully remains ignorant not only of how a democratic government works but how foreign policy should be conducted. Each page is more frightening than the previous one.

As Politifact points out, one year ago this month, this president said, “I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet, and I’m ready to meet any time they want to,” Trump said in a July press conference at the White House. “If we could work something out that’s meaningful, not the waste of paper that the other deal was, I would certainly be willing to meet.”

“The Trump administration,” the fact-checking organization adds, “re-imposed a second round of sanctions against Tehran in November, which Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country would ‘proudly break.’ A previous set of sanctions went into effect in August.”

So much for Trump’s foreign policy expertise.

Nonetheless, Trump administration officials continue to invent excuses for his actions.

On CNN’s Sunday edition of State of the Union with Jake Tapper, the journalist questioned the secretary of state on what he means when he says an attack against the U.S. was imminent.

“ ‘If you’re an American in the region,” Pompeo said, “days and weeks, this is not something that’s relevant. We have to prepare, we have to be ready, and we took a bad guy off the battlefield.’ ”

Except you didn’t answer the question, and by the way, Mr. Secretary, the word imminent means at hand, forthcoming. And where is the evidence to support such a claim?

Now, due to his seat-of-his-pants, nobody-knows-more-than-me-about-(fill in the blank) decision-making, we are now sitting on a powder keg in the Middle East.

Never mind Always-Trumpers, they live in their “ignorance-is-bliss” bubble and cheer at his rallies even as he lies.

In the meantime, the rest of the country’s more rational citizens are put at risk by an individual who continues to play fast and loose, not only with the rule of law but a foreign policy built on bluster and ignorance without any regard for the consequences.

If you’re looking for any profiles in courage among Republicans, look elsewhere.

1 comment… add one
  • Gary Lange January 7, 2020, 2:24 pm

    It was not wise and probably will have far-reaching effects.

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