On the 2nd of January, President Trump ordered a drone strike on Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. Solimani was killed at the Baghdad Airport in Iraq. The BBC noted: "Soleimani's killing marks a major escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran." President Trump first claimed that "the general was 'directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of millions of people.'" After cooling down, he then tweeted that Soleimani "killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans... and was plotting to kill many more."
What is the evidence that Soleimani was planning a strike against Americans? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested:
...that concerns about the raid amounted to partisan hyperventilating. “Predictably enough in this political environment, the operation that led to Soleimani’s death may prove controversial or divisive,” he said. “I recommend all senators wait to review the facts and hear from the administration before passing much public judgment on this operation and its potential consequences.” In short, the Senate majority leader asked everyone to calm down and believe both the administration’s word regarding the facts on the ground, and its judgment in responding to the situation as it did.Back in the old days, before the Iraq War, McConnell's statement might have had some currency. After the younger George Bush's claims about WMDs proved to be false, it's asking the American people, only 17 years later, far too much to take the word of a president on such matters.
Fox News host Sean Hannity made more heated pronouncements: "I was told that by members in the intelligence community, sources at the State Department and the Defense Department tonight, repeatedly, that this was a real, clear, present danger to American lives." The blogger comments that, gee, Hannity sure had an awful lot of very detailed information a very short time after the assassination took place. Hmm, wonder where he got such information?
A very serious problem that occurred during the build-up to the Iraq War and that still has not been addressed is the tendency of the MSM (MainStream Media) to mindlessly and uncritically repeat what administration figures say. Media Matters reprints a set of MSM outlets repeating what Secretary of State Pompeo claims about a "major attack" being broken up.
But NY Times correspondent Rukmini Callimachi, who has been covering ISIS and al Qaeda, points out that the evidence that Soleimani had any particular plans in mind is "razor-thin." She reviews the evidence on that and also reports that US influence in Iraq had been shrinking and that the battle against ISIS had been hurt by US troops being more and more restricted. The reporter concludes her twitter thread by asking "...why now? [Soleimani's] whereabouts have been known before. His resume of killing-by-proxy is not a secret. Hard to decouple his killing from the impeachment saga."
Also, Ben Rhodes, who worked for the Obama Administration, looks at claims that the President was acting on intelligence information and asks the really critical question:
"The specificity of the intelligence I think is an enormous question. Frankly, if they had that type of specific intelligence of an imminent threat, I would think that they would have presented it to Congress by now. What is the reason for this delay?"Personally, I think the President confuses himself with an absolute dictator who doesn't have to pay any attention to Congress, which at least partly explains why he didn't present this intelligence to Congress before the Soleimani assassination, but the President has every reason to present such information now, after the assassination has taken place and he needs to justify it.
Speaker Pelosi felt that the President completely failed to provide Congress with notification beforehand and provided seriously inadequate notification afterwards under the 1973 War Powers Act.
Pelosi, who criticized President Donald Trump on Friday for not coming to Congress beforehand, reiterated her call for the White House to provide a full briefing to lawmakers of the fatal drone strike and the U.S.'s potentially deeper involvement in the region.One of the points of providing notification is so that Congress can determine whether the action was appropriate. Rather difficult to do that if the justification is classified.
“This initiation of hostilities was taken without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran, without the consultation of the Congress and without the articulation of a clear and legitimate strategy to either the Congress or the public,” she added.
"The highly unusual decision to classify this document in its entirety compounds our many concerns, and suggests that the Congress and the American people are being left in the dark about our national security," the top House Democrat continued.
So, the President, in retaliation for Iranian threats to take action in response to Soleimani's assassination, has now issued a tweet that said "... if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture,..." Whoa! Hold on! What? Threatening sites that are important to Iranian culture is a war crime! Specifically:
Any U.S. officials or personnel who followed through on this statement by President Trump would be liable under the U.S. War Crimes Act, 18 U.S. Code § 2441.This also falls under the Geneva Convention Protocol I and US Department of Defense, Law of War Manual, 5.18. Knowing full well that threats to things they value will unify Iranians, Iranians begin flooding the internet with pictures of culturally significant sites.
What I found grimly hilarious was to see Fox News host Lou Dobbs waxing eloquent about how wonderful and wise and sensible our President was. The blogger who quoted him compared him to the North Korean lady that we saw praising Kim Jong Un a few months ago.
In my opinion, he's already historic....He's already set a standard that most mortals won't be able to meet. He outworks them. He outthinks. He is remarkably resourceful. He's bright. His judgment is second-to-none!Erm...um...okay! So, let's see how this president with the superb judgement has fared, shall we? Back in May of 2017, Trump tossed the Iran nuclear deal of 2015 aside, saying that the deal
...was "horribly one-sided" and needed to be renegotiated, and began reinstating sanctions. In November, those targeting Iran's oil and financial sectors took effect.The idea was clearly to ratchet up the pressure on Iran to force it to return to the table to make a deal that would be more favorable to the US. How has that worked out? Iran has not entirely left the 2015 nuclear agreement, but it has now taken a significant step in getting out of it. It will continue to permit inspections (a very good thing), but it has moved significantly away from complying with the agreement. Also, "Iraq’s parliament voted on Sunday to expel U.S. troops from the country..."
Iran's economy is now sliding towards a deep recession, the value of its currency has dropped to record lows, and its annual inflation rate has quadrupled.