Morning Joe showed this video today:
Trump on Nov. 16, 2011:
“Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He's weak and he's ineffective. So the only way he figures that he's going to get reelected — and as sure as you're sitting there — is to start a war with Iran.” pic.twitter.com/usZFLiHnBw
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) January 3, 2020
Trump better have a damn plausible excuse for starting a war with Iran other than this (from The Washington Post)
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said the Pentagon had taken “decisive defensive action” against Soleimani, the revered military figure who had close links to a network of armed groups backed by Iran across the Middle East and, according to the United States, bore responsibility for hundreds of American deaths.
“Gen. Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” Esper said in a statement. “This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”
The Republicans and the talking heads on Fox News will buy this and try to say that this assassination proves Trump’s mettle as the commander-in-chief. However, less brainwashed people should ask what was the imminent risk? After all Gen. Soleimani was always planning to wage war against United States service members and unless there is proof he had actually plans to escalate this to attack diplomats what was different?
The term “wag the dog” comes from a movie of that name starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert DeNero about a spin doctor and a Hollywood producer who fabricate a war in Albania to distract voters from a presidential sex scandal. Of course that was a make-believe war and the term has come to mean a president starting a real war.
Wag the Dog was released one month before the outbreak of the Lewinsky scandal and the subsequent bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan by the Clinton administration in August 1998, which prompted the media to draw comparisons between the film and reality. The comparison was also made in December 1998 when the administration initiated a bombing campaign of Iraq during Clinton’s impeachment trial over the Lewinsky scandal. It was made again in the spring of 1999 when the administration intervened in the Kosovo War and initiated a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, which coincidentally borders Albania. Wikipedia
Now we have the obsessive poll watcher Trump who may not read FiveThirtyEight, but he certainly sees the results of their polls. This is the poll as it is reported on their website this morning.
…in the latest installment of our survey with Ipsos, where we use Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel to poll the same group of respondents every two weeks, a majority (57 percent) of Americans said they think Trump committed an impeachable offense. Fifty-two percent said they think Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine or his refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry constitute enough evidence to remove him from office.
Trump, the great denier, probably figures that it is just a mere 52% of Americans who think he should be removed from office and that this is insignificant since the fix is already in with Senate Republicans. What he is probably ignoring is that in the polls with 65 percent of Democrats wanting them very significantly 48 percent of Republicans also support calling new witnesses. While each side has a different idea of who those witnesses should be, clearly if the Republicans want to have the Bidens and even the whistle blower (that is highly unlikely) testify there’s no way the Democrats would allow this with their having a one for one (quid quo pro: Hunter for Bolton, Joe for Mulvaney for example) trade for their preferred witness.
Trump may not figure this out himself but I assume his advisors have tried to get it through to him that having the likes of Bolton and Mulvaney testify could lead to his removal from office if what they say turns public opinion against him in key states where Republican senators are vulnerable.
So why not wag the dog and do it in the typical royal Trumpian way without consulting at the least the Gang of Eight, thus inoculating himself from the attacks a rational person would know would come immediately from Nancy Pelosi?
“American leaders’ highest priority is to protect American lives and interests. But we cannot put the lives of American servicemembers, diplomats and others further at risk by engaging in provocative and disproportionate actions. Tonight’s airstrike risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence. America – and the world – cannot afford to have tensions escalate to the point of no return.
“The Administration has conducted tonight’s strikes in Iraq targeting high-level Iranian military officials and killing Iranian Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani without an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iran. Further, this action was taken without the consultation of the Congress.
“The full Congress must be immediately briefed on this serious situation and on the next steps under consideration by the Administration, including the significant escalation of the deployment of additional troops to the region.” Reference
If Trump can’t present proof that Gen. Soleimani was really planning to do something significantly worse that business as usual I think we have no other conclusion to come to other than that this assassination was nothing more than attempt to divert attention from the Senate trial and to raise his standing in the polls, i.e. a wag the dog.
I have no doubt that Trump would rather have someone that looks like Abū Bakr al-Baghdad who he could say died like a dog rather than someone who looked like this who was blown to bits by a drone missile.
I mean Gen. Soleimani could even be said to be movie star handsome even though it appears that he recently lost a top front tooth which may make him look even better: