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January 2, 2020 7:17 PM   Subscribe

The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, was killed in a strike on the Baghdad International Airport early Friday. (NYTimes) The US has claimed responsibility for the attack (WaPo). He was a highly-revered figure, considered to be a potential future leader of the country. Tensions between the US and Iran have skyrocketed.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (881 comments total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
 


Iraq isn’t too happy about the strike either.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:22 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Thread from journalist Yashar Ali:
...this will be a major moment in US-Iran relations & Supreme Leader will undoubtedly see this as a major provocation/act of war...

...I can't understate how major this is. Not just a moment in US-Iran relations, but a major global event. People comparing this to killing Osama Bin Laden don't know what they're talking about. This is way more significant. Equivalent to another country killing US Vice-President...
posted by gwint at 7:35 PM on January 2 [43 favorites]


For those interested in a long form piece about Suleimani, this New Yorker article from 2013 is excellent.
posted by gwint at 7:37 PM on January 2 [13 favorites]


I can't understate how major this is.

It always amazes me that so many people use this kind of construction to say the exact opposite of what they think they are saying.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:44 PM on January 2 [25 favorites]


Anthony DeRosa:
Congress didn’t know but at least Eric did.
(Screenshot of deleted quote by Eric Trump, 12/31/2019 saying "Bout to open a big ol' can of whoop ass #DONTMESSWITHTHEBEST #USAUSAUSA")
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:46 PM on January 2 [48 favorites]




Primer on Suleimani from the USMA Combating Terrorism Center (CTC), published in late 2018. It describes him as "the most powerful general in the Middle East today; he is also one of Iran’s most popular living people, and has been repeatedly touted as a possible presidential candidate."

He reportedly was "almost theatrically modest", with one notable exception: in mid-2018 he threatened Trump directly.
“Mr. Trump, the gambler! […] You are well aware of our power and capabilities in the region. You know how powerful we are in asymmetrical warfare. Come, we are waiting for you. We are the real men on the scene, as far as you are concerned. You know that a war would mean the loss of all your capabilities. You may start the war, but we will be the ones to determine its end.”
I do not think it is an exaggeration to suggest that there was a personal animosity there.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:48 PM on January 2 [34 favorites]


God damn, happy new year. I used to wish they’d sent the FBI after bid Laden. Now, I’m happy Trump didn’t just flatten the whole airport. His first public assassination of a major political figure who would typically have been considered off limits to other administrations. Probably another thing Obama “didn’t have the guts for.”
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:49 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Get in, loser. We're going liberating.
posted by thelonius at 7:49 PM on January 2 [19 favorites]


But her emails.

Can't imagine what it must be like for everyone who worked so hard on the JCPOA. Years of work thrown down the drain and a nuclear Iran is now guaranteed.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:56 PM on January 2 [35 favorites]


The now deleted Eric Trump tweet is unrelated to tonight.
I braved the gym tonight and my only exposure to Fox News featured the usual neocon talking heads. Time to party like it's 2003 again.
posted by msbutah at 7:57 PM on January 2 [9 favorites]


What a charmer. In 2008, Suleimani wrote in a letter to David Petraeus, "Dear General Petraeus: You should be aware that I, Qassem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan."
posted by Ideefixe at 7:57 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


And 2020 is out of the gate like a motherfucker.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:59 PM on January 2 [24 favorites]


Cool, cool. Everything is cool.

I'm in Hawaii, so it's 6:00 in the evening here. And I'm thinking about signing off of social media for the foreseeable future. It's not like there's anything happening that requires a minute-by-minute accounting, and it's just going to stress me the fuck out.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:00 PM on January 2 [12 favorites]


.
posted by Cezar Golescu at 8:00 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Thanks, msbutah
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:07 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Andrew Exum in the Atlantic: Iran Loses Its Indispensable Man
One of the reasons I thought Iran erred so often in Yemen—giving strategic weapons such as anti-ship cruise missiles to a bunch of undertrained Houthi yahoos, for example—was a lack of adult supervision.

Qassem Soleimani was the adult supervision. He was spread thin over the past decade, but he was nonetheless a serious if nefarious adversary of the United States and its partners in the region. And Iran and its partners will now feel his loss greatly.
It's a short, worthwhile profile for catching up to his relevance, at least.

And there is ZERO CHANCE this White House has anything close to a plan here.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:09 PM on January 2 [10 favorites]


And here I was just this morning wracking my brain trying to figure out what will finally kick the recession off!
posted by photoslob at 8:10 PM on January 2 [8 favorites]


But her emails.

To place the blame on Trump, even as a joke, is to ignore over a century of Western imperialism and interference in the Middle East, including Iran itself. As someone with family from there, I still dream of the world we would have had if the CIA hadn't deposed Mossadegh.

And this sort of sarcastic comment seems particularly offbase considering this particular conflict Iran stems out of a bipartisan collaboration of Democrats and Republicans over the past few decades in fucking up Iraq, Syria, and on her watch as SecState, Libya and Yemen.
posted by Ouverture at 8:11 PM on January 2 [101 favorites]


What's really fun about this is how pretty much everyone who argued in the media for the invasion of Iraq is saying the exact same stuff now without any acknowledgment that they were decisively proved wrong and have thoroughly demonstrated to the satisfaction of anyone paying even the slightest amount of attention that they are immoral, bloodthirsty fools who will relentlessly cheerlead for the deaths of other people's children.

Right now you can turn on Fox News and catch literally the same people who spent 2003 saying Americans would be welcomed as liberators now opining that, actually, the Iranian people are glad the US did this and will use it as a cue to revolt against the regime there. It would be the most uproarious farce imaginable if it didn't also involve the deaths of more people than I can count.
posted by Copronymus at 8:17 PM on January 2 [64 favorites]


I think you're wrong Ouverture. Political assassination is mostly the righties.

Complacent petroleum-spoils side-effects are enjoyed by the rich of both parties.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:20 PM on January 2 [7 favorites]


What a charmer. In 2008, Suleimani wrote in a letter to David Petraeus, "Dear General Petraeus: You should be aware that I, Qassem Soleimani, control Iran’s policy for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan."

Yup, he sure was a bad person. Luckily, assassinating him on a whim will have no other repercussions that anyone can tell, so we can really dig into his personal vagaries without worrying about who the next ten thousand people to die are going to be.
posted by Copronymus at 8:21 PM on January 2 [63 favorites]


Our only hope is something similar to the 2017 airport protests or 2018 teachers strikes or 2019 air traffic controller sickouts, but millions of Americans protested the Iraq War and it did nothing to prevent it. Hard not to feel overwhelming dread and grief
posted by cricketcello at 8:22 PM on January 2 [19 favorites]


From outside and far away (probably not far enough) there seem to be very few wise heads (I'm not saying good) in leadership anywhere.

Deeply troubling america should do this. I would have thought america had learned Mid-East wars are un-winnable, which leaves me with the only conclusion such wars are just a useful distraction.

Max Power - I'd say it'll be coming to all your 5th Avenues
posted by unearthed at 8:22 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


[One deleted. I know nobody means to make light of this horrible situation, so in the name of following through on that intention, gonna suggest people dial down the zingers and the whistling-past-the-graveyard humor (unless you/loved ones actually live in the Middle East).]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:24 PM on January 2 [9 favorites]




Some background on Evangelical plans for Armageddon under Trump.
posted by Brian B. at 8:27 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Political assassination is mostly the righties.

Tell that to Anwar Al-Awlaki or his 16-year old son or the thousands of other people via drone killed with personal approval by a Democratic president.

Unleashing suffering against poor brown people is one of the few remaining bipartisan causes remaining in America, although it has thankfully become less a point of agreement for Democratic politicians during the past few years. I can only hope they continue this trend if Trump escalates further.
posted by Ouverture at 8:27 PM on January 2 [64 favorites]


Please, please, please, no. I know it’s useless. But please, please, no. And if that was your thought too, I am there with you.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:33 PM on January 2 [9 favorites]


So if I understand all this correctly ... Trump decided to assassinate a high ranking, much beloved, ruthless Iranian official to "deter future Iranian attacks plans" and now Trump -- strategic, thoughtful, smart genius that he is -- has guaranteed FUTURE IRANIAN ATTACKS. We are so fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked.
posted by pjsky at 8:33 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


If the US just launched an air strike against a commercial airport in a friendly nation, is there any kind of precedent for that, or is it as wild as I think it is?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:34 PM on January 2 [18 favorites]


We’re still in the twelve days of Christmas, even.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:34 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


I hope you've bought your electric vehicle. Iran has been building its own anti-ship missiles for over a decade. They have the range to reach any part of the Persian Gulf and appear to be based on the Chinese Silkworm. It could be a turkey shoot against slow, large and undefensed tankers. Even some USN support ships might be vulnerable. Whatever the Iranian response, it will be asymmetrical and designed to be the biggest bang with the least exposure...
posted by jim in austin at 8:35 PM on January 2 [9 favorites]


So now Iran's foreign auxiliary militias are entirely without adult supervision, at a time when they just massacred 1500 protesters inside Iran, and when the most recent Iraqi protests are overtly anti-Iran.

Which means if (IF) the US refrains from blundering further in the region, while allowing Iran to blunder about, the damage will be contained. Anyhow, here's 9 minutes from Beau of the Fifth Column, generally worth a listen, definitely tonight.
posted by ocschwar at 8:35 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


Tell that to Anwar Al-Awlaki or his 16-year old son or the thousands of other people via drone killed with personal approval by a Democratic president.

Oh, hell yeah, I'm with ya there - extrajudicial drone murder of American Citizens is *bullshit*. But the drone effort was chipping away at combative cells.

This is a Major Political Assassination.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:36 PM on January 2 [6 favorites]


And this sort of sarcastic comment seems particularly offbase considering this particular conflict Iran stems out of a bipartisan collaboration of Democrats and Republicans over the past few decades in fucking up Iraq, Syria, and on her watch as SecState, Libya and Yemen.

I was going to write up a detailed response to this comment, but I realize if you honestly think Hillary Clinton would have approved of assassinating an individual of Suleimani's status, nothing I can say would convince you otherwise. "Both sides!" now and forever.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:38 PM on January 2 [59 favorites]


Whatever the Iranian response, it will be asymmetrical and designed to be the biggest bang with the least exposure...

Saudi oil and water desalination infrastructure is more fragile than a mars colony, and a big chunk of their oil was knocked out in 2019 with like $1000 in equipment.
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:41 PM on January 2 [22 favorites]


Brian B re evangelicals and Armageddon - I'm always amazed how little these so-called evangelicals understand their bibles. "But of that day and hour no one knows" Matthew 24:36 - Also I seem to recall (may well be wrong) there's an injunction somewhere about preempting Armageddon.

Our neighbour across the ditch seems infested with them too and what a mess that is.
posted by unearthed at 8:42 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


I was going to write up a detailed response to this comment, but I realize if you honestly think Hillary Clinton would have approved of assassinating an individual of Suleimani's status, nothing I can say would convince you otherwise. "Both sides!" now and forever.

I'm not sure saying that she would only approve of assassinating individuals of lower status or selling weapons to kill lower status individuals en masse (both of which happened during her tenure as Secretary of State) is a defense of the Democratic neoconservative legacy.

Have Americans already forgotten about Libya and "We came. We saw. He died."?
posted by Ouverture at 8:42 PM on January 2 [43 favorites]


Let's see if (or when) Trump ghoulishly laughs about killing a major head of state on national television.
posted by Ouverture at 8:47 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure saying that she would only approve of assassinating individuals of lower status (which she had during her tenure as Secretary of State) or selling weapons to kill lower status individuals en masse is a defense of the Democratic neoconservative legacy.

Whoops, you caught me out. Pointing out that Clinton would never have authorized a retaliatory action this dumb and shortsighted is -exactly- the same thing as defending "the Democratic neoconservative legacy".

Clinton and Trump. Exactly the same.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:47 PM on January 2 [32 favorites]


I was going to write up a detailed response to this comment, but I realize if you honestly think Hillary Clinton would have approved of assassinating an individual of Suleimani's status, nothing I can say would convince you otherwise. "Both sides!" now and forever.

The gravity of this misreading would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. You are correct that a politician like Hillary Clinton would have acted more judiciously in their pursuit of an imperialist agenda, but that’s a Pyrrhic sort of correctness.
posted by invitapriore at 8:50 PM on January 2 [33 favorites]


HRC is not president. Trump is. I love how in a thread about something that happened under Trump somehow we can blame HRC for it. For fucks sake!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:51 PM on January 2 [173 favorites]


Cool, another aggravated misreading, when the point is that it’s deeply problematic that a huge swath of the Democratic electorate is unwilling to acknowledge that that party’s favored leaders in recent history have been, at best, merely more subtle boosters of international white supremacy.
posted by invitapriore at 8:57 PM on January 2 [23 favorites]


The adopted sagacity of the supposedly nuanced but but bothsidesism is even more hollow than usual today. Really glad to know someone thinks this drone strike was the result of an inevitable force of nature that would have swept any poor president away.
posted by feloniousmonk at 8:57 PM on January 2 [34 favorites]


I don't like the thick dread.
I don't like whacking generals, badass aside.
I don't like this.
I think it was insular and personal.
I think the C&C is off his rocker facing an impeachment which makes him dangerous.
More then Nixon because he didn't start a war just made it worse, oh, Cambodia.
A hasty comparison would be to assassinate Vo guyen Giap before 1965.
I don't like this because people will die.

This shits going to get out of control.
posted by clavdivs at 9:03 PM on January 2 [16 favorites]


[Gentle nudge, rather than drive further into domestic US politics stuff and Hillary Clinton, please steer back toward the actual events of today. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:05 PM on January 2 [40 favorites]


from ocschwar above, beau of the fifth column:
is this [the embassy "siege"] trump's benghazi?
no.no. ... trump's benghazi was the tongo tongo ambush and nobody cared.
an interesting voice, beau's.

on preview, oh no y'all. again?
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:06 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


I don't see the point in writing "what if hillary clinton was president" fanfics. She's not president. We can guess what her foreign policy would be like based on her record and statements, but that really doesn't get us anywhere.

The people mentioning our long history of intervening in Iran and our relatively bipartisan consensus for violent interventionism that leads to situations like this are basically right, in my opinion: pinning all of this, and what follows, on Trump is naive and misleading.
posted by davedave at 9:06 PM on January 2 [24 favorites]


Come on guys. It's an election year with an unpopular incumbent. Of course there's going to be a war...
posted by jim in austin at 9:10 PM on January 2 [21 favorites]


Naive and misleading? The US has certainly started more than our fair of shit just about everywhere it's possible to do so but transforming an already extremely dubious drone killing program that is nominally targeted at terrorists into something that is an explicit political assassination terror weapon is some tin pot dictator strong man military dictatorship type shit that only a coward like Donald Trump would pull. Iran is a nation state. This isn't Al Qaeda or ISIS.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:13 PM on January 2 [60 favorites]


no.no. ... trump's benghazi was the tongo tongo ambush and nobody cared.

Actually, speaking of the Islamic State, guess who the two guys we just killed spent a lot of time over the last few years effectively fighting against? I wouldn't be shocked if, even in a scenario where the direct conflict between Iran and the US is limited, chaos among the Iraqi militias leads to a sudden resurgence in IS activity there. Just a fun side note if the main even fails to turn into the outright catastrophe it's teetering on the edge of.
posted by Copronymus at 9:17 PM on January 2 [13 favorites]


The people mentioning our long history of intervening in Iran and our relatively bipartisan consensus for violent interventionism that leads to situations like this are basically right, in my opinion: pinning all of this, and what follows, on Trump is naive and misleading.

It's worth remembering that history. It's also worth remembering that the last president before Trump pursued a path of diplomacy with Iran over military intervention (speaking very generally), and signed a major nuclear deal, a deal that Trump tossed out. In recent history, this isn't a both-sides bipartisan issue: there was no congressional vote over this, and Democrats in congress didn't ask for this. The DoD press statement is at pains to stress that this is something that the President ordered, not something arising out of general US military policy.

Yes, the US has a long and terrible history in Iran. And also this would not have happened under almost any other president.
posted by cjelli at 9:18 PM on January 2 [141 favorites]


We can share the blame around all the people that enable a gun culture in the US but I'm still blaming a school shooting on the guy holding the gun. He's the one who did it and he's the one who killed the kids. Not S&W, not the NRA. The guy holding the gun.

The same here, The Cheeto will be the guy that is known for this incredibly foolish action (at best) and I don't have a problem with that. It's likely that the situation wouldn't have even come up if he hadn't been so inept (or owned by the Russians) in the first place and tried to strong arm Iran on the nuclear deal (and also betray the Kurds). The Cheeto has got away with rewriting deals post facto in his favour (or because his feelings were hurt) for his entire life but that doesn't fly on the international state stage even if you are the top dog on that stage. He's not fucking with Bob's Piano Tuning here and he is totally ill equipped to make decisions with consequence so it's no surprise he's choosing poorly at every step.
posted by Mitheral at 9:18 PM on January 2 [23 favorites]


Oil prices jump. A gift to Putin.
posted by Brian B. at 9:20 PM on January 2 [14 favorites]


Not on Trump? He came into office with no crisis with Iran. There was an agreement that was working. He pulled us out, filled his cabinet with people like Bolton, and basically tried to pressure them into war. Now he assassinates their number two. US history in Iran has been bad, but let's not pretend we're at this point without Trump.
posted by chris24 at 9:20 PM on January 2 [70 favorites]


This is a win-win-win-win situation. The Saudis get higher oil prices, Iranian Mullahs get to crack down on the pro-democracy youth movement while safely ensconced in shelters, Russia gets a Persian dependency and a warm water port, and Trump gets re-elected because Americans always "stay the course" during a war.
posted by ambulocetus at 9:23 PM on January 2 [16 favorites]


Not interested in hypotheticals, but I am closely following the Dem candidates response to escalation of military conflict. I have no interest in any candidates who even wink at 2003 Dem-style capitulation. (I hope at least one of them, when asked about it, asks members of our idiot press how we should pay for it. And I know this is far from the most important thing, but I swear I'll scream if I have to live through another couple years of reporting with Jake Tapper types ~bravely~ embedded with the troops.)
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:27 PM on January 2 [27 favorites]


This is a win-win-win-win situation. The Saudis get higher oil prices

Not sure how much good high oil prices will do them when their refining infrastructure is demolished 25 seconds into open warfare and 2 minutes later is followed by the annihilation of their ability to provide fresh water to 90% of the population, but I don't doubt that there probably people in Saudi Arabia who do think that starting this war is a good idea for Saudis.
posted by Copronymus at 9:31 PM on January 2 [12 favorites]


mp gets re-elected because Americans always "stay the course" during a war.

I'm doing my George Bush voice.
posted by clavdivs at 9:32 PM on January 2


On twitter, a lot of normally staid and cautious people are talking about how this is bedshittingly terrifying, and what comes after this is going to be very, very bad, and given the utter lack of anything like the trained diplomatic corps that trump has completely discarded, there’s almost no way to talk this back down.

Meanwhile, North Korea looks on at what happens even when you agree to denuclearization with the us.

Meanwhile meanwhile, this is almost totally a cynical ploy relying on the whole knee jerk gotta-support-the-wartime-president reflex of Americans, in the middle of the impeachment. Now Mitch can use this as a reason to blow off the trial, saying it’s “just not the time for partisan behavior” and people will lap it up.

In other words, fuck.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:32 PM on January 2 [61 favorites]


This is a win-win-win-win situation

Or its a lose-lose-lose-lose situation. Saudi infrastructure is bombed sending newly minted Aramco shares into freefall, Iran's economy enters Depression levels, Russia loses Syria once Iran and Hezbollah forces are rerouted to attacking exclusively US interests, and Trump loses because we get terrorism but not a hot war.

Actually, no one knows what the fuck is going to happen.
posted by gwint at 9:34 PM on January 2 [30 favorites]


I don’t think Trump cleared this with MBS. Nervous phone calls from Riyadh tonight.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:34 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Iran isn't going to bother with military war. They're going to activate their in-place operatives and shit is going to get bad in unexpected and horrific ways. And they won't take credit for the strikes. They'll do some kind of sham diplomacy or even skirmish thing while they get their chess men into place. I'm guessing 2-4 weeks for small operations, maybe 2 months for bigger.
posted by hippybear at 9:40 PM on January 2 [14 favorites]


The poor dog has never been wagged so hard. He could not be wagged any harder.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:46 PM on January 2 [12 favorites]


From Vox: Killing Iran’s Qassem Suleimani changes the game in the Middle East

One thing that hasn't been mentioned in many places yet is Iran's possible ability to sink American aircraft carriers with missile tech they have spent decades developing.

Information about Iran's anti-ship missile capabilities is incredibly murky, but even a small chance that they can sink an American aircraft carrier would give even a normal neocon president pause.
posted by Ouverture at 9:46 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


It's worth remembering that history. It's also worth remembering that the last president before Trump pursued a path of diplomacy with Iran over military intervention (speaking very generally), and signed a major nuclear deal, a deal that Trump tossed out. In recent history, this isn't a both-sides bipartisan issue: there was no congressional vote over this, and Democrats in congress didn't ask for this. The DoD press statement is at pains to stress that this is something that the President ordered, not something arising out of general US military policy.

There are millions of Iranians who still remember the deposing of Mossadegh and far more who were alive during the Shah's rule. The revolution was only four decades ago and its shadow is as long as ever. To arbitrarily constrain "recent history" to the parts that Western liberals feel comfortable about because it makes their "side" look better than Republican neocons is an ahistorical exercise and another form of white supremacy that obscures any understanding of how we actually got here. To dip back into domestic US politics, it would be like trying to understand mass incarceration without taking into account Jim Crow and redlining.

I agree that Democrats in very, very recent history have shifted on Iran (and after 2016, have hopefully shifted even further on drone murder). Given how many neoconservatives have loudly lusted for war with Iran over the past few decades, I do think something like this would have happened under any modern Republican president.

True, it wouldn't have happened as stupidly as it has happened under Trump, but I don't think "having a smart plan to do something incredibly dumb and horrifying" is actually a sign of intelligence.
posted by Ouverture at 9:56 PM on January 2 [28 favorites]


They ran a war game in 2002, the side playing Iran wiped out our fleet in a day.

Also, we're not that prepared.

The US military ran the largest stress test of its sealift fleet in years. It’s in big trouble.
posted by chris24 at 10:01 PM on January 2 [17 favorites]


That war game is such a wild story:
As Micah Zenko recounted in his 2015 book Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy, Bell admitted that Van Riper's forces had "sunk my damn navy," and had inflicted "an extremely high rate of attrition, and a disaster, from which we all learned a great lesson."

Rather than concede the losses, however, the Pentagon's control team overseeing the exercise simply chose to bring the fallen back to life and then further artificially constrain the Red Team's abilities in a way that it could not possibly succeed, a disgruntled Van Riper later recounted in a private e-mail leaked by the Army Times. "Instead of a free-play, two-sided game," he argued, "it simply became a scripted exercise."
The most Trumpian move ever.
posted by Ouverture at 10:04 PM on January 2 [15 favorites]


anyway -- I like the title for this post. Speaks big and deep, and not without humor.
posted by philip-random at 10:07 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


In order to get elected, ‪@BarackObama‬ will start a war with Iran.
~Trump Nov 29, 2011

Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.
~Trump Oct. 9, 2012

Don't let Obama play the Iran card in order to start a war in order to get elected--be careful Republicans!
~Trump Oct. 22, 2012

Barack Obama will attack Iran in the not too distant future because it will help him win the election
~ Trump Nov 14, 2011 (repeated 14X)
posted by xammerboy at 10:17 PM on January 2 [64 favorites]


The Iranian government is run by rational people. They're not going to start downing US ships -- at least not directly -- because the US would blow up the whole damn country in response. The US will be fine, and the people in charge of Iran will probably be fine. But the Iranian people will suffer, and the people who get caught up in the next few years of proxy wars will really suffer.

...and the last six weeks of anti-govt protests that swept across all of Iran? Well, I suspect they're going to have an easier time shutting that down now.
posted by grandiloquiet at 10:20 PM on January 2 [21 favorites]


This feels different than the last few years of unrelenting bullshit. Good luck, everyone. Our media’s track record with regard to ill-advised military action does not lead one toward an optimistic analysis.
posted by mwhybark at 10:21 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


By what I see in my Google News feed, FoxNews has been drumbeating for months.
posted by hippybear at 10:24 PM on January 2


Iran isn't going to bother with military war. They're going to activate their in-place operatives and shit is going to get bad in unexpected and horrific ways.

I was just thinking about Trump's own personal exposure to risk, considering hits to his reputation cut him particularly deeply ( reputational risk ).

Trump Towers Istanbul, Turkey
Trump Towers Pune, India
Trump Tower Kolkata, Kolkata, India
Trump Tower Manila (Philippines)
Trump Tower Mumbai, India
Trump Tower Punta del Este, Uruguay
Daewoo Trump World, South Korea
Trump International Golf Club (Dubai)
Trump World Golf Club (Dubai)
Trump International Golf Links, Scotland
Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland
Trump Turnberry (Scotland)
Donald J Trump Boulevard – Kamëz, Albania

Iran wants to fuck with Trump, there's no reason to attack the US.
posted by mikelieman at 10:26 PM on January 2 [31 favorites]


Love to be dependent on the rationality of a theo-fascist terrorist regime. Thanks Republicans!
posted by chris24 at 10:33 PM on January 2 [14 favorites]


This post from Josh Marshall at TPM earlier today feels prescient now. We can expect many more of these reckless actions in the coming months. With no constraining forces in the administration, or in Congress, we will have a front row seat to an unleashed man-child with more power than anyone else in the world. Our only hope is that the country's collective democratic immunities kick in to remove him from power.

What the Ukraine scandal tells us is that anything could have happened. No matter how bad it was, no one was going to stop him, resign or let anyone know.

In other words, all bets are off.

posted by euphorb at 10:45 PM on January 2 [16 favorites]


Not interested in hypotheticals, but I am closely following the Dem candidates response to escalation of military conflict. I have no interest in any candidates who even wink at 2003 Dem-style capitulation.

Pretty much all frontrunners except one of them who is extremely historically good on this stuff and I will not name were annoyingly careful to qualify their disappointment about "escalation" with some lame preface about how dangerous and bad Suleimani was. Then and only then would they follow with an almost obligatory "BUT, I really do think war is bad yall!!!" statement to appease those whiney leftist fucks. It's sad and stupid watching them still try to drape any nuance on to this to appease approximately 63 voters in the democratic base who get excited about this shit for some reason.
posted by windbox at 10:49 PM on January 2 [18 favorites]


-"Trump had to go and start a war"

-'rule-enforcers': "Hegemony can only get broad buy-in if stronger countries treat weaker countries as equals, thus enforcing global norms instead of might-makes-right."

-Even if you want America to be the World Police, "you should remember that police can't be above the law."

-i guess we'll find out: "Electorally, will Trump be helped or hurt by his assassination of Soleimani? "
posted by kliuless at 11:01 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


This is a Major Political Assassination.

Done with the full consent of a passive Congress, no less.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:07 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


we've acknowledged we can't actually be the good guys: "we were told droning people was so much better than real war, as if those were the alternatives. meanwhile, Russia freelances murder everywhere, and what kind of 'soft power' or moral authority do we have to wield? i have no brief for the people they just killed, to the degree people 'deserve it' maybe they did, but it's not about them. it's about what we have normalized..."
posted by kliuless at 11:09 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


I'm terrified that the leftists, liberals, and moderates are already fighting each other over this instead of blasting Trump and his administration. You know the fox news crowd is going to go full patriot and support the president, but most reaction I've seen on Twitter, here, and Reddit is about how other people aren't expressing their anger right and arguing about things that happened years ago. All of us agree that the trump admiration just did a horrible thing, and we need to actually say it out loud to build a point of common ground that can resonate with the public

If the competing messages heard by our less political friends are "Trump saved America by killing a terrorist" vs "theoretical democrats may have done the same thing, you're using the wrong words to express your feelings, and maybe Iran is Actually Good" I'm pretty sure I know which one wins out

And yes I know this is kind of contradicting itself by talking about people's response, sorry, am just terrified
posted by JZig at 11:14 PM on January 2 [63 favorites]


'ArewetheBaddies?'MitchellandWebbScreenshot.jpg
posted by ambulocetus at 11:23 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Not done with congressional consent at all, apparently.

This is going to result in the three things Trump wants more than anything else: it will knock the impeachment proceedings off of the front page. It will allow him to claim the huge approval ratings of a wartime president, and ride triumphantly to a huge victory. It will result in massacres at US embassies and overseas facilities, eliminating those pesky diplomats he hates so much and allowing him to wave dead bodies around to stimulate the base.

And, of course, it will result in a massive full-on war with Iran that will make Iraq look like a damp squib, allowing Putin to seize the whole of the Middle East and establishing a permanent Republican dictatorship in the USA.
posted by jrochest at 11:26 PM on January 2 [9 favorites]


Some brave Democrat, in either the House or Senate, needs to announce tomorrow that in order to prove the actual support of Republicans for another war in the Middle East, that we will immediately reinstate the draft and roll back the tax cuts for businesses to cover the expense of increased security for American Embassies world wide.
posted by pjsky at 11:40 PM on January 2 [20 favorites]


My, what coincidentally good timing at the start of an election year.
posted by fairmettle at 11:51 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


Yeah, fairmettle, I wondered what Trump and Putin talked about when Putin called him a few days ago, and now we know.
posted by jrochest at 11:54 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


reinstate the draft

fuxake, what? hell, no! They need to call for, I dunno, an immediate assault using only the finest rose blooms on every elected Republican official in the country, or something similarly absurd, involving actual violence, which every American can participate in or resist.
posted by mwhybark at 11:56 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


a pie fight, for example, in which we will kill and die.
posted by mwhybark at 11:56 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


@CNBC
America just took out the world's no. 1 bad guy


As Chomsky said: any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the US media.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:58 PM on January 2 [71 favorites]


The non-chalance of the American imperialist war pigs. We'll get a trump version sooner than later. Now watch this drive.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:04 AM on January 3


I'm terrified that the leftists, liberals, and moderates are already fighting each other over this

Nearly all of the left and moderates in the legislature cowardly preface their statements with words to the effect that this was a "bad guy". They seem to find it important to agree publicly on that, whatever else they think about an extrajudicial murder committed by a president, whose authority derives not from a legal process to gain Congressional approval, but directly from Congressional cowardice, which has been its own form of tacit approval, these last few years.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:24 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


I'm terrified that the leftists, liberals, and moderates are already fighting each other over this instead of blasting Trump and his administration

Much like people are absolutely dismayed that folks are bringing up our past secretary of state in this thread, some of us get to be equally absolutely dismayed that there are comments like "hey yall know what's really got me terrified in all this tho? Leftists doing infighting" and that's cool and fine and valid concerns and great insight.

Thank you for reminding us that even on non-Metafilter sites like Twitter or Reddit, the only analysis with any merit is that which comes back to #ResistTrump or stfu as our north star, let's not get distracted by things like the prospect of actually ending infinite-war, especially if god shitting forbid it makes someone even remotely faintly feel like they've been purity-tested, which would totally be the most terrifying outcome imaginable in all of this
posted by windbox at 12:28 AM on January 3 [12 favorites]


I guess it is time to dust this off.
posted by Literaryhero at 12:56 AM on January 3 [29 favorites]


So attacking Clinton or Obama or any other Democrat is going to defeat Trump how, exactly?

