There was never a plan for navigating the aftermath of Soleimani’s killing

As it’s been reported that, several days before the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, Donald Trump had told members of his Mar-a-Lago golf club that his administration would soon be delivering a “big” response to the Iranian regime, we can assume that the administration had time to plan not just the killing itself, but the response, and how, in in the days immediately following Soleimani’s death, we might go about resetting the regional dialogue. That, however, doesn’t appear to have happened. As with Donald Trump’s disastrous trade war with China, and any number of other examples, it would appear as though the President chose to pursue this drastic course of action with no real thought as to what might happen next, or, for that matter, without even seeking input from people who might have valuable insight on the real-time dynamics of the region.

Not only did Donald Trump not consult the so-called Gang of Eight (the Democratic and Republican leaders of both the Senate and House, and the chairs and ranking minority members of both the Senate Intelligence Committee and House Intelligence Committee), but, according to one defense official who spoke to Foreign Policy on condition of anonymity, “The usual approval process, the decision-making process, did not occur” in this instance. Senior officials at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and at the Joint Chiefs of Staff were not asked for input, or even briefed on the operation before it took place. And it would appear as though our historic allies were not so much as made aware.

And top Pentagon officials who did know about the attack, the New York Times is reporting today, were “stunned” that Donald Trump chose this option in response to recent Iranian provocations, instead of choosing a less incendiary option offered to him. Even in the best of situations, with a strong State Department, and all of our allies onboard, this would be an incredibly risky move, and, after three years of diplomatic decay and administration policies that put us at odds with our historic allies, we have neither of those things. What we do have, according to John McLaughlin, the former deputy director of the CIA, is an administration full of people with two defining qualities: “low credibility and limited experience.” And, as McLaughlin says, “That’s going to be a problem going forward if this situation deteriorates.”

So, yesterday, when I heard Secretary of Defense Mike Pompeo say, “The Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be,” my first inclination was to yell, “Of course they haven’t, you asshole. You don’t start a stupid, pointless, poorly thought-out war, and then ask your allies to give you a hand.” That’s not the way things work. In the sane word, we don’t just go to war on the whims of individual elected officials… especially ones who have demonstrated repeatedly their inability to navigate complex international foreign policy disputes. And we don’t start international incidents without knowing who we have on our side.

But Donald Trump selected this option, and the yes-men in his inner circle apparently didn’t challenge him on it. No, they toed the Trump line, telling the American people after the fact that the assassination of Soleimani was undertaken to… in the words of U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook… “advance the cause of peace.” So, as Trump was telling reporters yesterday that Soleimani was killed “to stop a war,” and not start one, Secretary of Defense Pompeo was on television assuring us that, contrary to what all of our senses might be telling us, this action of the administration’s was totally consistent with our commitment to “de-escalation.”

That was yesterday, though, and today we have news of 3,500 new American troops are being deployed to Middle East, as the Iranians have announced that they would be speeding their nuclear program, and no longer limiting their enrichment of uranium. Meanwhile, the President of the United States is promising to target Iranian cultural sites, in violation of international law, if the Iranians make good on their promise to retaliate, and our former allies in Iraq have taken a parliamentary vote to expel U.S. troops… Trump, by the way, responded to this news by saying that, if they follow through, he’ll levy sanctions against Iraq that would “make (the) Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.” [Did no one in the administration consider that this move of ours might drive Iraq closer to Iran?]

The whole thing is an absolute, fucking mess… I know we’ve already talked about it, but this didn’t have to happen. The evidence that there was an “imminent threat” was razor thin. And now we’re wondering when the retaliatory attacks will begin, moving us beyond the point of no return.

Speaking of the retaliatory attacks, here’s Pompeo talking about how there may be “a little noise,” by which he means that, yes, as a result of the administration’s actions, Americans will likely die. [I’m sure the families of the dead will be comforted by the fact that their deaths were just “a little noise.”]

