Wow – five days since I’ve written anything, and so much has changed – and so much hasn’t. For a couple of days after ‘the event’, I was barely functional – but not for the reason you suspect. Huh? Let me ‘splain.
Trump assassinated Soleimani on January 3rd – Friday night for us, Saturday morning for Baghdad. By Monday, I had consumed nearly all media written or spoken about the event. Why? Not because I was worried about Iranian retribution – I knew that was coming, at least for Iraq – but because I was struggling to see how any of it made sense. And the more media I consumed, the worse it got. Why? Because nothing anybody was saying made any sense – it was like the braying of a donkey after the cart is upset. Nobody knew anything, but that didn’t stop them from blathering on. After all, they get paid to blather.
There was one exception to this – Dexter Filkins, currently working for The New Yorker magazine, formerly of The New York Times as a war correspondent. He’d been there; he knew the politics and he understood what was happening. And what did he have to say? Almost nothing. Why? Because I think he was reacting to the same braying that was driving me crazy, and he wasn’t about to join in.
Finally, this morning, our dear old friend Tom Friedman wrote the definitive piece on it that finally said what I’d been trying to sort out and piece together since Monday. You can check it out if you like, but let me summarize it for you. First: Soleimani thought he was untouchable. Surprise – he wasn’t. Why? Because Trump is crazy. Did the Iranians believe he was that crazy? No. Do they think so now? Yes – at least for a while. So, I must amend my first inclination. The Iranians did not betray Soleimani – he was just too bold and brazen, and too easy to spot by the US intelligence community. From any perspective, that was a mistake – his last.
The missiles fired last night from Iran to a couple of bases in Iraq were just designed for the Ayatollah to save face. Nobody was killed – neither Iraqis nor Americans. Why? Because they had plenty of warning, and went into hardened bunkers. The missiles just took out a few hangars. And maybe a Ukrainian airplane..oops. Big oops, if it is so. It certainly is beginning to look like it. Russian surface to air missile..kind of reminds you of the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 by Russians and separatist Ukrainians; or Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf in 1988 by the USS Vincennes. Bad things happen when boys have big toys they aren’t quite sure how to handle.
Then Friedman goes into la la land, with a suggestion that now is the time for Trump to make a deal with Iran, trading sanction relief for agreement for a permanent nuclear ban. This is naive. Neither Trump nor the Ayatollah could suggest such a thing without offending each of their constituencies. So forget that.
American soldiers must leave the Middle East – all of it – including Afghanistan. Will that happen? No..the politics, not to mention the logistics of that are difficult, would take time, and Trump would think it would appear he’s running away from a fight. But if any Americans stay, what will happen? Any time they venture out, they will be picked off, one or two at a time. And after a few of these incidents, the Army will just stop reporting these deaths. No more Icasualties.org. That information will be deemed classified – at least for a while. But the families of these soldiers – expected to return on date certain – will become concerned when they don’t hear from them. But there won’t be sufficient numbers to merit coverage, other than the occasional piece in alternative media before the election. Trump will get re-elected. Shortly after, it will be leaked, along with a slew of other misdeeds. But by then, the Republicans will have taken over the House and retained the Senate. Any suggestion of impeachment will be met with deaf ears. We’ll be stuck with all this until the Middle East – desperate for relief – sends assassins to kill Trump. And the interesting point will be: a large chunk of Americans will be rooting for them to succeed.
Now just writing this is likely to be dangerous, given the spying carried out in this country in the name of national security. So go for it, boys. Check me out and come haul away this 70 something year old woman to be detained for threatening the president. I would welcome such an opportunity to defend my predictions.
Democracy will be dead. It will have committed suicide on Isaac’s altar. And for what? Back to Tom’s piece. What are we defending in Iraq? Oil? Please..America now produces more oil than anyone else in the world. Stopping ISIS? We were actually collaborating with Iran – and Suleimani in that effort. So our leverage is actually in threatening to leave, but nobody except Tom appears to get that. The war between ISIS and everyone else was another example of Sunni vs Shia..just like what’s going on in Yemen. So let it be that – we don’t have a dog in the fight. Let Iran defend Iraq from a reconfigured ISIS. But the biggest threat? A nuclear Iran, leading to a nuclear Saudi Arabia. Isn’t that just what the Middle East needs? Sure.
So that explains my confusion. It also predicts what will happen over the next three years or so Because Trump is nuts and everyone in Washington is powerless to stop Adolph. When karma finally gets us, it’ll be bad. Really bad. Think Berlin..1945.