….and it’s bigger than Iran. Yesterday when President Trump gave his statement about Iran’s attack on a US military base in Iraq, I thought he sounded a bit winded, but told myself I was imagining things until a commentator mockingly mentioned it. This allows me to suggest that Trump was strong-armed into the assassination of a man revered by Iranians but tagged as an assassin by Washington’s ‘war party’.
The day before his show of discomfort, Trump’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who habitually exhibits a Cheshire cat smile, had laid out the justification for the killing of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, whose Quds Force trained Hezbollah and Hamas, Israel’s mortal enemies. Pompeo had been preparing to run for a seat in the Senate, but yesterday, while beefing up his website, he modestly stated that he would remain in his current job ‘as long as the President wants me’. Call me rash, but I have the distinct impression that he plans to run against Trump in the presidential election. This would imply that ‘the war party’ or ‘the deep state’ or whatever is the most appropriate label for Washington’s current bloodlust, has decided that Trump’s preference for deals over war can no longer be tolerated. (At the end of his statement yesterday, he said that he wanted to see Iran prosper, a pious wish that he has also expressed with respect to North Korea, but which is not shared by his cabinet.)
Several weeks ago, I happened onto a Youtube showing a Russian parliamentarian expressing the conviction that Trump’s life was on the line for something he had done that displeased the war party. His colleagues were challenging him, and I too thought he was wildly exaggerating. Now I believe he was right: widespread accusations of Trump being a ‘Russian asset’ illustrate the gulf that has always stood between the real estate mogul and those who are supposed to carry out his policies. His consistently demonstrated lack of knowledge about the wider world, as well as his refusal to remedy it by reading briefing papers and books has allowed those tasked with carrying out his policies to implement their own without him even realizing it.
Pompeo’s demeanor yesterday seemed to imply that the Republican Party could be persuaded to replace him as their Presidential candidate in the November election, while for others his one saving grace is that he is viscerally opposed to war. Pundits regularly refer to the ‘bone spur’ that saved him from military service, while failing to acknowledge that President Putin’s electoral support was obviously predicated on Hillary’s warmongering. Few people recognize that she was following the directives of the Wolfowitz Security Doctrine drafted during her husband’s presidency for the stated purpose of maintaining the United States as world hegemon. The directive is based on the claim that Russia has one of the world’s largest supplies of precious minerals used in maintaining military superiority. (It may have been with that in mind that a couple of months ago Trump wanted to ‘buy’ Greenland, which is similarly endowed, provoking the ridicule of those who long ago forgot Wolfowitz.)
In another signal of trouble ahead, the ‘briefing’ on the Soleimani assassination delivered behind closed doors has enraged Congress people, including many Republicans, who did not buy the claim of an ‘imminent Iranian threat’ used to justify this outrageous act. Added insult to injury, America’s lawmakers were told they must not discuss the incident for fear of exposing the US to retaliation! Given that the Constitution designates Congress as the appropriate body to declare war (not the President or his cabinet), this was unacceptable, even to some Republicans.
My crystal ball is not telling me what Pompeo’s next move will be, but the sight of the president emerging from an inner room to walk a gauntlet of military and civilian officials toward a microphone may well have accounted for his difficult breathing.
Deena Stryker is a US-born international expert, author and journalist that lived in Eastern and Western Europe and has been writing about the big picture for 50 years. Over the years she penned a number of books, including Russia’s Americans. Her essays can also be found at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.