Lest anyone forget, until Trump came into office, dead set on rolling back every one of President Obama’s legislative achievements, we had a functioning international treaty with Iran, which was drafted and signed by these same allies that Pompeo is now surprised aren’t at our side. Donald Trump, however, ripped it up in May of 2018, avoiding questions from the press about how doing so would make the world any safer. Iran, as former Obama advisor Ben Rhodes just reminded us on Twitter, had been in compliance with that deal. And, prior to Donald Trump tearing it up, “there were 0 rocket attacks on US interests in Iraq.” Of course all of that changed when Trump forced us out of the deal, telling us that he could come up with something better. That never happened, though. The better deal never materialized, the Iranians restarted their nuclear program, the rocket attacks resumed, and now here we are on the precipice of war… a war that rich people, like Donald “bone spur” Trump and his children, won’t pay the price for. And, what makes it all the more terrible is the fact that, at any point along this path, it would have just taken a few Republicans of courage to stop it.

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103 Comments

  1. iRobert
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Trump obviously does not make these decisions. He is obviously doing what he’s told.

    The strategy appears to be to give the impression that the US is dangerously reckless with Trump “in charge” and thus turning the tables from the usual dynamic.

    It’s certainly a gamble, and potentially an extremely dangerous one. However, it’s possible that there is actually a fallback plan for deescalation if things seem to be going awry. I certainly pray there is.

  2. iRobert
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    What I’m saying is…if there is a plan, it’s not being shared with Trump. It’s clear most, of not all, of those we are seeing as his top advisors, are being left in the dark as well.

    This is the same way the 2016 campaign was handled. We are not seeing the actual decision making or decision makers. It’s the very definition of shadow government.

  3. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Remember when you assured readers Trump had no idea what he was doing with NK therefore WWIII was certainly imminent? How is it going with that?

  4. iRobert
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I think the strategy is going to work. It’s worked like a charm on the American public and press. I expect it will work on the Iranian government as well. Putin and the Chinese may have ideas to counter this strategy however, and may have some monkey wrenches to throw in to the situation. That’s where additional potential for escalation exists as well.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    HW, is your argument that Trump handled the North Korea situation well? Have you not read about their recent rocket launches?

  6. Anonymous
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I think you’re wrong, iRobert. Trump is running this like the Ms. America pageant. He might be getting bad advice from people, like Putin and his golf buddies, but the decisions are his. The US government has become a family business.

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I heard a North Korea expert on NPR the other day say the Kim Jong Il ‘played Trump like a fiddle,’ yet HW who knows nothing about N Korea is sure that Trump handled it beautifully. And now they have dismantled nothing but old mothballed sites, ended the moratorium on nuclear expansion and are talking about using one of their half-caked missiles to explode a nuclear device in space. None of us, HW, said that Trump was going to create WW3; we said he risked doing so, even while dismantling the state departments capacity to respond, and he does still.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcx7u5_TQDQ

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Anonymous– according to the multiple legit new sources, Trump was presented with a suite of responses to the contactor killing and the embassy protests and chose the most extreme– Assasinating Suleimani. This was not the first time a president was presented with this option but it is the first time one opted for it. Trump is the commander in chirf and these decisions are rightfully his. He has advisors and multiple National security and Defense departmants presenting intel, strategic approaches, and options to him. The Trump family can’t do this on their own. But his Security and Defense advisors can only advise. I have read there is a lot of jockeying for position on advising him as he tends to go with whatever option he heard last. Still, he is the sole person with this kind of decision-making capacity. Sure we can say he needs congressional approval but no President has gotten it recently and when Obama waited for it on Syria that proved a humanitarian disaster equal to what this one may be. People who voted for Trump as commander in chief should have known this and understood what they were signing up for. Many like HW seem quite pleased.

  9. iRobert
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Anonymous, I believe that is the appearance of what is going on, and that it is part of the strategy – for that to be the appearance. It’s a strategy which has worked for countries like Iran and North Korea. It has allowed them to get away with things other countries could not. The threat posed by an unpredictable, out of control government goes a long way in terms of gaining concessions and backing adversaries off in situations of potential escalation.

