Trump’s Folly

Reading time – 3:23  .  .  .

With impeachment on his doorstep driving further mental instability, Trump needs a new and powerful distraction. That’s paired with his need to appear to be the always-wins tough guy. That’s a very dangerous combination.

I have warned about Trump doing a “wag the dog” (here, here, here and elsewhere) in order to help ensure his reelection. After all, there’s nothing like war to get Americans to forget about a current scandal and to line up in support of a leader, regardless of how wrong-headed he is. Think: George W. Bush and his war in Iraq. And his war in Afghanistan, where the goal posts kept getting moved further away.

Now in a major act of chest thumping, Trump has assassinated Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani and killed others, too. These aren’t just acts of war, but are face slaps to the Iranians as well, and Iran is vowing retaliation. When they act, Trump is sure to hit back harder and draw us ever deeper into a prolonged conflict.

Recall the Powell Doctrine, forged from lessons learned from the pain of the war in Vietnam. According to Secretary (formerly General) Colin Powell, all of these questions must be answered in the affirmative before military action is taken:

  1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
  2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
  3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
  4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
  5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
  6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
  7. Is the action supported by the American people?
  8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

Decide for yourself if you think we have eight YES answers for dealing with Iran by using our military power. I count only one.

Don’t imagine that this conflict with Iran won’t eventually include the use of nuclear weapons, because Trump has threatened to use them repeatedly. He will claim that nukes are required in order to stop Iran from building its own nuclear bombs. These are the very bombs Iran was not building before Trump pulled the U.S. out of the JCPOA (the “Iran nuclear deal”) and the very ones Iran has vowed to resume building now that we’ve killed Suleimani. He will tell us that Iran plans to use their nuclear bombs on New York and in the “heartland” or some other allusion to Trump country.

After we nuke Iran, you don’t suppose that Iranian survivors will want revenge, do you? Or that they would use a bomb on us if they had one?  Or that we might become the world’s most reviled nation?

Meanwhile, in the face of the Suleimani assassination and the conflict escalation it promises, Congress has yet again fallen pitifully into its standard partisan divide that is self-neutering. There is no bi-partisan movement to re-assert Congressional control of war making and stop executive branch overreach. There is no adult in the aggregate of the Capitol building.

He was always an extreme bad guy, but there were solid reasons why neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama assassinated Suleimani. Those facts haven’t changed, but Trump, in his standard transactional behavior, pulled the trigger. Having done that won’t stop or even slow any planned attacks by Iranian surrogates, because if these plans exist, they’re already in progress. Neither will it interfere with Iranian military hierarchy, as Suleimani was replaced within a day. What it has done is to change the focus in this country from impeachment to hostilities in the middle-east. Wag the dog.

There are millions of Americans, especially Evangelicals, looking forward to Armageddon. Trump’s wag the dog folly could get them there – and all the rest of us, too.


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Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.


Reading time – 2:56; Viewing time – 4:27 .  .  .

The congressional act that followed the 1995 Oslo Accords called for the U.S. to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, as well as move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. There was an escape clause in the act that allowed the President to delay recognition and the move by 6 months. That escape clause has been exercised twice a year ever since – until now. There are at least two noteworthy observations to make about these events.

When Bill Clinton first exercised the escape clause in 1996 he was viciously attacked by Republicans, notably by Senator John Kyle (R-AZ) and Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS, now the bankrupting governor of his state), claiming that Clinton was in contempt of Congress. You may recall that this was during the Newt Gingrich, Contract With America era, when the Republicans in Congress made it clear that they had the sole objective of opposing anything Clinton.

What was so very odd is that each time George W. Bush signed that same escape clause, which he did 16 times, neither Kyle nor Brownback nor any other Republican seemed to have a problem with that. And that same kind of duplicity on every issue is exactly what happened in the Obama era, those heady Republican days when Mitch McConnell reminded us that job one for Republicans was ensuring that Obama would be a one-term President. Let’s look at this type of behavior in another context.

During the Clinton presidency Gingrich and his howlers appointed Ken Starr to be Independent Counsel to investigate Clinton’s dealings in the failed real estate deal known as Whitewater. Finding nothing legally actionable there, Starr proceeded to investigate every nuance of both Clintons for five years and continued to find nothing actionable until the the Monica Lewinsky affair at last allowed them to smear the President publicly. There were no Republicans then claiming that Starr’s wandering investigation was a witch hunt. There were no objections to partisan digging for dirt, no attacks on the Department of Justice, no wailing of improper actions on the part of the Independent Counsel.

Now, though, there is a chorus of Republicans in Congress with abhorrent accusations against both the FBI and Robert Mueller, as he conducts his investigation into Trump campaign collusion with the Russians. It’s the same kind of duplicity as for the Jerusalem issue. That leads to the second point.

I’ve scoured sources looking for an upside to the U.S. of Trump’s declaration of formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel. That’s something that most nations have not done, this in an effort to avoid becoming an obstacle to a peaceful solution to the strife in the region. What is the possible good that will come of recognizing Jerusalem as the capitol and of moving the embassy?

Trump’s declaration has surely been good for militant Palestinians and Muslims around the world, as they have already reacted with demonstrations and violence. Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli hardliners like the in-your-face value that comes of Trump’s declaration, but what about value for the U.S.?

All I can find of value here is the pleasure that so-called Evangelicals derive from some self-satisfying biblical notions they hold, as well as the glee of hard-core Trump supporters for his sticking it to somebody. That might garner more votes for Roy Moore to become Senator Pedophile and keep that Alabama Senate seat Republican. That, in turn, may help Trump to further destroy American culture and values. Truly, I have not found a single benefit to the United States beyond that, if you can truly call those benefits.

Meanwhile, connect the dots to congressional Republicans. Where is their outrage over Trump sabotaging the possibility for peace in the Middle East? What happened to conservative calls for what serves this country?

This isn’t my father’s Republican Party and we are the worse for that.


Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we’re on a path to continually fail to make things better. It’s my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That’s the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

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Copyright 2022 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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