Trump Assassinates High Iran Government Official—Has Archduke Ferdinand Feel

Last night as the news was being flashed around the world that Donald Trump had authorized the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani in Baghdad a thought came to me from the election campaign of 2016.  At the time 50 national security officials wrote and signed what they knew to be a source of great concern.  

Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.

In addition, Mr. Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding of America’s vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances, and the democratic values on which U.S. foreign policy must be based. At the same time, he persistently compliments our adversaries and threatens our allies and friends. Unlike previous Presidents who had limited experience in foreign affairs, Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself.

I knew they were correct years ago.  Their insight and awareness are all the more confirmed today as we consider the staggering action Trump took against a top part of the Iranian government.  This action is as pivotal and consequential as what happened on 9/11.  This assassination will be remembered by the events which will follow.

Just last night at a gathering to celebrate two birthdays I heard a member of a Califonia symphony express fear that Trump would eventually take an uneducated action that would land our nation and the world into a hot crisis.  I would argue that what has now transpired demonstrates how far out of his depth Trump truly is, and how unprepared he is to deal with the real world.  He is more than an imposter in the White.  He is an unhinged and most dangerous person needing to be brought under control.

Couple this assassination with his antagonism of our allies, the purging of our intelligence services and military leadership, intimidating independent thinkers and punishing expertise and it is clear to see why this is the direst place which this nation now finds itself since Trump took office.

Is it any reason this blog will not use the term president in the same sentence with his name.

I have argued since Trump undermined the nuclear treaty with Iran that our mission seems to be all about applying power against Iran without any actual policy outline or goal associated with our actions.  In so many areas of international policy, the lack of any formulated policy or constructive set of steps to be attained is missing from the Trump White House.  This was demonstrated most clearly when a push for a meeting with the leader of North Korea took place without the very needed framework which any such high profile meeting should have first had established.

Why I find this so troubling is that this killing was not retaliation for any particular wrong on Iran’s part but an act of war against the Iranian government.  This blood-letting has the feel of the same senselessness and lack of reasoning that took place when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot and killed.   Any action taken, even of a far less degree than the killing of a top government official, would require our government to consider a series of possible related consequences that would then precipitate other counter-actions from us.  Mature minds in government clearly did not wish for this action to occur.

There is no way this murder can lead to anything other than the stationing of more American military personnel in the Middle East, and more loss to this nation in blood and treasure.  For the region that has seen too much conflict, there is nothing that can be seen but far more grim headlines.

For the Trump voters who are beating their chests and slugging back cheap beer let it be said they had never heard of Suleimani before Fox News told them he was dead.  And that, too, is part of the reason our nation is in such a dire place.  We have allowed the shallow end of the DNA stream to have control and now we are feeling the further results of their votes.

And so it goes.

Trump’s ‘3 A.M. Wake-Up Call’

International events literally blew up on the world stage while many of us were having late Saturday night dinner.  Our annual broadcasting weekend gathering was eating pizza outside at Paisan’s, watching the Harvest Moon lift up over the horizon on Lake Monona, as oil installations were going up in flames.

This morning some are awaking to learn that Iran forcefully rejected charges by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that it was responsible for drone attacks that caused serious damage to two crucial Saudi Arabian oil installations.  Last night we learned that the Houthis claimed responsibility for the 10 drones which struck and severely damaged Saudi oil interests, perhaps cutting 50% of their output for at least several days–perhaps much longer.  World oil markets will shudder.

What concerns this blogger is the war-like statements that the Trump administration has made for weeks that any attack on American interests from Iran would bring a military response.  In that reckless verbal environment comes obvious questions of whether an attack on the Saudi oil infrastructure would meet the line that Trump has in mind.   That Trump would welcome the use of force to show he too can be a world strongman as the election year nears should simply send the nation into a cold sweat.

But that is what we are needing to contemplate as the nation heads off to church or local festivals on this mid-September morning.

Looking backward is not easy for many Americans.  But this is the time to ponder how we got to the place in which we now awake as a nation.  Pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal was the wrong tactic to play by Trump.  It was of similar absurdity as pulling away from the TPP, which was a perfect tool to combat China’s trade violations.  The results of one glaring mistake is a trade war that has cost the world economic growth, and the other colossal mistake might lead to military madness in the tinderbox of the world.

