Of course we’re going to war

News has just broken that the Trump administration, without any congressional debate, has assassinated Qassim Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds force. I hate to think it of my own government, but I can’t help but wonder if this had more to do with changing the narrative around impeachment than it did making the world more safe. Soleimani was undoubtedly a terrible man, but we know with absolute certainty that there will be retaliatory attacks, and that more Americans will die as a result of what happened today. The world, once again, is a less stable place because of Donald Trump. Again, this isn’t to say that Soleimani, who is likely responsible for a number of terrorist attacks against U.S. forces, didn’t deserve this fate. This seems, however, to be incredibly risky given the likelihood that it will lead to a dangerous escalation in the region, if not an all-out war. And, as I said, I’m finding the timing highly suspect. More importantly, though, is the fact that no one in the administration has yet to come forward with a strategy or plan, explaining why this was move was necessary, what the next steps would be, etc. As in other instances with this administration, there does not appear to be a coherent strategy, and that’s what concerns me.

Here are a number of reports that I’ve found of interest. Please, if come across anything else good, add links in the comments section.

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  1. Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    And then there’s this…

  2. Donnie Two Scoops by proxy
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Can any stock market experts check who made mass trades on oil futures today?

  3. Anonymous
    Posted January 2, 2020 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    It’s since been deleted, but Eric Trump tweeted out “bout to open a big ol’ can of whoop ass” yesterday. The tweet has since been deleted. Did Eric Trump know while Congress did not?


  4. Jean Henry
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    For those needing more context as I did tonight. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/01/03/world/middleeast/iraq-embassy-baghdad-airport-attack.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

  5. Jean Henry
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Important read on Suleimani: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/09/30/the-shadow-commander

  6. Jean Henry
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    This is the same war. We have been at war all along. This has been the Third World War; we’re just recognizing it as such now. We just escalated from the Iranians killing a contractor to us killing the top General of Iran, and de facto top general of Iraq and Syria and at least 4 other places as well as the likely next leader of Iran. But it’s not new. Trump appears to have done this to save face. Strongmen always need to save face. But this killing may have been our military’s way to use his worst impulses to create the most benefit. (I”m saying if they were going to kill somebody, this guy was the right target. He has a lot of American and other blood on his hands) There’s no plan for what happens next, but we can be sure our enemies abroad are planning, without their dominant strategist now though. All in all, frankly it’s just more of the same, and those suffering most will not be Americans. Our anxiety re retaliation in absence of evidence speaks to our culpability.

    When we read foreign policy in terms of domestic politics, we inevitably fall prey to moral certainty (some irony in this) and fail to look at the full complexity of the situation. I wish we stopped and tried to understand more (in foreign policy there is always more to know) and listened before holding forth and making proclamations. Twitter is just abuzz right now with opinions lacking much information. It’s just never that simple— But then I just did the same. It fundamentally speaks to anxiety and the narrative response to that. But let’s not pretend we have anything close to adequate information to really assess this situation or know what happens next.

    I guess we need to put narratives around these things. It would be cool, though, if we could start paying more attention to war and foreign policy and their impacts generally than how they impacts our political races and how we personally feel threatened. Maybe it would be more ethical to just care about the details and experiences of war and foreign policy in those places and understand the hard choices our country faces in navigating the huge mess we have made. Maybe the most ethical thing we can do re foreign policy and wars is to not have an opinion and just read.

  7. Wobblie
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    188 Democrats voted with Republicans against the No More Illegal War resolution submitted to Congress by Tulsi.
    The pro-war imperialist know that Sanders is quit likely to win the next election. A good shooting war will rally the troops.
    Jean Henry is already pro-war. Mark Maynard is pro-war. The TRUMPERS Finnaly get some folks on this site to support them.
    Resistance my ass

  8. Bob
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    As if Hillary would have done anything differently. Or Biden or probably Mayor Pander from Indiana. I have a feeling Warren would even become more hawkish if she were in the White House. Enough of this shit. Bernie is the only candidate who genuinely might be a different animal from what we’ve had for the last hundred years. Sanders 2020.

  9. Anonymous
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I had a roof leak once. I got out the ladder and then decided it was too difficult to tackle on my own. Since I had already picked up the hammer, I decided to fix the plumbing in the basement. It was a shame to let such a fine tool go unused.

  10. Kat
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    To Mark’s point, we are no longer talking about impeachment and the necessity for a trial in the Senate.

  11. Frosted Flakes
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    You weren’t talking about impeachment immediately before this either. If anything the escalation in Iraq gave the opportunity for Mark’s beloved conspiracy theories to take a few more gasps of breath before they are completely dead.

  12. Kat
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I don’t think it’s paranoid conspiracy theory at this point to suspect that Donald Trump may see foreign policy primarily through a lens of personal benefit. There is ample evidence that’s the case.

  13. Frosted Flakes
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    If you suspect that is true then you should get back to work trying rob convince people. My point was that people has already largely stopped trying to convince people because nobody was being convinced. In fact your efforts to convince seemed to be having an opposite effect. Pretending that the escalation in Iraq is an intentional distraction from presenting the arguments for impeachment does not match up with facts. It does match up with my theory that Mark is a conspiracy theorist, however.