    As Jean pointed out, the purpose of killing Soleimani was to break up the move toward cooperation between Iranian, Iraqi, and possibly Syrian governments. That’s strategy. The threat and past deeds of Soleimani was more a cover story than anything else.

  10. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Trump being incapable of restraint re bragging to his golf buddies is not the same thing as being advised by them. It should, however, be criminal. Imagine if HRC had done anything similar as SOS. The same ppl giving Trump a pass over and over would have been all. over her– and rightly so.

  11. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I agree with iRobert for the most part, but I feel certain Trump chose the assassination choice. I also think his Bolton-influenced advisors knew that Trump could not resist taking out a bad guy and probably didn’t realize he was likely getting himself into a hot war with a nation-state. This would explain why there was no plan for the aftermath– they didn’t want to advise Trump of likely outcomes. Bolton camp wants a war with Iran, that has been very clear. Trump actually seems to dislike the idea dispositionally. He wants strongman hard power– in and out and dirty– not long-range commitment overseas. So the best way to get him into a war is to manipulate him into doing something stupid like assassinating an Iranian General.

  12. iRobert
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    As Jean pointed out, Trump is presented with options. Those options are not random. The people who devise those options are making the decisions. I would go one further than Jean did and suggest Trump is directed as to which to choose. It’s the same design as was apparent all through the 2016 campaign.

    The US has had a growing shadow government for many generations. This is the most developed it has ever gotten. The choice of a character like Trump to serve as the antagonist for many and protagonist for others was a move to take things to a whole new level.

    So where I have a lot of disagreements with HW about the Trump administration itself, I think it’s pretty clear that he is right that there is much more strategy going on beyond public view and public discussion. That’s actually always the case in politics at high levels, but it has taken on an additional dimension with the administration being almost entirely a front – and a front which plays an important role in the misdirection.

  13. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    “So where I have a lot of disagreements with HW about the Trump administration itself, I think it’s pretty clear that he is right that there is much more strategy going on beyond public view and public discussion. That’s actually always the case in politics at high levels, but it has taken on an additional dimension with the administration being almost entirely a front – and a front which plays an important role in the misdirection.”

    Getting warmer.

  14. iRobert
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    We will see, Anonymous. I will join HW on this and predict this strategy works for the most part. The Iranians are now going to have to make a very difficult decision. I’m sure the Chinese and Russians will be advising some clever response and warning Iran not to be suckered into a response that gives the US further justification for more attacks.

    Regardless of what all is going on here, we better all pray the Chinese and Russians don’t see potential advantage in encouraging Iran to escalate.

  15. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    “HW, is your argument that Trump handled the North Korea situation well? Have you not read about their recent rocket launches?”

    Not that much. Are they a big deal? What’s your best information about them? What kind of rockets, etc?

    I heard about the false alarm in Japan that occurred days ago. I heard about it before it was declared false actually. I wonder why that would happen. Something like that could trigger instant world war.

  16. Kit
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Here’s one data point, HW. It’s from two days ago. “Tensions are escalating between the U.S. and North Korea after Kim Jong Un announced that the world will be seeing a ‘new strategic weapon,’ and warned the North will no longer be bound by a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear weapon tests. “

  17. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Alright but you must admit that NK and the USA were on track for war with NK actually firing rockets towards Japan and that it has been extraordinarily quiet relative to that since the President intervened.

    Do you think Kim controls NK?

  18. Anonymous
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    “Do you think Kim controls NK?”

    I’m sure there are forces supporting him, forces that are still in place from his father’s regime, but he is, you know, the dictator of the country.

  19. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Dictators can’t be puppets then.

