The Yapping Dogs of War

Today the “president” announced sanctions on the Ayatollah Khomeini, who died thirty years ago. In response, Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani. described Donald Trump as being “afflicted with mental retardation.” I can’t argue.

The new sanctions are actually against the current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top officials. No one who understands Iran thinks the new sanctions make sense.

Under the sanctions, any foreign financial institutions that provide significant “financial services” to any of the Iranian officials would face U.S. penalties.

Trump announced the measures Monday, which U.S. officials said came in response to the downing of a U.S. Navy surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz last week. The sanctions also targeted senior commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including those the Treasury Department said were involved in shooting down the drone, a RQ-4A Global Hawk.

Khamenei does not have financial accounts outside of Iran, so this is meaningless to him. Whether other officials have foreign bank accounts I do not know. The Trump Administration is, apparently, trying to get Iran to negotiate another arms agreement. Trump famously tore up the arms agreement already in place that everybody but him said was working just fine. See Juan Cole for commentary on that.

After Iranian officials tossed more cheap and well-deserved insults at Trump, he got very huffy and tweety.

Does anybody believe Trump’s threats any more? Lately that’s all he does — issue taunts with no follow-through. New tariffs on Mexico! Big deportments last Sunday! Strike ordered on Iran! Then rescinded. Not that I want any of those things to happen. But I thought the first rule of being a tough guy is to not issue threats you aren’t willing to carry out.

Paul Waldman:

When Trump took office, we had an agreement, painstakingly negotiated with Great Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia, and China to restrain the Iranian nuclear program, an agreement that, by all accounts, was doing exactly what it was supposed to do.

Armed with no apparent grasp of what the agreement consisted of other than the fact that it was negotiated by the Obama administration, Trump abandoned it and imposed sanctions against Iran. But the president seems only dimly aware that the hawks within his administration are interested not just in keeping Iran from having nuclear weapons, but also that Iran abandon its strategy for influence in the region and, ultimately, that its regime be overthrown.

Trump thinks that by beating his chest he’ll get Iran to bow down before him and promise never to develop nuclear weapons. But the people around him, who are encouraging him to take increasingly provocative actions, have much more ambitious goals.

Those heads of state of other countries are not, I don’t believe, idiots. They’ve had plenty of time to observe Trump and his vanity and his dithering and his inability to craft even the pretense of a foreign policy. They know he’s a weak and profoundly stupid man. Unfortunately, he’s a weak and profoundly stupid man with one hell of a military and some fire-eating war hawks for advisers.

Trump goes back and forth on things such as ordering military strikes because he’s all impulse and reaction, without any coherent idea about what our long-term goals should be.

Meanwhile, he continues to create hostility and despair wherever he turns his gaze. In Cuba, Trump undid the Obama administration’s policy of opening up ties and encouraging economic development, the result being more misery for Cubans for no purpose whatsoever. Any ability the United States might have had to act as an honest broker between the Israelis and Palestinians is gone. He continues a trade war with China that has so far done nothing but damage the U.S. economy. The leaders of other countries view him as erratic and unpredictable.

Trump seems to think unpredictability is a good thing. When reporters ask him what he’s going to do about this or that, he’ll say something like “You’ll find out.” Like this is an incentive to tune in to the next episode.

Trump’s also making noises about ending our alliance with Japan, apparently because Japan isn’t paying us enough protection money. This would be good news for the people of Okinawa, who have wanted our military off their island for years. Also Trump’s buddy Kim Jong Un would approve, I’m sure. For all we know, that’s where he got the idea.

7 thoughts on “The Yapping Dogs of War

  1. Not to nit pick, but I think a more appropriate description of Trump's condition would be emotionally retarded. As far as the mental retardation goes, it's not like he's retarded in the normal sense. I see his mental capacity as just being atrophied by too much self absorption as a result of his narcissism.

  2. The tune in next week foreign policy. 

    Obviously though the REAL objective is to get Kerry  and Obama names off the treaty and substitute his name for an imaginary victory.