Because as a Canadian, I'm most concerned about Trump getting the kind of slack that W did over the Iraq war. That's likely to lead to a complete consolidation of power in his hands for as long as he's alive (he'd eliminate term limits) and probably in the hands of Uday and Qusay when he dies. And if that happens, my country, of which I'm rather fond, would be invaded and strip-mined within a decade.

So I'd like to see you prioritize coming to your senses, please. And you can resolve the issue of eternal war once you no longer have a would be dictator at the helm.
posted by jrochest at 1:01 AM on January 3 [49 favorites]


I do think Warren should say, "How can we trust Biden on Iran? He wanted to do a partition of Iraq for fuck's sake." Part of getting rid of Trump is getting the right candidate in to run against him, and I'm fine Liz going for the jugular on this one. Point to Trump and say of Biden "He wants to work with that jawn?"

I really could give two fucks about what Obama or HRC did, at the moment though.
posted by angrycat at 1:58 AM on January 3 [15 favorites]


I'm confused about the all the reports warning US citizens to leave Iraq immediately - does that mean all US citizens or only civilians?
posted by Mrs Potato at 2:21 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


We can share the blame around all the people that enable a gun culture in the US but I'm still blaming a school shooting on the guy holding the gun.

QFT, and that's about all I trust myself to say on this one for now. Christ almighty.
posted by peakes at 3:57 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


So I'd like to see you prioritize coming to your senses, please. And you can resolve the issue of eternal war once you no longer have a would be dictator at the helm.

And as someone from Iran, I'd like to see Western liberals not bury their heads in the sand and pretend this started under Trump. It's not as though my posts criticizing decades of American imperialism on Metafilter Dot Com are so powerful that they will aid in Trump's reelection.

Sadly enough, I remember being that we can resolve the issue of eternal war once we no longer had Bush at the helm. Look how that turned out.
posted by Ouverture at 3:59 AM on January 3 [40 favorites]


Actually, no one knows what the fuck is going to happen.

This is the only valid take.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:13 AM on January 3 [33 favorites]


I'd like to see Western liberals not bury their heads in the sand and pretend this started under Trump

When you say ‘this’, do you mean the long and well-known history of US interference in Iran and general global imperialism, or the massive and unprecedented-in-recent-history escalation of Suleimani’s assassination? If the former, I think everyone here is pretty well aware of that as a historical and ongoing issue. If the latter, taking a ‘both sides’ approach to this particular event is delusional, hence why you and others are getting pushback. The decision to kill Suleimani was taken in the context of US hostility to Iran, but was not a natural or inevitable or even (ignoring the personalities involved for a moment) an especially likely outcome of that hostility - the blame for the killing, and the consequences that flow directly from it, lies far more with Trump and his team than anyone else.
posted by inire at 4:32 AM on January 3 [35 favorites]


WhyNotBoth.gif

The US government has long had some terrible positions on Iran, and the Middle East in general that only got slightly better in some particulars under Obama, AND Trump seems to be trying to start another war for entirely and unusually personal and callous reasons, in a manner that is unusually irresponsible and poorly thought through (yes, even in comparison to George W. Bush's Iraq war, and that's saying something).

Drone strikes on non-state actors are morally reprehensible AND targetted assassinations of high ranking state actors have an usually dangerous potential to cause further harm to many many people.

We can advocate for Western media that can simultaneously continue reporting impeachment news AND worry about the fallout of this particular action of the Trump administration AND climate change AND develop more nuanced and historically informed analysis of US (and Russian, etc.) interventions in the Middle East.

The current Iranian government is a repressive theocracy whose high ranking officials almost certainly got to such positions by being responsible for at least some human rights abuses AND this is a direct result of past US actions in Iran, including support for past political assassinations and other human rights abuses.

(Am I doing both-siderism wrong?)
posted by eviemath at 4:38 AM on January 3 [20 favorites]


If the former, I think everyone here is pretty well aware of that as a historical and ongoing issue.

I wish I had your faith and confidence in Westerners knowing what their countries have done covertly and in their name.

If the latter, taking a ‘both sides’ approach to this particular event is delusional, hence why you and others are getting pushback. The decision to kill Suleimani was taken in the context of US hostility to Iran, but was not a natural or inevitable or even (ignoring the personalities involved for a moment) an especially likely outcome of that hostility - the blame for the killing, and the consequences that flow directly from it, lies far more with Trump and his team than anyone else.

And I see this event as path dependent on the prior bipartisan imperialist consensus that came before it, even if it is far stupider than what a normal neocon Republican would have done (and we are still living through the consequences of The Neocon Adults In The Room being very smart in Iraq). I hope Democrats are no longer part of this bipartisan imperialist consensus, but given the not so great Obama years, we'll have to wait and see.

I wasn't aware that my desire to not be an ahistorical tribalist is delusional. Thanks for that.
posted by Ouverture at 4:46 AM on January 3 [16 favorites]


I wonder if the fact that Iran, China and Russia held a joint Navy exercise last week is one of the precipitating factors. The fact that China is involved may have made Trump extra hostile.

And I wonder how much the generals actively supported this.

But mainly I wonder how much international backing the US is going to get for escalating the hostilities.

As a Canadian I expect my PM to come out with a statement soon supporting the oil companies in this - which means that he will probably condemn Iran if they make any moves to defend or retaliate, since that will endanger oil company infrastructure, especially shipping but most especially profits.

I don't know enough about international politics to know if Europe or China will do anything. I do know Putin will smirk.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:50 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


The US military is technically in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government. What happens if Iraq tells the US to GTFO? Do they do it? What happens if they don't?

https://www.lawfareblog.com/law-and-consequences-recent-airstrikes-iraq

This article was written about the initial airstrikes that kicked off the US embassy protests and before the assassination but has a lot of still relevant information.

In attempting to explain the US legal justification for the airstrikes, variations of the sentence "This conclusion relies on certain idiosyncratic interpretations of international law and related facts that Iraqis are almost certain to reject, contributing to the view that U.S. actions violated Iraq’s sovereignty." appears more than once.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 5:00 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


He's up and tweeting. Don't want to link but sure, yeah, let's provoke them even more please...
posted by meowf at 5:06 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


We can share the blame around all the people that enable a gun culture in the US

Now that would be the US government itself via the spending on its military which helps to prop up the US Dollar as the global settlement method for trade.

If there was a culture which was less violent in the US of A, how would the military spending be justified?

Trump does bankruptcies goodly. If the rest of the world opts to not use the US Dollar for trade settlement as a response Trump will get to wear the albatross 'round his neck as "oversaw the bankruptcy of the US". But it would be something he's skilled at, for a change.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:12 AM on January 3


I see this event as path dependent on the bipartisan imperialist consensus that came before it, even if it is far stupider than what a normal neocon Republican would have done

Path dependence can be morally trivial (everything is done in a context) or morally meaningful (this bad event was a more or less predictable-at-the-time outcome of the thing you did and therefore you share some portion of the blame). Pre-Trump, a US assassination of Suleimani was not predictable or being worked towards by the ‘imperialist consensus’ - people who were sufficiently hawkish on Iran to be advocating for that approach (e.g. Bolton) were conspicuously outside the consensus. So while this killing is path-dependent on decisions by Democrats and Republicans, that doesn’t mean those decisions should suddenly and retrospectively attract a greater degree of moral condemnation than they deserved in their own right.
posted by inire at 5:13 AM on January 3 [15 favorites]


Right now you can turn on Fox News and catch literally the same people who spent 2003 saying Americans would be welcomed as liberators now opining that, actually, the Iranian people are glad the US did this and will use it as a cue to revolt against the regime there.

It is almost like they don't think others can be reminded of an off-hand comment by George HW Bush which sparked an attempted rebellion by the Kurds with the end of the reminding about how the Kurds got treated in Syria by the US Government.

Why should anyone think of a rebelllion if a part of the success is "US has your back"?
posted by rough ashlar at 5:27 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


I guess it is time to dust this off.

And I was just thumbing through Get Your War On earlier this week. I hope David Rees has his pencils sharpened.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 5:32 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


I don't get the both side-ism thing. Obama worked on creating a treaty with Iran and spoke out specifically against assassinating world leaders. For most of my life, politicians on both sides, at least publicly, have condemned assassinations as something the United States would never do. This is Trump being uniquely crazy.

I also don't get the Iran is led by rational leaders thing. Everything I know about Iran suggests they will feel compelled to respond to this attack. I'm not sure there isn't a country in the world that wouldn't feel compelled to respond to one of their most popular political figures being assassinated outright, but in Iran's case it's almost certain.

And then finally we have all of Trump's past statements on how politicians could start a war with Iran to gain political power. There's nothing to figure out here. Trump is trying to start a war.
posted by xammerboy at 5:33 AM on January 3 [32 favorites]


Some wag on twitter "Gave bolton what he wants so he doesn't testify".
posted by lalochezia at 5:46 AM on January 3 [14 favorites]


The confusion about both-sidesism is because intentions don't matter in structural contexts. Saying that Obama or previous Democrat regimes would not choose the same decision is a different category of analysis than saying that in the arc of history the structural consequences of e.g. the Bretton Woods consensus, or US imperialism in general, would eventually lead to recent events. It's conflating proximal versus distal causation and then deciding to attribute fault based on your own political leanings.

It's like saying implicit racism is less important than overt racism, and we know how good Western liberals are at the difference between the two.
posted by polymodus at 5:49 AM on January 3 [16 favorites]


The idea that the US even has a right to a Middle East presence and to access to ME oil is completely faulty IMO. Obviously Suleimani is a bad guy, but analysis of our decisions in the region usually feels to me like, "Well, we broke into your house at night, sure ... but you pulled a gun on us so of course we had the right to defend ourselves."

Whether there was intelligence about an imminent attack on US interests in Iraq or not, I'm just not grasping how that justifies this.
posted by freecellwizard at 5:52 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


I don't get the both side-ism thing.

Someone pointed out a truth about past actions and someone else whipped out the conversation killing "Both sides-ism". Another hold-over from the cold war where the lesson could have been "stop doing asshole shit" but instead gets you *hands sweep* all of this.

I also don't get the Iran is led by rational leaders thing.

Not responding to a bully is irrational? And how does one explain their irrationality as being unique without going into "both side-ism"?

Iran is under stress from the sanctions. Other nations are trading with Iran and looking to work with them while the US is looking like it is lead by an irrational leader. The more irrational Dear Leader looks with his twitting the more willing other nations will be to work with Iran and others who are on the US 'naughty' list.

Iran could justify the 20-ish% enrichment with some pie-in-the-sky statements about how the Iranian people need to be working towards going to space to obtain resources and the 20%ish enrichment is needed to work up their own versions of LEU engines to be able to bring the nation to new heights.

How does one pitch the enrichement and heavy lift for the testing needs to be stopped given the whole "peaceful atom" framework along with the lofty statements about space made in the UN? The LEU paper appeats to be from 2017, well after the deal Obama worked out so how was leadership to have known the treaty would have hamstrung them from chasing their dreams? Because just claiming a future threat isn't going to keep the dual use tech from being dual used.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:09 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of wondering if the 2020 writers' room is lazy enough to have an asymmetric warfare specialist engage in a little totally symmetric tit for tat.
posted by flabdablet at 6:11 AM on January 3


you can resolve the issue of eternal war once you no longer have a would be dictator at the helm.

I recall that working great in 2007, when we elected a non-dictator who rolled back the Patriot Act and AUMF, shut down Gitmo, left Afghanistan, and prosecuted the previous administration for invading another country based on lies to the American public. As it turns out, all we had to do was elect the better party into the executive office!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:33 AM on January 3 [41 favorites]


Obviously Suleimani is a bad guy

One of America's closest allies, Saudi Arabia, has plenty of "bad guys" who make Suleimani look like an underachiever. America itself is full of "bad guys" from the current administration and previous ones with the blood of millions of innocent civilians on their hands.

Being a "bad guy" in itself clearly isn't grounds for assassination for the American government. I hate that even "leftist" and "progressive" candidates have to preface their condemnation of this attack with how Suleimani is a bad guy.
posted by Ouverture at 6:48 AM on January 3 [78 favorites]


The New Yorker article posted above has some really striking details about what could have been if it wasn't for recent history:
The good will didn't last. In January, 2002, Crocker, who was by then the deputy chief of the American Embassy in Kabul, was awakened one night by aides, who told him that President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union Address, had named Iran as part of an "Axis of Evil." Like many senior diplomats, Crocker was caught off guard. He saw the negotiator the next day at the U.N. compound in Kabul, and he was furious. "You completely damaged me," Crocker recalled him saying. "Suleimani is in a tearing rage. He feels compromised." The negotiator told Crocker that, at great political risk, Suleimani had been contemplating a complete reëvaluation of the United States, saying, "Maybe it's time to rethink our relationship with the Americans." The Axis of Evil speech brought the meetings to an end. Reformers inside the government, who had advocated a rapprochement with the United States, were put on the defensive. Recalling that time, Crocker shook his head. "We were just that close," he said. "One word in one speech changed history."
posted by Ouverture at 6:57 AM on January 3 [50 favorites]


On NPR this morning I heard a clip of Secretary of State Pompeo saying Americans would be safer because of this.

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq, which is run by Pompeo's State Department, today advised all Americans to leave Iraq immediately.
posted by martin q blank at 6:58 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


I love Iran so much I often restrict my comments when we have an Iran post, out of fear people will think I'm an apologist for the regime, which I am not. And I spend oceans of time explaining to people how the brutal Western interference in Iran led to the Islamic revolution in a country that was till then on their own path to a modern, democratic society. And how Iranians are smart and outward-looking, and Iran is generally a great place to be. BUT I cannot agree that what happened this morning is in any way a continuation of US policies. You can't take the Obama years out of your analysis.

The Obama administration spent all of its eight years working for an end to those many decades of wrong policies on the Middle East. And I believe, as did obviously Obama, that a central element of a new ME policy must be a reversal on Iran. That is a difficult policy to pursue, because of decades on animosity on both sides. In the US, there is a congress where the majority are yahoos who have no idea what they are talking about or voting for when it comes to Iran, they just have flash-backs to the attack on the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979. In Iran, there are lots of otherwise sensible people who are similarly stuck in historic terrors that are much worse, not only the coup in 1953, but also the US-sponsored war with Iraq.
It was not hard for Obama to get the Europeans on line. Lots of Europeans do business with Iran, and want to do more.

If you want to find a pattern in Trump's reasoning, apart from personal animosity and general vileness, look at who this benefits. Saudi Arabia was very worried about Obama's attempt to create a peace with Iran. And with good reason. Anyone with a brain knows that the KSA is a main sponsor of terror and terrorism, on many levels. The terror sponsored by Iran is mainly regional, and it can be argued that it is legitimate support for resistance movements (Hezbollah and Hamas, the Houthis), or for religious plurality (Syria). I don't agree with this policy, but I think the argument is there. Individuals close to government the KSA have at the very least sponsored Al Qaida, and probably more radical Sunni movements. They sponsor radical Imams across Europe and the Middle East. But they are not held to account, because the US has decided to make them a core ally in the Middle East. If the US were to reverse policy, and isolate the kingdom instead of Iran, it would have very short future prospects.
To cut a long story short: an alliance between the US and Iran is a huge threat to the KSA. You know, that totalitarian country where Trump went to play with weird balls, and his son in law is palling around with the crown prince who ordered the brutal murder of an American journalist.

Also, and this is very important, Iran is not a totalitarian country. It is a kind of democracy. You may say it is an authoritarian democracy and that the ayatollahs have far too much influence and you would be right. But if you are in Iran, and you criticize this, most Iranians will agree. They will say yes, our democracy in imperfect, and the privileged few, the military-industrial complex, and the religious right have far too much power. We want it to change. But we can think of another great nation where the same is true.
Iran is nothing like Iraq or Libya, or Afghanistan.

The reason this is very important is that I believe this is why the US can never win a war with Iran, even if Iran was totally isolated, which it won't be. A people who are defending their nation and what they see as their legitimate government cannot be put down. You may say that the Nazis managed to do that in Europe in WWII, but it hasn't happened since. Also, who wants to compare themselves to the Nazis? Where would US troops be based? Not in Iraq, not in Afghanistan, probably not in Turkey. Obviously not anywhere in Central Asia or South Asia. Obviously there is the NATO article 5, theoretically obligating Europe and Turkey, but Trump has already made it clear that on the US side, there is no respect for that treaty. That leaves the Gulf and Israel, and sorry, but that is not going anywhere. Someone mentioned above how vulnerable these countries are to Iran attacks.

I also agree that Putin may have inspired Trump to this move. Remember, Putins aim is to disrupt, and most of all to break up NATO. He doesn't give a shit how many lives are lost in that process, and he knows Russia will come strengthened out of a US/Iran conflict.

The way I read Trump, and my opinion is as good or bad as anyone's on this, he sees this as equivalent to Obamas killing of Bin Laden. He does not understand that however murky the Bin Laden decision was, he was a terrorist and a criminal, responsible for thousands of deaths, and he had no political or military legitimacy. Qassim Suleimani was a high ranking officer and political leader in a country that is recognized across the world and this was a pure assassination.
Also, it spells the end for the weapons deal.
As a consequence, what I am seeing in the fogs today is a lot of US allies not approving, tacitly. In a couple of days, this may have escalated to a point where the US is isolated almost completely.
posted by mumimor at 7:00 AM on January 3 [229 favorites]


From Al Jazeera's coverage:


In an interview with Al Jazeera, former US Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb said "there is no doubt" that the US wanted to target Soleimani "for a while".

Korb predicted that Iran could retaliate by launching "asymmetric type of attacks" that do not risk an all-out confrontation with the US.

Hillary Mann Leverett, a former White House National Security official, said the US killing of Soleimani is a "declaration of war" on Iran.

"Americans throughout the region need to be on guard. We are now in an incredibly dangerous situation. It is an incredibly dangerous course that we are on," Leverett told Al Jazeera.

Killing Soleimani is equivalent to the Iranians "assassinating" the US defence secretary, or the commander of the US Central Command, she added.

"The president has taken this decision without debate in Congress, without any Congressional authority, it is probably an illegal act within the US domestic context."

In Tehran, Soleimani's death sent shockwaves among residents, who were awake when the news was announced, according to Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari, who was reporting from the Iranian capital.

"With the news of his assassination, there is a tremendous amount of shock and anger that could follow, not only in Iran but across the Middle East," she said.

"His name is synonymous to Iranian national pride, no matter how he has been labelled outside of the country," Jabbari said, adding that hymns of mourning are being played on Iranian radio to mark Soleimani's death.



@TheWarNerd (Gary Brecher) tweets:

Astonishing stupidity. No matter how hard you try to think like an Atlantic-Council zombie, it's impossible to see any scenario where this works well for the US. You kill the man after he's won his great victory, after his strategies are in place, part of the institution, just in time to make him a mobilizing figure and gild his image forever -- and while he's the guest of what little is left of what was supposed to be your puppet government.

It's an uncanny feeling, seeing your own country lose its mind."


One wonders how Brecher missed that happening a while back, but still.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:12 AM on January 3 [20 favorites]


The terror sponsored by Iran is mainly regional, and it can be argued that it is legitimate support for resistance movements (Hezbollah and Hamas, the Houthis), or for religious plurality (Syria).

Dude. What? Did you just call the brutal suppression of the popular uprising against Assad "legitimate support for religious plurality"? I think there's a way to recognize the rich and wonderful history of Persian civilization and the Iranian people, while also recognizing that the current regime are primarily acting in self-interest, use terrorism as a tool for that self-interest, and have no qualms about destabilizing the region in pursuit of their goals. (And yes, that description would probably fit the majority of state actors in the ME right now.)
posted by gwint at 7:17 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


What? Did you just call the brutal suppression of the popular uprising against Assad "legitimate support for religious plurality"?

I'm was not describing my opinion, at all. I was referring to a point of view I have met all over the ME, while actually physically being there in person. Obviously, I have argued against it. Unlike many of my friends, I hated being in Syria before the civil war because the oppression was so thick you could cut a knife through it.

All nations primarily act in self-interest, BTW.
posted by mumimor at 7:20 AM on January 3 [14 favorites]


My younger brother deploys to Saudi Arabia in May.

Fuck.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:21 AM on January 3 [22 favorites]


I'll take pretty serious issue with treating Hezbollah or Hamas as "legitimate" as well, but I appreciated the gist of Mumimor's comment.

I am a liberal American Jew, the kind of person this general probably regarded as a subject of his peoples' adversaries.

So what? This is still incredibly stupid and inept non-policy at the bad technothriller fever dream level, if it isn't an entirely corrupt and nihilistic act intended to end-run impeachment at the cost of who-knows-what.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:25 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


I'll take pretty serious issue with treating Hezbollah or Hamas as "legitimate" as well, but I appreciated the gist of Mumimor's comment.

Thanks. I have discussed this with representatives for Hezbollah and Hamas, among others, and they are really despicable, lying and manipulating violent people. I don't agree with them. But I can see how there is a difference between sponsoring them and sponsoring Bin Laden, like the KSA did. If someone cannot see that difference, I'll just agree to disagree.

I am not Jewish, but my granddad was not only Jewish, but on the actual death-list of a terrorist group while I was living in the house they planned to target. I do not take this lightly.
posted by mumimor at 7:31 AM on January 3 [23 favorites]


I agree with this -- (from Raw Story article WWIII TRENDS AS WAR HAWKS REJOICE)

“Whatever happens next, understand and never stop pointing out that Donald Trump walked into office with no crisis with Iran,” said Stephen Miles, executive director of Win Without War. “He then filled his cabinet with warmongers, walked away from a multilateral diplomatic accord, and purposefully engaged in ‘maximum pressure.’ He owns this.”
posted by pjsky at 7:35 AM on January 3 [53 favorites]


This whole 'Soleimani was a bad guy so he deserved it' commentary is unmitigated bullshit. Unless you happen to live in an alternate timeline where a US resident wasn't assassinated and hacked to pieces with a bone saw? Because that happened in my timeline, and the guy behind it is still besties with America.

Trump's America does not give a flying fuck about 'bad guys'. Trump loves bad guys. What Trump cares about, to the exclusion of absolutely everything else, is political expediency. Any attempt to justify this action as legitimate execution of American foreign policy is absolute fantasy.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 7:38 AM on January 3 [79 favorites]


Not all that long ago, in my old job here at Large Public Institution, I was constantly working with graduate students and post-docs from Iran, Syria, Libya, etc, mainly women, who were over here for various kinds of medical training. Some of them were supported on fellowships from their governments which then subsequently fell through because of various geopolitical crises. I even had this vague, maybe-someday "figure out how to visit Iran even though it seems a bit complicated" plan based on seeing lots of pretty pictures that one of the post-docs showed me. Now, of course, we've smashed all that up.

None of this is even remotely necessary or useful, relations were okay, ordinary people were doing ordinary reasonable things such as getting dental degrees with a view to returning home and teaching dentistry and now it's all bullshit.

~~
Fundamentally it doesn't matter if Iran's actions in the ME are "legitimate" or not, or if Hezbollah is "legitimate" or not.

First off, the United States has shown again and again that we cannot be trusted to run any kind of military operation - we're the ones where our officers shoot civilians for fun, rape and burn women, run torture prisons, etc, and of course we leave places worse off than we find them, start conflicts out of sheer greed with not even the bad excuse of regional power concerns, etc.

Second, any military conflict really has to not make things worse. Getting rid of a "bad guy" by leaving a smoking ruin full of plague where once was a stable though not utopian society is not a win, no matter how much we might like to argue over the badness of the bad guy.

Third, I personally wouldn't trust American media to tell me just how bad a guy someone was anyway. Is he worse than other comparable figures? Is he worse than other American figures? Where can I get a broadly trustworthy account of him?

This isn't what-aboutism - it's a practical consideration. If all the US ever does is gets rid of "bad guys" in other places, all we're doing is creating room for our own bad guys to do more and worse, which is why we're doing it.

We're the biggest monster in the room, not because of some abstract "America bad" reason but because we are a large, powerful, rich, unscrupulous nation helmed by selfish, wicked people. Unless circumstances radically change, the best thing we can do for the world militarily speaking is to stay home. Our fires are burning down the street and we're talking about how we've got to go put out some candles the next town over.
posted by Frowner at 7:42 AM on January 3 [95 favorites]


Regardless of the shameful history of US involvement in Iran over the past 70 years or so, Obama was working to normalize relations and seek a peaceful resolution (and one that specifically prevented further proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region).

Trump unilaterally pulled out of that agreement, and now he has created a situation where it will be virtually impossible for any future administration to rebuild the level of cooperation that had existed before his election. This is as much about shitting on Obama's legacy as it is about creating a distraction from impeachment.

My question is- who put the idea in his head? I guarantee you that a week ago, Trump could not have told you who Suleimani was or what a Quds is. So who gave him the name? This was not likely something the more established intelligence community cooked up, given that even they could recognize the potential for extreme blowback resulting from this move. So, was it the Dispensationalists at State and in the White House? Or was it one of the foreign actors who Trump frequently communicates with?

I'm not sure which is worse.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:49 AM on January 3 [37 favorites]


I just attempted to make a post about this situation and obviously it's a double, so it was deleted. That being said, I did round up some interesting articles that might be useful for people who are interested in this subject. I'm sharing it here. Cheers.

------

• The killing of Iran's General Soleimani is hugely significant [CNN]
“The significance of Thursday's US strike against Qasem Soleimani cannot be overstated because he ran Iran's military operations across the Middle East. Iraqi state TV reported Thursday that Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, was killed by rockets hitting his vehicle near Baghdad International Airport. The Pentagon then confirmed it was an American strike ordered by President Donald Trump that killed Soleimani. Here is how General Joseph Votel, the then-commander of US Central Command that oversees American military operations in the Middle East, explained Soleimani's role in 2018: "Wherever you see Iranian activity, you see Qasem Soleimani, whether it is in Syria, whether it is in Iraq, whether it is in Yemen, he is there and it is the Quds Force, the organization which he leads, that I think is the principal threat as we look at this and the principal ones that are stoking this destabilizing activity." During the past decade Iran has conducted proxy wars across the Middle East in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and it also controls much of Lebanon through its proxy force there, Hezbollah. Soleimani was in charge of all these operations.”
• Iran vows revenge after U.S. drone strike kills elite force commander [The Washington Post]
“Iran on Friday vowed "severe revenge" in response to a U.S. drone strike that killed Tehran's most powerful military commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, and dramatically sharpened tensions across the Middle East. Soleimani was a towering figure in Iran's power projection across the region, with close links to a network of paramilitary groups that stretches from Syria to Yemen. His death in the smoldering wreckage of a two-car convoy in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, left U.S. outposts and personnel bracing for retaliatory attacks and oil prices shooting upward. The U.S. Embassy in Iraq warned its citizens to leave "immediately." "With his departure and with God's power, his work and path will not cease, and severe revenge awaits those criminals who have tainted their filthy hands with his blood and the blood of the other martyrs of last night's incident," Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a statement.”
• 'A more dangerous world:' U.S. killing of top Iran general triggers global alarm [CBC]
“Global powers are warning the world has become a more dangerous place after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iran's top general and are urging restraint on all sides. Iran has vowed "harsh retaliation" for a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad's airport that killed Gen. Qassim Soleimani, head of Iran's elite Quds Force and the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing. The killing marks a major escalation in the standoff between Washington and Iran, which has careened from one crisis to another since Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions. "We are waking up in a more dangerous world. Military escalation is always dangerous," France's deputy minister for foreign affairs, Amelie de Montchalin, said on RTL radio. "When such actions, such operations, take place, we see that escalation is underway."”
• Trump Just Declared War on Iran [Slate]
“For the last 20 years, he has been the architect of Iran’s expansionist foreign policy, running subversive operations and controlling Shiite militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan. In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, he shared intelligence about al-Qaida and the Taliban with U.S. officials, until President George W. Bush declared Iran to be part of the “axis of evil.” In the fight against ISIS, his militias were crucial in forcing the group’s fighters out of Iraq. But he was also responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops during the Iraq insurgency. On Thursday night, the Pentagon justified its action by claiming that he was about to launch an offensive against American embassies and armed forces throughout the region. Even if that is true, killing him doesn’t make much strategic sense. As important as he was, his loyal and capable lieutenants are still capable of executing the missions. (His deputy, Esmail Ghaani, took formal control of the Quds Force hours after his death.) U.S. officials are already bracing for a variety of counteractions, including embassy stormings (that could make the one in Baghdad this week look like a halfhearted rehearsal) assassinations, cyberattacks, economic sabotage, and military assaults. ”
• Oil Soars as U.S. Killing of Iran General Stirs Fear of Conflict [Yahoo]
“Oil jumped toward $70 a barrel in London after a U.S. airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump killed a top Iranian general in Iraq, intensifying fears of conflict in the world’s most important crude-producing region. Brent futures surged by more than 4% in busy trading on Friday to levels not seen since the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in September. The airstrike near Baghdad airport killed Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian general who led the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force. “This is a seismic event in the region,” said Jason Bordoff, a former Barack Obama administration official who now works for Columbia University. “This is how U.S.-Iran tit-for-tat spirals out of control. Iran’s response will be severe and deadly. And certainly may include escalating attacks on energy infrastructure.” [...] Energy exports from both countries also rely on the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow and crucial oil and natural gas shipping choke-point that’s always in focus when Middle East tensions flair, particularly with Iran. “This is more than just bloodying Iran’s nose,” Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiTrader Ltd. said in a note. “This is an aggressive show of force and an outright provocation that could trigger another Middle East war.””
posted by Fizz at 7:49 AM on January 3 [24 favorites]


Dan Davies @dsquareddigest
"Never support any war anywhere ever" is the SP500 index fund of policy thinking - the boneheaded thoughtless non-solution which the majority of genius specialists are incredibly embarrassingly unable to outperform.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:49 AM on January 3 [31 favorites]


These things need to be separated:

Trump's America does not give a flying fuck about 'bad guys'.

Wrong. Trump's America casts Trump as Bronson in Death Wish.

Trump loves bad guys.

Trump loves "strong men" and wants to be seen as one, above all else. Pierce calling him "El Caudillo del Maro Lago" is probably his most apt moniker.

What Trump cares about, to the exclusion of absolutely everything else, is political expediency.

True. For him, this is about setting the house on fire to distract from the dirty laundry recently found in the basement.

Any attempt to justify this action as legitimate execution of American foreign policy is absolute fantasy.

False, Trump was baited into this by those who really do think this is some kind of foreign policy, whether or not legitimate or justifiable.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:50 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


In light of the following - Explosive report indicates that Donald Trump's loans from Deutsche Bank were backed by Russia (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff) - does Russia sell arms to Iran or Iraq at this time?
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:51 AM on January 3 [9 favorites]


Really curious how much of the military was keen to follow an illegal order like this. “Murder a major political figure in a way that’s basically an undeclared act of war? No problem! You want fries with that?”

