Friday, January 03, 2020

The Only Way This Ends Well

It was an easy-peasy take out.  A designated target travels to an airport. You have a drone overhead. The target gets into a car. Once clear of the terminal you take him out with a Hellfire missile. Easy-peasy. You've been doing this for years. You're the Pros from Dover.

The only thing that sets this apart from the run-of-the-mill drone strike was the target, Iran's top general, Qassem Suleimani. When you take out a guy of his stature that becomes in anyone's parlance an act of war.

Of course this was done at the command of America's barely sentient and wildly impulsive Commander-in-Chief, DJ Trump, the Mango Mussolini.

There are plenty who are already heralding this as a great thing. Suleimani was a bad actor, a devil, stirring up Shiite terrorists to attack Gringos, that sort of thing. He was a bad actor, no argument there. But that's not the point. There is no shortage of bad actors deserving to be bumped off in the Middle East - on both sides. Eliminating one is hardly a game changer.

Since George H.W. Bush threw Saddam out of Kuwait and then decided that his army should hang around a while, the United States has been tied down in the Middle East. That revitalized Sunni fundamentalists angry at the defilement of their Holy Land. It led to the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 and the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. That begat the unfinished invasion of Afghanistan, the troubled conquest of Iraq and, eventually, even dragged a reluctant Pentagon into the Syrian civil conflict.

Bear in mind that all of these events were the handiwork of the Sunnis - the Saudis, Kuwaitis, Yemenis, Afghans and Iraqis. al Qaeda, Boko Haram, al Shebaab, ISIS, all of them Sunni. All of this has been instigated or supported by the princes, emirs and sheiks of the Sunni persuasion. Not Iran. Then again, see one Arab, seen 'em all. See one Persian, seen 'em all.

Iran is a majority Shiite country. So too is Iraq. Syria is majority Sunni but controlled by the Alawite minority that cleaves to Shiite Islam. Likewise, Hezbollah is a Shiite terrorist group. The Houthis of Yemen are also backed by Iran.

So what are we to make of the assassination of Suleimani? Buggered if I know.  He was, but is no longer, the leader of Iran's elite Qud force. That means that someone will step up to replace him. Ismail Ghani. Whether that successor can fill Suleimani's shoes is another matter.

Iran can plainly consider this an act of war. It was the doing of a state actor, America, against another state, Iran. In the context of a war with the US, that makes most Americans in Iraq - diplomats, soldiers, contractors - legitimate military targets. Given that Iraq is majority Shiite the populace could turn resentful of an ongoing American presence in their country.  Baghdad has a limited number of options. Colluding with the US against Iran isn't one of them. Ordering American forces and personnel out is one of them.

America is running out of friends in the Middle East. Even the Saudis have been cozying up to Russia. Syria is allowing Russia to establish a naval base and hosts Russian ground and air forces.  Turkey, meanwhile, in defiance of American and NATO demands, is equipping its forces with Russia's S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries.  Russia made a show of refusing Iran the S-400, fearing it might destabilize the region but now, who knows?  China has a military base up and running in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. It's positioned right next to an American military installation.   A week ago China, Russia and Iran staged a joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman.

The point is American hegemony in the Middle East/South Asia is not what it once was.  There are new players, regional challengers, and Trump's assassination of Suleimani  may eventually play into America's rival's hands.

China may be the big winner from this assassination. Today Trump ordered more American troops to Iraq. Another US war in the Middle East could derail the Pentagon's plans of shifting focus (and forces) to East Asia and Asia Pacific. Whatever ties them down in the Middle East buys time and opportunities for China.

There is one way that the killing of Suleimani could end well. That's if the Ayatollahs and Mullahs in Tehran throw in the towel, raise the white flag and seek terms of surrender. Do let me know when that happens.


Owen Gray said...

The United States is running out of friends in the Middle East, Mound -- and around the world. Should we be surprized? How many friends -- real friends -- do you suppose Donald Trump has?

John B. said...

It got Duffey's emails off the front pages and TV news cycles, and will likely limit their exposure on the Sunday gabfests. We don't have to be picky here. So what if nobody ever heard of General What's-'is-name? Once again we offer some proof that we're not sectarian: in a pinch, or at any other time, any Mohammedan will do. Saddam-Hussein could have told you that before they strung him up.

Trailblazer said...

Trumps hissy fit is not over yet..

Trumps seems to wish for a holy war.
It would suite his agenda!