  20. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Some idea of Iranian options here: They are limited. They are likely to target oil reserves in the Middle East. This would not upset me in the least, personally– best-case scenario.

    https://www.juancole.com/2020/01/talking-assassination-soleimani.html

  21. Wobblie
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Iran has said they will take reprisals against a military target. Since they will in fact respect Iraqi sovereignty any attacks there will likely be the Popular Mobilization Forces taking revenge for our killing one of there commanders. The Iranians are most likely to attack our command and control centers in Quatar, Bahrain or Kuwait. Or if we give them the opportunity perhaps one of our aircraft carriers.
    I would not look for it to happen to soon. They will probably want to get closer to nuclear break out capacity—maybe 4 or 5 months from now.
    The Iranians do not want war, they will retaliate though. If Trump was smart ( he is not). He would declare victory and get out if the ME asap. Expect continual provocations by US. We bombed the Iraqi PMF again on Saturday. Regime change in Iraq and then onto Tehran.

  22. Bob
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Gas prices are moving up thanks to the very stable genius

  23. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Waah!

  24. Wobblie
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    David Duke thinks Trump committed a war crime and fucked us all. I guess that makes me a racist.
    Are you standing with the Empire or not?

  25. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    “Gas prices are moving up ” — about time.

  26. iRobert
    Posted January 6, 2020 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    High gas prices are the least of our problems.

  27. Adam Schiff
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Why is a disorganized and chaotic Administration such a danger to national security?

    This actually happened:

    They sent a letter — by mistake — to the Iraqi government to inform them our counter-ISIS forces are withdrawing.

    The dysfunction starts at the top.

  28. Anonymous
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    It’s a huge cluster f-ck and no one knows what’s going on.

    https://twitter.com/michaelsteele/status/1214530533532803072?s=21

  29. iRobert
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    HW,

    What do you make of this letter?

  30. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I can’t see a problem with it. Why is it a mistake?

  31. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Pentagon says it is active disinformation, stops short of calling it definitely fake. An unsigned draft? Something fucky is going on.

  32. Bob
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    High gas prices are the least concern we have? As a nation already inching towards a major recession? I’m not very worried any Iran lobbing a bomb on my house. Crippling our economy is much more effective. Maybe you turds don’t remember the late 70’s.

  33. iRobert
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    We are far less dependent upon Middle Eastern oil now than we were in the 70s, Bob. And we have the means to shift entirely off of foreign oil relatively quickly. A boom in alternative fuel would be good for the US’s future.

  34. iRobert
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    US has officially suspended counter-ISIS mission.

  35. Anonymous
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Israel knew about the assassination beforehand.

    https://twitter.com/SethAbramson/status/1214609975424761856?s=20

  36. Jean Henry
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    BOB is under the impression we are still living in the Us economy from the 1970’s. That explains so much.

    In the 1970’s our burning of carbon fuels was not speeding humanity to an untimely demis too.

    Just to be clear the only thing that has ever pushed the US consumer to slow energy consumption is rising fuel costs. Nothing else has ever worked, including impending climate disaster, to lower our consumption– much of it wasteful.

    As for businesses, if they have not started to transition their business models away from fossil fuel dependency already, they are in for a rude awakening soon enough. The US is currently very close to energy independence. A little push and we could get there sustainably.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/arielcohen/2019/11/26/making-history-us-exports-more-petroleum-than-it-imports-in-september-and-october/#c5852735f3b3

  37. iRobert
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Israel’s knowledge of the assassination beforehand suggests it wasn’t the random stupid action most media and Dems are suggesting.

  38. John Brown
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Russia State Bank underwrote Deutsche Bank loans to Agent Orange. The plan to cluster fuck the US is working better than could be imagined.

    https://bipartisanreport.com/2020/01/03/widespread-foreign-money-funnel-to-trump-uncovered-announced/

  39. Donald Harrison
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    He’s never been playing chess—it’s chicken.
    And we’re stuck in the back seat.

  40. iRobert
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Iran has launched a missile attack at Al-Assad Airbase in Afghanistan where some US troops are located.

  41. iRobert
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    CORRECTION: I’m sorry, that’s an air vase in Iraq

  42. iRobert
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Well, Iran is escalating.