Call your people in Congress.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:56 AM on January 3 [14 favorites]


The Russian federal budget needs expensive oil.
posted by aramaic at 7:57 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


It is probably unrealistic and maybe a bit petty on my part, but I really hope that Iran's response is as precise and contained as the assassination of Soleimani. If Trump and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei both want to execute high ranking officials with drone strikes, that's a million times better alternative to random bombing of innocent people. Let the assholes who control armies and governments start fearing for their lives personally. I want Trump, Barr, Bolton, Pompeo, Graham, Rubio - ALL OF THE GOP -- from this day forward, to piss their pants every time they step outside for fear of targeted retaliation. And how can any occupant of a Trump Tower anywhere in the world, feel safe today?!
posted by pjsky at 7:58 AM on January 3 [24 favorites]


Really curious how much of the military was keen to follow an illegal order like this. “Murder a major political figure in a way that’s basically an undeclared act of war? No problem! You want fries with that?”

Killing a military officer in a chain of command that is presently engaged in combat with US soldiers? I bet lots of cogitation on the prudence of this decision, none about its legality.
posted by ocschwar at 8:05 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I'm still blaming a school shooting on the guy holding the gun

I get that the intent of this argument is to provide a justification for blaming Trump personally, rather than, say, a more nebulous accounting involving the US imperialist ambition to establish & maintain full spectrum dominance. An act this brazen & disruptive seems to demand a very personal, undiluted kind of blame.

But I think the argument fails to provide that justification, because by the same logic, the blame would have to be assigned to the fighter pilots who dropped the ordnance. But I think that's an absurd conclusion -- certainly I haven't seen anybody calling to hold the pilots to account. Possibly you could transfer blame all the way up the chain of command, so that ultimately all the blame ends with Trump, but I don't think that's very convincing either, for the simple reason that there are just so many people & monies involved. By which I mean that I don't think it makes much moral sense to just ignore this $700 billion a year murder machine that's sitting around.

Because, and I think we're all well aware of this, the reason that this $700 billion a year murder machine exists in the first place is because there's a broadly popular & frequently bipartisan US predilection for forcefully & ruthlessly stomping people into the ground.
posted by dmh at 8:11 AM on January 3 [12 favorites]


Killing a military officer in a chain of command that is presently engaged in combat with US soldiers? I bet lots of cogitation on the prudence of this decision, none about its legality.

Sadly, I can promise you a DoD lawyer signed off on this.

After my initial shock at this action, and the stupidity of doing it on New Years Day, I was then also surprised this was done openly by the military, when it would need such a sign-off, rather than the CIA (which also operates drones).
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:13 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Note that the press release from DOD begins "At the direction of the President..."
posted by gwint at 8:18 AM on January 3 [9 favorites]


Yes. But to answer, how did the military carry out an illegal order, the answer is that somewhere a military lawyer found a way to justify the President's order. Or at least to identify a justification for it and then defer to the Commander in Chief. That should not surprise us, viz. Yoo's torture memos.

This also shades the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist group back in April an with an eerie foreshadowing. That will be the fig leaf.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:20 AM on January 3 [9 favorites]


Because, and I think we're all well aware of this, the reason that this $700 billion a year murder machine exists in the first place is because there's a broadly popular & frequently bipartisan US predilection for forcefully & ruthlessly stomping people into the ground.

No it's about jobs and "getting money to your district." A fig leaf for federal stimulus that would otherwise be descried as "waste."

There's a reason the F 35 has parts made from over 200 locations in the U.S.
posted by Max Power at 8:24 AM on January 3 [12 favorites]


> In light of the following - Explosive report indicates that Donald Trump's loans from Deutsche Bank were backed by Russia (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff) - does Russia sell arms to Iran or Iraq at this time?

Iran vows revenge after U.S. drone strike kills elite force commander (WaPo)
For its part, Russia said the killing was reckless and would fuel tension in the region and offered condolences to its ally, Iran. “Soleimani loyally served the cause of defending the national interests of Iran. We offer our sincere condolences to the Iranian people,” the Foreign Ministry said.
posted by katra at 8:27 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


But to answer, how did the military carry out an illegal order, the answer is that somewhere a military lawyer found a way to justify the President's order.

I believe the specific justification is that Qods was labeled a terrorism organization last year and that gave Trump much more latitude, since that made Suleimani the "leader of a terrorist group."
posted by gwint at 8:31 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


I'm following one Iraqi dude on social media, and I shoudl point out that Soleimani loyally served the cause of Iranian national interests by murdering Iraqis, and a significant motive for the demonstrations and unrest in Baghdad is the desire to expel that kind of influence from Iraq.

It's of course more delicate than that, because Soleimani furthered the interests of (SOME) Shia Iraqis, and the Sunni-Shia fault line in Iraq will not be healed merely by expelling Iran, but there is also an ethnic fault line here, between Persian Iranians and the Arab Iranians of the southwest corner of Iran,and the slight matter of Iran's agents in Iraq being murderous sacks of shit.
posted by ocschwar at 8:35 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Live Updates: Iran Vows ‘Forceful Revenge’ After U.S. Kills General (NYT)
The killing of General Suleimani “most likely” violated international law, Agnes Callamard, the United Nations expert on extrajudicial executions, said in a post on Twitter.

“Use of lethal force is only justified to protect against an imminent threat to life, Ms. Callamard wrote. An individual’s past involvement in “terrorist” acts “is not sufficient to take his targeting for killing legal,” she said. Use of drones for targeted killings outside active hostilities was “almost never likely to be legal,” she added.
posted by katra at 8:38 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


I think we're all well aware of this, the reason that this $700 billion a year murder machine exists in the first place is because there's a broadly popular & frequently bipartisan US predilection for forcefully & ruthlessly stomping people into the ground.

The long term strategy should surely then be: get congresspeople on the record as supporting imperialism then primary them out, and get people to advocate for that spending directly rather than through a warmongering middle man. Unfortunately historical looks at the evil the US has done tend to promote inaction and bothsidesism.
posted by benzenedream at 8:40 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Sadly, I can promise you a DoD lawyer signed off on this.

Jack Goldsmith has a thread about how the executive branch has aggressively accrued more legal power for itself in this sphere, and how Congress has basically let them.
posted by Jpfed at 8:41 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]




U.S. strike on top Iranian commander sharply divides Congress (WaPo)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized “provocative and disproportionate actions,” saying that Congress “must be immediately briefed on this serious situation and on the next steps under consideration by the Administration, including the significant escalation of the deployment of additional troops to the region.”

“America — and the world — cannot afford to have tensions escalate to the point of no return,” Pelosi said.

The top Democratic leaders in Congress received no advance notification of the strike, according to aides. Pelosi spoke to Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper after the attack for about 13 minutes, said an aide who was not authorized to speak publicly. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) also was not told of the upcoming military action, an aide to the senator said.

But Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally who called the strike a “blow to [an] Iranian regime that has American blood on its hands,” said Friday morning on Fox News that he was “briefed about the potential operation when I was down in Florida” and appreciated “being brought into the orbit.”
Live Updates: Iran Vows ‘Forceful Revenge’ After U.S. Kills General (NYT)
One American official familiar with the internal discussions about the drone strike said the administration was still trying to figure out what would come next and how to be prepared for it.
posted by katra at 8:52 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Those in Washington hoping for a quick Iranian reaction to the surprise killing will be sorely disappointed as Iran continues its long game. The real Iranian reaction may take different forms and timelines from those dictated by western media.
Soleimani's successor Esmail Ghaani is very much from the same mold.
The tables have turned on the US, and no matter how many tweets Trump sends to the Iraqi people exhorting them to direct their anger against Iran, the die has been cast - and the new level of anti-Americanism seen in Iraq today is unlikely to recede anytime soon.

After the killing of al-Muhandis & Soleimani, Kata’ib Hizbollah announced they will publish the name & home address of every member of Parliament who opposes expelling US forces from Iraq.
Crisis Group from last August: Averting the Middle East’s 1914 Moment
The standoff between the U.S. and Iran is reminiscent of tensions on the eve of World War I. A small incident could blow up into region-spanning conflict. Is this the middle East's Franz Ferdinand moment?
posted by adamvasco at 9:07 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


In a couple of days, this may have escalated to a point where the US is isolated almost completely.

That's my sincere hope, and the one way I could see this deescalating.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:16 AM on January 3 [9 favorites]


There are reports from some Middle Eastern sources that the US military has also arrested an Iraqi MP, Hadi al-Amiri, and an Iraqi militia leader, Qais Khazali. Mike Pompeo had previously singled those two (along with the Iraqi leader who was assassinated with Soleimani) out for organizing the Baghdad embassy protests.

If true, I wonder under what authority they're arresting a member of Parliament from a sovereign nation?
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 9:17 AM on January 3 [12 favorites]


Is it sovereign though, I cannot recall ever hearing in these past 18 years of war that Iraq had been handed its sovereignty back.

The standoff between the U.S. and Iran is reminiscent of tensions on the eve of World War I. A small incident could blow up into region-spanning conflict. Is this the middle East's Franz Ferdinand moment?

But all the headlines on twitter are decoding the new Cold War with China. So this century we'll have WW3 *and* the Cold War on simultaneously? With Eurasia in general, just throw a dart at the barely legible map of landmass?
posted by Mrs Potato at 9:40 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Is it sovereign though, I cannot recall ever hearing in these past 18 years of war that Iraq had been handed its sovereignty back.

It turns out that there is a wikipedia page on Iraqi sovereignty. I'm not sure how much the international law legalese actually matters but technically Iraq regained its sovereignty in 2004 and has had its own elected government since 2005.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 9:57 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Is it sovereign though, I cannot recall ever hearing in these past 18 years of war that Iraq had been handed its sovereignty back.

The 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement for a Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Iraq [pdf on State Dept website] remains, as far as I’m aware, the key document that defines the relationship between the US and Iraq, and also the terms of the US’s presence in Iraq. The SFA acknowledges Iraq’s sovereignty in the first two points of its preamble, so as far as the US is concerned, the answer is “supposedly, yes”.

The SFA is an interesting document, as much for what it leaves out as for what it includes - it’s only eight pages! - but clause 4 of section I states that the US isn’t allowed to use Iraq to attack other countries.

Regardless of whether the US treats this as “a targeted strike on the head of a terrorist organisation” or whatever the justification was to get around Congress, there is a good chance that Iraq will agree with the point repeatedly made upthread that assassinating the vice-premier and head of a country’s armed forces is an attack on that country and an act of war. In which case, they may well decide that the US has broken the SFA and that all bets are off.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:05 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


Since I got quoted as saying "Obviously Suleimani is a bad guy" I would like to point out that:

1) The rest of my comment makes clear that I don't think we should be doing much of anything in the region, especially not assassinating Iranian generals.
2) The "bad guy" statement is not based on personal knowledge and I sure don't trust the US government to tell me who is and isn't. However, the idea that Iran is a problematic actor fomenting unrest in the region is not all based on the axis-of-evil thing. I'm not qualified to say whether they are bad for creating Hezbollah (my Lebanese friends seem to think so), or arming the Yemeni rebels, or getting involved with internal Iraq conflicts, etc.

Framing the issue with "bad guy" in the press and public discourse has the effect that many people will think "well, maybe we shouldn't have done that ... but hey, good riddance" and thus won't be outraged enough to protest in the US or oust Trump. I *definitely* was not trying to aid that narrative.
posted by freecellwizard at 10:10 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


I don't get the both side-ism thing. Obama worked on creating a treaty with Iran and spoke out specifically against assassinating world leaders. For most of my life, politicians on both sides, at least publicly, have condemned assassinations as something the United States would never do. This is Trump being uniquely crazy.

So, I think the parallels someone upthread brought up with racism are relevant. Is the current US carceral system "the same" as the formerly chattel slavery system? The carceral system grew out of slavery as a way to accomplish some of the same aims once slavery was illegal and no longer something that a majority of Americans would directly support. In that sense, you could argue that it is the same in that it's accomplishing similar goals just by other means; but you could also argue that it is different in important ways in that there are many individuals whose lives are not as bad under the present system than they would have been under slavery. Importantly, for those of us who are white, we shouldn't be arguing over any Black person's individual experience regardless of which of those two conclusions they draw from their experience. Overall, we can say that moving from slavery to the US prison industrial complex has been a step in the right direction, but there is still quite a long way to go and those affected have some differing opinions on the magnitude (or lack thereof) of that step.

Iran has its current political situation in significant part due to the US-backed coup there, back when the US was backing a lot of coups and targetted political assassinations. Folks on the more liberal end of the US political establishment have since concluded that such direct coup-plotting and political assassinations are unethical means of promoting US interests, but have not learned the real lesson that people outside of the US also have a right to self determination (including in their decisions around economic production). So a lot of US foreign policy more recently has been toward similar ultimate goals in promoting US interests despite or often against the wishes of other people, just using less obviously violently coercive means. Which is a step in the right direction - lots of people's lives are not as bad off as they would be if the US still made a regular habit of more or less openly plotting coups and targetted political assassinations. But it's still quite a ways off from fully ethical international relations, since the goals are still similar. Which means that some of the people outside of the US who are affected by US foreign policy are going to see the two methodologies as having key differences, while others will not, and both are valid viewpoints. And it can still be the case that a return to targetted political assassinations is a step backwards.
posted by eviemath at 10:10 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


I seem to recall Iraqi government executing Hussein and the US government stating "Nothing we can do about that, they're a sovereign government and we just turned him over and it's out of our hands."
posted by cmfletcher at 10:14 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


No it's about jobs and "getting money to your district." A fig leaf for federal stimulus that would otherwise be descried as "waste."

I wonder what percentage of the US population is dependent on military spending?
posted by pracowity at 10:19 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


You know we've got Iraq locked down tight when we're making air strikes at Baghdad’s international airport.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:27 AM on January 3 [15 favorites]


Because as a Canadian, I'm most concerned about Trump getting the kind of slack that W did over the Iraq war.

Bush’s foreign policy was aided and abetted by the Democratic Party establishment. Perhaps a little in-fighting is necessary this time to push the current party away from repeating those same stupid, cowardly, historic mistakes?

At the very least, those past sins need to be acknowledged so today’s Congressional members know what not to do.

The Iraq War was a bipartisan effort.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:45 AM on January 3 [19 favorites]


Thank you, mumimor, that was a superb and informative comment. No matter how much the White House's troops spin the hell out of this, it was an assassination of a general, and his position has already been taken by his second in command. You can destroy or at least deeply wound a gang or a terrorist organization, but armies and nations aren't so fragile.
posted by jrochest at 10:46 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


Didn't we accomplish this mission like, 16 years ago?
posted by kirkaracha at 10:49 AM on January 3


I find the Bad Guy narrative frustrating because it still accepts that it's the role of the US to make these determinations about foreign leaders, and that whoever can control the US military ultimately has the power to execute whoever, wherever, for any reason they find compelling. A little bit of recontexualization might be helpful. If a dozen people were killed in an airstrike on LAX because Putin wanted to take out Mohammad bin Salman (a certified Bad Guy if ever there was one, and one who's killed Americans to boot), would anyone in the US assent to it being necessary for Russia's interests or in service toward some nebulous good end?
posted by Copronymus at 10:56 AM on January 3 [53 favorites]


I wonder what percentage of the US population is dependent on military spending?

I believe this was mentioned on The Blue back while Chalmers Johnson was alive and Ron Paul was making his run at being the Republican pick for Dear Leader. Young People should be aware of the 4 book trilogy of Mr. Johnson about the Sorrows of Empire.

A year before Johnson died he had an op-ed about how actually implementing Ron Paul's military plan would be an economic disaster because about 1/3 of the US economic activity was tied to the spending of the needs of the military. The authors tied to theautomaticearth.com pointed out how if one mapped 1/3 of the economy to 1/3 unemployment that 1/3 was what the 1930's great depression had. (35% ish was Johnson's number and 30% was an unemployment number - I'm the guy rounding to 1/3 so don't use 1/3 for your google-fu if you want to try and find it yourself.)

My google-fu has this from Mr. Johnson. It's not the quote I remember but does give a number to work with.
Johnson: Yes, with Defense budgets that are now taking forty percent of every tax dollar. We are spending more on the military establishment than all other countries on Earth combined. Bankruptcy looms. We are increasingly dependent on the military for our economic well-being. We don't manufacture much in this country anymore. We have lost three million manufacturing jobs just since George W. Bush became President. But one of the things we certainly manufacture is weapons. We are the world's largest manufacturer of weapons and munitions. It is starting to crowd out the civilian economy. That is what we do in this country. And moreover, with the active collaboration of a Congress that seems to have totally forgotten what it is supposed to be doing there; namely, they are much more interested in getting lucrative contracts and things of that sort into their districts than they are about examining whether or not we need the world we live in.

The Automatic Earth did have these* tweets and comments and I'd expect the crew at the Automatic Earth should eventually post something about the Empire of Rome, Spanish, Dutch, and Brittish Empires all had success by being what today we'd call a reserve currency/the cash used to settle trade because the authors of that site tended to have opinions about the post WWII parking of aircraft carriers off the Saudi coast and the establishment of Bretton Woods. Given the other FFP about the Saudi's this week the cash aspect of American Empire should be a topic with them. I'd expect Cathrine Austin Fitts to write a similarly slanted article at some point. If the thesis of their past writings about the benefit of being the world reserve currency is correct - just taking away the reserve status of The Dolllar will make Americans long for the days of GWB/Obama and pre-2019 Trump.

*here's the repeated tweets:
The following two tweets are worth citing:

Nicole Alexander Fisher: “Pelosi voted for Trump’s NDAA which stripped a provison that would have prevented unauthorized war with Iran. She sided with Trump and warhawks on this, as did 188 other Democrats. 41 Dems like AOC, Ilhan Omar, Tulsi Gabbard, Ro Khanna, and Joe Kennedy voted no.”

Soleimani fought ISIS, Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda etc., along with the US.

Sara Abdallah: “The “no. 1 bad guy” who led the counter-terrorism campaigns that defeated ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon; the “no. 1 bad guy” who prevented a jihadist takeover of the Middle East.”

I’m still wondering how CNBC became the no. 1 warmonger for the MSM. This is some headline. As for the Dems and GOP, one would be inclined to say: pick your side. But if you look just a little bit closer, you see there is only one side.

posted by rough ashlar at 11:02 AM on January 3 [18 favorites]


A very rational leader:

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “His departure to God does not end his path or his mission, but a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands,” he said in a statement.
posted by xammerboy at 11:58 AM on January 3


So, approximately as rational as Bush or Trump.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:10 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Yes, that's what Iranian rhetoric sounds like. This kind of targeted language always sounds crazy if you're not it's target (which is why Fox News always sounds like blithering nonsense to me). A country with 40 years of open hostility with the USA (and many of it's neighboring countries) doesn't keep the same post-revolution regime in charge by dumb luck. I expect they'll be saying a lot of aggressive things.
posted by grandiloquiet at 12:18 PM on January 3 [14 favorites]


I dunno, sounds like an appropriate and measured response to having a top official openly assassinated to me.
posted by rodlymight at 12:24 PM on January 3 [29 favorites]


A country with 40 years of open hostility with the USA (and many of it's neighboring countries) doesn't keep the same post-revolution regime in charge by dumb luck.

Yeah if only it wasn't for that Mosaddegh thing back in the 50s.
posted by Max Power at 12:41 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]




Seriously, rodlymight. I can imagine a very similar statement from the U.S.
posted by agregoli at 12:45 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Here's the threaderader version of Etrigan's link above.

Congresswoman, Former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, CIA analyst.

In other words, somebody who knows.
posted by SteveInMaine at 12:51 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


So, its ok to assassinate anyone now so long as they are a bad guy? Or is it only wrong this time because there might be repercussions?
I'm thinking this is not really the rules you want the world to be operating under.
posted by Bovine Love at 12:56 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


This kind of targeted language always sounds crazy if you're not it's target (which is why Fox News always sounds like blithering nonsense to me).

I don't mean to suggest Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is actually crazy. There was some talk above that his response would likely be rational and non-violent. I'm not sure the political environment in Iran affords him that luxury. You can't walk back a statement that Suleiman's death must be answered with forceful revenge, because he was a holy martyr. You have to act on that.
posted by xammerboy at 12:58 PM on January 3


A good Twitter thread from Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan), who is one of the more experienced members of Congress with regard to the Middle East and American policy therein
posted by Etrigan at 12:45 PM on January 3 [+] [!]


It is a good thread, and I also enjoyed some of the comments. But I guess you have to be not American to get that if your country is under US attack for decades and you resist those attacks, people in your country will not see you as a bad person. Americans will see "but he killed American citizens, he is bad". Iranians, and others who are not thrilled with US foreign policy will see: "he resisted American attacks, he is good".
I don't think there will be any form of peace in the Middle East before the US understands how this works. Are we the baddies?, indeed.
posted by mumimor at 12:59 PM on January 3 [25 favorites]


So, its ok to assassinate anyone now so long as they are a bad guy?

OK-ness is irrelevant. There is only one rule: "I'm Donald Trump. Who's gonna stop me?"
posted by Devoidoid at 1:02 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


There was some talk above that his response would likely be rational and non-violent.

Not necessarily the same thing. Decisions are rational (or not) in context, and the current context may well mean that a violent response is rational for the Iranian government, given their goals - albeit the specific nature, target and timing of that violence remains to be seen. See also previous discussions about North Korea being rational actors; all the more so, given recent events.
posted by inire at 1:06 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


CIA analyst.

In other words, somebody who knows.


Their intelligence affiliation makes them less trustworthy not more.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:12 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
@AOC
Last night the President engaged in what is widely being recognized as an act of war against Iran, one that now risks the lives of millions of innocent people. Now is the moment to prevent war & protect innocent people - the question for many is how, publicly & Congressionally:

Right now is the moment to decide if you are pro-peace or not. The cheerleaders of war, removed from its true cost, will gladly convince you that up is down - just as they did in Iraq in ‘03. But war does not establish peace. War does not create security. War endangers us all.

War advocates start off saying “we all want peace, but...” or “it’s too late...” & frame a pro-peace agenda as naïve to realpolitik. Don’t give into this gaslighting. The same folks selling us Iraq and selling us this latest provocation of violence. We cannot repeat this cycle.

Congress now has a moral and legal obligation to reassert its power to stop this war and protect innocent people from horrific consequences. We have two immediate options:

Vote on a War Powers Resolution, which requires Trump to attain Congressional approval.

Reintroduce & vote on @RepRoKhanna ’s bipartisan NDAA amendment, which blocks $ offensive action to Iran.

This amendment passed the House w/ bipartisan support not long ago, and was later gutted in negotiations. We can bring it back as a standalone bill.
The best and most thought-out response yet, from one of the ~6 good members of congress.
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:18 PM on January 3 [95 favorites]



So, its ok to assassinate anyone now so long as they are a bad guy? Or is it only wrong this time because there might be repercussions?
I'm thinking this is not really the rules you want the world to be operating under.


It's un-American (per our stated ideals of trial by jury, innocent until proven guilty by said jury, etc) to commit an extrajudicial killing like this, and we are not even at war with Iran in a legal sense. This sort of thing goes against the basic premise of America's ideological backbone. If we ever had one to begin with.
posted by erattacorrige at 1:32 PM on January 3 [12 favorites]


A very rational leader

Whether you think he's rational or irrational, he and the rest of the Iranian leadership would be fools to ever trust the United States again. We will never be able to unring this bell.

So either we invade Iran now and incur and cause great loss of blood and treasure, as a last ditch effort to try to stave off nuclear weapon development, or we accept that Trump has pushed Iran to become a nuclear state, in order to assure its survival.

Neither option seems rational, and that irrational outcome is 100% on Trump and on every single Democrat and Republican legislator that held his hand and gave him the money and assent to do this.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:36 PM on January 3 [11 favorites]


A Representative & former CIA analyst explicitly going "Yeah, Bush & Obama both wanted to extrajudicially assassinate this guy, but we thought it was a bad idea so we held off" speaks pretty strongly to previous "Is it bothsides-ism or not?" dispute.
There's no claim to morality here if both parties wanted to commit the murder but nobody wanted to pay the bill.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:39 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Their intelligence affiliation makes them less trustworthy not more.

Fortunately, Twitter is also full of opinions from people who are as far from intelligence as possible.
posted by eisenkrote at 1:40 PM on January 3 [10 favorites]


There is absolutely a claim to morality here. One person thought about doing it, and another person actually did it. The person who did it is guilty.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:44 PM on January 3 [35 favorites]


So either we invade Iran now

I don't think we even can. In an earlier iteration of the crisis, I read an analysis about how bad all our options are. I'll see if I can find it.
posted by thelonius at 1:48 PM on January 3


A Representative & former CIA analyst explicitly going "Yeah, Bush & Obama both wanted to extrajudicially assassinate this guy, but we thought it was a bad idea so we held off" speaks pretty strongly to previous "Is it bothsides-ism or not?" dispute.
There's no claim to morality here if both parties wanted to commit the murder but nobody wanted to pay the bill.


I agree, but I also note that it is her word alone, and that she wasn't the person making the decisions.

In general, I haven't trusted any American intelligence officers since the Iraq War. On a basic level, I don't think they can be efficient. If you really want to know want is going on in a foreign country, you must be able to understand the mindset, the emotions and the knowledge of that countries inhabitants and leaders. Some Americans are great at this, but my impression is that at least since the Bush administration, that type of people have not been employed within intelligence. Look at what happened to Valerie Plame. I don't know if she was good or bad at her job. I do know that the Bush administration put her in mortal danger because her husband disagreed with their policies.
posted by mumimor at 1:48 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


or we accept that Trump has pushed Iran to become a nuclear state, in order to assure its survival.

Neither option seems rational


Iran would be a more rational steward of a nuclear arsenal than the USA. Look around you and tell me that Iran with a dozen medium-range nukes is more of a threat to world peace than this insane, unstable, incipient-fascist country and its thousands of ICBMs.
posted by Rust Moranis at 2:09 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Other mainstream politicians not wanting to “pay the bill“ of potentially thousands of military and civilian deaths sure as hell is the moral choice. Could we not cover up the horrors of war with cutesy phrasing please?
posted by Skwirl at 3:09 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]



Iran would be a more rational steward of a nuclear arsenal than the USA.


Iran with a dozen medium-range nukes is more of a threat to world peace than this insane, unstable, incipient-fascist country and its thousands of ICBMs.

Iran's present day political confrontations are very explicitly modeled after a Shia-Sunni apocalyptic war in which the Hidden Imam reveals himself to establish that the Shia version of Islam was the right one all along, and this is in the hands of a regime that has already succesfully suppressed insurrections by Iranians who just want out of that story. More than once.
posted by ocschwar at 3:12 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Iran's present day political confrontations are very explicitly modeled after a Shia-Sunni apocalyptic war in which the Hidden Imam reveals himself to establish that the Shia version of Islam was the right one all along, and this is in the hands of a regime that has already succesfully suppressed insurrections by Iranians who just want out of that story. More than once.

It's terrible to see a country ruled by militaristic apocalyptic fundamentalists with a history of violently suppressing opposition and dissent inside and outside its borders. Iran's not perfect either.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:18 PM on January 3 [52 favorites]


Could we not cover up the horrors of war with cutesy phrasing please?
Sure. In a just world the current and past two administrations would be tried for war crimes, and in this case previous administrations eagerness to order unethical assassinations were reportedly only muted by the potential for their actions to lead to them ordering even more deaths.

Either way, if they thought they could 'get away with it' multiple administrations would have reportedly done so. So they can claim moral grounds on "didn't start a war", but they can't claim any moral standing on "we wanted to perform the same act".
posted by CrystalDave at 3:18 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


*didn't start the particular war that would have sprung from this action
(there was plenty of war started/expanded otherwise)
(so as to not abuse the Edit window)
posted by CrystalDave at 3:19 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Once you've gotten all the hand wringing out of your system about America's moral standing in this conflict, try to look at it from a realpolitic perspective. THis event was worse than a crime. It was a blunder. And we need, very much, leadership that can handle it in those terms.

It's worth keeping in mind that BOTH the USA and Iran have treated Iraq like a safari park where you can visit and hunt humans, and that maybe, just maybe, we can be the ones who help the Iraqis close the park and turn it into an actual country. Because THAT consideration is what's on their minds right now.
posted by ocschwar at 3:26 PM on January 3 [14 favorites]


try to look at it from a realpolitic perspective

Realpolitik brought us American support for the Khmer Rouge and untold millions of other innocent deaths around the world. Pass.

It's worth keeping in mind that BOTH the USA and Iran have treated Iraq like a safari park where you can visit and hunt humans, and that maybe, just maybe, we can be the ones who help the Iraqis close the park and turn it into an actual country

We destroyed Iraq, made perfectly clear that Iran was next, then tore up our treaties. We're a murder-park corporation. We make and run and profit off murder-parks. And we need to stop.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:37 PM on January 3 [19 favorites]


I don't know. If I were Iraqi, which I am not, at this point in time I'd not trust Americans with anything at all.
I mean, this was just the beginning...

I haven't been to Iraq because I'm a scaredypants, but I have talked with several Iraqi refugees and one of my close friends has spent time there as a civilian. And just about nothing, as in zero of what you get from US media and government sources aligns with what they say. My impression is that Iraq is a deeply corrupt country that has been divided along sectarian lines, and that while the corruption goes way back, the sectarianism is a direct result of the US occupation.
posted by mumimor at 3:38 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


Sunni v Shia: why the conflict is more political than religious The Guardian, from 2015, but still relevant according to my most recent conversations.
posted by mumimor at 4:01 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


U.S. Airstrike Targets Iraqi Militia North of Baghdad, State TV Reports
Iraqi army sources say at least five killed in attack on Iran-backed militia convoy, which group says was carrying medical teams
posted by mumimor at 4:30 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


deeply corrupt country that has been divided along sectarian lines

As if the United States had any room to talk.

Not attacking you mumimor, just pointing out that the language we use to describe failed/failing states and otherwise problematic actors on the world stage is, increasingly, just as applicable to this country.

Pax Americana is over. The status of the dollar as reserve currency is teetering. American relevance in global economic and political spheres has been waning for years and the election of Trump has aggressively escalated that process. We're no longer considered one of the adults in the room. And while our erstwhile allies would be sad to see us sliding into self-absorbed irrelevancy, they would vastly prefer that over what they're actually seeing us become: an increasingly isolated and erratic nation, one with enough firepower to end humanity a thousand times over, ingratiating itself to madmen and striking out at perceived enemies in unprecedented and destabilizing ways.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 4:47 PM on January 3 [14 favorites]


The language we use to describe failed/failing states and otherwise problematic actors on the world stage is, increasingly, just as applicable to this country.

Increasingly, but we're not the same yet. We may have state run television, but it's not the only channel. We have a corrupt leader that breaks the law with impunity, but we still generally have rule of law. Let's not get carried away and falsely equate the United States with governments that execute their citizens without a trial. The United States is not a full on theocratic dictatorship yet.
posted by xammerboy at 5:18 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


There's no claim to morality here if both parties wanted to commit the murder but nobody wanted to pay the bill.