  14. Jean Henry
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Trump does everything through the lens of personal benefit. The question is why are we making this act of aggression primarily about domestic partisan politics? It’s not. We are woefully underinformed about foreign policy. Being anti-war is not being informed. It’s ideology. I wish all of it would vanish from foreign affairs, on all sides. It’s not supposed to be about us. When we make it about us, we cause great harm, no matter is one is hawkish or a peacenick. We sound like a bunch of spoiled teenagers that don’t know our privileged security comes at great cost to others or, if they do, who think waving a peace sign cleans them of their responsibility or offers any kind of solution.

    Bernie is no peacenick. Go back to his FP debate with HRC and tell me where he differed on the subject. He did a lot of hand waving and yelled populist nonsense but offered no policy difference. When pressed he was as militaristic as HRC but less honest. Tulsi does offer a foreign policy difference, but Tulsi does not have the support of most Americans, even on the left. IF you really want to end our participation in foreign wars and let Putin and Assad do what they will, then you should support her. If you don’t, then stop partisan flag-waving and get informed.

    Listen to Mike Pompeo lie in response to French criticism– every sentence is a lie– to us and think about how that sounds to people abroad, especially those he is lying about.

    We have to start doing this better. What a fucking mess. And no washing our hands is not an option. Anyone who says that means I’m a warmonger is as much a bullshitter as Pompeo and no less culpable than any of us.

  15. Jean Henry
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Whoever is orchestrating this administration’s actions, I feel confident it’s not Trump. He may have a Loki like impact on their planning but this is not a man who is running the country: https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2019/12/30/president-trump-likes-to-golf-orig-vstan-jm.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/

  16. Jean Henry
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Newer and bigger hammers are on their way. It’s happening in all the nuclear hot spots, not just Russia. The US, India, Iran! https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-30/putin-s-hypersonic-nuclear-missile-stirs-fears-of-new-arms-race

    Oh an North Korea may try to explode a nuclear missile in space! What could possibly go wrong?

  17. Demetrius
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    The concept of the American people, through their elected Congressional representatives, being able to thoughtfully consider, and approve (or not), a declaration of “War” against another country is a now quaint relic of our our democratic past.

    Despite efforts to strengthen and re-affirm this bedrock principle, such as the 1973 War Powers Resolution, the power of the president to take unilateral military action – without review, approval, or oversight from Congress – has only continued to grow.

    The nails in the coffin were the 2001″Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists” (AUMF), which authorized the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 and any “associated forces;” along with the “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution” of 2002.

    These two acts, passed with largely bi-partisan support, have given U.S. presidents (Bush II, Obama, and now Trump) what amounts to a “blank check” to pursue Forever War®™ virtually anywhere around the world – that is, the power to act unilaterally with no clearly defined time-frame, enemies, goals, or budget.

  18. Jean Henry
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Demetrius is correct. Of course, even before that we had covert operations to do the same. I have no idea which is better or worse. I do know that congress has been politically hamstrung by us, not corporations, from holding executive power accountable.The question of whether partisan politics should in any way enter into national security and war powers is a good one. Rightly, Congress should be the check on national security and foreign policy efforts not the architects of it. Right now, they are neither. I feel pretty sure if Trump had asked for permission on this one, he would have gotten bi=partisan support however. If not right now, eventually. None of that means I think this was ok, FWIW. I’m just trying to be honest in my assessment of where the country’s sentiment is right now. The left tends to imagine it has more support than it does on foreign policy. People like their money, mobility and especially their security. They seem less interested in looking at the embedded costs of all these things.

  19. Demetrius
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I think another major factor that is driving this recklessness is that we now have an all volunteer military … with the front-line troops made up mostly of lower-income, less educated kids from inner cities and small towns all across America.

    For example it is almost impossible to image that we would have spent 20 years in a mostly pointless war in Afghanistan if there had been a realistic chance that sons and daughters from comfortable middle- and upper-class families would have been asked to risk their lives.

    If the latest incident does result in a war with Iran (or a wider Middle East conflict), you can bet the bulk of the dead and wounded will end up being mostly black, brown, and poor white kids who ended up enlisting for a chance to “get an education” or “see the world.”

  20. Jean Henry
    Posted January 3, 2020 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I was just talking to someone with a friend in the military who has been on a 4 month deployment in the Middle East that just got extended by 6 months, which is standard. My cousin got called up to Iraq with 30 days left to serve. They kept him there a year. Then they come back and many don’t qualify for the benefits they were promised. Some have them reneged when the VA changes the deal. It’s nothing like the experience of military vets after WW2 or Korea. It’s a fucking mess. They keep people on because they can’t attract enough recruits, even taking them on in lieu of jail sentences.

    It’s all a disaster. I think if we reinstated the draft for military or other mandatory service and allowed no exclusions, we would quickly stop using hard power to get our way abroad.

    Of course, no one could get elected with that as their policy. The more politicized the intelligence services get, the less likely anyone will want to work for them either. Politics is just gross. I wish we had banned political parties as Madison (I think?) suggested.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Why take out Soleimani now? on January 3, 2020 at 6:51 pm

    […] « Of course we’re going to war […]

  2. […] either alerting our allies and running the idea by Congressional leaders, gave the command to assassinate Iranian General Qassim Soleimani. At the time, as you may also remember, Donald Trump told the American people that this was […]

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