Trump’s Act Of War.

There is an old saying that one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. Never has that been more true than in describing Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani. Though Soleimani was reviled by Israel and the US for orchestrating terrorist attacks, he was celebrated in Iran for protecting his nation.

Indeed, Soleimani had a complex history. He first came to prominence during Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi invasion of Iran – a war that resulted in the deaths of a million Iranians – a war supported by the US under the theory that the enemy of our enemy is our friend. Soleimani is credited with creating and implementing the IED roadside bombs used against US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also credited with creating and supporting regional militias feared by Israel and others. Yet Soleimani led his militias to help bring an end to the War in Iraq. In addition, he fought against Iran’s and America’s common enemy: ISIS.

So, though Soleimani’s actions wounded and killed many US troops, one could reasonably argue that he also saved many. Moreover, he was a hero to many in Iran and arguably the second-ranking leader of the nation.

Was his assassination justified? Maybe. But it was most certainly foolhardy.

To put this into perspective, it should be noted that, not long ago, the US had begun the long process of normalizing relations with Iran. We had returned Iranian assets that were frozen in 1979 in exchange for an agreement that Iran would limit its nuclear program to peaceful uses. And, by all accounts, Iran was upholding its part of the bargain. That was hugely significant given the ugly history between our two nations.

In case you’re unaware, the ugliness began when, in 1953, the US helped Great Britain orchestrate a coup of the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran for daring to nationalize his nation’s oil industry. His overthrow led to a brutal dictatorship under the Shah who was considered a US ally. When the Shah escaped the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and was given safe haven by the US for medical treatment, the new Islamic Iranian government retaliated by invading our embassy and holding Americans captive.

Despite our history with Iran, there was an opportunity to negotiate a lasting peace. The government of Iran had moderated. Many of the people of Iran had demonstrated for more freedom. Many Iranians even looked to the US as friends.

Then Trump was installed as US president. Wanting to destroy his predecessor’s legacy, he quickly removed the US from the nuclear agreement. He increased economic sanctions on Iran. And though he relied on Iran and Soleimani to help defeat ISIS, when Soleimani no longer served a purpose to the US, and Trump was facing an impeachment trial in the Senate, Trump ordered Soleimani’s assassination.

The consequences may well be devastating. Soleimani was not a rogue actor like bin Laden or al-Baghdadi. Rather, he was a sovereign nation’s highest-ranking general and second in command. Killing him by drone was nothing less than an act of war.

Further, Trump has shown that he cannot be trusted. Soleimani’s assassination comes on the heels of Trump throwing our Kurdish allies to the curb to be killed or displaced by the Turks. By not consulting our allies and others in the region before the assassination, Trump has shown a lack of respect because they, too, may be targeted by an angry Iran. And we have started a conflict that is almost certain to last generations.

Moreover, instead of weakening Iran, Trump’s rash action has strengthened it. If the US accedes to Iraq’s demand that the US remove our troops from Iraq, we will have less influence in the region. We will be leaving a weak Iraqi government and army to fend off what is certain to be renewed efforts by ISIS. That may well lead the Shiite majority Iraq to request the help of the Shiite majority Iran. If successful, the two nations will comprise part of a Shiite crescent surrounding Sunni nations – many of them our Middle Eastern allies. A strengthened Iran may well pose a greater threat to Israel.

And though, unlike Saudi Arabia, Iran has never struck the US on US soil, it may well be motivated to do so. It knows it can’t win a war of confrontation with the US. So Iran’s only recourse is to fight an asymmetrical war through acts of terrorism and cyber attacks.

Worst of all, it appears that the Trump administration has no plan to deal with the consequences other than to threaten, bully and bluster, which is likely to escalate matters. So buckle up America. We’re in for a long, unnecessary fight.

Obama Again Forced To Clean Up One Of Bush’s Messes.

It has taken most of 5 years for President Obama to clean up the economic mess left by the Bush administration…an economic disaster that former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke labeled as worse than the 1929 crash that led to the Great Depression.