I'm not against assassinations in all cases. In fact, were this Obama instead of Trump, addressing the nation and saying this assassination was absolutely necessary to prevent an imminent attack on the United States, I would wait to see the evidence before passing judgement. I don't think that makes me a hypocrite in this case. Trump could still persuade me this attack was necessary, but it would take a lot of convincing, and that's because of his constant lies, the domestic context of the impeachment inquiries, and his having repeatedly pointed out that just such a distraction could be used by an immoral politician to consolidate political power.
posted by xammerboy at 5:28 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


We may have state run television, but it's not the only channel.

I'd bet that zero major TV news programs condemned the drone strike as an assassination and act of needless aggression. How many liberal institutional voices are telling us anything that doesn't start with "He was an unspeakable monster and I'm glad he's dead, however-"?

We have a corrupt leader that breaks the law with impunity, but we still generally have rule of law.

The current rule law exists to protect the rich and powerful and their property. The rest is a garnish.

Let's not get carried away and falsely equate the United States with governments that execute their citizens without a trial.

Obama blew up Al-Awlaki's 16 year old American citizen son. Then, a week into his presidency, Trump had his 8 year old American citizen daughter shot in the neck. Also, uh, endless unpunished police murders.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:28 PM on January 3 [18 favorites]


The big deal about this incident is the normalization of the use of drone assassination.

American Military Tech currently dominates the use of large expensive lethal drones for assassination purposes. The near future will soon see the use of smaller cheaper single purpose assassination drones by various nations (and eventually almost anyone who can afford it).

Death drones are an inevitable part of our collective future. They were destined to appear and disrupt international politics eventually, when the technology became more widely affordable. The problem, as always, is that the dark future is rushing up sooner than we might like. Much as we like Prez Obama, he was partly responsible, sitting in the Oval frowning and consenting to just zap some guys in Afghanistan because we have to test out this gear, and putting in place a system that some fat slob on a golf course can tweet about.

If Obama had a bit more prescience, he could have delayed the dark future somewhat by continuing to develop the drone assassin technology, but delaying in just casually applying it to some vaguely antagonistic tribal insurgents in the mountains.

The United States leads the way by example (sigh). Soon everybody in the world is just gonna zap from above someone they don't like, because that's how business is gonna be done from now on. I regret that it's starting to happen sooner than later, but it's inevitable.
posted by ovvl at 5:32 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


Then, a week into his presidency, Trump had his 8 year old American citizen daughter shot in the neck.
???
posted by floomp at 5:45 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


???

Nawar al-Awlaki, may she be remembered.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:47 PM on January 3 [12 favorites]


Thanks, I got confused about who "his" referred to.
posted by floomp at 5:53 PM on January 3


Reports coming in that Abdul Reza Shahlai
has been targeted and killed in Yemen.
Since 2014, Shahlai has been the right hand of Qasem Suleimani during the war in Yemen.
posted by adamvasco at 5:57 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Perhaps I'm late to this discussion but I wanted to talk about why people (such as me, a leftist) might be responding with what's seen as "bothsidesism"*. It seems like people pointing out some damaging stuff the Democratic party has done kind of got cast as "so you think Clinton would have been as bad as Trump?" and no, I definitely do not think that, I believe in harm reduction and I believe voting for Democrats is harm reduction. That said, my issue is not so much what Clinton would have done or what she and Obama did during his administration (although these are valid points and it's definitely worth talking about as part of this conversation!), my issue is the way Democratic lawmakers are reacting at this moment which in most cases I've seen breaks down as follows:

DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSPERSON'S (OR CANDIDATE, I'M LOOKING AT YOU PETE BUTTIGIEG) RESPONSE TO THE ASSASSINATION OF QASSIM SULEIMANI:
  • We all agree Suleimani was a bad guy -- I hate this because it absolutely cedes the framing of this whole thing to the Republicans/warmongers. Who the fuck cares if he was a bad guy? That's immaterial! It also implicitly justifies killing him. What a bad and unnecessary way to begin your response!
  • That said, there is a process here that requires Congress and that has not been followed -- I hate that the problem with this is seen as one of process and not one of it being bad and destabilizing and war being awful! This makes it sound like a lot of Democratic congresspeople have no problem with going to war with Iran, they're just mad they didn't get to vote on it, which frankly looking back on the Iraq war may be the case
  • We need to discuss this seriously because it involves a great risk to American [resources -- money, lives, standing abroad] -- I think throwing away American lives and also I guess money too on a war is very bad! I think wars are bad and I think people dying is bad! But the framing is entirely about what will happen to America, not the people (Iraqis and Iranians) most directly affected by this! What the fuck!
My problem isn't with the idea of how the Democratic party MIGHT respond if Hilary Clinton were in the White House, my problem is with how many actual current Democrats are responding right before our eyes. They're not addressing the morality of this, they're not saying "war is bad", they're not saying "the lives of people in the Middle East are important too", they're saying "sure this guy was bad but there are RULES, you know" and like not only is that take morally bankrupt but also lol, no there aren't? Have you been paying any attention? None of these people are following the rules and anyway the issue isn't "is the government following appropriate protocol in order to get into a war that will kill a whole fucking lot of people", the issue is "we should not have a war that will kill a whole fucking lot of people". JUST SAY THAT!

*I should note that I'm definitely only speaking for myself, possibly literally no one else agrees with what I am about to say
posted by an octopus IRL at 6:43 PM on January 3 [47 favorites]


As a general point about how bad things are in the US. Are you worried about Stephen Colbert's safety? He's safe because there's still a good bit of freedom of speech remaining.

Comedians who oppose their government's leaders aren't safe everywhere.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 6:53 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Fuck the US. People aren't safe in the world because the US.
posted by rodlymight at 7:00 PM on January 3 [15 favorites]


The problem, as always, is that the dark future is rushing up sooner than we might like.

This future has been creeping up on us for longer than Obama's embrace of the Predator. Remember Clinton being dragged for "Tomahawk diplomacy?" Or go back further, to using post-Vietnam laser guided bombs to attack insurgents in drug wars. Before that, gunboat diplomacy.

New tools, but old choices on where to draw the line in conflict between nation states. With the bloody lessons of the last couple centuries that were not that long ago touted to have led to the "End of History" somehow not being applied.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:02 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]




I mean, we know Clinton wouldn’t be starting a war with Iran because Clinton wouldn’t have trashed the Iran treaty.

The problem with both sider-ism is that it’s a type of whatabout-ism. At this point in time, anyone in power who is calling for peace, no matter how unwoke their reasoning is, is on the right side of history. We don’t have time for this purity test bullshit any more EXACTLY BECAUSE innocent Iranian civilians will die and American troops will be needlessly risked.
posted by Skwirl at 7:05 PM on January 3 [20 favorites]


I meant the one who was actually President, FWIW. With regard to considering precision standoff weapons as foreign policy problem solving tools. In the Middle East.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:06 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


As a general point about how bad things are in the US. Are you worried about Stephen Colbert's safety? He's safe because there's still a good bit of freedom of speech remaining.

Comedians who oppose their government's leaders aren't safe everywhere.


Am I worried about Stephen Colbert? No, the guy's got security, he's insured out the wazoo, I'm not worried about him.

Am I worried about a lower-tier, non-millionaire comedian who does anti-Trump jokes in, say, most of the United States? Yes. Am I worried about a similar comedian of color who does anti-Trump jokes anywhere? Yes, yes I am. Am I worried about the safety of women comedians doing almost any kind of comedy anywhere in the US? You betcha.

I believe that does indeed say a lot about freedom of speech in the United States.
posted by MrVisible at 7:13 PM on January 3 [37 favorites]




Lawfare podcast special edition, among other points suggesting that only the AUMFs apply to this and that the terrorist organization classification is a red herring, having more to do with cutting off funding and being able to charge supporters. Considerable trepidation even from the hawkish types unwilling to totally condemn the strike.

Only three days ago Lawfare did an episode on the implications of the recent internal upheaval in Iran (when the Internet was cut), which is mentioned in the special edition.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:22 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


I'm also frankly horrified to see that thread from Elissa Slotkin described as "good", it is all of the problems I outlined above (ceding ground to the Republicans, focusing on process, pointing out that Suleimani was a bad guy) but even more ridiculously over the top. It's absolutely awful. If you enjoyed my last unordered list buckle up because here comes another one!

HOW I READ THAT ELISSA SLOTKIN THREAD: A BREAKDOWN:
  • I was in Iraq on behalf of the US military, I worked for the Pentagon and TWO administrations, I am deeply enmeshed in the American war machine so I know what I'm talking about and you can trust my description of the situation, also lol I used to work for the CIA
  • Suleimani was a really bad guy, just super bad, I'm going to talk about how bad he was for three straight tweets
  • One of those tweets is going to talk about him contributing to "significant destabilization across the region" which, wow, you worked for the military and the Pentagon and the CIA, this is either breathtakingly audacious or mind-blowingly unselfaware
  • Former Presidents didn't have him killed because they weren't sure the ensuing war would be worth it (seriously I'm not making this up, go read her tweets)
  • They decided it wasn't worth it but the Trump administration "made a different calculation" so here are some ways the Iranian government might respond, all of which focus on Americans/"the Western world", let's not even really talk about the potential harm to people in the Middle East
  • So it's important that the Administration have a plan for this to protect Americans
  • "This Admin., like all others, has the right to act in self-defense..." HOLY SHIT WHAT THE HELL, killing this guy was "self defense"? And framing it as "self defense" for the administration and not national defense (which I also think is bullshit, abolish borders)...what the fuck?
  • ...but also they have to "come to Congress immediately and consult" yay we're back to talking about the process, how great
  • Congress cares about Iraq, we spent a lot of money and a lot of our people died to get rid of ISIS, we are invested, but let's not mention, say, the Iraqi people who are probably also pretty fucking invested in the region
  • AND THEREFORE "Congress needs to understand the Administration's plan as soon as possible" THIS IS YOUR BIG TAKEAWAY? THEY NEED TO HAVE A PLAN AND THEY NEED TO TELL CONGRESS? THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FROM THIS? I understand that there's more nuance to it than that, that what she's saying is, in some way, "we're going to hold this administration accountable by asking them what they intend to do and how they intend to do it" but Jesus Christ "we need to see the plan". Not "this is bad", not "people will die", not even "this is going to cost us a lot of money", but "we need to see the plan", holy fucking hell
I also want to clarify, because I'm obviously getting pretty salty here (and I am, I am passionately upset about this, I will own that, although I don't think it invalidates any points I'm making) that I did NOT break this down the way I did to dunk on Elissa Slotkin, I did it because things like this are presented as so REASONABLE, so, IDK, professional, maybe? And mature, they're presented as "this is how the adults in the room think" and it's so very, very easy to nod along with it and ignore what is actually being said.

Other people are welcome to interpret this differently than I did but it's taken me a long time to learn how to read stuff like this critically and not just blindly accept it because it sounds like someone knows what they're talking about. Not that I'm super brilliant, I'm just some guy, feel free to ignore me, but if you read it earlier and just sort of nodded along with it maybe it's worth looking again and seeing if it feels any different to you on further reflection (maybe it won't! This is just my reading of it, you can get something different out of it; my interpretation, while undeniably brilliant because I wrote it, is not, like, some arbiter of truth and I bring my biases to how I interpret this just as Representative Slotkin brought her biases to writing it).

That said, it's really, really worth examining what people -- including people on "our side" -- are actually saying and what that says about what they value and how they'll act. Don't let them get caught up in irrelevancies like "process" or "he wasn't a good guy", recognizing what they're saying and justifying and what they're focusing on because that's what actually matters to them. This thread was appalling.
posted by an octopus IRL at 7:30 PM on January 3 [60 favorites]


Justifying the lawless execution of foreign officials is wading knee deep in the Rubicon.
posted by dmh at 7:36 PM on January 3 [13 favorites]


HOW I READ THAT ELISSA SLOTKIN THREAD

My impression was "diplomacy speak" for: hey cool someone had the balls to whack the guy we all wanted to, and did it because... WAIT what? You did it because some self absorbed urge? Are you out of your mind, it's gunna get a bunch of my friends whacked, we gotta stop this idjit, listen carefully, gotta come talk to daddy congress before any more whacking or we'll take away the piggy bank.
posted by sammyo at 7:43 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Do not disagree with prev analysis.
posted by sammyo at 7:44 PM on January 3


The problem with both sider-ism is that it’s a type of whatabout-ism. At this point in time, anyone in power who is calling for peace, no matter how unwoke their reasoning is, is on the right side of history. We don’t have time for this purity test bullshit any more EXACTLY BECAUSE innocent Iranian civilians will die and American troops will be needlessly risked.

Not sure if this is directed at me but, if it is, part of my point is that I don't in fact see people in power calling for peace, I see them calling for adherence to a process. If they were saying "peace is good" or "war is bad" that'd be one thing but that is genuinely not how I am reading most of the responses. Based on that, I don't really see much of a reason to believe they'll push back, including by voting against any sort of military action. With that in mind, I'm not entirely sure what "we don't have time for this..." means. Attempting to hold the Democrats accountable is not preventing me from doing other active anti-war organizing.

I also think using the phrase "purity test bullshit" when referring to someone talking, in what I tried really hard to be a thoughtful way, about ways in which the Democrat's responses are disappointing and not, in fact, engendering any confidence that they will take meaningful reaction to prevent war is itself kind of bullshit, although I'm also perhaps overly sensitive to the phrase "purity tests" which I pretty much only hear as a way to get people, especially but not exclusively people on the left, to shut up about issues that matter to them.
posted by an octopus IRL at 7:48 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


Just so we’re clear, there is literally nothing in this thread that would cause anyone in power to pause for even a microsecond. We may as well be arguing about the morality of gravity, or whether the moon is a hollow truncated icosahedron filled with sweetened nut milks. Hey, let’s all go look for Prester John, I’m pretty sure he’ll save us. This is all an exercise in meaningless argumentation, which can be creative fun but it’d be great if folks could stop attacking each other because nobody here will cause even the tiniest atom of reality to change.

...I mean, sure, prove me wrong and go convince Them to stop. You won’t, so we may as well be polite to each other when arguing our pointless points.
posted by aramaic at 7:55 PM on January 3 [26 favorites]


At this point in time, anyone in power who is calling for peace, no matter how unwoke their reasoning is, is on the right side of history. We don’t have time for this purity test bullshit any more EXACTLY BECAUSE innocent Iranian civilians will die and American troops will be needlessly risked.

No leftist posturing on the internet about examining the historical context for this action is going to change any politicians' behavior.* So for the rest of us as the people who vote these chuckleheads into power.... when is the right time to discuss how deeply militarist and imperialist the United States is? Honestly to me this sounds a lot like pleas after school shootings to not discuss systematic issues of gun manufacturing and availability.

(*I was radicalized against militarism when I protested against the Iraq War as a teenager in 2003. I went to DC more than once for marches with thousands of people in the streets, and I'm still waiting a decade and a half later for a real discussion about what the acceptable level of killing "bad guy" non-USians is. Unfortunately it seems there is never a good time to cut back on military spending or ideology, and my old antiwar friends tell me it's been like this since they were my age.)
posted by mostly vowels at 8:29 PM on January 3 [11 favorites]


Whatever happens with Iran, I’m confident Donald Trump can get us through it (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
As we walk down a road whose end not even experts can possibly guess, who better than Donald Trump to lead us? He is no expert. Who would you rather have steering this country through a nerve-racking and divisive period than Donald Trump, with his keen sense of history and equally keen sense of reality? And if things go south, whom else would I trust to keep an even keel and figure out solutions in a clearheaded manner? What name could possibly leap to mind before the name “Donald Trump”?

In the past, America has blundered into thankless wars that devoured decades and ended thousands of lives. We did not know what we were doing, and we did not know how to get out. But that was because Donald Trump was not in charge.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:35 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


"Congress needs to understand the Administration's plan as soon as possible"
Hands up everyone who thinks the Administration has a post assassination plan. Either before the hit or now. The Cheeto does these things on either a whim or because his Russian handler tells him to. There is no plan.
posted by Mitheral at 9:47 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


Perhaps the precise three months during which we may be selecting the eventual commander in chief for the next 4-8 years is not such a bad time for a vigorous debate about past and future Democratic foreign policy.

Biden, Buttigieg, Warren, Sanders.
posted by chortly at 10:13 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


> U.S. Airstrike Targets Iraqi Militia North of Baghdad, State TV Reports

Guardian: US denies latest airstrikes targeting Iraqi militia in Baghdad – live
22:38 Lack of official confirmation about the latest strikes means we’re feeling our way as to exactly what happened.
Newsweek says it has been told by Pentagon officials that the attack was on the Imam Ali Brigades, an Iraqi Shia militia with ties to Iran. There was a “high probability” that the strike resulted in the death of the brigades leader, Newsweek says, adding that it was a US operation.
00:31 The US-led coalition in Iraq says it did not carry out Saturday’s airstrikes near Taj stadium in Baghdad that killed several people, a spokesman has said, according to Reuters.

00:51 The statement from the US-led coalition, which is in Iraq and Syria to fight Islamic State, was tweeted out by a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, Colonel Myles B Caggins.
OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox)

FACT: The Coalition @CJTFOIR did NOT conduct airstrikes near Camp Taji (north of Baghdad) in recent days. January 4, 2020
Both Iraq’s umbrella grouping of Shia militias, the Popular Mobilisation Forces, and Iraqi state television said the airstrikes had taken place and that they were carried out by the US.
posted by katra at 10:19 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


FACT: Nothing makes me more skeptical about an assertion than prefacing it with "FACT:".
posted by j_curiouser at 11:42 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Trump Told Mar-a-Lago Pals to Expect ‘Big’ Iran Action ‘Soon’
In the five days prior to launching a strike that killed Iran’s most important military leader, Donald Trump roamed the halls of Mar-a-Lago, his private resort in Florida, and started dropping hints to close associates and club-goers that something huge was coming.

According to three people who’ve been at the president’s Palm Beach club over the past several days, Trump began telling friends and allies hanging at his perennial vacation getaway that he was working on a “big” response to the Iranian regime that they would be hearing or reading about very “soon.”
Ceterum censeo, Trumpo delenda est
posted by kirkaracha at 11:51 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


> Perhaps the precise three months during which we may be selecting the eventual commander in chief for the next 4-8 years is not such a bad time for a vigorous debate about past and future Democratic foreign policy.
This is absolutely true, and there is no better time for it. We have a responsibility now, more than ever, to think about who we would have making these decisions.
> Perhaps I'm late to this discussion but I wanted to talk about why people (such as me, a leftist) might be responding with what's seen as "bothsidesism"*. It seems like people pointing out some damaging stuff the Democratic party has done kind of got cast as "so you think Clinton would have been as bad as Trump?" and no, I definitely do not think that, I believe in harm reduction and I believe voting for Democrats is harm reduction. That said, my issue is not so much what Clinton would have done or what she and Obama did during his administration (although these are valid points and it's definitely worth talking about as part of this conversation!), my issue is the way Democratic lawmakers are reacting at this moment which in most cases I've seen breaks down as follows:

DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSPERSON'S (OR CANDIDATE, I'M LOOKING AT YOU PETE BUTTIGIEG) RESPONSE TO THE ASSASSINATION OF QASSIM SULEIMANI:

We all agree Suleimani was a bad guy -- I hate this because it absolutely cedes the framing of this whole thing to the Republicans/warmongers. Who the fuck cares if he was a bad guy? That's immaterial! It also implicitly justifies killing him. What a bad and unnecessary way to begin your response!
That said, there is a process here that requires Congress and that has not been followed -- I hate that the problem with this is seen as one of process and not one of it being bad and destabilizing and war being awful! This makes it sound like a lot of Democratic congresspeople have no problem with going to war with Iran, they're just mad they didn't get to vote on it, which frankly looking back on the Iraq war may be the case
We need to discuss this seriously because it involves a great risk to American [resources -- money, lives, standing abroad] -- I think throwing away American lives and also I guess money too on a war is very bad! I think wars are bad and I think people dying is bad! But the framing is entirely about what will happen to America, not the people (Iraqis and Iranians) most directly affected by this! What the fuck!

I think both these posters raise excellent points. As we make these considerations, and draw our conclusions, I think it's worth looking at the worrying degree to which pundits and politicians across the board are using frighteningly similar language to discuss this illegal assassination and act of war that we are now all, collectively, a party to. No matter how much some might want us to put that aside

There is a script, and it is being followed, and now almost all of the people with the power to stop this war are gleefully bringing us into it, on the basis of their shared insulation from the consequences. Chiding about process leads us into war. Emphasizing Suleimani's unique terribleness, as Maddow spent all day doing, like we have no concept of a CIA director in the west, leads us into war.

I'm gonna post eight statements here. All tweets, the initial statements made by Democratic Candidates Elizabeth Warren and Julián Castro, Democratic Representative Andy Kim, Republican Representatives Mike Johnson and Liz Cheney, Neonazi Pundits Ben Shapiro and Charlie Kirk, and vaguely liberal former Obama-era National Security advisor to the Vice President Colin Kahl. See if you can tell which are even which. A touch of emphasis added, to direct the eye.

---
Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands,
including hundreds of Americans
. But this reckless move escalates
the situation with Iran and increases the likelihood of more deaths and new
Middle East conflict. Our priority must be to avoid another costly war.
---
Soleimani was a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands
of people, including Americans
. However, Trump's reckless action,
without congressional approval, is a dangerous escalation that risks another
costly war in the Middle East.
---
Sick:
This is how members of the mainstream media mark the death of a brutal
terrorist
leader with the blood of thousands of Americans on his hands
A video of Suleimani reciting poetry is not "reporting the news"
It's eulogizing a murderer
---
Qassem Soleimani was an evil and deadly terrorist with the blood of
thousands, including hundreds of Americans, on his hands
.
@realDonaldTrump was right to order decisive action to kill Soleimani to prevent
further attacks and defend American lives and interests.
---
Soleimani was one of the leading terrorists on the planet, was
responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, was planning further
attacks on Americans, and was on foreigh soil doing so. Spot on comparison,
there, Sparky.
---
Suleimani was a murderer who has the blood of Americans and our allies
on his hands
. There is no doubt about that. But there is also no doubt that
these strikes significantly heighten the risk to Americans living in the region
including our military and domestic presence.
---
Soleimani was a terrorist with the blood of thousands on his hands
(and hundreds of Americans)
. Nobody should mourn him. But neither should we
kid ourselves about the possibility for a major escalation. I hope Team Trump has
thought through everything that is likely to follow.
---
Soleimani was a terrorist and murderer responsible for the slaughter of
thousands, including hundreds of Americans
. Because of the decisive action last
night, no one else will die by his hand, and our nation, our citizens, and our
allies are safer because of it.
---

It doesn't matter how many you guessed right. The point is obvious. I'd direct you to the answer key, but instead I'll toss you to @ItsDanSheehan:
This is gonna cost like 3 Medicare for Alls
posted by kafziel at 12:00 AM on January 4 [31 favorites]


Alexandra Petri is functionally identical to Lou Dobbs


Satire is not dead, it is undead
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:14 AM on January 4 [7 favorites]


From this morning's Guardian: Suleimani killing the latest in a long, grim line of US assassination efforts
There has been no shortage of US interventions over the past half century that have attempted – and in some cases succeeded – in removing foreign adversaries through highly dubious legal or ethical means. The country has admitted to making no fewer than eight assassination attempts on Castro, though the real figure was probably much higher.

William Blum, the author of Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, points to a litany of American sins from invasions, bombings, overthrowing of governments, assassinations to torture and death squads. “It’s not a pretty picture,” is his blunt conclusion.

The CIA was deemed to have run so amok in the 1960s and 70s that in 1975 the Church committee investigated a numerous attempted assassinations on foreign leaders including Lumumba, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem, and of course Castro. In the fallout, President Ford banned US involvement in foreign political assassinations.

The ban didn’t last long. Since 1976 the US has continued to be engaged in, or accused of, efforts to eradicate foreign leaders.
...
But most of the interventions in the modern era have been covert and conducted beneath the radar. Where they have been proclaimed publicly, they have tended to target non-state actors operating in militias or militant groups like Islamic State.
And then there is this: Mike Pence pushes 9/11 conspiracy theories to justify Suleimani killing
That's just stupid, why would he say that?
Experts have also pointed out that Suleimani, a Shia leader, would have been an unlikely ally to the Sunni militants that carried out the attacks. This isn’t the first time that the Trump administration and supporters have promoted a link between al-Qaida – the group that launched the 9/11 attack – and Iran. Insisting that these groups are in cahoots could be key in legally justifying a war against Iran.

A 2001 law allows the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons” – without waiting for congressional approval.
Having slept after reading all the great comments on this thread, I woke up with two thoughts:
- you cannot be elected in the USA if you are not "patriotic", and in most states, "patriotic" means that you support killing brown people. That is why we have all the politicians saying stupid stuff right now. It's sad, but it is a direct effect of the rise of the military industrial complex. Changing that is a generational challenge, along with that of climate change, and hey, they are totally mashed together.
- the best way to stop Trump from going ahead with this is to loudly and clearly point out to him that he is repeating Bush jr.'s mistakes, to the comma. I don't know who is goading Trump into this war, but it is someone who is good at triggering his not exactly stable genius impulses. I think that tweet about Iran never winning a war but never losing a negotiation is the exact sentence that got him on board. Yesterday on the radio I heard a lot of European leaders and commentators asking (themselves) what that even means. I think that means that this is what the person(s) who want a war with Iran said to him, and it worked, because that is how Trump works.
Bush, like Trump, was an anti-war candidate, but he got caught up in fear and insecurity and the seductive voices of the NeoCon war-mongers and their pipe dream of transforming the Middle East. Trump's whisperers aren't the NeoCons, but they are as good at reading the president's weaknesses.
posted by mumimor at 2:24 AM on January 4 [12 favorites]


I don't know who is goading Trump into this war,

My nut job conspiracy theory is that Trump is giving Bolton his war so that Bolton keeps his mouth shut on Ukraine.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:29 AM on January 4 [17 favorites]


This is your regularly scheduled reminder that only one country has ever used nuclear weapons in anger and that they did it twice.
Please carry on.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 4:56 AM on January 4 [10 favorites]


Shades of C12th.
The Red Flag of Vengance has been raised over a mosque in the holy city of Qom.
It will only be removed when Qasssem Soleimani's death is considered avenged.
posted by adamvasco at 5:26 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


Two overnight thoughts/questions:

1. About Democrats and "he's a bad guy but": How much of that comes from personal commitment to imperialist war in the middle east that they conceal because they think it will be unpopular? How much of it comes from sheer lack of thought? How much of it comes from the perception that they have to cater to "ordinary Americans" who "need" to hear the bad guy part and would find it "too radical" to be presented with a slightly morally complex argument?

How many Americans do require this triangulation? Of Democratic voters, how many really are actively invested in war in the ME? Not "how many can be worked up into supporting it for stupid reasons" but "how many would actually find 'let's not have a war, we control our own behavior' stuff a big turn-off at the polls"?

Like, one routinely hears that Obama's drone war was an alternative to a worse and larger war, and that he did not have the option of just winding the whole thing down - that there was so much political pressure for military engagement in the ME that he had to do something. Where did this political pressure come from? Did it actually exist? I think it's important to know whether Democratic leaders are actively committed to the Forever War and using voters as a scrim, whether Democratic voters are committed to the Forever War or whether the leaders are basically really mistaken about popular beliefs and options*.

2. How do we envision this changing? How do we envision getting real action on climate change? Folks are talking about having anti-war protests today. Do we think that any anti-war protest of the usual sort, where we all chant "Hands off [place soon to be invaded and/or bombed]" and "the people united will never be defeated" is going to do a lick of good? Do we think that that even the militant kind where a few windows get broken is going to do any good?

The government does not care. They have cared very little in all our long history, and they care even less now. They're planning to burn this place to the ground and rule the ashes, and that goes for the majority of Democrats as well as the GOP.

Really, seriously, try to envision a path to social change based on the politicians we have now - based on their actions and their economic connections, not based on vague promises in the early days of an election. What would need to change in this country for those people to be forced to get out of the ME and take radical steps on climate change? Consider that coldly and soberly. It would be better to be more militant now, in an organized manner, even if it's at some personal risk and inconvenience, than to be pushed into it out of desperation ten or twenty years down the road when there's less left to save.

*I've been reading some stuff about the Blitz lately and the UK government believed a lot of stuff about popular sentiment that was just totally wrong because they thought ordinary people were stupid and cowardly - it is possible for elites to have so much contempt for the capacities of ordinary people that they lose the ability to discern what people actually think.
posted by Frowner at 5:54 AM on January 4 [24 favorites]


Having slept on the news I wake up not with the dull, sobering ache of "shit, something awful happened yesterday" but with the terrifying realization that what we witnessed yesterday was only the bright white flash after a nuclear explosion. The shockwave & the firestorm are still ahead of us, never mind the fallout. May God have mercy on me for the thoughts I have towards America right now.
posted by dmh at 6:52 AM on January 4 [5 favorites]


Not to get into the weeds of leftism vs liberalism vs neoliberalism vs whatever, but yeah. Regardless of party the major political players are all in rough agreement on the idea of the USA being an aggressive neo-colonial power with a vested interest in both producing war and preventing democracy in foreign nations that American corporate interests want to plunder.

As well, ultimately, of preventing any sort of real reform of American economics, corporate structures, or social support system. Whether it's regulatory capture, or just shared class interests, or an actual conspiracy (that last I really doubt) the result is the same: American politicians will never act to prevent a war of aggression and will always act to both shield entities that topple democratically elected foreign governments and to empower them and will always act to keep American citizens at a bare subsistence level so we're hungry, worried, and ready to go to war when we're told the evil brown foreigners are responsible for our economic woes.

With the Republicans I'd argue that we're looking at a party that is genuinely founded on the ideals of aristocracy and simply does not agree that democracy is a good idea. With the Democrats I have no idea, but it feels like a combination of repeated and ongoing betrayal and the worst sort of bumbling malcompetence imaginable.

When was the last time the Democrats were actually, truly, able or willing to stop a war?

Not only did Obama continue all of Junior's wars he started new aggression and even claimed the dictatorial power to simply execute inconvenient American citizens without going to the fuss and bother of even formally filing charges against them much less bothering with the trouble of arrest and trial.

So we march. And we get war because regardless of all their other differences both parties in the USA are firmly united in true bipartisan agreement that no matter what else happens America must always be bombing the shit out of brown people.
posted by sotonohito at 7:24 AM on January 4 [16 favorites]


About Democrats and "he's a bad guy but" . . . How many Americans do require this triangulation? Of Democratic voters, how many really are actively invested in war in the ME? Not "how many can be worked up into supporting it for stupid reasons" but "how many would actually find 'let's not have a war, we control our own behavior' stuff a big turn-off at the polls"?

Many, many Americans want the triangulation. They want the president to protect them. The point of triangulation is not because people have opinions about the correct policy in the Middle East; it's to show you are willing to make a "tough decision" when American lives are at stake. Saying "killing people is wrong and we shouldn't do that" implies you will let people kill Americans.

