Citizen Action Monitor

Soleimani Assassination — Oh what a tangled web Trump weaved when once again he acted to deceive

Is Trump’s support base large enough, ignorant, fearful and gullible enough, to commit another act of American stupidity by re-electing this “congenital bad boy”?

No 2571 Posted by fw, January 14, 2020

Has Trump unwittingly or cunningly entangled a world in his web of lies, illogic and stupidity?

“Donald Trump continues to be under fire. He has been impeached for a gross abuse of power: attempting to blackmail the Ukrainian government into libeling his likely 2020 Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, with allegations of corruption. … When a congressional investigation followed, Trump and his rather clownish minions in Congress tried to obstruct it. This constituted yet another impeachable offense. … On 3 January 2020, Trump personally ordered the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani… The rhetorical firestorm that immediately followed this attack brought predictions of World War III and, of course, overshadowed the impeachment crisis. However, it did put Trump in a position of having to make up all manner of rationalizations for what was, after all, blatant murder (aka a “targeted killing”). Those rationalizations came in two interrelated forms: illogic and lies. … Though it did little to analyze the claims of political con-artists, the media coverage of the crisis was received as largely true by a population deeply ignorant of Iran and the Middle East. Under such circumstances, average citizens can know only what they are told. They have no context or ready facts to know otherwise. Nonetheless, ignorance has its consequences. … Collectively, this all adds up to a steady, apparently never-ending, array of stupid, inhumane acts—almost always supported by a fearful and gullible public. Fear and gullibility are not, of course, and never have been rational responses to the commands of history’s real or would-be tyrants. Giving in to fear and gullibility tends to result in doubts about democracy as it is presently practiced. … mesmerized by Trump’s Faustian charisma, the American electorate may go on to re-elect him! You just can’t underestimate the power of fear and gullibility to produce yet another American act of stupidity.” —-Lawrence Davidson, To The Point Analysis

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He has been publishing his analyses of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, international and humanitarian law and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.

Is Davidson right? Is Trump’s support base large enough, ignorant, fearful and gullible enough, to commit another act of American stupidity by re-electing this “congenital bad boy”?

As details about the assassination and subsequent accidental downing of a passenger plane killing all aboard, continue to leak out, NBC now reports the decision was a long-planned operation:

“President Donald Trump authorized the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani seven months ago if Iran’s increased aggression resulted in the death of an American, according to five current and former senior administration officials. The presidential directive in June came with the condition that Trump would have final signoff on any specific operation to kill Soleimani, officials said.”

Below is my repost of Lawrence Davidson’s excellent analysis of recent events, including my added subheadings and text highlighting. Alternatively, read his piece on his website by clicking on the following title.

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Death by Illogic, Lies and Stupidity by Lawrence Davidson, To The Point Analysis, January 13, 2010

Part I—The Back Story: The Need for Distraction

The Distraction – Impeachment sparked by Ukrainian blackmail blunder by Trump and his clownish minions in Congress

Donald Trump continues to be under fire. He has been impeached for a gross abuse of power: attempting to blackmail the Ukrainian government into libeling his likely 2020 Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, with allegations of corruption. To induce the Ukrainians to do this, Trump ordered the withholding of military aid. This was an illegal act. When a congressional investigation followed, Trump and his rather clownish minions in Congress tried to obstruct it. This constituted yet another impeachable offense.

The Soleimani assassination ordered by duplicitous Trump to create a crisis, detracting from impeachment

There is an old adage: when a leader is in trouble domestically, the thing to do is start a crisis in the field of foreign policy, and this is what Trump proceeded to do. On 3 January 2020, Trump personally ordered the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani—which, by the way, may well have been unconstitutional because it was done without prior consultation with Congress. Soleimani, who was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed by a US drone attack at the Baghdad International Airport. At the time, he was carrying the Iranian reply to a Saudi request for talks aimed at reducing tensions in the region. Reportedly, Trump himself had encouraged this contact.

Trump’s rationalizations for the murder came in form of illogic and lies

The rhetorical firestorm that immediately followed this attack brought predictions of World War III and, of course, overshadowed the impeachment crisis. However, it did put Trump in a position of having to make up all manner of rationalizations for what was, after all, blatant murder (aka a “targeted killing”). Those rationalizations came in two interrelated forms: illogic and lies.