The other issue that demands redress is the far too cozy and unequal relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

I view the attacks in Saudi Arabia less of a case of Iranian offensive aggression than of blowback against Saudi Arabia for its unnecessary, destructive, failed intervention in Yemen. The Saudis have acted without mercy in Yemen and the international community has used too few levers to demand an end to the bloodshed.  While this is a full-scale proxy war with Iran it has devastated Yemen.

Know that Saudi Arabia is causing famine in Yemen, meddling in multiple countries across the region, and brutally murdered a Washington Post journalist in Turkey. They’re not exactly interested in peace either if one is to point fingers at Iran.  The Saudis have many sordid tales to tell.

Many twists and turns are to take place as this story jells, but the reckless moves that have been made by the White House, without long-term planning and cohesive policy goals has produced, in large part, the place in which we find ourselves this morning.

And so it goes.

Another Self-Created Crisis Gets Backtracked At Trump White House

Keep Loved Ones Together picture

Donald Trump said Saturday that he was delaying planned weekend federal immigration raids to see if Congress can “work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border. In a tweet, Mr. Trump said he was taking the action at the “request of Democrats.”

Immigration agents had been planning to sweep into several immigrant communities in 10 major cities — including Miami, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Chicago — beginning on Sunday. Officials said on Friday that they had targeted about 2,000 families in a show of force intended to demonstrate their strict enforcement of immigration laws. Children of immigrants — some of whom were born in the United States — had faced the prospect of being forcibly separated from their undocumented parents.

Here is the bottom line….From “millions of illegal aliens” to “about 2,000”, and ultimately zero, in just a few short days. Stand by for the next announcement on immigration, sometime during the Democratic Presidential debates next week, because this is a political stunt, not an emergency.

This never-ending loop of creating crises and drama then backing down is playing to his base of sheep, but makes this nation look foolish. He only adds to the look of being weak-minded and indecisive.

Trump said his delay is to allow time for Democrats to act on the issue. But here is the problem with that line of thinking. Congress is busy trying to figure out what to do with another artificially created crisis of his own making, that of Iran.

And so it goes.

War Fever In Trump White House

We are not at the point of the 3:00 A.M. phone call in the residence of the White House which is often a talking point in presidential campaigns.  But we are probably well past two in the morning.  And that is most concerning, given what now sits in the Oval Office.

The explosions yesterday which has ratcheted up tension in the Middle East is particularly troubling given the fact Donald Trump has sought to confront and contain Iran since he took office.  He has made deals with the Saudi Kingdom which underscores the larger game plan in the region.  The international community is breathing tightly to see how the most unhinged and erratic holder of the White House will respond to this latest episode.  There was a determination yesterday to assign blame for the explosions on Iran amid skepticism about what really happened.   That mindset continues today.

But that is not the whole story, obviously.  While Trump wants to sell his version of events, it is necessary to know what actually happened.

The Japanese owner of a tanker attacked in the Gulf of Oman states that it was struck by a flying projectile, thereby contradicting reports by U.S. officials and the military on the source of the blast. U.S. Central Command said the two vessels were hit Thursday by a limpet mine, which is attached to boats below the waterline using magnets. Central Command released video it claimed showed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers, the Kokuka Courageous.

But the owner of the Courageous said sailors saw something flying toward the vessel just before the explosion and that the impact was well above the waterline. “We are absolutely sure that this wasn’t a torpedo,” he said. “I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship.”

This is all most serious.  And history is proof as to why there needs to be strict attention to facts.  The international community is most mindful of Washington’s exaggerations and outright misrepresentations of intelligence leading up to the Iraq war.  All have seen the fast and loose nature of how the Trump Administration abuses the truth and is disdainful of facts.

That last point is something I have long stressed on this blog.  The absence of truth on a daily basis from this White House is dangerous when events occur where the integrity and confidence in their leader matters.   No citizen can claim they have trust in what Trump says.  And the clock is ticking towards that morning phone call.

Hard evidence which can be shared with constituencies worldwide is the only way to proceed.  Nothing short of that will be tolerated by voters as a whole.  Not after the invasion of Iraq which was predicated on lies.