[N.B. I'm describing public attitudes, not advocating anything.]
posted by mark k at 8:29 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


It’s worth noting that this wouldn’t be the first time a US president has bombed a foreign country for reasons of domestic expediency (regardless of your definition of “domestic”):
Bombing Serbia was a family affair in the Clinton White House. Hillary Clinton revealed to an interviewer in the summer of 1999, “I urged him to bomb. You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?” A biography of Hillary Clinton, written by Gail Sheehy and published in late 1999, stated that Mrs. Clinton had refused to talk to the president for eight months after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. She resumed talking to her husband only when she phoned him and urged him in the strongest terms to begin bombing Serbia; the president began bombing within 24 hours.
The Sheehy biography actually states that they had “barely spoken” and for seven months, not eight. But otherwise this is a pretty accurate summary of the book, although the biography itself doesn’t use the same framing (Bill carrying out a bombing campaign to appease Hillary); rather, it just states the course of events (affair comes to light, they don’t talk, Hillary urges him to intervene, he does). You can read it online if you sign up to the Internet Archive’s Open Library. It’s called Hillary’s Choice and the relevant passage is pp343-345.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:46 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Come on... that way of describing politics is exactly what we need to loose.
posted by mumimor at 8:50 AM on January 4 [7 favorites]


I don’t read the “he was a bad man but...” line as a shibboleth for proving adherence to Forever War and American imperialism. It’s the thing that you have to say in 2019 to not get accused on Fox News of being a “Secret Islamist Traitor” for an entire 24 hour news cycle. And that is a bad thing because it takes the oxygen out of the room for discussing the “but...” part, which is truly important with regard to the goal of saving lives.

Yes, Democrats dumbly accept Republican framing all the time and they vote alongside neocons and Trumpists at a truly astonishing rate, but there is simply no argument to be made that any of the top Dem candidates or Hillary Clinton would be starting a war against Iran right now. All of them would have kept the momentum of the Iran treaty.

How we talk about this stuff matters, because we lose 2020 the same way we lost 2016 and the same way we lost 2000, by discouraging progressive voters. Both sider-ism is a proven way to discourage hesitant voters.

Losing 2020 to Trump and the Trump party means people will die who wouldn’t die otherwise.

The left often cares more about ideological purity than results. Intent matters, sure. But impact actually kills people.
posted by Skwirl at 8:57 AM on January 4 [12 favorites]


It’s the thing that you have to say in 2019 to not get accused on Fox News of being a “Secret Islamist Traitor” for an entire 24 hour news cycle.

They already call Joe Biden a Maoist.

Appearing bloodthirsty to appeal to fox news is the losingest strategy.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:00 AM on January 4 [5 favorites]


The Washington Post has: How Trump decided to kill a top Iranian general

There is so much idiocy in there, a stark reminder that there are no adults in that room. One thing the article reminded me of is a big difference between assassinating a terrorist leader and a government official; when a terrorist leader dies, it is often a hard strike to the organization he leads, because those are by nature based on personal trust and communication. When you attack a government official, you will attract huge anger and probably also be breaking international law. But there is by nature a huge state apparatus ready to continue their work. Of course there is, it's a state, not a gang of criminals. But the Trumpists, a gang of criminals, still don't get how real government works.
posted by mumimor at 9:14 AM on January 4 [18 favorites]


Hillary's Choice

Alternatively, Wag the Dog is on Amazon Prime Video. This is not some kind of secret history.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:16 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


We tried eight solid years of appeasement tactics for FOX News and their worshipers during the Obama administration. It failed utterly.

The Democrats cannot possibly be so stupid they really think that if only they genuflect to FOX's framing and demands that FOX will not attack them. That has never worked, will never work, and can never work. Always, no matter what, FOX will describe any non-Republican as a dyed in the wool Communist terrorism lover who hates America, mom, and apple pie. This is only demonstrated by the entire history of FOX news.

Therefore it is impossible for anyone smart enough to be a contender for office to genuinely think that they can avoid being smeared by FOX if only they endorse Republican talking points and framing enough.

They are using the Republican framing because they want to. Because they think it is good framing. Because they think the ideology and agenda behind that framing is valid, good, and worth advancing.

I like Warren mostly. But that she's prefacing her supposed condemnation of Trump's evil actions with full buy in on the Republican framing that means she doesn't really condemn Trump's actions.

The Democrats endorsing the Republican position aren't doing so because they fear that otherwise FOX will be mean to them. They're doing so because they truly believe in the Republican position.
posted by sotonohito at 9:19 AM on January 4 [13 favorites]


I think it's important to know whether Democratic leaders are actively committed to the Forever War and using voters as a scrim, whether Democratic voters are committed to the Forever War or whether the leaders are basically really mistaken about popular beliefs and options*.

I'm just some guy (not even American) sitting in a warm room in the Pac-Northwest, but I've been watching your news and the related rain of bullshit for over half a century now and feel compelled to to say, sadly, that America is the Forever War, and probably has been since at least the end of WW2, the commitments made in the aftermath of all that and onward into the so-called Cold War years to keep the big hungry machine/beast alive and kicking (Eisenhower saw it and called it for what it was).

This first came really clear to me in 1991, the run up to the first Gulf War, the realization that one of the key driving arguments for it was simply that America Needed A War. It had been over a decade and a half since Vietnam wound down and here was this inconceivably massive stockpile of weaponry and related machinery and infrastructure effectively turning to rust, and with it the core of the world's largest economy. The choice was simple. Either find a use for it all now or reinvent what had come to be the nation's primary reason to exist (economically speaking). We all know how that worked out. And then, eleven or twelve years later, they did it again, and we've been in sort of Forever Mode ever since with the current crisis no doubt feeling like a HELL of an opportunity to justify all manner of upgrades and the like.

So to my mind for America to not continue to commit to the Forever War now would be for America to break. Fundamentally. To which I say, good and inevitable. This has to happen if there's a hope for humanity. I have no idea how to do it or how it might play out, but the alternative is not sustainable, the alternative is ... horror.

And that which is broken can be fixed. Sometimes it's even stronger for it. Here's hoping.
posted by philip-random at 9:21 AM on January 4 [23 favorites]


So to my mind for America to not continue to commit to the Forever War now would be for America to break. Fundamentally. To which I say, good and inevitable. This has to happen if there's a hope for humanity. I have no idea how to do it or how it might play out, but the alternative is not sustainable, the alternative is ... horror.

When every institutional political avenue supports imperial wars, revolutionary defeatism is the only alternative to absolute despair.
posted by Rust Moranis at 9:27 AM on January 4


When was the last time the Democrats were actually, truly, able or willing to stop a war

When Trump was elected, I knew we would have to overcome not only every Republican, but 60% of Democratic representatives to get any change done. There are glimmers now with AOC and To Khanna introducing concrete actions that can be taken to take Trump's toys away. Even if you are bitterly disillusioned with Dems, you can donate to primary challengers and campaign to get Senators married to defense contractors replaced by normal people outside of the military industrial complex. Third parties are not an option in the face of fascism, we have to work within our broken system to fix it.
posted by benzenedream at 9:30 AM on January 4 [10 favorites]




but there is simply no argument to be made that any of the top Dem candidates or Hillary Clinton would be starting a war against Iran right now.

Using a search engine and 'hillary clinton 2016 iran' has hits one could make an argument based on the reporting of the day. With things like Senator Clinton for her vote to designate the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group there is a reason she was seen as more hawkish than Trump.

Alas, 'bloomberg iran' hits the news service VS old statements by Mike. Biden had said
We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon. Period. Period. End of discussion. It will not happen on our watch.
Now how does one have something like that "not happen" without the use of force if the government really wants such an outcome?

Losing 2020 to Trump and the Trump party means people will die who wouldn’t die otherwise.

Same can be said for any elected official because some people are going to be selected to die that would not have under another party. And really, the US government is OK with people dying. And so are the voters because:

At this point in time, anyone in power who is calling for peace, no matter how unwoke their reasoning is, is on the right side of history.

That was a big part of Ron Paul's pitch. And the closest one running, based on her own marketing* is Gabbard. Sanders has a long record so the post 9/11 vote is out there but the bulk of his voting has been about as close as one's gonna get. The (ex?) Quaker in the race is gone and it wasn't clear how much of a pro-peace guy he was.

Peace isn't something the people in power want. And based on posts here on The Blue over time about Paul/Gabbard there are 'disqualifying' things for being on the "right side of history" and also being in power.

As well, ultimately, of preventing any sort of real reform of American economics, corporate structures, or social support system. Whether it's regulatory capture, or just shared class interests, or an actual conspiracy (that last I really doubt)

A conspiracy is when people act in secret. This harm is all proudly out in the open.

*Gabbard has language about how violence is needed, it just needs to be the right KIND of targeted violence. But many of her believers think she's pro-peace.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:33 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


WaPo: “It was tremendously bold and even surprised many of us,” said a senior administration official with knowledge of high-level discussions among Trump and his advisers.

Look out. They are using the "bold" word again. Perhaps you remember during the Bush administration that they used the "bold" word every time Bush ratcheted up the war violence.

You can substitute the word "unhinged".
posted by JackFlash at 9:35 AM on January 4 [12 favorites]


Hillary in 2008 was a different person that Hillary in 2016. But all that is old history.

I think a lot of Democrats sincerely hate war and want to get out of it. But they don't know how. When they get into government, there are hundreds of "serious" people explaining to them how some things are "necessary". This applies to the economy as well, and those things are completely intertwined, as stated several times above, and yes, Ike. And they don't have the tools to argue against that imagined necessity. They don't know how to move the economy out of dependency on oil and arms and barracks (and prisons).

The Democratic Party needs to devise a strategy for change that transcends the individual candidates and reaches out across the Nation, right down to dogcatcher. One candidate does not have the national resources to seriously create a Green New Deal that works.
posted by mumimor at 9:43 AM on January 4 [7 favorites]


So to my mind for America to not continue to commit to the Forever War now would be for America to break. Fundamentally.

Okay, so for America to break - how does that happen? Can it happen without, like, every non-rich American dying?

This is why I'm trying to frame my question as about Democrats specifically - many people seem to feel that if we vote in a solid Democratic majority, they will wind all of this down. Which is why it matters whether the vast majority of Democratic politicians actually buy into the war (and are using the "bad guy but" framing because they are totally cool with US imperialism because of their class solidarity) or if they wrongly believe that they need to use this framing to get over, or if they correctly assume that most Democratic voters actively require this framing. (There's a difference between "respond to this framing when it's ginned up" and "require this framing to vote for Democrats")

If most Democratic politicians support US imperialism but most average people are basically indifferent (even if they can be rallied round the flag at times), that's one scenario.

If most Democratic politicians support US imperialism and most Democratic voters support it, that's another.

If the politicians are so contemptuous or ignorant of ordinary people that they use this unneeded framing without believing it themselves and ordinary people don't require it, that's a third.

Etc, etc.

Bernie, AOC, Ilhan Omar and a few of the other left Democrats are leading on this - staking out a clear position that the average person can follow. If the Democrats get a solid Democratic majority, are they going to follow Bernie, AOC, etc or are they going to be closet imperialists?

If it's closet imperialism and capitalist class solidarity all the way down, change is not going to come at the ballot box and "breaking" is either going to mean "going along until things literally collapse and the US does not have the personnel or material to sustain imperialism" (which might take a while) or, at the very least, a Weimar-style upheaval and revolution via a mass movement.

Because this is a pretty broad spread of options, I think it's worthwhile to figure out - and not just figure out but consolidate a widespread understanding around. People need to be real about whether eg Warren is just talking a good game but is going to continue business as usual if she gets elected. Or Biden! Do we really believe that Biden is going to lead an anti-war coalition?

The point is, climate change and imperialism co-create each other. If people are going to maintain US imperialism/regional dominance/whatever, they aren't going to do anything about climate change except perhaps at the edges.
posted by Frowner at 9:44 AM on January 4 [20 favorites]


This first came really clear to me in 1991, the run up to the first Gulf War, the realization that one of the key driving arguments for it was simply that America Needed A War. It had been over a decade and a half since Vietnam wound down and here was this inconceivably massive stockpile of weaponry and related machinery and infrastructure effectively turning to rust, and with it the core of the world's largest economy.

The following link is a list of the assorted military misadventures of the United States of America, whether against the British to obtain independence, against the existing inhabitants of land Americans wanted, against other sovereign nations or against themselves. The accompanying list is of wars involving the United States.

America has been around as a distinct national entity for over two centuries. It's a pretty good sample size for what we are all about and what we do. And it is remarkably difficult to pick out a single ten-year period in which America was neither officially at war with anyone nor at least sending its soldiers, ships or planes elsewhere to intimidate, kill people, break things, and reshape global politics to its liking.

And most of that was _before_ the fabled Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex tightened its control over America far more effectively than in Eisenhower's worst nightmares.

This is what we do. A disturbing percentage of we Americans tend to believe that "E Pluribus Unum" translates to "Might makes right," and are resistant to anything - anything - that might reduce that in any aspect.
posted by delfin at 9:56 AM on January 4 [11 favorites]


Well, here we are, still alive. A couple of articles on the topic caught my attention, like this one:

Mike Pompeo has expressed disappointment with European reaction to the US killing of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, suggesting that the UK, France and Germany had not been sufficiently supportive.

The US secretary of state compared the European response unfavourably with US “partners in the region”, a likely reference to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which Pompeo had consulted after the Suleimani assassination.

“I spent the last day-and-a-half, two days, talking to partners in the region, sharing with them what we were doing, why we were doing it, seeking their assistance. They’ve all been fantastic,” Pompeo told Fox TV. “And then talking to our partners in other places that haven’t been quite as good.

“Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be. The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well. Qassem Suleimani led and his IRGC [Revolutionary Guard] led assassination campaigns in Europe. This was a good thing for the entire world, and we are urging everyone in the world to get behind what the United States is trying to do to get the Islamic Republic of Iran to simply behave like a normal nation.”


I don't have words strong enough to express the disgust at the slew of articles on estimating the impact on the price of oil rather than estimating the losses of Australia's biota on a planetary scale - Australia is a continent
posted by Mrs Potato at 10:04 AM on January 4 [20 favorites]


According to Iraqi officials, rescuers identified Suleimani’s body among the casualties by the blood-red ring he always wore that was still attached to his ash-covered left hand. LAT

I wonder.
posted by Mrs Potato at 10:14 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Matt Yglesias at Vox:
I vividly recall spending much of the winter of 2002-2003 arguing with other college students about the then-looming US invasion of Iraq.

In the strongly anti-Bush climate on campus, one popular view was that the administration was simply lying about the strength of its intelligence on Iraqi WMD programs. I felt this was naive; the Bush team not only had direct access to the intelligence, but they were the ones pushing for an invasion that would, if it happened, end up exposing exactly what the state of those programs was. It was preposterous to believe, as my anti-war friends did, that Bush’s team was deliberately engineering a series of events that would simply lead to them being utterly discredited.

This was, needless to say, flawed logic on my part that was really driven home last night as Bush administration officials Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer appeared on Sean Hannity’s program to
advocate for hawkish policy toward Iran
.
posted by Ouverture at 10:21 AM on January 4 [38 favorites]


General Atomics (who manufactured the drone used in the strike on the Baghdad airport) PAC gives pretty consistently to both parties - "low" years for Democrats are around 23% of donations, but have ranged as high as 48%.

Via OpenSecrets
posted by mostly vowels at 10:23 AM on January 4 [11 favorites]


The Red Flag of Vengance has been raised over a mosque in the holy city of Qom.
It will only be removed when Qasssem Soleimani's death is considered avenged.


I wonder if there's any high profile American leader whose death would be considered some sort of proportional response, assuming Iran would actually choose or claim assassination as a response.

I can't really say I understand Soleimani's place in Iranian society well enough to speculate about equivalents, but perhaps a widely recognized figure who many might say "he was a bad guy", in spite of whatever minority fundamentalist political support he might enjoy.
posted by wildblueyonder at 10:26 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Some stuff from not the usual sources but credible papers nonetheless

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, who argued that “the dangerous U.S. military operation violates the basic norms of international relations and will aggravate regional tensions and turbulence,” according to Chinese media. The strike killed a total of five Iranian Guards and five members of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network, whose members have close ties to Tehran.

Among the dead was the Hashed’s deputy Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who was a top adviser and personal friend to Soleimani. Mass ceremonies started in Baghdad on Saturday for the dead, with Iraq’s caretaker Premier Adel Abdel Mahdi and top pro-Iran figures in large crowds accompanying the coffins. They were first brought to a revered Shia shrine in northern Baghdad, where thousands of mourners chanted “Death to America!”

Dressed in black, they waved white Hashed flags and massive portraits of Iranian and Iraqi leaders, furiously calling for “revenge”. The remains were then moved to the shrine city of Karbala and would ultimately end up in Najaf, where the Iraqis will be buried. The Guards’ remains would be flown to Iran, which has declared three days of mourning and religious rituals.
The Hindu


“We expect India as our reliable friend to advise the United States to follow international norms and not destabilise the region. We have the right to retaliate, but Iranians are patient, we will choose the time and place of our response to this killing. The Hindu
posted by Mrs Potato at 10:41 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


Probably linked upthread
His (Suleimani's) power comes mostly from his close relationship with Khamenei, who provides the guiding vision for Iranian society. The Supreme Leader, who usually reserves his highest praise for fallen soldiers, has referred to Suleimani as “a living martyr of the revolution.”
posted by adamvasco at 10:46 AM on January 4


How many Americans had ever heard of Soleimani before we killed him?
posted by kirkaracha at 10:48 AM on January 4 [16 favorites]


Hint: Not Donald Trump

Hugh Hewitt: Are you familiar with General Soleimani?

Trump: Yes, go ahead, give me a little, go ahead, tell me.

Hewitt: He runs the Quds Forces.

Trump: Yes, okay, right. The Kurds, by the way, have been horribly mistreated by…

Hewitt: No, not the Kurds, the Quds Forces, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Forces.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:59 AM on January 4 [25 favorites]




Simulated War Between U.S.-Iran Has Grisly End

Guess it's time to rearrange the numerals on Millennium Challenge 2002
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:19 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


The extreme religious fruitcakes are outdoing themselves in Batshit Insaneness.
posted by adamvasco at 11:28 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


i don't know. maybe vox, military times, npr, foreign affairs and company don't need to be helping us vividly visualize a war that is not exactly happening yet, like a couple generations of media didn't need to help us vividly visualize living under authoritarian rule.
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:31 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


“Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be. The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well. Qassem Suleimani led and his IRGC [Revolutionary Guard] led assassination campaigns in Europe. This was a good thing for the entire world, and we are urging everyone in the world to get behind what the United States is trying to do to get the Islamic Republic of Iran to simply behave like a normal nation.”

Pompeo is a bag of cholera-infested shit. Sorry, but I'm angry now.

Anyway, it does look as if this version of a "coalition of the willing" will be Israel + a bunch of totalitarian oil states.
You never know with Poland and Hungary, but it does seem like Brexit has led to more collective decision-making in the EU. So that's a step forward...
posted by mumimor at 12:00 PM on January 4 [8 favorites]




"Jesus, do we have to explain why we do these things?"
!!!!!!!!!!!
Did I mention up above that the Trump administration is like a criminal gang? Well, you no longer need my guessing. It's official. Literally.
posted by mumimor at 12:44 PM on January 4 [6 favorites]


adamvasco, aren't pompeo and pence part of those groups?
posted by Mrs Potato at 12:58 PM on January 4


Live stream broadcast from Karbala : "Sardar Soleimani" funeral
posted by hortense at 1:21 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Boy, that transcript is really something. It starts with the State Department officials arbitrarily shutting down any comparison to the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War and then ends with them saying that the attack was definitely not an assassination because we have secret intelligence that you'll just have to trust us on that.

QUESTION: Can – so can you be more specific on what these – what the intelligence said about the planned attacks? And I know you’ve gotten this before, and you will continue to get it since what happened in 2003 happened, which is —

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: You’re not going to make the Iraq comparison.

...

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL THREE: We were heading towards further attacks if we did not act. That is clear to me, and I think it’s clear to the other people briefing you.

Have some fun with it, guy. Tell us Soleimani had to go because he was trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger and then act mad and confused when people bring up 2003 again.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 1:24 PM on January 4 [16 favorites]


Mrs Potato
Yes.
The Rapture and the Real World: Mike Pompeo Blends Beliefs and Policy
A Theology of Power: Mike Pence and the Dominionists
posted by adamvasco at 1:29 PM on January 4 [8 favorites]


Thanks, I deleted my tweeted question to you btw asking the same. It is as i suspected and thus, given this faith/belief system, they're going to have the war they have been waiting for. There is no reason that can shake deep belief and faith. And any attempts to swerve them from this path will only be seen as righteous roadblocks to rapture. Btw, are these rapture/war believers only in america or also in britain and the eu?
posted by Mrs Potato at 1:37 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


ends with them saying that the attack was definitely not an assassination because we have secret intelligence that you'll just have to trust us on that.

Yeah... no one but absolute true believers are going to trust you on that. Based on empirical data, the exact opposite is extraordinarily more likely.
posted by avalonian at 1:44 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]


Not a fan of David Ignatius, but the end of this opinion piece (WaPo) is to the point:
Iran drives the United States to extremes. To free hostages, Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan both tried covert operations that went badly awry. To subvert the Iranian nuclear program, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama launched a computer virus known as Stuxnet that inaugurated modern cyberwar.

And now, Trump has entered a new era of warfare by openly authorizing the killing of a military leader of another nation, using an armed drone. If you don’t think that will happen again, somewhere else, you may be missing the most important unintended consequence of Thursday’s attack in Baghdad.

Soleimani was an iconic figure, but he was replaced as commander of the Quds Force within a day, and the destructive, destabilizing power of the Iranian revolution — a menace that has ensnared five American presidents — continues. Each time we think we’ve found the antidote, we seem to open a new chapter that’s even worse.
posted by mumimor at 1:55 PM on January 4 [7 favorites]


The Democrats’ Gutless Response to Trump’s Airstrike: Much of the party, including nearly all its presidential candidates, are still scared to categorically reject war.
It is commonly said that many of the internal debates at the heart of the Democratic primary have been driven by purity politics—the devotees of the various candidates, some scoff, are fighting over proposals that will never pass and, by doing so, are choosing moral grandstanding over meaningful debate. This is wrong on multiple fronts. In the first place, the American people should have the right to know and discuss how the presidential candidates would address the problems facing the country if they could and why.

This line of discourse critique falls especially flat when it comes to foreign policy. Over the course of generations, American presidents have been given an extraordinary amount of power to wage war and otherwise set American priorities abroad entirely on their own—without the assent of Congress or the broader public, and in many cases without even their knowledge. There are clear differences on these matters among the candidates vying for the Democratic nomination and within the party the next Democratic president will essentially lead. Whatever else may come of the Trump administration’s strike against Suleimani, the responses from the opposition so far have already been incredibly revealing.
posted by Ouverture at 1:57 PM on January 4 [7 favorites]


Is their God so weak that they can force his hand into acting outside of His chosen time-line? That's what it sounds like when they beat the drum for war for the sole purpose of bringing Jesus back. The word "hubris" comes to mind.
posted by ambulocetus at 2:03 PM on January 4 [10 favorites]


The Sheehy biography actually states that they had “barely spoken” and for seven months, not eight. But otherwise this is a pretty accurate summary of the book, although the biography itself doesn’t use the same framing (Bill carrying out a bombing campaign to appease Hillary); rather, it just states the course of events (affair comes to light, they don’t talk, Hillary urges him to intervene, he does).

God I can’t believe that I’m defending Bill Clinton but here we go...

One of the biggest non-interventionist mistakes Bill Clinton ever made was the Tutsi genocide of Rwanda. In 1994 the Hutus killed over 500,000 Tutsis and their moderate allies. The United States did nothing.

Now come 1999, we’ve had the Bosnian War. Serbia tried ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Bosniaks but was stopped (not quickly enough for the 8000 that were massacred). Now they were trying again with the Albanians in Kosovo. Please. I would have called in that bombing myself because JFC if I let Rwanda happen on my watch I wouldn’t let a second one go down in Kosovo.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:09 PM on January 4 [29 favorites]


Not a fan of David Ignatius, but the end of this opinion piece (WaPo) is to the point:

⌘F 1953: No results
⌘F Coup d'état: No results
⌘F Operation Ajax: No results
⌘F Mohammad Mosaddegh: No results
⌘F SAVAK: No results

Welp, I guess those crazy Iranians just took over our embassy in 1979 for no reason. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by kirkaracha at 2:09 PM on January 4 [12 favorites]


Welp, I guess those crazy Iranians just took over our embassy in 1979 for no reason. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

There is something incredible just seeing all these "credible" "experts" gloss over just why Iran may hold antipathy towards America. The hatred must obviously be all of America's freedoms.
posted by Ouverture at 2:15 PM on January 4 [9 favorites]


a new era of warfare by openly authorizing the killing of a military leader of another nation, using an armed drone. If you don’t think that will happen again, somewhere else, you may be missing the most important unintended consequence of Thursday’s attack in Baghdad.

I am sure that this is being thought of in capitals around the world, and particularly among the great powers (eg. UN security council permanent members) most of whom have been twitter trolled by trump.

Who wants an American drone to show up in their airspace?

I found this observation worth noting, made by the Finnish foreign minister yesterday

"I am above all worried about the situation of ordinary people. These kinds of clouds of war in the heavens mean no good for everyone," Haavisto said.

The minister said that the drone strike indicated that the United States had at its disposal a great deal of intelligence about the movements of the Iranian military leader.

posted by Mrs Potato at 2:25 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]


Per @rcallimachi / Rukmini Callimachi it seems like the evidence they are claiming for the assasination could be fairly overblown...
1. I’ve had a chance to check in with sources, including two US officials who had intelligence briefings after the strike on Suleimani. Here is what I’ve learned. According to them, the evidence suggesting there was to be an imminent attack on American targets is “razor thin”.

2. In fact the evidence pointing to that came as three discrete facts: a) A pattern of travel showing Suleimani was in Syria, Lebanon & Iraq to meet with Shia proxies known to have an offensive position to the US. (As one source said that’s just “business as usual” for Suleimani)

3. More intriguing was b) information indicating Suleimani sought the Supreme Leader’s approval for an operation. He was told to come to Tehran for consultation and further guidance, suggesting the operation was a big deal - but again this could be anything.

4. And finally, a) and b) were read in the context of c) Iran’s increasingly bellicose position towards American interests in Iraq, including the attack that killed a U.S. contractor and the recent protest outside the American embassy.

5. But as one source put it a) + b) + c) is hardly evidence of an imminent attack on American interests that could kill hundreds, as the White House has since claimed. The official describes the reading of the intelligence as an illogical leap.
The thread continues on twitter.

Threadreader version
posted by Buntix at 2:25 PM on January 4 [18 favorites]


But there is no possible comparison with a former administration's successful sexing-up of cherry-picked intel for the sake of political expediency. None at all. No sirree.
posted by flabdablet at 2:48 PM on January 4 [7 favorites]


Among the few Trump supporters I know here in California, the supposedly non-interventionist foreign policy was a major selling point. Wonder which direction they'll go in response to the war-mongering machine lumbering into action.
posted by Standard Orange at 3:10 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Now come 1999, we’ve had the Bosnian War.

As I remember there was a US bombing of some Chinese. Called "an accident" and the lack of an updated map at the time per memory. Later payments were quietly made to the survivor per memory. Later still - a comment about how the Chinese were passing data to the not-US side per memory.

Perhaps what happened there will be the template to the future in this Iran case? A modern telling of the tale here.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:12 PM on January 4


Trump engaging in further de-escalation now on twitter:
Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have.....

....targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!
Which in addition to threatening war crimes (the targeting of cultural sites) would presumably mean things going rapidly from slow and asymmetric to all out conventional war and massive amounts of devastation in Iran and whatever nearby countries get dragged in...
posted by Buntix at 3:14 PM on January 4 [24 favorites]


Well, that just pretty much guarantees an Iranian strike. He never understands letting someone save face, especially internally. He just got to visibly win, no matter what.
posted by Bovine Love at 3:17 PM on January 4


Donald Trump’s decision to authorise the assassination also appeared to have driven a wedge between Washington and its allies, with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, telephoning Iraq’s acting prime minister to express support for the country’s sovereignty in an implicit rebuke of the strike, which was carried out without the knowledge of Iraqi leaders. There's more covering all the different viewpoints here.

Meanwhile at the Carib -a - Lago

Boris Johnson was facing growing criticism on Saturday night for failing to cut short his Caribbean holiday as the Middle East faced one of the gravest crises since the Iraq war in 2003.

The thing about war is that at this point in history, whilst Australia is burning, Indonesia is drowning and Norway has 19 Celsius temperatures, is this where manpower, materials, money, and irreplaceable resources should go towards, or can we stop denying already?
posted by Mrs Potato at 3:26 PM on January 4 [10 favorites]


The most powerful military in world history is headed by terrorists. Any Democrat who isn’t an anti-imperialist by now is worse than useless.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:29 PM on January 4 [13 favorites]


otoh, some interesting tidbits embedded here:

In a sign of irritation that the UK had not already expressed its support for the US, Pompeo on Friday said the Europeans, including “the Brits”, “[had]n’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be”.


which has been hurriedly soothed here:

After speaking to his US counterpart Mark Esper on Friday, Wallace said American forces have been “repeatedly attacked by Iranian-backed militia” in Iraq during “the last few months”.

“General Suleimani has been at the heart of the use of proxies to undermine neighbouring sovereign nations and target Iran’s enemies,” Wallace added.

“Under international law the United States is entitled to defend itself against those posing an imminent threat to their citizens.”

posted by Mrs Potato at 3:29 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


There's been some (slightly conspiracy theory level) chatter on twitter about a private russian jet landing last night

@ScottMStedman
: "If Russian reports are correct and this is the personal jet of Herman Gref, the CEO of Russia's biggest bank just flew into Ft. Lauderdale in the dead of night." (thread at link)

Have to wonder if the impeachment & Deutsche bank stuff has trump unhinged enough that Putin was sending someone to try and rein him in (assuming the Russian state doesn't want a major disruptive middle east war). If so then I guess there could be a lot more Trump stuff being leaked soon as he is certainly doesn't seem to be responding to the bit right now...
posted by Buntix at 3:31 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


If it's closet imperialism and capitalist class solidarity all the way down, change is not going to come at the ballot box and "breaking" is either going to mean "going along until things literally collapse and the US does not have the personnel or material to sustain imperialism" (which might take a while) or, at the very least, a Weimar-style upheaval and revolution via a mass movement.

I certainly won't argue in favor of what is likely the most immoral possibility aside from open embrace of imperialism, but there is a middle ground nobody wants to acknowledge. It would be entirely possible to make the current order sustainable for the US with only relatively minor change. Collapse is not inevitable, it's largely a choice to install fools and grifters in positions of power.
posted by wierdo at 3:53 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


NYT: Iranians Close Ranks Behind Leaders After U.S. Kills Popular General
In cities across Iran, tens of thousands packed the streets to mourn Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. Black-clad women and men beat their chests and clutched photos of him. A black flag went up on the golden dome of Imam Reza shrine in the city of Mashhad, one of the holiest sites of Shiite Islam.

Just a few weeks earlier, the streets were filled with protesters angry with their leaders over the flailing economy and the country’s international isolation.

But at least for now, Iran is united — in anger at the United States.

For years, it has been a divided nation led by aged revolutionaries determined to impose their will on a predominantly young population with no memory of the Shah, who was deposed in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and with a thirst to live in a more normal nation integrated into the world.