    Now how is the US going to react?

    It’s been reported that at least 15 missiles were launched by Iran at US forces in Iraq.

  43. Kit
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    To your point, Mark, I just read this in the New York Times: “At a time when you have something so serious, you need clear communication and instead what we got was contradictory, confusing communication from an administration that already has a trust deficit.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/07/us/politics/trump-iran-strategy.html

  44. Jean Henry
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Kally Anne Conway’s hubbie eviscerates GOP senators: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/07/opinion/john-bolton-testify.html

    “This week, Mr. Bolton, himself a lawyer, and recognizing the nature of the Senate’s crucial constitutional obligation, has taken a critical step in the right direction. It’s our hope that Americans will recognize that our commitment to the rule of law is what holds us together.

    The truth may not set the president free, but the Constitution is meant to keep the country free, and a fair and impartial trial is what must take place here.”

  45. iRobert
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    So far, it looks like the missile attack by Iran on two Iraqi bases which host a number of US troops have not done much in terms of damage. No reports of casualties among US forces. The missile attack looks more like a gesture than a genuine attempt to kill anyone.

  46. iRobert
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Fox’s Laura Ingram apparently believes 80 is about “one-sixth” of 326.

    80 million Iranians
    326 million in the US

    She said 80 million is about one sixth of 326 million.

  47. iRobert
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    That must be charter school math.

  48. iRobert
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    A plane leaving an Iranian airport with 180 people on board has crashed.

  49. iRobert
    Posted January 7, 2020 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    “A Ukrainian plane taking off from Iran’s Khomeini International Airport in Tehran crashed Wednesday morning, the Associated Press and Iran State TV both reported.

    Iranian State TV reported that the Boeing 737 was carrying 180 passengers. There is no word on the state of the passengers and crew.

    The crash was reportedly due to a mechanical error.

    A civil aviation spokesman says an investigation team was at the site of the crash in southwestern outskirts of Tehran. The crash came hours after Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting two bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the killing of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qasem Soleimani.”

  50. iRobert
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 4:16 am | Permalink

    No survivors in the plane crash.

  51. iRobert
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    No reports of any US or Iraqi casualties from the missile attacks.

  52. Anonymous
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Adam Schiff is tight when he says, “I fear this is the result of the president purging anyone of stature who could stand up to him…this is the result of a dysfunctional, nonexistent National Security Council process.”

  53. Seth Abramson by proxy
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Whatever happens now, it began on a yacht in the Red Sea in fall ’15. A multinational coalition of nations committed itself to Trump’s election specifically because the gathered leaders knew Trump could be manipulated into a war with Iran at the right time. REPORTING confirms it.

  54. Dudley Doo Right
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    53 Canadians killed on Ukrainian jet. That’s some powerful ruskie wagging the dog for a coalition attack. CBC is all over it.

  55. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Dat’s tight.

  56. iRobert
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    It’s funny that the usual commenters here have little to say now.

  57. iRobert
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    176 were killed in the plane crash in Iran. 63 of them are Canadians.

  58. iRobert
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I believe Russian intelligence is possibly behind the crash. Using the Iranian missile strikes as a moment of opportunity to punish the west and Ukraine.

  59. iRobert
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    What’s taking so long for Trump to make his statements this morning about the missile attacks. Is a vocabulary coach teaching him to pronounce a new word?

  60. iRobert
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    GOP House members held press conference just now and nobody showed.

  61. iRobert
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Trump is scheduled to speak at 11am. Let’s all listen for the new word he was taught to pronounce today.

  62. Posted January 8, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Watch Trump use the new word he was taught, LIVE now on ABC:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNCI18p9wSw

  63. Ben Rhodes by proxy
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Iran abandoned nuclear deal limits. Iraq wants us out. Counter ISIS mission is suspended. We don’t know what asymmetric attacks could come from Iran. Yet I see Trump supporters celebrating a “win”. What are we winning?

