Mainstream media’s making more of a mystery of it than it pretty obviously is…
Pompeo’s running this one.
When we read the following in the New York Times, it seemed pretty far-fetched to us. That:
“In the chaotic days leading to the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most powerful commander, top American military officials put the option of killing him — which they viewed as the most extreme response to recent Iranian-led violence in Iraq — on the menu they presented to President Trump. They didn’t think he would take it. In the wars waged since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Pentagon officials have often offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities appear more palatable.”
Really don’t see how it possibly could’ve happened precisely this way: that they handed Trump a list of options including one that was nuts to make the others seem more reasonable and he chooses the nuts one and they’re like “WHA?!”? Like, if it was presented to the President the way the Times depicts, it’s because someone’s long wanted this outcome and thought finally now with Trump maybe they finally had a shot.
And we’re pretty sure now who that was: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. More evidence? The number of times in the past few days he’s almost clairvoyantly explained away things Trump hasn’t even Tweeted about yet, like they’re on a list of things he’s gonna bring up, and the President will react to, so might as well get them out of the way. And then the Tweets do come…
We’ve got kind of a wild theory of our own, which we’re also pretty sure is true: this specific action was also long-advocated by now-fired National Security Advisor John Bolton, but Trump thought Bolton was a crazy warmonger. (Which he is.) Trump once described Bolton as “so nasty and so tough that I have to hold him back”. So it never could’ve happened while Bolton was around. But Trump doesn’t think Pompeo is crazy.
Pompeo is eagerly appearing wherever and with whomever will have him to make the assertion that the U.S. was under “imminent” threat by Qasem Soleimani, and thus his elimination is not an assassination. When pretty clearly an assassination is exactly what it is. We’re actually surprised Trump’s not willing to own up to that, when he’s so freely suggesting he’s perfectly willing to violate law–not just international law or the Geneva Convention, which obviously he doesn’t care about, but U.S. law too!–by doing stuff like threatening to destroy places of value to “Iranian culture” as potential next steps should Iran retaliate, which would be a war crime.
We have no way of knowing whether there was an “imminent” threat or not, or even what Trump’s folks consider “imminent”. Because Soleimani has been a threat to the U.S. at almost any given time since the Iraq War began. And while Soleimani supported terrorists and anti-U.S. forces many times, in many different places, he wouldn’t be the guy going out and doing the deed. So does eliminating him really eliminate the “imminent” threat of anything he may have masterminded? Only if you think his killing will act as a deterrent and scare off action on the part of whomever replaces him. So far, it seems to be having the opposite effect: uniting a deeply divided Iran against the U.S. And also turning Iraq away from the U.S. even more, which then naturally pushes it more toward Iran, a development Trump’s folks seemed genuinely surprised and irritated about. (To the point that Trump threatened sanctions against Iraq.)
Pompeo’s also led the charge on one assertion that’s at least as off-the-wall as anything Trump’s said or Tweeted: that this is really all President Obama’s fault for entering the Iran nuclear deal in the first place. And Trump bears no responsibility vis-a-vis Iran (and our NATO allies in Europe) for dumping it. Yes, the original deal was limited in scope and duration, so it wasn’t perfect, and it didn’t end every threat. What it did do is let things cool off for a decade–a decade–with the expectation, or hope, or whatever you want to call it, that the world might become a more peaceful manageable place, with more room for good will.
Trump and his Secretary of State have slammed the door on that. The President quipping to reporters Sunday night that:
“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. they’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way.“
We’ll answer that, Mr. President: Yes, it does. Because there’s anger, which can fade. Or resentment, which can linger forever. Which is why Secretary of War Henry Stimson talked President Truman out of dropping an atomic bomb on Kyoto, Japan at the end of World War II.
More simply, it’s because we’re better than that.