    It really  is about his ego and nothing else except Saudi money of course

    Khamenei ought to write him a love letter,  seems to work for NK.

  3. I'll take *very* mild exception to how everyone except Trump thought the Iran deal was working. In fact, that is what's really putting us at risk of normalizing corruption and criminality.

    Everyone who I heard discuss the Iran deal, who had a right to an opinion, at its announcement used words like "capitulation". Iran folded on everything being asked for, regarding inspections, nuclear material, etc.. It was a good deal, well negotiated, and did *exactly* what it should have done.

    Ah, but, it was a win for Obama, which means it had to be a terrible deal, and that meant you needed a lot of Very Serious People to explain how it most certainly was a terrible deal, and who would defend Trump for walking away from it.

    Of course, in the real world, everyone knows if someone walks away from the first deal, there's no reason to expect they'll respect the second deal (and if they did, there's no reason to expect their successor will). 

    So: America's credibility? No biggie; the GOP has bigger things at stake, like not criticizing Trump, and possibly angering his base; you can't expect them to put the good of the nation above partisanship!


  4. "Like this is an incentive to tune in to the next episode"

    Exactly. Remember, he's from a "reality" show where he was taught how to create conflict and drama in order to draw in viewers. His pattern is to create an enemy, then create the conflict and then resolve the conflict (that he created) and thus become a hero.

    His insecurities are obvious, so he needs to create a narrative where he is constantly getting attention and he's using what he's learned from his show as a matter of practice while in the White House. His only plan in office is come out looking good at the end of each storyline. The problem with Iran is they're not playing his game and he's got nothing but bluster. While you may think he will use military force, I'm a tad skeptical as Putin has already told him to to be careful in his actions with Iran, and Putin is the only one Trump will  listen to.

  5. I'm worried that Trump is so erratic. He actually made the right decision not to escalate with Iran. Trump pulled back from a military strike. Iran is NOT going to negotiate with Trump IMO – they simply want to survive without war long enough for Trump to be replaced. Trump would IMO accept the old peace treaty in a heartbeat if Trump can put his name on it. That's not acceptable to Iran since it might well keep Trump in power.

    Trump pulled back from mass deportations, pretending he could leverage the change in rhetoric with a delusional suggestion that this would bring Pelosi to the table to negotiate his version of border reform. Pelosi wants Trump gone (and in jail) more than Iran does – she won't give him a win before the election.

    Trump got the first set of internal polls this month – he's losing in key states. Voters who bought the hype in 2016 that Trump is a great tycoon are seeing the results – benefits for billionaires and crumbs for us. The Trump strategy will be (I predict) that Democrats would be worse. The frame from Trump won't be who voters like more but who the independent voters should hate/fear more, 

    At the moment, Trump is trying not to do anything that would cement opposition from independent voters who do not approve of Trump now – the same voters Trump wants to scare with the boogie man of socialism. If polls show that the strategy is not working, Trump may revert to form – full-blown isolationism on the Southern border and war with Iran or Venezuela if Trump is persuaded that a war footing will improve his poll numbers. 

    The driving force for Trump in 2020 is different than any previous election. He faces jail without the immunity of his office. Even if he arranges a federal pardon, NY state is building criminal cases against Trump which a pardon doesn't shield Trump from. Let's put it down as the understatement of the year: Trump does not want to lose.

    The flip side is also true – Trump will do anything to win. And that's dangerous because Trump will be unbound by anything except his warped perception of what may influence viewers – I mean voters. This reality show isn't staged – the blood and pain will be very real. 

  6. Teddy Roosevelt:  "Speak softly, but carry a big stick."

     tRUMP:  "Yell, stomp, and whine, 'cause you got a tiny wrinkled dick!"

    America will never regain the credibility we're losing because of that orange bag of shit.

    And remember, the next Republican POTUS (hopefully not for decades – or, better yet, NEVER!) is likely to be worse.

    Think of what a smart tRUMP-like president could do, now that enough Americans have demonstrated a strong affinity for stupid/ignorant/bigoted "leadership."

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