Part II—Illogic and Lies: “We Did It to Stop a War.”

Illogic – Why murder the most effective military strategist in the war against ISIS?

General Soleimani was one of Iran’s top military commanders. Assassinating him was the equivalent of Iran’s killing a member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. The comparison gives one the sense of the audacity of Trump’s act. Soleimani was also the most effective military strategist in the war against the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS.

For opposing US presence and policies in the region, Soleimani was labelled a “terrorist”

He, along with elements of the Iraqi Shia militias, also stood against the  military presence of the United States in the region—a presence originally established through George W. Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. Soleimani’s role in this resistance led to charges that he was a terrorist (anyone who opposes U.S. policies in the region is ipso facto a terrorist or supporter of terrorism).

However, as a US military official explained, it’s no surprise that the US would label an enemy Iranian general a “terrorist”

A contrasting picture was offered by Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, a national security, intelligence and terrorism analyst: “He [Soleimani] has been in combat his entire life. His soldiers love him. He’s a quiet, charismatic guy, a strategic genius and a tactical operator. These are all the kind of things, looking at him from the enemy’s perspective, [that] are going to create a great deal of angst in this part of the world.”

The White House can’t keep its lies straight — Trump’s begins with two lies – Soleimani blamed for deaths of “thousands of Americans”, and he was planning “imminent” new attacks

Oblivious to other people’s angst, Trump immediately put out the claim that Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of “thousands” of Americans and was planning “imminent” new attacks on American soldiers and diplomats. These claims, for which the White House refused to give evidence—conveniently claiming it was classified—were at best exaggerations and at worst outright lies. 

Trump’s two lies beget two more lies – “to stop a war” and “to make the Middle East safer for Americans”

The claim that General Soleimani was a dangerous terrorist was picked up by the American press and soon formed the basis for more administration lies.

  • The first of these was that the general’s murder was committed in order to stop a war and not to start one. It is probably true that Trump was not looking to start a war, but rather to provide a distraction from his domestic troubles. Nevertheless, the claim that he sought to stop a war belied the fact that Soleimani was carrying proposals that may have led to a reduction in tensions—and that Trump was aware of this. Thus, the president’s deceitful claim made no sense—it was illogical.
  • The second lie was the related claim made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had reportedly urged Soleimani’s murder, that the assassination of Soleimani made the Middle East safer for Americans. He made this claim at the same time that Americans were being urged by the State Department to evacuate Iraq, and Iran was throwing off the last remnants of the nuclear treaty Donald Trump had overthrown upon coming to office.

Pompeo pushed the illogic further – The “murder” was in the interests of “de-escalation”

The illogic was pushed further by Pompeo, who went on to claim that the murder demonstrated that the U.S. was committed to “de-escalation.” However, if the Iranians have the audacity to respond, the U.S. will escalate.

Then, in violation of the 1954 Hague Convention, in yet another display of ignorance, Trump threatens to attack Iran’s cultural sites

It is at this point that Trump made the threat to attack 52 Iranian targets among which are the country’s cultural sites. Trump seemed totally unaware of the fact that attacking cultural sites violated the 1954 Hague Convention on the protection of cultural property and thus would constitute a war crime. 

In this groaning theater of the absurd, Trump piles illogicality on illogicality in response to Iraq setting a timeline for removal of ALL foreign troops

On 5 January 2020, the Iraqi Parliament voted to set a timeline for the removal of all foreign troops, which meant principally the 5000 U.S. troops now in the country. This upset Trump, who immediately announced that he would put  significant sanctions on Iraq if they did so, and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper proclaimed that the U.S. had no intention of leaving Iraq. He said the Trump administration “remains committed to the campaign to defeat the Islamic State group in Iraq and the region.The meaningfulness of such a statement, coming on the heels of the administration’s murder of the most effective strategist in the fight against ISIS, seems in doubt. 

Part III—American Reactions: Fear and Gullible

And what was the reaction of the American public to this parade of lies and illogicalities from known liars? ACCEPTANCE!

The picture of General Soleimani as a terrorist, responsible for killing and maiming Americans was accepted by most of the American public, including those who had served and been injured in Iraq. This was due to much of the media’s over-cautious and un-analytical reporting of Washington’s claims, even though those claims came from known liars.