War fever warms parts of the Trump base, and there can be a political rationale as to why bombastic moves by Trump on the military front will find much appeal with that segment of the electorate. I readily admit that as a reason the Trump reelection campaign would salivate over such a policy move.

But such a drastic and costly move must not be made on anything other than absolute facts. This time we must not allow for a war based on gut feelings or a messianic complex.

‘Anything Obama Bad’ Syndrome Leading Nation To War With Iran

It is not as if this was unexpected.  Still, it is a most dreadful and backward move.

The Trump administration has moved to reimpose the first round of Iranian trade sanctions that had been suspended under the 2015 nuclear agreement, distancing itself from every other country that signed the agreement and putting the accord’s future in jeopardy.   The sanctions that have been waived for the past two and a half years will be snapped back officially on Tuesday morning at one minute past midnight.

That is a massive wrong turn on policy with Iran.  As an internationalist, I expect and desire my nation–the leader of the free world–to not only broker deals but to keep faith with the ones this nation has secured.

What is ironic over the news that has played out concerning Iran for months, and now this news today, is that if Trump could get an agreement with North Korea, with the exact same guidelines and restrictions as the Iran nuclear deal, he would sign immediately and declare total victory against Kim Jung-Un.

Trump, in his actions over Iran, has taken the side of Saudi Arabia and the Sunnis–and in so doing is no better than tribal warriors who have not been able to rise above their age-old alliances.   In that respect we are truly moving backward.

It comes as no news to readers of this blog that I believe Trump knows he needs to have a military engagement somewhere in the world.  It would show him to be ‘strong’–though we know war is a sign of weakness,  Real strength always takes place in diplomacy.  Military might is also a tool he could use for partisan gain.

The steps towards a military madness against Iran is moving forward.  The cancelling of the nuclear agreement was the first step.  This news of trade sanctions is the second.  Look for more international rancor coming soon.  Trump’s politically dead unless he can put us on a war-time footing giving him much more control over the conservative-minded population which he has proven able to brainwash.

What is unfortunate is that Iran got caught up with the ‘anything Obama bad’ syndrome.  Had President Bush, while in office, been able to complete the deal with Iran, none of this would now be happening.  But the deranged nature of Trump’s thinking has him attempting to undermine every policy President Obama worked on, or cared about, in his two terms in office.

This all sits well with the right-wing Christian voters as they have always carried a grudge against Muslim countries.  With the news today they can sit in church and pray about Israel and Christianity while the rationale for a war policy with Iran is devised under the most sinful of reasons.  Bigotry against an African-American president, and Muslims in general.

And to think that this all could have been avoided if Iran had just invited Trump to Tehran and threw a military parade in his honor.  After all, when a person can be so easily swayed that is all it takes to shape policy in this administration.

Trump and his merry band of sycophants are proving with this action to be the biggest group of arrogant, willfully stupid, destructive cretins ever to occupy the top levels of American government.  And American boys will pay the ultimate price in the Middle East.

President Netenyahu Led Donald Trump By The Nose Over Iran Nuclear Deal

Donald Trump’s reckless decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal moves the world community backwards. This decision reduces our standing in the international community and calls into question our commitment to international agreements.  I understand those facts are not understood by Trump, nor does he care.

But the facts of the matter must care to the citizenry.

The pattern Trump is using is to disrupt the existing alliances of this country and render our standing with other countries as unstable and unreliable.  If one has followed the news over the past months regarding Iran it was most plan to see Israeli President Netenyahu being behind the curtain willfully distorting the picture.  Gues who he leads by the nose!

Over and over the issues have been treated with the most careless use by the Trump Administration.  One of the most outrageous attempts at soiling the truth was Trump claiming–repeatedly–that Iran got “many billions of dollars, some of it in cash”.  Trump always makes it seem that the United States casually handed Iran billions of dollars in cash.   What he never is able to grasp is that this was always Iran’s money.   The money were Iranian assets that had been frozen. 

As for the $1.7 billion in cash that was received by Iran at the time of signing of the accord it has been explained often it was related to the settlement of a decades-old claim between the two countries. An initial payment of $400 million was handed over on Jan. 17, 2016, the same day Iran’s government agreed to release four American detainees, including The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian.