Now the Obama administration is determined to clean up the mess created by the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq…a country that posed no real threat to the US. ISIS, aka ISIL and IS, began as al-Qaeda in Iraq in the vacuum created by the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. When Paul Bremer decided to “de-Ba’athify” Iraq following the invasion, Saddam’s former military officers were left with no jobs, no income and no future. The situation was further complicated when the US military following the directions of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld left the Iraqi ammo dumps unguarded allowing the guerilla fighters to turn artillery shells into IEDs that kept US forces bogged down in Iraq for more than 9 years.

The Ba’athists and former Iraqi military officers became further alienated by the new Iraqi leadership who gave power to Shiites and marginalized Sunnis.

So here we go again. Round three in Iraq.

Only this time, we are doing it right. Although the Obama administration has been criticized for not committing ground troops, that is because they are being careful not to make the war on ISIS seem like another Christian crusade against the Muslim world. Instead, we have put together a coalition that includes the Arab nations of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Jordan and the Kurdish Peshmerga.

It’s not perfect. No war is. But it’s unlikely to be another disaster on the scale of what Bush-Cheney gave us.

Advice From A War Criminal.

From The Department Of Who The Hell Cares, Richard “The Dick” Cheney and his unpleasant daughter, Liz (I assume that’s short for Lizard) recently announced that they have formed a Political Action Committee to “restore America.” Restore America to what? To a craven bully that interferes with other governments; that robs resources from third world countries while giving nothing in return; that encourages large agribusiness to dump excess products in other nations thus bankrupting small farmers and throwing them into abject poverty?

Or does The Dick merely want to start another war in order to direct more taxpayer billions to his former company and political allies at Halliburton? Does The Dick want to resume his position as Torturer-In-Chief to cause others to fear him? Does he still believe that we can use our military might and status as the world’s only superpower to force the rest of the world to kneel at his feet and pay tribute to our multinational corporations? Does he still want to extract money and resources from the poor to feed the insatiable appetites of his wealthy friends?

Yes, as part of the Ford, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations,The Dick has done all of that and more.

In an op-ed, The Dick and his disagreeable daughter wrote, “Rarely has a US president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,” to which White House Press Secretary Jay Carney rightfully replied, “Which president is he talking about?” The only president that meets that description is the one who lived in the White House while The Dick was running our nation to ruin.

Let’s review: First, Cheney and Bush stole the 2000 election through a combination of Jeb Bush denying voting rights to tens of thousands in Democratic-dominated Florida counties, by counting nearly 10,000 unsigned absentee ballots, by bullying election officials, and by appealing to a Republican-laden Supreme Court. Cheney and Bush ignored more than 40 warnings of a pending terrorist attack in the US by al-Qaeda. They then invaded an oil-rich country under false pretenses, ordering numerous atrocities. They stole our privacy. They awarded so many billions in no-bid contracts to Halliburton for rebuilding Iraq that they “misplaced” roughly $80 billion. They ignored outright gambling by our largest financial institutions costing ordinary Americans their homes and trillions of dollars. They then bailed out those same financial institutions in order that they might continue their ritual of handing out six and seven-figure bonuses. Finally, Cheney and Bush were convicted as war criminals in abstentia by an international court.

Now that is a failed presidency!

Did I mention that the Cheney/Bush fiasco included leaving the Middle East in complete turmoil giving Sunni and Shiite Muslims the opportunity to resume their near 1,400-year war over who is the rightful successor to Muhammad? Now The Dick and his spawn want the US to send troops to Iraq to intercede. They’re not worried about the lives of our soldiers, the lives of Iraqis, our national debt or our national reputation. They’re only worried about oil.

Here’s an idea. If The Dick feels so strongly about immersing our nation in another war or occupation, let him crank up his mechanical heart and enter the fray with his shotgun and his oily buddies. Give them military training and draft their children for the fight. After all, The Dick has already proven that he is dangerous to his friends with a shotgun in his hands. Imagine what he can do against his enemies. Anyway, he and his fellow executives of Big Oil are the only ones who stand to profit from another misadventure in Iraq.

Men (And Women) Of War.

Now that the political upheaval in Ukraine is reaching a critical juncture, the usual warmongers are blustering and calling for military threats. At the same time, they’re blaming President Obama for “weak foreign policy.” Exactly which foreign policy do they consider weak? The policy that ferreted out and killed Osama bin Laden? The policy of targeting al-Qaeda leaders with drone strikes? The policy of providing air support for Libyan rebels? The policy of mandatory inspections and destruction of chemical weapons in Syria?