Suddenly, with one targeted assassination, the nation rallied behind its leaders.
posted by gwint at 4:02 PM on January 4 [10 favorites]


Have to wonder if the impeachment & Deutsche bank stuff has trump unhinged enough that Putin was sending someone to try and rein him in (assuming the Russian state doesn't want a major disruptive middle east war)

The attack/death just draws INTERNATIONAL attention to him and what's going on. Given statements about how Trump believes the last person who talked to him - why would a visitor have a message with staying power? Web pages and posting of what others know is something "new" and other nation-state information gathering can come into play VS the seemingly controlled US media. Other nations will have counter-party transaction information and publishing it may be used to reign El Jefe in.

As for want a war - one has no idea how it will turn out. (something, something, no plan withstands 1st encounter) Putin has his own side-grifts going on and a war involving the Russian nation runs the risk of his pile of side-assets getting grabbed. How does Putin benefit from radiation falling from the sky?

Other people are welcome to interpret this differently than I

The hot take of "Sounds like the Deep State was working on this for a long time and Trump turned on his voters on his anti-war postion by siding with the undrained Deep State swamp." is one that would shave off a few of the original supporters.


As an aside:
A couple of sites that had been updating for over a decade on a daily basis that had strong pro and anti Trump positions (both were anti-GWBush and his Iraq effort) are now off-line with a 403 or un-updated. The one site actually shows up as citations in a couple of books. Eventually someone will map these shutdowns and the reasons as tech issues happen/people get sick make a rush to map a tad premature.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:07 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture

Guys I just want to visit how he's threatening* to destroy Iran's culture. Mosques. Archaeological sites. Thousands of years of history and heritage.

This is ISIS shit. It's genocidal.

Which side are you on? Disapproval because you aren't "clear about his strategy" or are "concerned about his rashness" is weak beyond the point of complicity. Liberalism isn't cutting it.

*promising. There's going to be a manufactured pretext.
posted by Rust Moranis at 4:39 PM on January 4 [41 favorites]


It's terrorism.
posted by bink at 4:45 PM on January 4 [12 favorites]


From the twitters:
>> Mike Pence: In Afghanistan, Soleimani oversaw the IRGC’s financial, logistical, and military support to the Taliban and sponsors attacks on Coalition forces.

> Robert Maguire: Throughout the 2016 election, a famous American developer was in business with a family in Azarbaijan known to have deep financial ties to the IRGC.

His name was....*checks notes*....Donald J. Trump.
posted by farlukar at 4:52 PM on January 4 [19 favorites]


Just hanging out, wondering how the 9/11 AUMF covers symbolic vengence for unrelated shit that went down in 1979
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:04 PM on January 4 [11 favorites]


Per @rcallimachi / Rukmini Callimachi it seems like the evidence they are claiming for the assasination could be fairly overblown...

The thread kind of buries another lede. Hacking and cyber wafare can really do a lot of damage to US targets. If I was Supreme Leader and I wanted to do some damage I'd have my script kiddiez going after all those juicy weak spots in our power infrastructure. Hit the right places and you could probably cause 2003 levels of massive blackouts.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:30 PM on January 4 [5 favorites]


Anyone taking all this in stride needs to really take a step back and consider where we are, even compared to what we thought was bad a year ago. I think a lot of us are concerned and upset but there's still been so much frog-in-boiling-pot acclimation that it's hard to really get one's head around how far from normal or good we are right now.

Anyone left to look back at this period in fifty or a hundred years will wonder why on earth the founders added the 25th Amendment if not to address the situation(s) we found ourselves in months or years ago, and then -- to read on and realize that due to complacency or complicity or cowardice we've just gone along with it? That we let it come to this, the brink of war with a lunatic at the wheel, no meaningful allies and the barest possible fig leaf of casus belli, and half the country fully on board? And that still we did nothing?

I'll never understand how our members of Congress, those with both the ability and the responsibility to prevent this, failed their country so badly. But they didn't stop it then, and doesn't look like there'll be any stopping it now.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 5:41 PM on January 4 [14 favorites]


A Democratic House that continues to fund the government of a terrorist under impeachment is not doing the barest minimum of its job.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:45 PM on January 4 [11 favorites]


NYT: As Tensions With Iran Escalated, Trump Opted for Most Extreme Measure
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.

After initially rejecting the Suleimani option on Dec. 28 and authorizing airstrikes on an Iranian-backed Shia militia group instead, a few days later Mr. Trump watched, fuming, as television reports showed Iranian-backed attacks on the American Embassy in Baghdad, according to Defense Department and administration officials.

By late Thursday, the president had gone for the extreme option. Top Pentagon officials were stunned.
posted by jocelmeow at 5:45 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]


Top Pentagon officials were stunned

Oh fuck off (not you, jocelmeow, the Pentagon). The surprised-pikachu-face-meme plausible deniability gambit is disgusting. They knew what they were telling him.
posted by Rust Moranis at 5:50 PM on January 4 [27 favorites]


So Pentagon officials offered a extreme position so Trump would choose a less extreme one and when he took the extreme position they couldn’t simply tell him it wasn’t going to work based on real time intel or some other bs? Yeah ok.
posted by jasondigitized at 5:52 PM on January 4 [11 favorites]


Yeah, if some DOD source gave the NYT that scoop thinking it would make the generals look better, they were wrong.
posted by gwint at 5:55 PM on January 4 [16 favorites]


Anyone taking all this in stride needs to really take a step back and consider where we are, even compared to what we thought was bad a year ago.

Where do those of us who aren't thrown off balance by this latest develop since we've already been worried about Trump starting a war with Iran since 2016 fit into this schema?
posted by eviemath at 6:07 PM on January 4 [6 favorites]


None of the Joint Chiefs have resigned, so to hell with their ass-covering. That's what they needed to do if any felt sounding an alarm was more important than their future right-wing sinecures.

They're on board.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:12 PM on January 4 [14 favorites]


Where do those of us who aren't thrown off balance by this latest develop since we've already been worried about Trump starting a war with Iran since 2016 fit into this schema?

"Some of us were worried about a war in Iran before it was cool 💅"

We worried about this under GWB's crew of demonic clowns too, but now it's happened.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:21 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]


Which in addition to threatening war crimes (the targeting of cultural sites) would presumably mean things going rapidly from slow and asymmetric to all out conventional war and massive amounts of devastation in Iran and whatever nearby countries get dragged in...

It also sets up the possibility that another country could stage an attack to make the war happen. You know who would most like to see Iran destroyed? Saudi Arabia.
posted by srboisvert at 6:37 PM on January 4 [8 favorites]


(Yeah, before I "edited" for "brevity" there was a 'let alone 4 years ago' in that phrase.)

I am feeling a lot of flashbacks to Dubya's wars, only with the 'president is a useful idiot' and 'his adviser and enablers are frankly evil human beings' knobs turned up to eleven. And the thing that really broke my heart in 2003 was all the hopeful enthusiasm and energy (and in retrospect, if we're honest, probably naivete) that led us all into the streets. Marches and protests and speeches and songs, and not just in the US but around the world. It was the single largest unified voice of anti-war protest in the history of the world, February 2003, and just over a month later we rolled into Iraq, certain to be greeted as liberators. Millions of protesters in the streets all over the world and it had all the impact of a fly buzzing into the gears of the war machine.

I don't mean to belittle the efforts of folks out there protesting now. It's important, your presence needs to be seen, your voices need to be heard, even if the people in charge will never listen. I just can't do it anymore myself, I don't have it in me.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 6:43 PM on January 4 [10 favorites]


Subtle.
millions of people protested peacefully against the iraq war.
posted by adamvasco at 6:54 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


It also sets up the possibility that another country could stage an attack to make the war happen.

Doesn't even need to be a country, there's already been a hack on https://fdlp.gov/ (Federal Depository Library Program {whatever the fuck that is}) claiming to be from Iran.

And while it may well be, it may not. Who can tell? It's already in evidence that Trump doesn't trust his own intelligence organisations.

He's basically just written every terrorist org/state (who can afford to hire some decent hackers) a blank cheque.

He's also made the hostage taking with iterative execution scenario a whole lot more likely.
posted by Buntix at 7:34 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


"Get in, loser. We're going liberating."

Hold my beer and watch this.
posted by Evilspork at 7:43 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


I believe the quote you're looking for is "Now watch this drive."
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:47 PM on January 4 [5 favorites]


(Federal Depository Library Program {whatever the fuck that is})

hey now
posted by Rykey at 7:47 PM on January 4 [13 favorites]


the founders added the 25th Amendment if not to address the situation(s) we found ourselves in months or years ago

It's not designed for this situation at all.

It was added in the 60s so that, if the President had an incapacitating stroke, it should be obvious who could press the nuclear button in his stead. It has a mechanism where Trump snaps back to being President (if he says he's fine) unless Congress keeps passing resolutions to say he's incompetent.

It's not that it can't be used for this situation, but it throws up barriers that make it very hard.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:50 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]


Trump acting like a villain.
Wants to bomb civilians.
War industry making billions.
I hate these war crimes.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:53 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


"Murderer"? So, some officials have called Qassim Suleimani a "murderer". But is he any different from generals of the USA or any country?

I am not at all condoning his killing, just trying to clarify the context.
posted by NotLost at 7:56 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]



"Murderer"? So, some officials have called Qassim Suleimani a "murderer". But is he any different from generals of the USA or any country?


Additionally, does anyone have any examples of actual terrorism ordered/controlled/sponsored by him? Everyone says he was a terrorist so I am sure it must be so, but I haven't heard of any specific cases, and I am starting to wonder if that is just a Bad Word being applied to militias who fight against the Good Guys. For the sake of argument let's say that "terrorism" is attacks against civilians, car bombs, that kind of thing.
posted by thelonius at 8:01 PM on January 4


He's up to his neck in blood when it comes to the Syrian civil war at least.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:03 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


(Federal Depository Library Program {whatever the fuck that is})

hey now


Umm, wait, is that an actual real (book) library thing rather than something involving finance and ingots?
posted by Buntix at 8:05 PM on January 4


He allegedly got the Russians to intervene for Assad:
Soleimani and his Russian counterparts set up an agreement: A Russian airstrike campaign would accompany the ground battles led by Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah fighters. Russia’s air assaults ultimately helped shift the war in Assad’s favor.

“Soleimani put the map of Syria on the table,” a senior regional official told Reuters at the time. “The Russians were very alarmed, and felt matters were in steep decline and that there were real dangers to the regime. The Iranians assured them there is still the possibility to reclaim the initiative. At that time, Soleimani played a role in assuring them that we haven’t lost all the cards.”
And those airstrikes, well:
An analysis of previously unpublished Russian Air Force radio recordings, plane spotter logs and witness accounts allowed The Times to trace bombings of four hospitals in just 12 hours in May and tie Russian pilots to each one.
(Federal Depository Libraries hold copies of US government records for the public to access. I remember my alma mater's library being one)
posted by BungaDunga at 8:07 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]


Just hanging out, wondering how the 9/11 AUMF covers symbolic vengence...

It all hinges on what 'imminent' means. In October 2011 a Holder DOJ Memo was leaked to the NYT: Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen Who is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa'ida or An Associated Force.

That's where the war pigs are getting their definition of imminent.

(Scroll down to Sec 4)
Indeed, the memo expressly states that it is inventing "a broader concept of imminence" than is typically used in domestic law. Specifically, the president's assassination power "does not require that the US have clear evidence that a specific attack . . . will take place in the immediate future"...The ACLU's Jameel Jaffer told Isikoff that the memo "redefines the word imminence in a way that deprives the word of its ordinary meaning". Law Professor Kevin Jon Heller called Jaffer's objection "an understatement", noting that the memo's understanding of "imminence" is "wildly overbroad" under international law.
So Trump and the generals are using 'imminent threat' to mean 'a bad thing - unsupported by evidence - that may or may not happen in the future, extending to the heat death of the universe.'

Need vengeance? Or polling numbers? Make up an 'imminent threat' and the world is your oyster target list.
posted by j_curiouser at 8:09 PM on January 4 [12 favorites]


(something, something, no plan withstands 1st encounter)

I remember this about the Iraq invasion:
  • There was some ragtag group of "Iraqi freedom fighters" that were "leading the invasion". They were strategically filmed doing the thing with Saddam's statue. Turned out there were like 20 guys tops, all from America, some totally non-legit neocon group operating out of mom's basement. That was what the US could scrape together as "legitimate" anti-Saddam local forces.
  • There was some US general, short little guy that showed up in Baghdad in cowboy boots, he was appointed by the army as the Emperor of Iraq. Only they had not coordinated properly with the politicians and whoops he disappeared a few days later when the neocon suits installed all of their picks.
  • The cultural heritage of Iraq was looted a few days after US troops arrived in Baghdad, the national museum cleared out, while US troops stood around and the Iraqi police and army were all fired for being Baathists.
I thought at the time "wow, how completely incompetent". Imagine how exponentially worse it would be this time. There isn't going to be a shitty plan, or a poorly executed plan, there is going to be NO plan, because Trump cannot think beyond tomorrow and won't let anybody else either. It will be like drawing random cards from the deck.

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.

No excuses, they are all completely complicit in this. They knew who they were dealing with.

And it feels like the mask is slipping, and the "War is a Racket" is absolutely true. There doesn't need to be a plan, because chaos and eternal war is actually the preferred outcome for these terrorist monsters.

Americans - these are your leaders, you have to do something to change this. We are all counting on you.

posted by Meatbomb at 9:18 PM on January 4 [18 favorites]


"Murderer"? So, some officials have called Qassim Suleimani a "murderer". But is he any different from generals of the USA or any country?

US generals don't go around bombing Jewish cultural centers for shits and giggles, so there's a difference right there. I don't know whether Suleimani was personally involved in the AMIA bombing, but he was in charge of the organisation that did it and sponsored other attacks / attempted attacks against jews.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:04 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]


seen words to the effect of giving Bolton his war so that Bolton keeps his mouth shut a few times, interpreting the action against iran as a reward. i see exactly the opposite. first, i don't see the president as a man who pays his debts or views himself as ever having any, really. he is owed the loyalty he enjoys and he is owed the loyalty he does not enjoy. but if he knows anything about bolton, it is that top bullet-point: bolton is an iran hawk, and has been working steadily to be in position to quarterback a war of aggression against that state. that war against iran he has been planning for years is important to bolton. bolton would want his war to be executed competently.

vis-a-vis president horrorshow, bolton is a little bit ambiguous, but appears to have resigned in connection with several foreign-policy blunders to (some of) which, testimony has it, he objected. he also has not cooperated with congressional investigations.

i understand the president as a person who will view the silence (however intended by bolton) as his due, rather than something to be bargained for, but the resignation as a betrayal. and what better way to frustrate bolton than to do that thing he has been planning all these years? and how hard could it be for a very stable genius to win bigly?

i am torn as to whether i think that such speculation is a diversion from more grave considerations about real people facing increased danger, or that such speculation is as likely as not fairly representative of the depth of planning and quality of thought that drives the behavior of the president of the united states. but, for now, i'm leaning toward the latter.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:13 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


US generals don't go around bombing Jewish cultural centers for shits and giggles, so there's a difference right there.

No, they just carry out needless and immoral wars and "interventions" with body counts in the millions from just the past two decades alone.

Suleimani was an underachiever in comparison to America's military.
posted by Ouverture at 10:13 PM on January 4 [17 favorites]


In some alternate universe timeline, this adventure ends with Trump hiding in a spider hole with a couple months worth of beard stubble, and some Iranian soldier grabs him by the sleeve and says "we gotta get you cleaned up."
posted by ambulocetus at 10:16 PM on January 4 [5 favorites]


Not Jewish cultural centers, sure. But wedding parties are fair game.
posted by bardophile at 10:18 PM on January 4 [21 favorites]


Taking a lower band estimate of a million casualties from the Iraq War ends up with nearly twice as many as the 85 deaths from the AMIA bombing at a daily rate.

162 deaths.
Every day.
For 17 years.

US generals don't go around just bombing cultural centers or wedding parties; they just destroy an entire culture instead.
posted by Ouverture at 10:22 PM on January 4 [18 favorites]


first, i don't see the president as a man who pays his debts or views himself as ever having any, really. he is owed the loyalty he enjoys and he is owed the loyalty he does not enjoy

I wasn’t saying he was paying a debt. I’m saying he was paying for a service a’la Stormy Daniels.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:35 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


"Murderer"? So, some officials have called Qassim Suleimani a "murderer". But is he any different from generals of the USA or any country?

Whatever Suleimani's deeds & misdeeds, all generals are similar in that they orchestrate (the threat of) death. But it also seems fairly evident that, say, Belgian generals, American generals, and Iranian generals are not the same. For one, I don't think anybody wants to kill Belgian generals, while nobody with any sense of self-preservation should want to kill an American general. What happens when you kill an Iranian general is something we have the grave displeasure of finding out.
posted by dmh at 1:43 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Every day that goes by without the Tom Clancy-esque Iranian response the Trumpists clearly expected takes them further beyond the edges of whatever flimsy plans existed and ratchets up the pressure a little bit more. The longer we go without any substantive reaction, the more unpredictable it becomes and the less likely they are to have prepared any sort of rational response, meaning the outcome is a function of the quality of the decision makers in the moment rather than whatever studious contingencies might exist in some forlorn planning database and therefore we are entirely, blissfully free of the tyranny of expertise that has so haunted us in the past.

I think the what-would-(s)he-have-done style hypotheticals are irrelevant and my core concerns are elsewhere entirely, namely with the fact that this administration is less prepared for critical decision making than any prior, by any reasonable objective standard. 3 years in and they've fired or forced out anyone with enough competence to manage a crisis, so naturally, they precipitate one.
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:21 AM on January 5 [11 favorites]


But is he any different from generals of the USA or any country?

Of course not. Generals since at least the US Civil War have waged war on civilian populations without restraint.


US generals don't go around bombing Jewish cultural centers for shits and giggles, so there's a difference right there.

Weddings (2) (3) and funerals (2) and news people, though. What is your actual point?


And it feels like the mask is slipping, and the "War is a Racket" is absolutely true.

With a very few possible exceptions, it's always true. Source of the phrase. Anyone who hasn't read it is urged to do so.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:18 AM on January 5 [10 favorites]


Weddings (2) (3) and funerals (2) and news people, though. What is your actual point?


The question was "So, some officials have called Qassim Suleimani a "murderer". But is he any different from generals of the USA or any country?"

And yes, he was. He was actively plotting the genocide of the Jewish people. The attack on the Jewish center in Argentina wasn't a mistake, or callous indifference, or even an out-and-out war crime. It was an Iranian operation against Jews generally. Iran has attempted other attacks against Jews around the world, some of which have succeeded. This is why Jewish children in Melbourne, far away from Iran, pass through airlocks with armed guards on their way into school. He was a very, very bad person. A remarkably bad person. As are other members of the Iranian government, a government that daily boasts about its plans to commit genocide.

And none the less, I wish that Suleimani hadn't been assassinated, just as I wish Osama bin Laden hadn't been assassinated. I wish that the world order was such that he could be arrested and tried for his crimes. And even given the fact that we don't live in such a world, I think that his murder was pragmatically a bad idea. But my opposition to this isn't because of the cynical "both sides" approach that seems currently popular: it's because it's a US military adventure, practically all of which make things worse; because it apparently originated with Trump, whose impulses are uniformly bad; and because it reinforces the idea that killing people is a positive rather than a destructive act.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:15 AM on January 5 [21 favorites]


Tulsi was one of the few Dem candidates to condemn the assassination in absolute terms with no "he was a bad guy!" hedging, but Metafilter told me she was a Russian asset taking orders from Putin, and naturally anything Putin (the devil incarnate) desires is axiomatically bad...so does that mean the assassination was actually good? It's very confusing for me.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 5:17 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Given how much time Tulsi has spent cozying up to Assad, it is a given that she would think Suleimani's assassination was bad and would not call him a bad guy. Assad is also a bad guy who she will never call a bad guy. Modi is also a bad guy who she will never call a bad guy. Just because her tweet about Suleimani might sound good does not mean that she is good.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:21 AM on January 5 [19 favorites]


Tulsi on Assad: "He's a brutal dictator, just like Saddam Hussein, just like Gadhafi in Libya." Yeah definitely sounds like she thinks he's not a bad guy. Her point is that Assad being a "brutal dictator" is not a reason for the USA to intervene in Syria, just like Soleimani being a "bad guy" is not a reason to assassinate him and escalate tensions - and indeed, like how Gadhafi being a "brutal dictator" was not a reason for the USA to participate in regime change in Libya or Saddam being a "brutal dictator" also was not a reason for the USA to invade Iraq. Seems pretty consistent to me. Didn't John Quincy Adams say something about America not going abroad in search of monsters to destroy?
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 5:24 AM on January 5 [3 favorites]


[This isn't a post about Tulsi Gabbard; please stop.]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:31 AM on January 5 [19 favorites]


The Observer on the assassination: Making of a martyr: how Qassem Suleimani was hunted down is a must-read. There are many good and relevant points, and it is both well researched and well written.
This is just one element of several you won't see in the US media:
For Vali Nasr, however, the Iranian-American academic and author who served as dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Suleimani’s reputation was as much a creation of Washington as it was of Iran.

“The US built him since 2008 so he was the only military commander who was known in US foreign policy circles,” he told the Observer, adding that there were other figures active in prosecuting Iran’s strategy while Suleimani occupied a role similar to the role of US Central Command.
“Although he was very capable in many ways, he was seen as this one-man army responsible for everything happening in Iraq and Syria, which wasn’t accurate. Now he’s dead, the assumptions of the Trump administration appear completely naive in terms of what to expect, not least the comments in Pompeo’s talking points saying that Iraqis are happy that they’ve been liberated from him.

“People are more complicated than that. Iraqis can be simultaneously unhappy over Iran’s meddling but still have a warm view of Qassem Suleimani who they credit with defending the south against Isis and who was the one who showed up in Erbil with enormous amounts of weaponry to provide defence for the Kurds.” And far from strengthening US influence in Iraq, argues Nasr, the assassination may have “pulverised” US relations with Iraq’s government. “The momentum is now with the hardliners to push the US out.”
Ali Vaez, an Iran expert with Crisis Group, is also sceptical of the assumptions in the Trump administration over the hoped-for outcomes from Suleimani’s killing.

“The biggest problem here,” he told the Observer, “is that the Americans believe their own rhetoric. The fact that the US designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps [of which Suleimani’s Quds Force was a key part] as a terrorist organisation doesn’t mean that it functions like a terrorist organisation.

“It doesn’t mean if you decapitate it, it will be paralysed. It’s a state institution of the armed forces of Iran. I think he will be difficult to replace but not impossible. The Quds Force has lots of people with similar profiles with a similar degree of experience and expertise who would be able to push forward Iran’s regional policy.

Vaez cautions too: “It’s often the case that the man standing behind steps in, even if he lacks the vision and tactical skills, and risks being more of a hardliner, which will only exacerbate the stresses.”
posted by mumimor at 5:48 AM on January 5 [16 favorites]


Iraq Parliament to Convene Amid Calls to Expel US Troops

Reminder that the US military presence since 2014 is technically at the invitation of the Iraqi government under the context of fighting ISIL.

Kurdish MPs and some Sunni MPs are boycotting today's parliamentary session but the Shiite bloc in Parliament has the majority, which I guess means that they can do this themselves if they want to.

The two geniuses who gave that State Dept briefing waved away the possibility that Iraq's government would do something like this.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 6:21 AM on January 5 [7 favorites]


This is a couple days old but I don't think it's been posted here yet and it's getting a bit of a boost on the original site - BuzzFeed News: Solemani's Death Is A Perfect Example Of Trump's "Look Tough For Cheap" Foreign Policy

Which makes the plausible point that regardless of who might be pushing Trump on Iran behind the scenes, Trump thought this strike at this time was a good idea because 1) a American contractor was recently killed by an Iranian-backed militia plus he was being taunted on Twitter by the supposed account of Iran's leader, both of which triggered his narcissistic rage and need to appear macho and 2) given his known idiotic inability to view foreign policy in any way except through a financial lens, doing this without an expensive boots-on-the-ground operation fits in with his previous MO.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:28 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]


This Guardian poses the question I have been asking myself: Has the United States, outside of declared war, ever openly assassinated such a high-ranking individual?

Immediately, coming to mind are attempted assassinations (Castro, e.g.) and successful assassinations (Allende) but these were covert.

And even though the article raises the question, I didn't pick up an answer from reading it.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:57 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Iraqi Parliament votes to expel US troops.
posted by epo at 6:58 AM on January 5 [17 favorites]


The world reacted with alarm on Friday after top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US strike in Baghdad, with many governments appealing for restraint.

The attack was praised by US President Donald Trump's Republicans and close ally Israel, but elsewhere there were sharp warnings it could inflame regional tensions.

Following are some of the reactions from around the world:
[AFP - Agence France Presse]
posted by Mrs Potato at 7:13 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


It's funny, maybe Trump will get the American troops out of Iraq.

Iraqi Lawmakers Vote to Expel U.S. Troops as Iran Mourns a Slain General
This NYTimes article also has an update about how the European allies are dealing with the whole thing. I'm worried because while yesterday was relatively quiet, today there is a hawkish pundit on national media.
posted by mumimor at 7:15 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]




"The assassination of an Iraqi military commander in an official post is an aggression against the country of Iraq, its state, its government and its people," he said.

The thing is, the stories have focused on the target pointed at loudly and noisily by the Umrikans but overlooks completely the holistic impact of that drone target onsite in its own context.

Iraq & Iran are united in their grievances. Yes, Trump will successfully meet one of his campaign promises just in time for the next campaign - all troops back home, peace in the middle east, no need to worry whether people are paying for their own defenses or not, secure borders against illegals and aliens, maga.
posted by Mrs Potato at 7:22 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Thank you Kirth Gerson for the link to War Is A Racket by Major General Smedley Butler. It is well written, thought provoking and provides some excellent advice:

To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.

1. We must take the profit out of war.

2. We must permit the youth of the land who would bear arms to decide whether or not there should be war.

3. We must limit our military forces to home defense purposes.
posted by pjsky at 7:24 AM on January 5 [15 favorites]


Radio War Nerd: Iran vs US war scenarios.
Back in 2018, Radio @TheWarNerd
looked at some grim US-Iran War scenarios in case Trump was stupid enough to start a war there. None of them are pretty.
posted by adamvasco at 7:32 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Wrong link. Apologies.
Should be this.
posted by adamvasco at 7:42 AM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Because I know Tom Friedman is always wrong, I clicked on his column about the current situation, to see how things will turn out (obviously opposite of what he says). It opens with One day they may name a street after President Trump in Tehran. Why? Because Trump just ordered the assassination of possibly the dumbest man in Iran and the most overrated strategist in the Middle East: Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. Yep. Always wrong
I shouldn't have clicked, though, and I won't link to it. It's been many years since I last read one of his columns and I'd forgotten how horrible he is in his wrongness. I set out to find that old blog where someone set out to prove how Friedman is always wrong and found this instead. It's an interview with journalist Belen Fernandez who has written a book about how wrong Friedman is, and she offers a clear answer to the question we have been discussing in this thread too, why are so many liberals on the side of the empire?
"Friedman tells the privileged, and those who aspire to privilege, what they want to hear in a way that makes them feel smart; his trumpeting of US affluence and power are sprinkled with pithy-though-empty anecdotes, padded with glib turns of phrases. He’s the perfect oracle for a management-focused, advertising-saturated, dumbed-down, imperial culture that doesn’t want to come to terms with the systemic and structural reasons for its decline. In Friedman’s world, we’re always one clichéd big idea away from the grand plan that will allow us to continue to pretend to be the shining city upon the hill that we have always imagined we were/are/will be again."
posted by mumimor at 7:48 AM on January 5 [18 favorites]


Not to abuse the edit window: the reason I didn't link to Friedman is that I would have to spend hours debunking every single sentence in his column with facts. I don't have that time. If you insist on reading it, remember, every single sentence is a fabrication, a direct lie, a deliberate misinterpretation or just dumb.
posted by mumimor at 8:00 AM on January 5 [8 favorites]




They think they're playing GoT
posted by Mrs Potato at 8:41 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


"Tehran did not appreciate that the threat of another Iranian hostage crisis would change the rules of American engagement," Mardini said, referring to the 1979 storming of the US embassy in Tehran. dawn
posted by Mrs Potato at 8:42 AM on January 5


He was actively plotting the genocide of the Jewish people.

On the other side, Trump made the annihilation of Iranians and their culture into campaign promises, which he is now apparently acting upon and fulfilling. To quote:
“We’re fighting a very politically correct war,” Trump said. “And the other thing with the terrorists — you have to take out their families. When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families! They care about their lives, don’t kid yourselves. They say they don’t care about their lives. But you have to take out their families.”
Before people say that quote is in relation to ISIS, Trump has called Iranians terrorists on numerous occasions — even those like Suleimani, who were apparently helping fight ISIS.

Regarding Trump's promise to commit further war crimes:
Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.
America is a nuclear state run by someone who has expressed several times his wish to annihilate Iran and its people.

We still do not know what Suleimani has done that merited his extralegal assassination. But we do know that Trump promised to murder Iranians and is acting out on those expressed wishes. Of Iran and the United States, only one country has nuclear weapons, at this time, under the control of one person, who acts above legal and moral conventions.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:57 AM on January 5 [22 favorites]


US generals don't go around bombing Jewish cultural centers for shits and giggles ...

Trump's very words yesterday: "we have targeted 52 Iranian sites ...some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture"
posted by JackFlash at 9:02 AM on January 5 [28 favorites]


... which is a war crime by the Geneva Convention and the Department of Defense's very own Law of War Manual.
posted by JackFlash at 9:12 AM on January 5 [18 favorites]


i mean look trump does not care at all about any threats of genocide against the jewish people. he killed the dude because he posted anti-trump memes on insta
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 9:18 AM on January 5 [10 favorites]


Trump has also gone all-in with evangelical Christians, who call for Israel's annihilation in their own twisted way.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:23 AM on January 5 [5 favorites]


Iraq’s PM is fuming. He says Suleimani arrived in Iraq to deliver a response to the Iraqis from Iran about a Saudi offer to de-escalate. They were supposed to meet.

It's worse than that. Iraq's PM says that Trump personally called him to set up the meeting to mediate.
posted by JackFlash at 9:28 AM on January 5 [24 favorites]


Proposed new rule: politicians (of any country) can't have personal social media accounts while serving in office. The loss if AOC's twitter would be a blow, but she's more than smart enough to get her message out through other means, and the overall positive effects would more than make up for it.
posted by eviemath at 9:34 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]


JackFlash, do you have a citation on that? If true this is less a triumph of US intelligence gathering and more a case of luring an adversary into a trap.
posted by epo at 9:36 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


I don't know whether Trump cares or thinks about it at all. But anti-Semitism is not something that is just being ignored, it's actively used by both Iran and the US to further their political aims. It's not a coincidence that Israel is supportive of the assassination.

