Wagging the Dog

If you missed Chris Hayes last night — this is a good, brief (5 minutes) explanation of the Pentagon documents released yesterday that clearly show Trump ordered the Ukraine aid to be held up. And then a few hours after these documents were made public, the U.S. military on Trump’s order kills Qassim Suleimani at the Baghdad airport.  Coincidence?

News stories are tellling us that the operation was planned after a rocket attack killed an American contractor in Iraq a few days ago. If so, this was a totally disproportionate retaliation. And, the U.S. had already disproportionately retaliated by striking Iraq and Syria and killing 25 people. I still say this was more about impeachment than protecting Americans.

We’re hearing that this strike was done with no notice to or clearance from Congress, although some Republicans claim to have been briefed. Many people also have unearthed a series of old tweets by Trump predicting that President Obama would start a war with Iran to help his re-election chances in 2012. Trump obviously thinks that starting a war is politically smart. If the situation escalates, we can also count on Mitch McConnell declaring that we can’t very well have an impeachment trial while there’s a war going on.

Of course, this provocation was utterly unnecessary. A number of people who served in the Obama and Bush II administrations have stepped up to say that taking out Qassim Suleimani was something considered but rejected by their bosses. It was too incendiary. But fools do rush in where angels fear to tread.

Trump and SecState Pompeo are claiming that Suleimani was planning an “imminent” operation that could have taken “hundreds of American lives.” Of course I don’t believe this is true. Congress must demand that Trump share whatever intelligence he has to prove this statement. Even so, if there were such plans the plans still exist, as does the military force Suleimani headed. There is no reason to think that killing Suleimani would put an end to the alleged plans.

In short, this was a colossally stupid move on Trump’s part that almost certainly will have disasterous consequences. Republicans are falling in line behind Trump to support his decision. What are Democrats doing? Most of the 2020 candidates for the presidential nomination have denounced Trump’s act as dangerous and reckless. And then there’s Bernie —

I hope we’re all clear on that.

Stuff to Read:

Fred Kaplan, Trump Just Declared War on Iran and Trump Is Clueless on Iran and North Korea.

Zack Beauchamp, Trump’s Iran War Has Begun.

Charles Pierce, Trump’s Order to Assassinate Qasem Soleimani Has Kicked Over the Hornet’s Nest. (Pierce provides quotes from an old Hugh Hewitt interview in which Trump plainly had no idea who Qasem Soleimani was and complained that the U.S. was being unfair to the Kurds.)

Greg Sargent, Trump’s Iran strike demands a serious response from Democrats.