Here’s more from the Trump event. Richard Luscombe, reporting from Miami:

Some of Trump’s biggest cheers came when he moved on to topics such as abortion and the “hard left’s” perceived war on religious freedom, and freedom of speech.

“We believe in the right to life,” he said, prompting lengthy cheers, and seemingly overlooking his own conversion from his 1999 position of being pro-choice.

“There is no issue that Democrats have become more extreme [on] than the issue of life, he said, claiming to have asked Congress to prohibit late-term abortion and that he had issued an executive order stopping taxpayer money going to fetal tissue research.

“We will not allow faithful Americans to be bullied by the hard left,” Trump said. “Very soon I’ll be taking action in our schools to protects students’ first amendment rights to pray.”

Using words carefully chosen to fire up his churchgoing audience, Trump accused Democrats of waging a “crusade” against religious freedom.

“The extreme left in America is... trying to replace God with socialism,” he said. “In America, we don’t worship government, we worship God. Since 2016 the left hasn’t given up on their religious crusade against religion. Democrats have worked to remove the words “So help me God” from the oath. Not going to happen. Not as long I’m here.”

Trump has now been speaking for one hour.

The evangelicals are huge supporters of the Jewish state rather than the Israeli state.


e.a.f. said...

Suleimani was the second ranked person in Iran. Trump decided to murder him because he was good at his job and served his country well. What if other countries decided to start killing other world leaders who were doing their jobs according to what their country wanted/needed. What would Americans have to say if Iran killed Pence? They'd be outraged so they ought to understand Iranians are outraged that Suleimani was murdered. The U.S.A. is not at war with Iran, Suleimani had not been charged, arrested, tried or found guilty of any crimes. What he did was his job and he was no better or worse than the U.S.A. has been over the decades.

Trump believes he is smarter than the rest and he has his bully pulpit. However, for every action there is a reaction and now we can all wait to see what Iran does. Head on Iran might loose, but if they do what they do best, use proxies in various places, I would not want to be a dtrump mega donor, a member of his family, or for that matter any one of rank within the military, etc. All nice targets.

A war in the middle east will result in millions being forced to flee. Europe isn't up for another influx. The U.S.A would be wasting tax dollars fighting a war their citizens might get tired of the constant flow of body bags and deaths of their civilians on home ground. The other issue would be, where would the U.S.A. get the funds to carry on a length war in Iran. China won't be purchasing their bonds. they have to much to gain if the U.S.A. looses this war. Too much death for no good reason, reminds me of the protests against the Vietnam war. Americans just never learn.

This time around when the U.S.A. gives a war, NATO won't be joining. Trump has burnt his bridges there. Canada needs to bring any and all military out of the area back home.

Northern PoV said...

Canada's shameful official position:

Restraint on both sides.

I miss Jean.

Trailblazer said...

This was bound to happen.

A united Iran ,if only for the immediate future ,could prove destructive to ME politics.
Iran cannot win a conventional war with the USA but the Iranians are more willing to give their lives than Americans are.
This is another long term ,you lose, for the USA.



The Disaffected Lib said...

I'll steal my own comment I left today at Northern Reflections:

- Perhaps it is time to recalibrate America's trigger finger. When you consider that there's one place where the occupant can initiate the deaths of tens of thousands, perhaps, as credible agencies such as the Lancet maintain, hundreds of thousands and yet that individual is never called to account, is change not overdue?

How many needless Iraqi civilian deaths were caused by America's sanctions on even medical supplies during the Clinton years? How many civilians were slaughtered in America's disingenuous hunt for WMDs during the Bush/Cheney years? What American president, other than Jimmy Carter, has not ordered some invasion, conquest or bombardment of foreign territory? Kissinger - Viet Nam, Chile. The list goes on and on.

Worse is yet to come. Here I refer to crimes against humanity caused by leaders who reject, even subvert meaningful action to fight climate change. Their people will pay a price, certainly, but long before that occurs the peoples of the poorest and most vulnerable Third World nations will be visited with a living hell. Central America is right on the doorstep of the US. Much of it is expected to turn uninhabitable beginning in the mid-2020s. Their only refuge is to escape north. That's a life-or-death choice not of their own making but America won't accept any responsibility for their plight much less allow them to cross out of Mexico.

All of these stories about what a monster Suleimani was seem like pretty cheap beer compared to what we in the West, under the leadership of Washington, unleash with such impunity.