Israel is the proxy state which so much of this conflict resolves around. It's a forward operating base, literally and ideologically. It serves the Iranian state to have such a clear and aggressive enemy in the area, it doesn't just fold nicely into the propaganda, it's an essential component of control. US Imperialism is similarly dependent on an aggressive Israel.
The endless war in the Middle East is justified by the idea that Muslims are unruly, violent and prone to terrorism, that there can be no peace, and there is no unjust occupation which might explain resistance.

Across the world Jews and Muslims suffer because of it. All the dual-loyalty myths and the extensive lies around tribal tensions and primordial hatreds. The AMIA bombing and the Christchurch shooting go hand in hand in that sense.
posted by Acid Communist at 9:36 AM on January 5 [11 favorites]


It's worse than that. Iraq's PM says that Trump personally called him to set up the meeting to mediate.
Thanks for posting that, I didn't read the twitter thread before you did. If that is true, I can't imagine what will happen next.
posted by mumimor at 9:37 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


If true this is less a triumph of US intelligence gathering and more a case of luring an adversary into a trap.

It isn't clear when Trump called - it may have been days or weeks before. And, no, I don't think Trump is smart enough to plan that far ahead. He can't keep a coherent thought in his head for more than minutes at a time.

But the problem is that Trump refuses to provide readouts of his calls to the CIA and DOD. So when the DOD was making up its list of possible targets, the DOD would not have known about Trump's mediation initiative and that the assassination would be perceived as a betrayal by the Iraq PM.
posted by JackFlash at 9:49 AM on January 5 [6 favorites]


which is a war crime by the Geneva Convention and the Department of Defense's very own Law of War Manual.

By my knowledge, not the Geneva Conventions, but the Hague Convention of 1954.
posted by jammer at 9:55 AM on January 5 [5 favorites]


In the twitter thread, someone mentions that a Saudi private plane landed in the US recently. I hate twitter, so I'm not going back there to check if the source was reliable
posted by mumimor at 9:58 AM on January 5


Saudi registered (and government/family-connected) planes arrive and depart the US most every day.
posted by wierdo at 10:17 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Friday night. Saudi Ministry of Finance.
JFK 4 hours.
posted by adamvasco at 10:20 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


"The Observer on the assassination..."

Oh okay, not THAT Observer, because I was gonna say...
posted by Evilspork at 10:22 AM on January 5


Entering Pandemonium
[...] Nothing is real and everything is possible. We have all the news, all the time. But all it does is confuse us further. And both the public and professional observers have grown unusually tolerant of a constant stream of inanities and insanities that would otherwise shock us, forgetting events that occurred even weeks or days ago and treating each one as if they are novel and to be examined in isolation from each other. This latter tendency was on display during the analysis of the al-Solomeini operation. There was – and continues to be – a strange assumption that it was the product of a normal national security decision-making process, to be debated in terms of its pros and cons rather than the latest spasmodic emission of an administration whose default state is chaos. Analysts often assume there is some fixed preference that Trump pursues, indifferent to copious evidence throughout the last several years that even minor alterations of inputs and stimuli can make the President immediately contradict his own stated motivations and choices.

When analysts do not trust the President they trust that there are others around him who can moderate, shape, or otherwise direct his tendencies in a certain orderly fashion and impose discipline. This has never been particularly true and – given that Trump has done away with many of the more moderate and established figures of the cabinet – it is far less true today. And in some cases, bizarrely enough, the “adults in the room” have been even more out of touch than the President himself. H.R. Master, one such figure expected to guide the President, ended up arguing dubiously for military strikes on North Korea out of the even more dubious presumption that the North Koreans could not be deterred. If individual officials can moderate the President, cumulatively the pandemonium of the administration’s competing personalities and factions negates the benefits of their moderation. And yet, analysts nonetheless seem to persistently tie their hopes to the administration being able to do what it cannot: consistently make responsible national security decisions. For sure, it would be unfair and delusional to blame all of this on Trump himself. He has inherited decades of flawed, compromised, and otherwise difficult policy situations. In many cases he has simply accelerated what otherwise was a slow rot. In some cases he is unfairly blamed merely for highlighting that the rot existed to begin with. And it can be hard to argue that Trumpian chaos and frivolity is uniquely bad when non-Trumpian order and seriousness has brought catastrophe. That being said, the President bears ultimate responsibility for actions taken under his time in office. Quite literally, it is the price of command.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:57 AM on January 5 [16 favorites]


Iraq’s PM is fuming. He says Suleimani arrived in Iraq to deliver a response to the Iraqis from Iran about a Saudi offer to de-escalate. They were supposed to meet.

It's worse than that. Iraq's PM says that Trump personally called him to set up the meeting to mediate.


Those are some interesting echoes of how Jamal Khashoggi was lured to his assassination.
posted by srboisvert at 11:13 AM on January 5 [20 favorites]






potentially suspicious

Literally everybody on the planet is potentially suspicious.

adversarial

Everybody on the planet, especially all American citizens, should be adversarial to the US Government.
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:21 AM on January 5 [14 favorites]




Guys I just want to visit how he's threatening* to destroy Iran's culture. Mosques. Archaeological sites. Thousands of years of history and heritage.

This is ISIS shit. It's genocidal.


Yeah, remember back when the Taliban blew up the Buddhas of Bamyan and we all had to wail and gnash our teeth about how uncivilized that was.

And now the same thing is just American foreign policy. Welcome to hell.
posted by great_radio at 11:31 AM on January 5 [12 favorites]


Yeah, remember back when the Taliban blew up the Buddhas of Bamyan and we all had to wail and gnash our teeth about how uncivilized that was.

And now the same thing is just American foreign policy. Welcome to hell.


It was American foreign policy during the Iraq War, too. I can't find links because ISIS are even worse and take up all of google. Or at least my google. One of the people I know who has informed me about the situation in the Middle East is an archeologist who races around trying to save our cultural heritage. I met him for the first time in Petra, but later he became a valued close colleague. He is the real Indiana Jones. He doesn't carry guns or whips, but he does save our history.
posted by mumimor at 11:41 AM on January 5 [10 favorites]


Is there any sliver of a reason to hope that this won’t escalate into outright war?
posted by stoneweaver at 11:52 AM on January 5


Doesn't detaining foreign nationals at a border en masse mean you already regard them as enemy aliens?
posted by epo at 11:55 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


I have a former Iranian classmate who is posting on Facebook these quiet posts about wonderful Iranian films, like, 'please don't bomb us, we make art.' Perhaps ironically, it has the effect of making me want to kick some serious butt on her behalf.
posted by angrycat at 11:59 AM on January 5 [11 favorites]



Is there any sliver of a reason to hope that this won’t escalate into outright war?


Well, maybe if it is true that the Saudis set the whole thing up, a lot of people on all sides will be able to blame them and group hug. On the other hand, the exact same narrative could lead to Iran attacking KSA openly (rather than by Yemeni proxy), and then the US going in to aid the Saudis.

Also, if US forces are completely expelled from Iraq, there is a new situation, and no-one can guess where that goes. In principle, the Iraqi parliament has voted to expel all foreign forces, including ISIS and Iran, but who knows if they have the strength to enforce that?

Clearly the Iraqis have a larger stake in this than was first imagined, and it will be interesting to see how they handle it.
posted by mumimor at 12:01 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Edit: those of foreign origin.
posted by epo at 12:01 PM on January 5


Maybe we could sell impeachment as impeach Trump before the world ends?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:07 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Would be a weird thing for the Saudis to have set up. Aren't they the most vulnerable to Iranian retaliation? I'd have thought they'd be shitting bricks over this.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 12:09 PM on January 5


In case anyone else finds it useful this week, a reminder that the Pikas vs Trump game exists.
posted by eviemath at 12:18 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Would be a weird thing for the Saudis to have set up. Aren't they the most vulnerable to Iranian retaliation? I'd have thought they'd be shitting bricks over this.

Well, that crown prince has the exact same combo of ignorant and evil as the Trump crime family, so it's an option. But to honest, I think this is anyone's guess. If someone claims to know where this is heading, you should avoid them.
posted by mumimor at 12:19 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


The Iranians will likely target Trump properties and sidestep any heated escalation against the US military directly. Any retaliation will be seen as Trump personally getting even and nobody will be motivated to risk their lives or taxes for his ego because nobody really likes Trump's ego as a bully (they're just glad he's not bullying them because they were raised to expect it). Trump's base overtly identifies with his self-righteous anger, but only because they cash-worship an impotent God who keeps them in debt and they are frustrated about how to please this demanding idol (and so Trump coincidentally tapped into their self-righteous anger). Trump's cult will unravel when his fortunes do, and when his anger only represents his avenging losses.
posted by Brian B. at 12:21 PM on January 5


Pro-Iran hackers hit the US Federal Depository Library Program website (521 error as of this writing).

Kind of an odd choice, as I am 100% confident that Trump doesn't know what the FDLP does.
posted by box at 12:41 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


In principle, the Iraqi parliament has voted to expel all foreign forces, including ISIS and Iran, but who knows if they have the strength to enforce that?

The current Iraqi government is a "caretaker" government, and doesn't have the authority to expel the US. I don't pretend to fully understand Iraqi parliamentary procedure, but apparently they have interim "caretaker" governments in between elected full-power governments, presumably to keep things ticking over while elections happen (at least, that's how it works in some other countries I'm more familiar with).

So the vote is meaningful in that it expresses a consensus opinion, but isn't binding. There has to be a second vote once the full parliament is in place, although I'm not sure what the timetable is for that.

This is mostly per some Iraq analyst featured on the BBC World Service yesterday, which naturally I can't find any links to. Perhaps someone else can shed some light on exactly how things work.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:15 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


As I understand it the vote has no immediate repercussions, but what it means is that the US is on notice that Iraq will not be converted into a US ally a la Germany or Japan, ever.
posted by ocschwar at 1:35 PM on January 5


"...forgetting events that occurred even weeks or days ago and treating each one as if they are novel and to be examined in isolation from each other."

As a reminder, WTFJHT is still around - note that there's a note at the bottom saying they should be back tomorrow.

And a heinous self link: http://www.didwefuckingtellyouso.com/
posted by Evilspork at 1:41 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


So the vote is meaningful in that it expresses a consensus opinion, but isn't binding. There has to be a second vote once the full parliament is in place, although I'm not sure what the timetable is for that.

I don't know that it even expresses a consensus opinion. The Kurdish and Sunni blocs in Parliament largely boycotted the vote. Today's session was just three MPs over quorum.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 2:31 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Flouting War Powers Act, Trump claims his tweets are sufficient notice to Congress that U.S. may strike Iran
President Trump claimed Sunday that his tweets are sufficient notice to Congress of any possible U.S. military strike on Iran, in an apparent dismissal of his obligations under the War Powers Act of 1973.
...
“These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner,” Trump tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., late Sunday afternoon. “Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!”
posted by kirkaracha at 3:23 PM on January 5 [6 favorites]


Current Affairs: How To Avoid Swallowing War Propaganda.
The Iraq War, the bloodiest and costliest U.S. foreign policy calamity of the 21st century, happened in part because the population of the United States was insufficiently cynical about its government and got caught up in a wave of nationalistic fervor. The same thing happened with World War I and the Vietnam War. Since a U.S./Iran war would be a disaster, it is vital that everyone make sure they do not accidentally end up repeating the kinds of talking points that make war more likely.

Let us bear in mind, then, some of the basic lessons about war propaganda.
posted by jocelmeow at 3:25 PM on January 5 [26 favorites]


The House Foreign Affairs Committee in response to that Tweet from Trump:
This Media Post will serve as a reminder that war powers reside in the Congress under the United States Constitution. And that you should read the War Powers Act. And that you’re not a dictator.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:04 PM on January 5 [35 favorites]


that's a good article. worth reading just for the repeated insight that the war pigs are already trying to control the language e.g. discrediting anyone who describes this assassination as assassination.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:07 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


“Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!”

It always boils down to crackpot sovereign citizen bullshit.
posted by mikelieman at 4:26 PM on January 5 [18 favorites]


And when questioned about "are you REALLY planning on committing full-on war crimes?", double down.

Maggie Haberman, NYT: “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 site? It doesn’t work that way," POTUS SAID.
posted by delfin at 5:07 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


Thing is, unless the Senate Republicans are willing to vote to remove him from office there is no actual enforcement mechanism for dealing with Presidents who are committing crimes, acting in imperial manners, and generally usurping the government and acting like monarchs.

That sovereign citizen crap from Trump **WORKS**, and that's the terrifying part.

The Republican Party is completely willing to essentially destroy America's entire governmental system to get what they want. And if they lose in 2020 they're counting on the Democrats respecting norms and letting them use their all but guaranteed Senate majority to obstruct everything and the Democratic President pulling back from Trump's monarch act. Then when they win again in 2024 or 2028 they'll start up their President as King act again.

Trump is usurping Congressional powers when it comes to war, and he's bragging about it, and it's working. His voters see it as bold brave action from a strong leader, and they see the shredding of norms and the fact that the Democrats are horrified as a bonus.
posted by sotonohito at 5:27 PM on January 5 [26 favorites]


To summarize: Three steps must be taken to smash the war racket.

One step need only be taken. If we conscript people to give lives, companies should also be conscripted. No compensation. Any business necessary is nationalized during the duration of the war and demobilization. Nobody makes profit during war.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:55 PM on January 5 [27 favorites]


Trump is usurping Congressional powers when it comes to war, and he's bragging about it

Sounds like another article of impeachment. Suspend forwarding them to the Senate. Announce a new round of hearings, and add another article or two.
posted by mikelieman at 5:58 PM on January 5 [12 favorites]


“Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!”
It always boils down to crackpot sovereign citizen bullshit.


That is your take away? Giving notice is an actual thing in law. That is the function of publishing the laws.

Rather sure Cato isn't into "sovereign citizen bulllshit". (They had a paper about how it may be time to get a decision around 'ignorance of the law is an excuse due to the number of them'. And perhaps Mr. Trump will make a claim of being ignorant as a defense.)

Now how the Trump crew is using the idea may be bullshit. And if they are being told "this is a war crime" they run afoul of what is being claimed.


We worried about this under GWB's crew of demonic clowns too, but now it's happened.

Worried enough to have Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski issue warnings in Bush the Lesser AND Obama leadership time.

In general, I haven't trusted any American intelligence officers since the Iraq War.

Thus far I've seen only one person (on twitter) claim a tie to the MV Iran Deyanat.

Wasn't that an interesting turn of events from over a decade ago, no? I don't remember an official report from US Intelligence, was there one?

violate rules of war/international law

Now something to consider if you want hope:

In the last 6 months there was a story by one of the military people in the Ukraine about a conflict with Russian tanks and the US official ordering something stupid to esclate things. The military structure was such he could resign or "follow the rules". Because NATO was involved this ment the order needed to be confirmed/given from the UK. And so this US military man did what the rules said needed to be done - contacted the UK man. This ended up preventing the stupidity.

Consider the "mis-naming" of Edward Snowden thus allowing him to depart on a jet plane. Now that could have been a mistake or a staffer using their limited power and made a "mistake" thus delaying what we'll call US justice.

Consider what appears to have been a missle. Could that have been from a sub where the "mistake" was made in entering the target location so that the only thing that happened was the news chopper being out over the water and catching the seeming launch of something?

Consider The ACM-129's that went for a walk-about? Comments from that time suggested a deliberate screw up in paperwork as a way to flag something that was being authorized that was a BAD idea.

Hopefully people asked to execute an illegal or really bad idea order will figure out a way to have it fail with no or minimal harm.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:07 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Trump addresses the Iraqi parliament's resolution on U.S. withdrawal:

“We will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame. If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq.”

He added: “We’re not leaving until they pay us back for it.”


Trump's only allies left in the world are going to be Russia, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
posted by JackFlash at 6:08 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


Sounds like another article of impeachment. Suspend forwarding them to the Senate. Announce a new round of hearings, and add another article or two.

Alas, won't happen. The articles as chosen are things no one expects any other present or future member of the elected class will do.

Doing war crimes? That's a thing done in the past and might get done in the future so no need to set a standard of needing to follow them thar laws.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:11 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


Trump threatens to slap sanctions on Iraq ‘like they’ve never seen before’ (CNBC)
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, the U.S. president said: “If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump said. The president added that “If there’s any hostility, that they do anything we think is inappropriate, we are going to put sanctions on Iraq, very big sanctions on Iraq.”
WaPo:
In a sign of the spiraling consequences, the U.S.-led coalition said it had paused its training mission in Iraq because of “repeated rocket attacks over the last two months” by the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia. It will now focus on protecting its bases from attack, the coalition said in a statement. “This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations” against the Islamic State, it said. “We have therefore paused these activities.”
Pentagon halts fight against ISIS in Iraq amid new threats to bases (Politico)
The task force said in its statement today that it hopes it can refocus on defeating the vestiges of the ISIS terrorist group. "We remain resolute as partners of the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi people that have welcomed us into their country to help defeat ISIS," its statement added. "We remain ready to return our full attention and efforts back to our shared goal of ensuring the lasting defeat of Daesh."
posted by katra at 6:27 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


That is your take away? Giving notice is an actual thing in law. That is the function of publishing the laws.

I read the comment as comparing the claim by Trump & co. that Trump's tweets counted as the requisite notice to Congress (as opposed to something more direct and formal) to Sovereign Citizen misunderstandings of legal language and processes. I.e., the critique was on the form of notice, not on the requirement for notice.
posted by eviemath at 6:38 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


ignorance is strength.

also, "charge" them sanctions? does somebody not understan--

oh yeah: ignorance is strength.
posted by 20 year lurk at 6:44 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


I read the comment as comparing the claim by Trump & co. that Trump's tweets counted as the requisite notice to Congress

I'd say it is more like:

What did we do? Tweet? Well then that's what we'll say meets the standard.

Upside to that explination is a Court DOES have a decision that tweets are official statements - that's why @realdonaldtrump and @AOC can't block people per my memory.

There is a difference between having a duty to understand the law and blowing it off, just outright breaking the law and the 'sovereign citizen' types.

A sovereign citizen type has issues with the power of the president. They would be very strange bedfellows when there is other low hanging fruit like past defenses like that of John Woo or Nixon's lawyers claims back in the day.

If you spend time in court you'll see lawyers purposely mis-stating law. Or not complying with discovery. No need for a "sovereign citizen" as an explanation for misunderstandings of legal language and processes.

Lawyers who mistate the law are supposed to be dinged if the ABA model rules are being followed. How's that worked out for John Woo?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:53 PM on January 5


Trump's only allies left in the world are going to be Russia, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Are we the baddies?
posted by great_radio at 6:55 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Trump's only allies left in the world are going to be Russia, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Well, yeah but Bennie could soon be gone then there's the prince, HRH, and Bandar expanding beyond the village of Hommlet, our need for crude is becoming less needed. Who produces more energy then any nation? But for now they are his friends.
Russia is Russia. My point is that allies can save nations that friendship allies nation to nation, people to people the United States allies not Trump's.
And were there though he has the football,
he through his hail Mary and it's hanging there like spectral freeze.
The people have decided, now it's up to the states. The president has, in fairly accurate terms, ordered an act that could be a defacto act of war. But Nixon skated on Cambodia. And Americans died...we killed each other and Nixons gone and
posted by clavdivs at 7:08 PM on January 5


> There was – and continues to be – a strange assumption that it was the product of a normal national security decision-making process, to be debated in terms of its pros and cons rather than the latest spasmodic emission of an administration whose default state is chaos.

Has Donald Trump Learned on the Job as Commander in Chief? (Rebecca Friedman Lissner, Lawfare)
Nearly every president makes foreign policy mistakes in their early days in office. The transition between presidents is fraught with misunderstandings as information gets lost between administrations, new teams get to know each other, and presidents grow accustomed to their responsibilities and authorities.

Perhaps the most infamous such example is the Bay of Pigs invasion, launched three months after John F. Kennedy assumed office, in April 1961. A covert operation to overthrow Fidel Castro, the Bay of Pigs was an utter disaster. The paramilitary invasion failed after only four days, and Castro emerged stronger and more adversarial to U.S. interests. This “perfect failure” reflected a flawed decision-making process: The invasion’s CIA advocates tightly restricted information necessary to evaluate prospects for success, the White House prematurely accepted the errant assumptions guiding operational planning, and the Kennedy administration never seriously considered what the United States would do in case of failure.

While the contours and causes of the Cuban fiasco are well known, the process learning that resulted from it receives far less attention. In the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs debacle, Kennedy and his White House team took several important steps to understand their mistakes. The president signaled his personal interest in learning from the Bay of Pigs and empowered a committee to formally investigate the fiasco’s causes, and his advisers sought to extract lessons from a humiliating failure. Consequently, the Kennedy White House came to recognize the need for a more systematic review of policy options at levels subordinate to the president, better mechanisms of information circulation, and differentiation between policy advocacy and evaluation roles.

The fruits of the Kennedy administration’s process learning manifested in its response to the Berlin Wall crisis of June 1961. Kennedy saw Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s renewed aggressiveness in Berlin as a reaction to the misadventure at the Bay of Pigs; speaking to a journalist after meeting Khrushchev for the first time, Kennedy conjectured that failure in Cuba had made him seem “inexperienced and [like I] have no guts.” As the crisis intensified that summer, the administration’s decision-making process featured marked improvements: Information about crisis planning circulated throughout an interagency coordinating group, Kennedy’s advisers rigorously questioned emergent policy assumptions and voiced dissenting opinions, and planning featured extensive discussion of implementation as well as contingency plans. While it is impossible to prove that the Berlin crisis resolved peacefully as a result of this improved process, process learning likely contributed to this outcome.

[...] Perhaps most critically, the president’s personality is simply not amenable to learning. Research in cognitive psychology indicates that individuals tend to be better learners when they are open to environmental feedback, change their beliefs readily and receive discrepant information open-mindedly. Yet first-person accounts of those who have worked with the president, at-a-distance psychological assessments, and observation of President Trump’s public rhetoric and behavior all indicate that the president indexes poorly on each of these dimensions.
posted by katra at 7:26 PM on January 5 [13 favorites]


we shouldn't even entertain the question but, 50 USC Sec. 1543 (a)
In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced—
(1) into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances;
(2) into the territory, airspace or waters of a foreign nation, while equipped for combat, except for deployments which relate solely to supply, replacement, repair, or training of such forces; or
(3) in numbers which substantially enlarge United States Armed Forces equipped for combat already located in a foreign nation;

the President shall submit within 48 hours to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the Senate a report, in writing, setting forth—

(A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;
(B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and
(C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.
(there is more to that act).

but i suspect it isn't really triggered, in light of the aumf and whatever authorizations of whatever gwot/anti-terrorism operations are ongoing in iraq, the course of recent u.s.-government conduct (e.g., the three administrations since the aumf), the prevailing practice of construing the law, and that recent terrorist designation.

not advocating.

clearly a tweet to followers is not equivalent to a writing, submitted to the speaker of the house (pelosi) and president pro tempore of the senate (grassley), setting forth those required elements. but nobody's gonna hale him before an empowered tribunal to evaluate his satisfaction of that requirement. i would like to read the brief submitting those tweets which purport to satisfy that act's requirements, not only because the existence of such a brief would imply sufficient rule of law remained intact to cause some sort of juridical process. but i am not subscribing to read the tweets as he squeezes them out, now.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:28 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]


Flouting War Powers Act, Trump claims his tweets are sufficient notice to Congress that U.S. may strike Iran

Nancy Pelosi should just tell Trump he can give his State of the Union speech on twitter. Fair is fair.

Depriving Trump of his pomp and circumstance ceremony would drive him crazy. It's all he lives for.
posted by JackFlash at 7:42 PM on January 5 [13 favorites]


Schumer wants more information about killing of Iranian military leader (Politico)
The White House did notify Congress on Saturday of its military activities that killed Soleimani, as required under the 1973 War Powers Act. But lawmakers were frustrated by the lack of detail and the administration’s secrecy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Saturday that it "raises more questions than it answers."

“President Obama had an opportunity to take out Soleimani. They didn't. We don’t know the reasons that it had to be done now — they don’t seem very clear,” Schumer said.

“The document they sent us last night is very unsatisfying as to that,” he added. “Even though I can’t talk about it because the whole thing is classified.”
posted by katra at 7:45 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Are we the baddies?

If we weren't before, we surely are now.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 7:52 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. Long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump said.

JFC, you'd think a so called real estate developer would know that improvements to leased land by a tenant aren't paid for by the land's owner. When Iraq says GTFO any improvements that can't/aren't carted away revert to the owner.
posted by Mitheral at 8:06 PM on January 5 [13 favorites]


Attacking Iran’s Cultural Sites Would Violate the Hague Cultural Property Convention (John Bellinger, Lawfare)
I would like to think that when Secretary Pompeo said on Sunday, in response to questions about the President’s threat to attack Iranian cultural sites, that “Every target that we strike will be a lawful target,” it is because he had been briefed by the lawyers in the Legal Adviser’s office on the requirements of the Hague Cultural Property Convention.

Secretary of Defense Esper and JCS Chairman Milley should similarly affirm publicly that the United States will comply with its legal obligations during armed conflicts, and privately they -- as well as White House Counsel Cipollone, Attorney General Barr, and National Security Advisor O’Brien -- need to educate President Trump on U.S. legal obligations governing the use of military force. I urge the lawyers in the Departments of State, Defense, and Justice and the White House to make sure this happens.

As I said in my November 2016 Lloyd Cutler Rule of Law Lecture at the Supreme Court, President Trump and Vice President Pence should learn the domestic and international law rules that govern the use of military force and the conduct of military operations and to understand why they are important. I also noted the following:
With respect to international law rules governing the use of force, the President and his White House advisers should resist any temptation to ignore them as “politically correct” or Lilliputian infringements on US sovereignty. If the United States violates or skirts international law regarding use of force, it encourages other countries -- like Russia or China -- to do the same and makes it difficult for the United States to criticize them when they do so. If the United States ignores international law, it also makes our friends and allies who respect international law -- such as the UK, Canada, Australia, and the EU countries -- less likely to work with us. Unlike Russia and China, the United States has many friends and allies who share our values, including respect for the rule of law. But we lose our friends when we do not act consistent with law and our shared values.
posted by katra at 8:10 PM on January 5 [7 favorites]


As Tensions With Iran Escalated, Trump Opted for Most Extreme Measure (Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt, Maggie Haberman and Rukmini Callimachi; NYTimes)
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:06 PM on January 5


Are we the baddies?

Iraq Body Count
posted by philip-random at 9:24 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


> As Tensions With Iran Escalated, Trump Opted for Most Extreme Measure (Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt, Maggie Haberman and Rukmini Callimachi; NYTimes)

More accurate headline: "As Tensions with Frog Escalated, Scorpion Opted for Most Extreme Measure"

I mean, seriously:
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. [...]

By late Thursday, the president had gone for the extreme option. Top Pentagon officials were stunned.
You didn't think *this guy* would take the most extreme option? You're "stunned" when he does? Can someone please give our top military officials access to an internet of some sort, or perhaps a television? There's no way they actually believe the shit they're feeding to the stenographers at the NYT.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:39 PM on January 5 [35 favorites]


If the unlikely event transpires that the dems win the house, senate and presidency in 2020, one of the first actions taken should be to revoke the AUMF.
posted by azpenguin at 9:41 PM on January 5 [12 favorites]


Imagine how everything would sound if the other side said it.
If you’re going to understand the world clearly, you have to kill your nationalistic emotions. An excellent way to do this is to try to imagine if all the facts were reversed. If Iraq had invaded the United States, and U.S. militias violently resisted, would it constitute “aggression” for those militias to kill Iraqi soldiers? If Britain funded those U.S. militias, and Iraq killed the head of the British military with a drone strike, would this constitute “stopping a terrorist”? Of course, in that situation, the Iraqi government would certainly spin it that way, because governments call everyone who opposes them terrorists. But rationality requires us not just to examine whether violence has been committed (e.g., whether Suleimani ordered attacks) but what the full historical context of that violence is, and who truly deserves the “terrorist” label.

posted by Meatbomb at 9:49 PM on January 5 [5 favorites]


You didn't think *this guy* would take the most extreme option? You're "stunned" when he does? Can someone please give our top military officials access to an internet of some sort, or perhaps a television? There's no way they actually believe the shit they're feeding to the stenographers at the NYT.

Surely nobody actually believes the CYA shit they're feeding out to the NYT for uncritical reproduction.
posted by kafziel at 9:53 PM on January 5 [8 favorites]


What's the bet that someone told Trump he doesn't need to worry about war crimes because if he ever gets sent to The Hague the United States is legally bound to invade Europe and retrieve him.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:10 PM on January 5 [3 favorites]


I'm noticing that for instance Nancy Pelosi has drawn attention to the fact that the option of assassinating Suleimani has been offered to Bush and Obama as well. Pelosi and others use it as an indication that Trump is singularly reckless, and of course he is. But why is no one commenting on the fact that US generals have kept on proposing to assassinate a foreign leader for 20 years?
posted by mumimor at 10:12 PM on January 5 [10 favorites]


But why is no one commenting on the fact that US generals have kept on proposing to assassinate a foreign leader for 20 years?

Because killing someone who's been slaughtering the people you're responsible for is sometimes a reasonable option. I suspect it doesn't even stop with Soleimani. I would put money down the DoD has contingency plans for assassinating higher ups of every country in the world if push came to shove. They've already got plans on how to fuck up their allies on the books.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:21 PM on January 5 [4 favorites]


America is guilty of everything we accuse Iran of doing:
Yet even the worst of Soleimani's record pales in comparison with the most blood-drenched American warmongers. If Soleimani deserves condemnation for arming Iraqi insurgents, then George W. Bush and Dick Cheney deserve 10 times as much for starting the war in the first place. It was a pointless, illegal war of aggression sold on lies that obliterated Iraqi society and killed perhaps half a million people, almost all of them innocent civilians. (Our own Soleimani, General David Petraeus, was connected to the operation of Iraqi torture dungeons and paramilitary death squads during the fight against the insurgency.)

If Soleimani deserves blame for helping Bashar al-Assad brutally defeat Syrian rebels, Henry Kissinger deserves 10 times as much for orchestrating the bombing slaughter of perhaps a quarter million Cambodians and paving the way for the Khmer Rouge genocide that killed 1.7 million people.

If any accused war criminal at an airport is fair game, then there are a lot of people in D.C. and Northern Virginia who better start traveling by train or ship.
posted by Ouverture at 12:21 AM on January 6 [17 favorites]


Because killing someone who's been slaughtering the people you're responsible for is sometimes a reasonable option.

No, it is not.

This view, your view, I take it, certainly logically teaches us that the DoD has an assassination plan contingency to take out 45. Perhaps they do. I cannot say that I share your views.
posted by mwhybark at 12:24 AM on January 6


If the DoD had an assassination policy contingent only upon the target causing massive unnecessary American troop deaths, then we wouldn’t still have Henry Kissinger with us today. Clearly it’s something else motivating these assassination plans, where troop deaths are a convenient justifier but not the primary motivator.
posted by SakuraK at 12:32 AM on January 6 [6 favorites]


This view, your view, I take it, certainly logically teaches us that the DoD has an assassination plan contingency to take out 45. Perhaps they do. I cannot say that I share your views.