  64. NO PLAN
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    “Before Iran’s apparent retaliation, Trump argued to aides that the attack on Soleimani would be politically popular and that Iran would not ‘do anything too stupid,’ in the words of one senior administration official who had spoken to the president.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/amid-confusion-and-contradictions-trump-white-house-stumbles-in-initial-public-response-to-soleimanis-killing/2020/01/07/61c9242e-3174-11ea-a053-dc6d944ba776_story.html

  65. iRobert
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    He didn’t even learn any new words. Just had to practice an acronym and Soleimani pronunciation.

    Well, like I predicted, the Russians had a clever response. Murdering 176 people, including 63 Canadians, and no US citizens, was a clever and brutal move by Putin. Not killing US citizens was obviously to avoid direct reply from the US and to cause some tension between the US and Canada, Ukraine and other western nations.

  66. iRobert
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    The Canadians (and Brits) will have to reply to Putin themselves. They likely won’t get any help from the US. Keep an eye out for MI-6 action against Putin soon.

  67. NBC's Richard Engel
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Exasperated Iraqi PM can’t understand how USA can send a letter “clearly talking about withdrawal” and then say it’s a mistake. Prime minister’s overall message is: how disorganized is the US administration?

    https://twitter.com/RichardEngel/status/1214612974230523911?s=20

  68. iRobert
    Posted January 8, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I share HW’s suspicion that the letter was sent by an individual looking to embarrass the administration. At least that is what I assume HW was suggesting.

  69. Wobblie
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Aloha. Does anyone else find it interesting that Ukraine, the country that is so key to US defense interest that we are impeaching Trump for his dealings with, had a regularly scheduled flight from Tehran crash the night of Iran’s retaliatory strike. Wouldn’t such an important ally have been honoring our sanctions regime against Iran?
    Not so much I guess.
    Tulsi has been warning about the possibility of this war. She introduced legislation to prohibit Trump from engaging in these actions, other than disagreeing on tactics most Dems seem just as pro-war as most Republicans.
    US out of Iraq and Syria now.

  70. Wobblie
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Aloha, Col. Andrew Bracevich gave an interview on Democracy Now this morning. The Colonial is a Professor of Politcal science and international relations. He would be Tulsi’s first choice as Sec. of State.

  71. Jean Henry
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    They are kicking us out, Wobblie. You should be very happy. Now we’ll see what happens in your preferred future.

  72. Jean Henry
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Wobblie– Ukraine is an independent nation. They are free to negotiate trade relationships with Iran as they see fit. The US, as we have learned, has been of marginal assistance to Ukraine– much less than they would have preferred. I don’t see any of this confirms your narrative about the relentlessness of US imperialism.

  73. Posted January 9, 2020 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    From the BBC:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51055219

    I still think it’s far more likely Putin agents did it.
    And I think MI-6 knows this and will respond accordingly.

    Ukrainian airline. No US citizens onboard.

  74. iRobert
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how often Americans are on that Ukrainian route, and if it was unusual for there to be no US citizens onboard this particular flight.

    I also wonder if there were any particular individuals who might be possible targets in particular.

  75. Wobblie
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    IRobert, sorry I’ve been neglecting my Putin Puppet duties. I think we can probably thank him and Xi for the temperate Iranian response. Did you see that he celebrated Orthodox Christmas in a Cathedral saved from ISSIS by Assad ? He is obviously in the drivers seat as far as bringing peace to the Middle East.

  76. Jean Henry
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I thought the same thing iRobert– not that individuals were the target (nothing indicates that) but that Iran intentionally chose a flight full of foreign nationals who were not Americans but allies. I’m finding the transparent lying on all sides about this very interesting The lying uniformly now is pointing us away from war, even as Iran continues to provoke accidentally on purpose. It does have the chaos making whiff of Putin but it’s hard to know.