It is only in the ginned up partisanship world that Trump uses for his own purposes where anyone suggests the cash could be viewed as a ransom payment.  But then Trump tried to sell bigotry over President Obama’s birth certificate, too.  

Trump’s undoing of the Iran deal is concocted to let him do what he wants to do–namely dismantle any deal made by Obama. It’s red meat to his under-educated base, without regard for any long term geopolitical consequences.

At the end of the day Trump left the Iran nuclear deal because of intense pressure from Israel and its powerful donors.  He couldn’t locate Iran on a map. He doesn’t care about Iran. He cares about political cover, funding, donor support, and avoidance of angering AIPAC.  And throw in doing whatever he can to undermine President Obama, our first African-American to sit in the Oval Office.  

Until we recognize the pernicious effect of Israel and its interest groups we will be doomed to perpetual war in the Middle East.

Saudi Visit, Senate Vote

International drama and political showmanship meet on Tuesday.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud is visiting the nation and will meet at the White House Tuesday with Trump,

The summit comes as the Senate is preparing to vote on a measure that reflects a bipartisan souring on U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen.  It needs noting that Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said on the floor Monday that a vote on a privileged resolution directing the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Yemen is expected this week.

The timing here could be awkward.  As are the politics of the matter

Salman and his fellow Saudi leaders would have to find a way to replace American expertise and muscle should Congress require American forces to be removed. The resolution is being pushed by Senators, Lee, Sanders, and Murphy.  A bi-partisan mix for sure, but how much thought is given to the reason to make a proxy war in Yemen more viable given the growing threat from Iran is hard to assess.  That may be a harsh way of saying it, but there is a truly legitimate reason for the military mission.   That is not to say there is not a human tragedy unfolding and efforts need to be made to deal with it, or that better plans in months past were not warranted.   But needing to put brakes on Iran is clear to see.

Opposing this move by Cornyn are Senate Majority Leader McConnell along with the Pentagon. The vote will be held, if Cornyn’s prediction holds, while the Saudi leader is on American soil during his multi-city visit.

CP hopes that long-range policy-making wins out over short-term political showmanship.

What Is Happening To International Arrivals At Our National Airports?

Several weeks ago over lunch I heard the story of a Vietnamese women who was stopped at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. She had flown in from overseas and her visa, along with papers, was in order.   For a couple of years she had been dating an American with Wisconsin roots. But after arriving that last time, for some unknown reason, her phone was taken and it was there text messages were found which showed her love for her partner. It was feared, she was told by officials, that the potential of her relationship would tempt her to stay in the country and not return to Vietnam.

As such she was not allowed into the country and returned to her native land.

Which leads us to the news this week that an Iranian cancer researcher traveling to Massachusetts to work at Boston Children’s Hospital was detained at Logan International Airport along with his wife and children for several hours before being sent back.

The detention of Dr. Mohsen Dehnavi, who holds a visiting work visa, comes two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration could partially enforce an executive order banning people from six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, from entering the United States. But US Customs and Border Protection said that the detention and return were unrelated to the order.

It has been impossible to get more information about the lack of entry for a cancer specialist as the government will not say why he was being deported.  There is no doubt that actions are being taken by the Trump administration to restrict travel from the six countries that have been the focal point from the start of this administration.  It should be noted, according to The Economist that issuances to Iranians, the largest affected group, are down as a result.

Let us be clear about the shameful actions that our government has taken in the past months.

When Trump’s initial travel ban was put in place in January, some foreign researchers from the affected countries were prevented from traveling to work in the U.S. Samira Asgari, an Iranian postdoctoral fellow who was slated to join a lab in Boston, wasn’t allowed to board her flight in January. Another Iranian scientist, Seyed Soheil Saeedi Saravi, had his visa suspended just days before his was set to travel to the U.S. for a research fellowship at Harvard.

If the people at DHS and ICE were not such awful, authoritarian morons it would be easier to accept that these decisions were based on actual risk. But they aren’t. They are pure partisan politics and now we see scientists and researchers being targeted.

America, once again, looks smaller.