Sheisse! I don’t know why I’m cursing in German. Probably because my editor wouldn’t like me to do it in English. (Nor does my wife like it, at home, especially in Spanish.)
So, just an expletive, not deleted, to express my frustration, to “let it out.” Got to. If not, the mixture of confusion, anger, sadness, fear, might explode internally, making my mindset worse. Did Trump just kill (literally) a possible likelihood of peace in the Middle East? Some sources suggest he did just that.
I speak up now, lest we in south Texas join the clamor for war (a la “Wag the Dog” scenario? A film in which a fictional president began a war to divert attention from his corruption). Should Trump achieve those ends—appealing to his “base” as the “war president”—and I did or said nothing, I could not forgive myself, nor would God forgive me. Trump’s current actions are evidently designed to do just that, just in time for the November elections.
There is no other reason. I don’t want to bury the lead: Trump is risking at least a major regional war (possibly wider war?) for his own ego and re-election. Facts are clear: the Iraqi Prime Minister says Trump asked him to mediate with Iran. He was trying to do just that when Trump—without notification to him or other allies – ordered the Raptor drone/”Hellfire” rocket attack on Soleimani (A. Siegal, “Trump Assassinated Man Brokering Peace in Persian Gulf,” Community, 5 Jan 20).
The Shi’ites Muslims now control the Iraqi government. Shi’ites also control the government of neighboring Iran. (Rival Sunnis dominate in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.) Neither the Iraqi Prime Minister, nor leaders of Iran, want to continue their old warring ways; both want US troops out of Iraq. Soleimani was, according to some accounts, struggling to bring about that end, by military pressure (Iran-backed militia in Iraq) but also by diplomacy. He was not allowed to continue to try to succeed.
Siegal quotes an NPR Middle East correspondent who alleged Soleimani was carrying “a message to defuse tension” from Iran. If delivery had been allowed, it might have avoided “killing a man on a mission to reduce risk to a unique US ally [Iraq] and, by extension, to US forces and US civilians.” Even if these speculations turn out not to be completely accurate, middle-of-the-road sources agree with the unsoundness of the action. “There were any number of ways for the president to stop the escalation spiral and negotiate with Iran. At every turn, Trump chose conflict” (Ryan Costello, “Did Trump Just Sign Up to His Own ‘Forever War’?,” Newsweek, 3 Jan 20).
Why oh, why was the Pentagon so idiotic to even present this outlandish option (the assassination) to Trump? As if he were sound of mind and soul, as if he were like any other previous, normal president? They and “private”–read military—contractors seem to want war. War is “good for business, invest your son,” as the old Vietnam era protest sign chided. Now, to up the ante, Senator Graham proposes deliberate destruction of Iranian oil facilities. Trump tweets “destroy Iranian cultural sites.” Either threat, if carried out, would constitute a war crime!
What we know for certain is the “US has blatantly and openly assassinated a major foreign government official in another country.” Siegal forces us to question: “Has this action now given a green light to Russia, China, or others to do the same?” Perhaps Soleimani has won a major victory? Iraq’s parliament has voted to move all US troops out of Iraq as a consequence of his martyrdom. Other sources also have their doubts of the wisdom of Trump’s suspicious decision: “Trump Presented Multiple Options—He Chose the Worst” (Mark Summer, Daily Kos, 4 Jan 20).
Yes, a “private contractor” was killed near Kirkuk on December 27th, but” 1,570 of them have been killed since Bush’s invasion of Iraq” (Summer). So why this one as supposed justification for an act of war? Elections looming? Trump’s numbers in doubt? No other reason. Summer notes Rukmini Callimuchi, in the New York Times, and others, after review of documents, call supposed evidence justifying this internationally illegal assassination “razor thin.”
We are witnessing a possible prelude to war, initiated by Trump’s disastrous fait accompli (a little French, to balance my German). But still, sheisse! Or any other curse—in any language—you may need to get by this moment. Then, calm down. Realize what Trump did and why. Then, take action: protest now, vote later.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on Naqsh-e Jahan Square of Esfahan in Iran.