    What it does demonstrate however is no one on any side wants war– despite what Mark and Wobblie say. They may want to grandstand and take positions and puff out their chests at one another (which is dangerous and NOT strategic) but we actually don’t want war for political or economic reasons anymore– it’s a losing endeavor on those fronts now. Wasn’t always; is now. Change the narratives accordingly.

    PS Trump saying Iran made a mistake(oops!) and didn’t kill any US citizens, so no harm no foul– even though they fucking bombed us– makes him look like the biggest ‘pussy’ of all time, HW… and I’m glad for it.

  77. Wobblie
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Aloha Jean. You are clearly ignorant of the various kinds of sanctions we have imposed on Iran. Specifically those we impose on 3rd party countries that trade with Iran.
    Your either for Empire or not.

  78. Wobblie
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Aloha, we are in a state of war. Everything our Government says is propaganda. The idea that Iran shot down a plane full of its own citizens is the stupidest thing I’ve heard.
    Hopefully Congress will enforce the war powers act. But given the strength of Empire I have my doubts that it will pass both houses—I guess that’s will make Jean happy.

  79. iRobert
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I don’t share your belief that Putin is the peacemaker. He is ruthless and would not be beyond getting a Ukrainian airliner shot down for purposes of flaming divisions between the US and US allies. The Canadians and Brits are not going to be happy with the US response on this.

  80. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    “even though they fucking bombed us”

    Face-saving exercise. Don’t know what’s ‘pussy’ about understanding that.

  81. iRobert
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Putin’s actions in Ukrain have gotten many innocent civilians killed, crippled for life and displaced. It was all completely unnecessary. Putin had other options and chose one of the ugliest.

  82. iRobert
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Wobblie, the official story in the US is that the Iranians shot the flight down accidentally.

    “A list of passengers was released by the airline, but the BBC is awaiting confirmation from people known to the victims.” (from BBC)

    82 Iranians
    63 Canadians
    11 Ukrainians
    10 Swedish
    4 Afghans
    3 Brits
    3 Germans

    “Iran’s head of emergency operations said 147 of the victims were Iranian, which suggests many of the foreign nationals held dual nationality.” (from BBC)

  83. iRobert
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Getting the Ukrainian airliner shot down by Iranian defense would only require something as simple as disabling/re-configuring the aircraft’s radio identification system. If the aircraft was broadcasting anything other than its identity code as a commercial aircraft, it would almost certainly be assumed a US attack aircraft.

  84. iRobert
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    By the way, the Canadian, British, and Ukrainian governments are morons for not shutting down flights and travel of their citizens in and out of Iran by regularly scheduled commercial flights, as soon as the US killed Soleimani.

  85. Jean Henry
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Wobblie I made that comment after looking at those sanctions on entities in third party countries to see how heavily we came down on Ukraine. Here is the link:
    https://fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RS20871.pdf

    Nice try though. Facts matter. And there is vast middle ground between imperialism and isolationism. I am against Empire. I am not against diplomatic foreign engagement, globa alliances and treaties or a glocal economy.

  86. Jean Henry
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Over 180 passengers on that flight were headed to Canada, many more victims than the 63 citizens lived there. It’s weird how in these tragedies, nationality matters and residency seems inconsequential.

  87. iRobert
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    I just want to correct you on your details, Jean. I believe there were exactly 176 people on the flight, and it is only suggested that the 63 Canadians were headed on to Canada. The others on board were connecting in Kiev to other destinations. 147 of the passengers had Iranian citizenship, and many of those held citizenship in at least one other country.

    I’ve mentioned the citizenship of the passengers, because it is notable that none had US citizenship. Apparently, people traveling to and from the US use other flights. But it is an interesting detail that this aircraft which was shot down just so happened to be this particular Ukrainian flight. It is a bit convenient to Putin. And like I said, getting the flight shot down would only require disabling or changing the aircraft radio identification.

  88. Jean Henry
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    You are correct. I had earlier information that was inaccurate. How many of the passengers and crew, regardless of nationality, were heading on to Canada? Do we know?