US media helped to lead the public astray by repeating, unchallenged, Washington’s propaganda

This was a practice many U.S. media corporations swore never to repeat after the debacle of Vietnam and invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush. This obsequiousness even reached the level of “how to talk to kids about the situation with Iran.Time magazine’s children’s edition, Time for Kids, offered an essay on this subject that turned out to be little more than a compendium of administration assertions.

And the public’s ignorance of Iran abetted the fabrications of Washington’s con-artists

Though it did little to analyze the claims of political con-artists, the media coverage of the crisis was received as largely true by a population deeply ignorant of Iran and the Middle East. Under such circumstances, average citizens can know only what they are told. They have no context or ready facts to know otherwise. Nonetheless, ignorance has its consequences.

The early timid reaction of the Democrats accepted that “Soleimani was a terrorist and deserved what he got”

This put the Democrats in a bad position, which was no doubt a welcome consequence for Trump and his 2020 campaign organization. One thing that has always characterized Democratic Party consciousness is a fear of appearing weak on foreign policy. This party inferiority complex goes back to the immediate post World War II years, when the Republicans accused the Democrats of “losing China” to the Communists. The complex now reasserted itself in the form of an overly cautious response to the Soleimani assassination. At least initially, the position of the Democrats essentially echoed that of the Republicans: General Soleimani was a terrorist and deserved what he got. The fact that his murder violated both U.S. and international law and thus was a clear abuse of power—which can be added to the abuses that form the basis of Trump’s impeachment—was missing from early Democratic responses.

Once the excuses for the assassination wore thin, House Democrats, in an empty gesture, invoked the War Powers Act

It was only after the administration’s shallow excuses for the assassination began to unravel from lack of evidence that the Democrats became bolder. The House of Representatives has now invoked the War Powers Act to limit Trump’s ability to wage war against Iran. The Republican-controlled Senate, however, probably will not follow.

As for Emperor Trump – he holds Congress in utter disdain

Trump, on his part, seems to hold Congress, particularly the Democrat-controlled House, in utter distain.

Part IV—Acts of Stupidity

Washington has a long track record of bullying, stealing and killing

The murder of General Soleimani stands as part of a long American tradition of political violence, as does the president playing the role of assassin. American leaders have been bullying, stealing and killing for a very long time—particularly in Central and South America, Asia and the Middle East. In these endeavors they have never had any trouble finding henchmen and followers. Or, for that matter, military pawns like those in the chain of command down to the person who guided the drone murder weapon to its target at Baghdad airport. And, as suggested above, they have never had any trouble peddling lies and illogical explanations to the rest of us. 

Collectively, these acts add up to “stupid, inhumane acts—almost always supported by a fearful and gullible public”

Collectively, this all adds up to a steady, apparently never-ending, array of stupid, inhumane acts—almost always supported by a fearful and gullible public. Fear and gullibility are not, of course, and never have been rational responses to the commands of history’s real or would-be tyrants. Giving in to fear and gullibility tends to result in doubts about democracy as it is presently practiced.

And now, Americans have managed to elect an egocentric, narcissistic, would-be tyrant as president

And now the citizens of the United States have managed to elect an egocentric, narcissistic, would-be tyrant as president of their country. Over the last three years his behavior—racist and authoritarian—has managed to get him impeached.

And Trump’s henchmen in the Senate are ready to betray their constitutional oaths to protect their party boss

But, his Republican henchmen in the Senate, particularly the repugnant Mitch McConnell, have, for all intents and purposes, betrayed their constitutional oaths in an effort to protect their party boss.

Given how easily American voters are misled, the power of fear and gullibility may result in yet another American act of stupidity in November

As a consequence, Iran and the rest of the world will have to wait for the U.S. election in November of this year to get this congenital bad boy out of the Oval Office. But then, given just how easily misled by election-time propaganda American voters can be, they may ignore Donald Trump’s criminal behavior, his seeming intent to ruin the climate of the entire planet, his almost gleeful destruction of programs related to health, welfare and the environment, his creation of labor shortages by immigration restrictions, his irresponsible running up of a trillion dollar debt, and his authoritarian undermining of the Congress and U.S. Constitution. And then, mesmerized by Trump’s Faustian charisma, the American electorate may go on to re-elect him! You just can’t underestimate the power of fear and gullibility to produce yet another American act of stupidity.

 

 

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