Or is it the policy of allowing the people of other nations to select their own government and leaders? Is it the peace negotiations with the new moderate President of Iran who requested a dialogue to end the severe economic sanctions in exchange for Iran ending its ambition for nuclear weapons? Or is it the resumption of US-led peace talks between Israel and Palestine? All of these are positive steps that stand as a welcome contrast to the Bush administration’s “you’re with us or against us” black and white approach to foreign policy.

The world is not merely black and white. It’s nuanced and complex. For example, Russia still has thousands of nuclear warheads with the capability of extinguishing all life on this planet. The US, Great Britain, France, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea all have nuclear weapons. And all but North Korea have long-range delivery systems for their warheads. As a result, military threats and war are seldom the best solutions.

Without using nuclear warheads, which could escalate into the complete destruction of our planet, our options are limited. We have seen what happens when we involve our military in nation-building projects such as Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. We have seen what happened when we used our CIA to overthrow leaders in Chile, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and too many Caribbean and Pan American countries to count. We have seen what happens when we serve as the world’s largest arms and munitions dealer.

All of these tactics have created anti-American sentiment, anti-American terrorists and legions of heavily-armed militias who are determined to fight us and each other. Yet this reality seems lost on the neocons who still cling to Cold War beliefs and the ideals of the Project for the New American Century…a plan to expand the American empire by using our status as a superpower by bullying and threatening other nations to obtain an endless supply of cheap raw materials and underpaid labor.

It was neocons from both parties who led us to arm the Shah of Iran to help him oppress his people in exchange for selling us cheap oil. It was Teapublican neocons like Donald Rumsfled who armed Saddam Hussein to fight Iran. It was the neocon Richard Perle who convinced Ronald Reagan to rebuff Mikhail Gorbochev’s attempts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. It was the neocons who led us to arm and educate the radical Islamists of western Pakistan to fight the Soviets. It was neocons like George H.W. Bush, Oliver North, Elliott Abrams, Caspar Weinberger and Richard “The Dick” Cheney who arranged to sell arms to Iran in exchange for the illegal funding of death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua. It was the neocons who supported the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in hopes that the Taliban would allow US oil companies to build a pipeline across Afghanistan so that they could gain access to Caspian oil and gas. It was neocons like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby and Condoleeza Rice who used the attacks of 9/11 to lead us into Iraq in order to ensure access to Iraqi oil.

More recently, neocon-lite Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham called for direct military involvement in Libya and Syria despite the fact that many of the militias involved in the war to overthrow Assad in Syria are allied with al-Qaeda. McCain, Graham and other warmongers from both political parties have called for increased sanctions on Iran – even as serious negotiations are underway – a move that would be likely to result in war with Iran. And now, the neocons are calling for confrontation and intervention in Ukraine. They are claiming that the problems in Ukraine are the result of the Obama administration’s “weak” foreign policy.

Seriously?

What do they want the administration to do? Invade Ukraine despite the fact that Ukraine has long been allied with Russia? Such an intervention rightly would be seen by Russia as an act of war. Since the end of the USSR, we have already broken our promises by moving NATO to the very doorstep of Russia, a move that is seen as a very real threat. We have already deployed our missile defense system in Europe, an act that is also seen as a threat to Russia by making a US first strike seem like a real possibility.

Any threat to use military force in Ukraine would, in effect, create a reverse version of the Cuban missile crisis. And there’s no guarantee that Putin is as realistic as Nikita Kruschev and as determined to avoid nuclear war.

The Project for the New American Century ended in 2006 in the aftermath of the group’s disastrous plan to invade and remake Iraq. Unfortunately, its members and proponents, including Richard “The Dick” Cheney, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, William Bennett, Jeb Bush, Steve Forbes, Dan Quayle and many others continue to sell the same bad ideas. Their ideas need to be relegated to the toxic waste dump of history where they belong. While we’re at it, we should bury the racist notion of American “Exceptionalism” along with the top-down economic policy known as Reaganomics, aka Trickle Down theory, Horse and Sparrow economics, and Voodoo economics. It’s time to leave the military and economic thinking of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries behind us.

It is a new century with new possibilities. It requires new thinking and new strategies.