  89. Jean Henry
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    “Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 138 of the passengers on the flight were going to fly on to Canada, and that their connecting flight had arrived in Toronto with many seats empty.”

  90. wobblie
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Aloha, Any body look at the NY Times video of the plane being shot down yet. I wonder if there were any dancing Mossad agents around when the video was taken.

    Jean, from the report you posted, ” In January 2019, the European countries created a trading mechanism (Special Purpose Vehicle) that circumvents U.S. secondary sanctions”

    If you bothered to look at anything other than CIA approved propaganda you might realize that much of our economic war against other countries is tied to getting them to honor our sanctions regime. You just keep thinking you are a moderate while giving tacit support to the war mongers. Dubba called the future when he declared, “Your either with us or against us”, ain’t no middle ground.

  91. iRobert
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I hadn’t heard Trudeau’s comment. I guess it would make sense that a number of those passengers they’re identifying as Iranian were also continuing on to Canada.

  92. iRobert
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    The moment the Iranians launched their missile attacks in Iraqi bases, they should have cancelled all commercial flights in and out of the country.

    The Ukrainian airline and the Ukrainian government should have done the same thing.

    The Canadian government should have also been warning their citizens not to travel.

    The captain of the aircraft should have also known better than go airborne immediately after a military action. Though it’s possible he was not even aware of the missile strikes Iran had just launched.

  93. Jean Henry
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Wobblie– I was not WITH W in any W shape or form (wasn;t with his daddy either) and I don’t subscribe to his definition of our choices nor would any same person.

  94. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Your favorite pols were with him when they voted for the AUMF.

  95. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Against Iraq, remember? Almost universal support; ten abstained and only one said dafuq. That’s just because they are dumb though, not corrupt and blackmailed. That’s crazy talk.

  96. Jean Henry
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Yes– HW I don’t always agree with the politicians I otherwise support. Imagine the idea!

  97. Jean Henry
    Posted January 9, 2020 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    Your man also supported the Iraq war when we went in, HW.

    https://www.cnn.com/2016/09/08/politics/donald-trump-iraq-war-opposition/index.html

  98. Wobblie
    Posted January 10, 2020 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Aloaha, speaking of videos anyone else notice how both copies of the video of Epstein cell during the alleged 1st suicide attempt have disappeared? You know the one that AG Barr says he saw and there was no attempted murder. Anybody else notice how Congress was told in its security briefing the other day that the CIA had no evidence of the Ukrainian airliner was shot down?
    Remember we are at war and everything our government tells us is propaganda.

  99. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 10, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    But they are insane for overwhelmingly agreeing to the AUMF according to your own proclamation. You support them so you did support Bush policies in some way shape or form.

  100. Jean Henry
    Posted January 10, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    HW– I said buying into the ‘with us or against us’ dichotomy was not sane. Many who voted for the Iraq invasion were openly concerned critical/questioning about it at the same time, including HRC, who felt obligated to follow the will of her NY state citizenry.

    IT’s an absurdity that I need to point up that one can vote for something at the same time one is critical of it or that one can have any kind of complexity of thought at all. At any rate, I was unequivocally opposed to the war. I have often found myself not in support of things the Dems do. I’m just even less in support of things the GOP does.

    Just like Ricky Gervais can make fun of the Hollywood elite of which he is a member and still think that Trump is an idiot. Gervais can play an asshole on TV and Trumpers are so stupid as to think he is on their side. Because complexity of thought eludes them unless they are defending a conspiracy theory that has been disproven over and over again.

    This conversation is stupid. I’m spending too much time arguing with idiots misrepresenting my POV.

  101. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted January 10, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    You misrepresent your own words as well as those of others. I do not, but you did it just now. You said you weren’t with him in any shape or form. Universal support by politicians to whom you express tremendous admiration…

  102. iRobert
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    The president is obviously not privy to the plan.

  103. iRobert
    Posted January 13, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    The president is obviously not privy to the plan.

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