Wow. Paging John Stuart Mill to the reductio ad absurdum phone.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:59 AM on January 6 [7 favorites]


If Soleimani deserves blame for helping Bashar al-Assad brutally defeat Syrian rebels, Henry Kissinger deserves 10 times as much for orchestrating the bombing slaughter of perhaps a quarter million Cambodians and paving the way for the Khmer Rouge genocide that killed 1.7 million people.

He is far more directly complicit. By intentionally peeling off the Egyptians and getting them to sign a separate peace with Israel, and then stalling the Syrians and leaving them out in the cold, he turned Assad Sr. from a hopeful nation builder into a bitter man bent on revenge.

There could have been a general peace with Israel, and an accommodation with the Palestinians. Way back in the 70s.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:18 AM on January 6 [8 favorites]


Those who have erased all traces of history in order to rewrite reality are doomed to be faced with a filter bubble.
posted by Mrs Potato at 3:09 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Because killing someone who's been slaughtering the people you're responsible for is sometimes a reasonable option.

Just over a century ago the assassination of a statesman unleashed a World War killing 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians and then boosted an influenza pandemic that killed 50 - 100 million more.
posted by srboisvert at 4:18 AM on January 6 [14 favorites]


I'm noticing that for instance Nancy Pelosi has drawn attention to the fact that the option of assassinating Suleimani has been offered to Bush and Obama as well. Pelosi and others use it as an indication that Trump is singularly reckless, and of course he is.

Nancy Pelosi just voted to give this singularly reckless President control of a Space Force.
posted by moorooka at 4:48 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]


Maybe she's read the conclusion to The Marching Morons.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:54 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Nancy Pelosi just voted to give this singularly reckless President control of a Space Force.
She got a deal by letting him reorganize people and capabilities he already had into a different part of the DoD. If you’re determined to attack her, sure, you can characterize it that way but ask whether your misrepresentation is doing anything other than demoralizing people we need to vote.
posted by adamsc at 4:59 AM on January 6 [29 favorites]


The whole WaPo tick tock that shows Pompeo pushing this for months kinda destroys the "it only happened cuz DoD stupidly gave him an extreme option." Sure it was still stupid to do, but it doesn't seem to have been something they - or at least Pompeo and others - didn't want or plan for him to choose.
posted by chris24 at 5:10 AM on January 6 [5 favorites]


[One deleted. Let's drop the "Fight About Nancy Pelosi Again Again Again Again" derail and refocus on the topic, please.]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:47 AM on January 6 [16 favorites]


Jon Schwarz:
The bedrock premise of American political culture is that the US can go anywhere on earth and kill as many people as we want and it's fundamentally illegitimate for anyone to fight back
posted by Ouverture at 6:11 AM on January 6 [28 favorites]


A sovereign citizen type has issues with the power of the president. They would be very strange bedfellows when there is other low hanging fruit like past defenses like that of John Woo or Nixon's lawyers claims back in the day.

The doublethink here is perfectly simple to understand - sovereign citizens and people like them should be able to do what they want because in group/out group. Trump is a white supremacist member of the club.
posted by jaduncan at 7:34 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]




America is guilty of everything we accuse Iran of doing

One more analogy: I don't know how you feel, but here in my country, there are some politicians I absolutely despise. Men and women that are in my opinion cruel, manipulative demagogues, who agitate for our country's withdrawal from international treaties.
But if one of them was killed by a foreign government I would be livid. I would be on the streets with huge banners and force my family to join me there. There is no way in which an assassination could be acceptable and not a declaration of war.
That is why Iranians and Iraqis who did not approve of Suleimani can still see the US as arrogant and overreaching.
posted by mumimor at 9:27 AM on January 6 [22 favorites]




To believe there’ll be world war three is to swallow US propaganda

Happy at the death of a menace but “nervous” and “scared” is how some I spoke to in the region summarised their reaction to Suleimani’s killing. Away from the western analysts’ discussions of how this assassination will affect the re-election or impeachment of President Trump, or from the moral question of whether manhunting is a legitimate tool of foreign policy, life has become even more treacherous for millions in the Middle East.

Suleimani has brought pain and suffering to the region by running proxy wars, smothering revolutions, and extending lifelines to tyrants such as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who otherwise would have been rightly toppled. But his killing will have asymmetric results – American lives will go on as usual, while the Middle East will be destabilised even further.

posted by philip-random at 9:45 AM on January 6 [5 favorites]


World War 3 Memes About Iran and the United States Discount Actual Suffering (Sara Li, TeenVogue Op-ed)
"This op-ed argues that jokes about the Trump administration assassinating an Iranian general make light of U.S. intervention in the Middle East." […]

In 2020, there is something deeply disturbing about seeing viral, off-color posts about war, followed by flagrant Instagram or Soundcloud self-promotion. Beyond reading as plain insensitive and ignorant, these posts send a dark underlying message: The suffering of brown people is trivial unless it’s trendy enough to make you popular on TikTok. Somewhere in our descent into full-blown internet addiction, some of us have lost our ability to engage with news without making it about ourselves and turning it into performative so-called “comedy.” […]

Let’s be honest here: Most of these jokes are not “coping mechanisms.” They’re narcissistic cries for attention from people who are so far removed from any actual danger that they have the privilege to disengage their empathy. While they’re churning out jokes online, many regions of the Middle East are still facing the repercussions of the last round of American imperialism. […]

I don’t deny that it’s easier to direct our growing sense of existential dread into something digestible, like memes, or to just disassociate altogether. But what we, in our various positions of power and influence, need is not more empty noise. It’s time to stop sitting back and observing the injustices of the world and instead take action, in whatever capacity we’re able. If doing so means logging off, perhaps these past few days have proved that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:01 AM on January 6 [8 favorites]


That is why Iranians and Iraqis who did not approve of Suleimani can still see the US as arrogant and overreaching.

Muminor, it would make sense for you to be outraged by the assassination of even a despised member of your government because you presumably oppose all assassinations. But Suleimani was a leading figure in a government that carries out political assassinations (and worse things) itself: he was reportedly the chief architect of many of these.

So how can the outrage of this hypothetical Iranian (who doesn't approve of Suleimani) be justified? It seems a bit weak to suggest that they were in fact outraged by Suleimani's actions but were forced to be silent about them, and that their present outrage is consistent with a deep moral stance. More likely, they believe that it's OK when Iran does it, or that it's OK if it's in the service of the Revolution or whatever. That's their right, I suppose, but it's not a universalist stance and I don't see why we should respect it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:10 AM on January 6


I think your (completely understandable) personal animosity towards Suleimani is perhaps preventing you from seeing that to an Iranian the removal of a leading member of their government by a hostile party is probably not interpreted as a referendum on the appropriateness of assassination as a tool of foreign policy but is more likely seen in terms of a challenge to national sovereignty.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:20 AM on January 6 [28 favorites]


THREAD: Over the past few days, I've spoken extensively with career U.S. government officials as they've worked around the clock to try and mitigate the damage from Trump's ineptitude on Iran. With their permission, I'm sharing a small taste from our lengthy conversations. Enjoy.
Reza Marashi is a director of the National Iranian American Council.
posted by adamvasco at 10:26 AM on January 6 [14 favorites]



Muminor, it would make sense for you to be outraged by the assassination of even a despised member of your government because you presumably oppose all assassinations. But Suleimani was a leading figure in a government that carries out political assassinations (and worse things) itself: he was reportedly the chief architect of many of these.


On the one hand, at the moment of his death, Suleimani was in the chain of command of a military organization engaged in combat with the US military. Ergo, fair game.

On the other hand, , at the moment of his death, Suleimani was carrying out a diplomatic mission to Iraq. Ergo, "they are heralds evidently and are sacred consequently."


Personally, I'm not too worked up about the killing being a crime. BUt holy shit was it ever a blunder.
posted by ocschwar at 10:28 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Yeah the kid in my household made a joke about WW III in his typical drop-the-mike fashion that he does when he knows he's being objectionable, and he's a creature of the internet, so I guess that's where it's coming from. We're Going to Have a Talk at Dinner Tonight, because fuck that shit.
posted by angrycat at 10:28 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]


On the one hand, at the moment of his death, Suleimani was in the chain of command of a military organization engaged in combat with the US military. Ergo, fair game.

Conflict is not a license to murder. I very much doubt anyone would be saying fair game if it was the director of the CIA that had been murdered. Normalizing high level assassination is a very very bad thing for peace.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:31 AM on January 6 [10 favorites]


Normalizing high level assassination is a very very bad thing for peace.


Admiral Yamamoto.
Lord Wellington.
Reinhard Heydrich.
The Hessian general in the Battle of Trenton.
Wolfe and Montcalm in the Plains of Abraham.
posted by ocschwar at 10:34 AM on January 6


No, I do see that Iranians will view the assassination as (at least) a challenge to their national sovereignty, but I was considering it from a more Kantian perspective. Nationalist or ideological motives are indeed the only ones that would justify someone being specifically outraged by Suleimani's assassination.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:37 AM on January 6


Killing a field commander in a battle (Hessian dude, Montcalm, Wolfe) isn't an assassination. Yamamoto and Heydrich were killed in occupied territory during a declared war.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:41 AM on January 6 [17 favorites]


Yamamoto and Heydrich were killed in occupied territory during a declared war.

And Suleimani was killed in disputed territory in an undeclared war. That makes him more of a fair target, not less.
posted by ocschwar at 10:50 AM on January 6


Since when is Baghdad "disputed territory"?
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:03 AM on January 6 [22 favorites]


It doesn't really matter if you think it is justified. Does the other way around work for you? Is it ok to kill any American military-related figure (including things like the CIA) because some people consider them bad hombres? Is open season on anyone that anyone thinks is bad going to work out well? I have news for you: America is considered the bad guy in a lot of the world. You are giving them permission to do the same to you.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:10 AM on January 6 [14 favorites]


Suleimani was killed in disputed territory in an undeclared war. That makes him more of a fair target, not less.

"The more uncertain the circumstances and the less declared the war, the more reasonable it is to disintegrate someone with a murder robot" is some classic solid NatSec logic
posted by Rust Moranis at 11:14 AM on January 6 [37 favorites]


"But why is no one commenting on the fact that US generals have kept on proposing to assassinate a foreign leader for 20 years?"

Okay, so, I do have a minor military background, and do not agree at all with any of the steps taken here, but the US military (I would think most militaries also) have entire libraries full of plans for potential events ranging from the mundane to the whackadoodle.

I can certainly see where a plan to assassinate a general would be the least awful option, and thus the US military has stuff to pull off the shelf to base current operations on. In normal times, the DoD presenting this option to the commander in chief would not be out of line, and would be implicitly known by all to only be an option for future extenuating circumstances, not a 'today' solution.

If they in fact DID present THIS commander in chief with such an option, though, like, what the fuck, man.
posted by Evilspork at 11:18 AM on January 6 [9 favorites]


And Suleimani was killed in disputed territory in an undeclared war. That makes him more of a fair target, not less.

Leaving aside the matter of "disputed territory", the Constitutional legalities of an undeclared war are still vague and contentious. I'm not sure how that argues for fairness, when there is no official declaration of war on Iran and no legal context that supports that war, without express Congressional approval.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:19 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]


I suspect that some of the folks arguing that the man was a fair target might be overlooking how ill advised this particular target, at this particular time, by this particular administration, actually was.

I just Googled "purpose of foreign policy" and the top hit included these elements:
  • Preserving the national security of the United States.
  • Promoting world peace and a secure global environment.
  • Maintaining a balance of power among nations.
The extrajudicial assassination of a sovereign state's senior official is a fundamentally destabilizing act. It *might*, very narrowly, serve one or more of these objectives if it took place as part of a carefully considered strategy, carried out in cooperation with allies in the region, and followed up with a clear plan to mitigate tensions and stabilize the situation. None of these things are true in this case. (Trump killed this man, at least in part, because Suleimani ridiculed him on social media.)

The end result is impossible to predict now, but so far it seems clear that this did nothing to preserve the national security of the United States. Instead it put both US military and civilians at increased risk and almost guaranteed an unpleasant reprisal. It did nothing to promote world peace and a secure global environment. Instead it undermined peace in the short term and introduced a a new paradigm for international aggression that will lead to a much more precarious global security in the long term. It did nothing to maintain any sort of balance of power; we committed an act of war against one sovereign state and did it in the territory of another sovereign state, inflaming tensions with both and alienating us from our allies at the same time.

There is no justification for this action that mitigates any of the damage to our own interests it has already done and will do in years to come.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 11:25 AM on January 6 [24 favorites]


> And Suleimani was killed in disputed territory in an undeclared war.

He was on a diplomatic mission, to the Iraqi government.
posted by stonepharisee at 11:26 AM on January 6 [12 favorites]


Metafilter: I was considering it from a more Kantian perspective.
posted by Rykey at 11:29 AM on January 6 [11 favorites]


Does the other way around work for you? Is it ok to kill any American military-related figure (including things like the CIA) because some people consider them bad hombres?

To be clear about the logic chain here, the position of the commander in chief is that:
1. An Iranian official legitimate military general
2. was training official legitimate Geneva Convention Iranian military forces
3. to train others to conduct asymmetrical warfare

is therefore "terrorism", and covered under the AUMF against terrorists, and thus not subject to the war powers act.

By that logic, the United States has multiple
1. United States official legitimate military generals
2. are training official legitimate Geneva Convention United States military forces
3. to train others to conduct asymmetrical warfare

Because of the tortured logic used for the Sulaimani assassination to CYA under the terrorism AUMF, pretty much every single United States legitimate official military general is fair game for assassination for training terrorists.
posted by Evilspork at 11:31 AM on January 6 [18 favorites]


Trump's only allies left in the world are going to be Russia, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Netanyahu distances Israel from Trump. "The assassination of Soleimani isn't an Israeli event but an American event. There's no need to be dragged into it."

The Israeli cabinet is also leaking reports from intelligence agencies that they do not expect an immediate retaliation from Iran, probably to placate the Israeli population wondering how this makes them safer.
posted by PenDevil at 11:43 AM on January 6 [10 favorites]


And Suleimani was killed in disputed territory in an undeclared war.

He was killed at Baghdad International Airport which has over 100 commercial airline flights handling more than 10,000 passengers a day. It would be like an assassination in front of JFK.
posted by JackFlash at 11:54 AM on January 6 [43 favorites]


Adam Davidson, author of the 2017 New Yorker piece "Donald Trump's Worst Deal" about the Azerbaijan hotel with connections to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, tweets a thread about the linkage from Soleiman > his ally Mohamed Bagher Ghalibaf > the Darvishi brothers' company Azarpassillo > Azerbaijan's Minister of Transport, Ziya Mammadov > Mammadov's son, Anar > the Trump Organization.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:00 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]


Netanyahu distances Israel from Trump. "The assassination of Soleimani isn't an Israeli event but an American event. There's no need to be dragged into it."

I was just thinking that Bibi must be the number one target for the Iranians today.

If you accept assassination of foreign leaders, it will come right back at you.
I hope this statement will protect him. Apropos my comment above, I believe Netanyahu is a crook who belongs in prison, and also responsible for the deaths of innocent children. And I strongly disagree with the settlement policy. But I would be outraged if he were harmed in any way. And yes, I am able to outraged at both sides, with no confusion.
Uphold the rule of law!
posted by mumimor at 12:12 PM on January 6 [13 favorites]


is therefore "terrorism", and covered under the AUMF against terrorists, and thus not subject to the war powers act.

Which AUMF? 2001 or 2002? 2001 authorized actions against forces responsible for 9/11 and associated forces. 2002 authorized actions against Iraq. Which AUMF authorized killing all terrorists generally?
posted by BungaDunga at 12:19 PM on January 6


I don't think you could drone an IRA bomber under any existing AUMF, unless the IRA helped out with 9/11.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:20 PM on January 6


And you don't think someone at the OLC would promptly write a memo explaining that the IRA is fair game since we can't rule out then having been involved in 9/11?
posted by bcd at 12:26 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


They wouldn't apply the three criteria that Evilspork uses because that test is not in any AUMF. They'd have to (as you say) argue that there was some IRA/bin Laden connection.

The OLC can say the Moon is made of bin Laden and authorize nuking the moon, but that doesn't mean that there's a "terrorism AUMF".
posted by BungaDunga at 12:34 PM on January 6


Getting confused now. Is this some IRA that is not the Irish Republican Army? (A terrorist/criminal organization who Americans famously supported.)
posted by epo at 12:40 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Don't give them too many ideas there, someone will be looking for something for his shiny new Space Force to do...

And yes, completely agree there's no AUMF that covers 'terrorism' at all, and hence shouldn't cover Iran-related actions—just that clearly that won't stop them using transparently-false, post-facto justifications.
posted by bcd at 12:45 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


If they wanted to, they could definitely link the IRA to 9/11. Would it be correct? Who cares, they could do it. There's more than enough material, a long history of fruitful co-operation and solidarity in the face of occupation worldwide.
posted by Acid Communist at 12:46 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


I'm not grasping the IRA thread here. Like him or not, Suleimani was not equivalent to an "IRA bomber". This was a very high-ranking government official with widespread name recognition across Iran. It's more like Mike Pompeo getting drone attacked outside JFK. I hate Pompeo and Trump, but I would sure as hell be outraged by something like that. This sort of not-very-well-thought-out action always empowers the militant and radical factions in the involved countries.

We're only doing this because we have no regard for the lives of people anywhere in the Middle East and because we think we have the upper military hand. If you think we were doing this because it was the right thing to do, ask yourself why we didn't assassinate a couple of Putin's generals or cabinet members after they invaded Crimea or Ukraine? How is this any different?
posted by freecellwizard at 12:58 PM on January 6 [13 favorites]


Quorum or not, I guess someone in the US military took the request from the Iraqi parliament to leave seriously, because the commanding general of Task Force Iraq sent a letter to the Iraqi government saying they'll leave. Or, because of inscrutable military jargon-speak, they'll be "repositioning forces to prepare for onward movement".
posted by Copronymus at 1:00 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


I just picked the IRA as a terrorist group that isn't covered under any AUMF, that's all.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:03 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Reuters: In letter, U.S. military tells Iraq it will withdraw
The United States military wrote to Iraq on Monday saying it would pull out of the country and would be repositioning forces over the next few days and weeks, a letter seen by Reuters showed.

It was not immediately clear if all roughly 5,000 U.S. troops would leave Iraq.
A whole lot isn't immediately clear
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:13 PM on January 6 [7 favorites]


I guess someone in the US military took the request from the Iraqi parliament to leave seriously, because the commanding general of Task Force Iraq sent a letter to the Iraqi government saying they'll leave. Or, because of inscrutable military jargon-speak, they'll be "repositioning forces to prepare for onward movement".

Woah! That is interesting. I think it's the right thing to do, but I wonder if their intention really is to leave, or to have the Iraqis beg for their return. I think the US troops + allies are under 6000 soldiers, so it can't be a huge issue that they leave.
It does make an attack on Iran less likely, since there are now only US bases in the Gulf states. Maybe we can sleep soundly tonight.
posted by mumimor at 1:14 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


From the twitter thread linked by adamvasco above:
"All Trump cares about is shitting on Obama's legacy, sucking up to donors, and distracting from impeachment. None of this is about American interests or security. He's surrounded by ideological lunatic sycophants like Pence and Pompeo. But they're far from the only ones."
"So many of Trump's top advisors on Iran are military vets who served multiple tours of duty in our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. They believe to their core that Iran is the reason why they lost those wars, and they're dead set on payback - no matter what it takes."
"They've been pushing to kill Soleimani for years, and they finally baited Trump into it. They think war with Iran is long overdue, so for them, this was a means to an end. When Iran responds, they'll tell Trump to hit the Iranians harder. You see where this could go."
"They know the Iraqis are gonna kick them out now, so they're gonna try to kill as many as possible on their way out. Iranians, Iraqis, whoever. Some of them are advising Trump to tell the Iraqi government to fuck off and dare them to make us leave. I shit you not. Insanity."
posted by mumimor at 1:24 PM on January 6 [7 favorites]


Oh, and there's this for the gallery:
"One of Trump's top Iran advisors got suckered into a honey trap, had their laptop/iPhone stolen and hacked before they woke up, and the White House refused to take precautionary measures regarding their security clearance. Ladies and gents, I give you the Trump administration."
posted by mumimor at 1:25 PM on January 6 [7 favorites]


A bigger problem is that the people setting US ME policy don't seem to have much understanding of the complexities of regional politics. There are so many forces operating with so many agendas that pretty much anyone can label anyone a "terrorist" or "bad guy" and to someone else they're a "freedom fighter". Add to that the facts that the US and other Western countries have caused or exacerbated a lot of the problems via military interventions, resource grabs, arms sales, and lack of a consistent stance on Israel/Palestine, and I just don't see that we are doing any good at all. We've poisoned the well to the point where we can't even go into Afghanistan and build a school without it turning to shit.

It's completely fucking crazy to invade Iraq, set up bases, push the locals around, and then be outraged that a fucking contractor got killed. It's too damn bad, but getting the most macho people in All The Countreez to swing their dicks at each other and then fight it out in ever-increasing swathes of destruction is just stupid. And to have our President swinging his the hardest ... gross.

I'm in NC from where we have troops getting deployed right now, and would love to see them give a big "f*** you, I'm not going", but I think there's too much pressure on the average soldier to make that realistic. Hierarchical obedience in a democracy is a bug, not a feature. It people throw down their weapons I'll donate to the food bank and legal defense fund.

Sorry, this whole thing is pissing me off. I'm not up for another "stand in a candlelight peace vigil, have people talk shit about me and eat Freedom Fries, then wait 15 years and have them all figure out I was right all along." I don't have literal skin in the game but it's exhausting trying to push my country in the right direction only to have it be pushed harder in the wrong one by a bunch of jingoistic evangelical blowhards.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:25 PM on January 6 [33 favorites]


It’s time to stop sitting back and observing the injustices of the world and instead take action, in whatever capacity we’re able. If doing so means logging off, perhaps these past few days have proved that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Yesterday I found myself saying almost the same thing in a twitter thread. My twitter community means a lot to me, and from the professional angle, it provided more than 99% of new business over the past 5 years. As a powerless individual, in the geopolitical sense, all I could do to retain my integrity after the turmoil of the past 3 days (which feel like a lifetime) was disable my account in protest of American digital platforms serving as a channel for abuse and threats and violence from the man with the biggest stockpile of weapons in the world. Threats that EVEN his own govt refuted directly to him pointing out that he was not a dictator.

Twitter, too, changed in the past three days - the timeline jumped around unexpectedly, tweets would go in and out of visibility and order, and I kept finding myself having to click on 'latest tweets' for some semblance of sensemaking. I have used twitter regularly for years now but I found myself robotically unable to leave the laptop for the bulk of the past 3 days, upto and including firing it up in the middle of a lunch guest's visit yesterday. "I wonder what's happening with rando orange head far away needing attention badly after being ignored during the holidays" is the pull that made me rudely ignore my visitor and go on Twitter with a laptop, not just poke at the phone even. Sick and abnormal.

That got me thinking about manipulation, addiction, persuasive and dark design techniques and the increasing role of Twitter as an arena for geopolitical Great Gaming. It is now 2020 and magadata games are firing up to herd their democratic sheep into the right coloured booths. If this sharp change in my usage behaviour occurred in just three short days of this reality TV cliffhanging ding dong drama, what would be the rest of the year like as the attention economy pumped out its data = oil profits during an election year?

The perceived, and probably very real, global dominance of American communication technology and devices has also played its part*, imo, in this drama we're discussing in this thread. It exponentially changes the 'might' of the armory if every android phone in the world belonged to google. And every location known. No, I will not capitalize the current profit maximizing machine that has commodified itself and all the humans that are plugged into it.

Google now powers Twitter's translation - it used to be Bing. I want you to look at this translation of a Finnish language tweet by one of the official spokespeople "powered by Google" and tell me where you see any words in Finnish that remotely resemble the words "United States of America"?

So, although it feels like an amputation, I have walked off Twitter. What kind of tortuous rewriting of facts, of truths, of history, and of IRL reality will occur next?

Remember, one of the reasons this man was blown up by an American killer robot was because he posted a meme on social media that the button pusher in chief didn't like.

Who's going to be next?

This is a brown person Whack a Mole I am not playing.

* As I wrote my former State Dept high school friend, retired now in FL, I am walking out of as much American owned technology as I can. He laughed and said good luck with that. I can see why he said that, there are less than a handful of countries that could develop their own smartphones or mobile OS or 5G or even, in a pinch, churn out good old 2G candybars in some remote village. We get overlooked often because we're small and dark and cold but ppl tend to forget Linus is finnish, and that there's a small town partway between Tampere and Seinajoki. I'm not saying the old giant could revive but we're confident of not becoming helpless in the ICT sense if the current global tech giants go out of their minds. Everyone has a few old candybars at the bottom of their drawers and unlike Singapore who switched off 2G, my African 2G phones work fine in Fi. And everyone knows tech giants can rise to dominate the planet and then disappear like snow.
posted by Mrs Potato at 1:28 PM on January 6 [14 favorites]


A whole lot isn't immediately clear
posted by Mrs Potato at 1:30 PM on January 6


A whole lot isn't immediately clear

What is clear: Trump and Pompeo went in without a plan and are now winging it, making it up as they go along.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:39 PM on January 6 [7 favorites]


What is clear: Trump and Pompeo went in without a plan

I'd say that Trump, as the head of the Military, issued an order. Now everone is winging it because the order got followed.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:43 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


wait wasn't Trump screaming about how he wasn't going to leave and they'd have to pay for the airport that they actually built and it'd be the mother of all sanctions and some shit?

i mean i get the fucker just had, I don't know, a yearning for cheese fries and that changed his mind, but i get lost
posted by angrycat at 1:52 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


@paulmcleary
SecDef Esper just spoke to us off-camera at the Pentagon. He said "There's been no decision to leave Iraq. Period." Esper appeared to reject the memo the US military command in Baghdad sent to the Iraqi government today saying there will be "onward movement" of US troops in Iraq. Esper said it is "inconsistent with where we are now."

5 minutes after leaving press room at DodD, Gen. Milley turned around and came back in, telling us the letter US sent to Iraqis about withdrawal was a "draft" and it was a "mistake." Wasn't meant to be sent. No US troops are leaving.
To quote another message board rando: who put Armando Ianucci in charge of the lathe of heaven?
posted by Rust Moranis at 1:57 PM on January 6 [19 favorites]


No you’re fine angrycat and the world is as you expected it was and we’re staying. The withdrawal letter was all a mistake and a misunderstanding.

Well for now it is. Check back in 12 hours.
posted by notyou at 1:57 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


This comment from Reza Shahlai Twitter thread that adamvasco linked upthread helped me figure out the whole "generals showed him the assassination option but they never thought he'd be bonkers enough to do it.

Tweet starts: "So many of Trump's top advisors on Iran are military vets who served multiple tours of duty in our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere."

Me: So why the fuck do they think this is going to be any different? Didn't they see how ineffective that was except at getting their friends dead?

Tweet continues: "They believe to their core that Iran is the reason why they lost those wars, and they're dead set on payback - no matter what it takes."

Me: Great. The so-called adults in the room are going to use the end-of-the-world dominionists and a corrupt president trying to keep his family out of the clink to get their revenge on those Iranians who made them look stupid and weak.

JB: "Payback is a thing you gotta see. Hell, brother, do any damn thing to me."
posted by Gotanda at 2:03 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]




No you’re fine angrycat and the world is as you expected it was and we’re staying. The withdrawal letter was all a mistake and a misunderstanding.

The generals on the ground doing the right thing, and then the administration throwing them under the bus?

That'll inspire a whole lot of confidence in the CIC. I believe I've been seeing more military retirements lately of the "I'm too old for this shit"/"spend time with my family"/"return to the private sector" variety.
posted by mikelieman at 2:06 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


Pompeo is totally fucking unhinged and the US media treat it all as fine.
The Washington Post has reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the main force that pushed Trump into assassinating Iranian Major General Soleimani. Pompeo, according to a New York Times reporter, had a fixation with a bible passage about Queen Esther protecting Israel from Iran. Pompeo’s extreme hostility towards Iran is motivated by his extreme religious beliefs.
More batshit insanity here.
I think it might be time for Americans to be a little more forceful in their protests if they want their countryback.
posted by adamvasco at 2:08 PM on January 6 [38 favorites]


is that why we're seeing crusades stuff on social media from the clink free kids?
posted by Mrs Potato at 2:12 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


First, using military funding to build segments of wall, then letting war criminals free, just to help with reelection. Now the WH is changing orders every few minutes. I wonder how much more of this the US military is going to tolerate.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:13 PM on January 6


From adamvasco's batshit insanity link

One significant factor was the “lockstep” coordination for the operation between Pompeo and Esper, both graduates in the same class at the U.S. Military Academy

the same guy who denied the memo and insists on staying?
posted by Mrs Potato at 2:17 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


Imagine if we had leaders who could have gotten some Iranian firefighters and some US firefighters together for a joint mission to Australia where they could bond over firefighting stuff (with a translator) and solve, you know, an actual world problem. "People don't like giant US bases and drone strikes in their countries" is not a problem. It's the natural order of things, and if we mess around where we aren't wanted, it's going to lead to escalation and more terrorism and wasted money and lives, forever. You can't first-in-your-military-academy-class your way out of that reality.
posted by freecellwizard at 2:19 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


It gets worse... because of course it does:

From Chris Hayes of MSNBC:
Appears Iraqi PM's office leaked a copy of a letter that US officials now say was a draft.
posted by bcd at 2:19 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


All of these people who long for the rapture seem to believe they will be on the right side. How is that? Is it even Christian to be that arrogant? Or that stupid?

The generals on the ground doing the right thing, and then the administration throwing them under the bus?

That's what I'm thinking. But I'm also thinking that maybe the guy in charge in Iraq took a chance, and lost. We'll see I guess.
posted by mumimor at 2:20 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


Is America great again yet?
posted by flabdablet at 2:24 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


This whole thing is also a test of global acceptance of dominance and impunity isn't it?
posted by Mrs Potato at 2:26 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


Mike Pompeo Is the Most Dangerous Man in the World Right Now:
But it’s not just that Pompeo has proven unfathomably mendacious: It’s that he’s acting more like a viceroy in charge of the American security establishment than a top diplomat. For more than a year now, he has systematically led Trump and the Pentagon onto a war footing with Iran with shocking, unprecedented moves. These include designating a foreign government arm as a terrorist group; taking trips without his Pentagon counterpart to consult with America’s Mideast combatant commanders; defying Congress to arm the Saudis and other Iranian antagonists in the region; and publicly blaming regional attacks on Tehran with little evidence but heavily edited, ambiguous videos. If there’s mounting evidence for anything, it’s that Pompeo may currently be the most dangerous man in the world not named Trump.
posted by Ouverture at 2:26 PM on January 6 [25 favorites]


In the future, I would request that the US military refrain from tweeting its drafts.
posted by Copronymus at 2:38 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


[The sovcit thing is a total derail, please drop it. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:45 PM on January 6 [11 favorites]


In the future, I would request that the US military refrain from tweeting its drafts.

Draft? According to Reuters:
The authenticity of the letter, which was addressed to the Iraqi defense ministry’s Combined Joint Operations Baghdad and signed by a U.S. general, had been confirmed to Reuters by an Iraqi military source. [...]

“Sir, in deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement,” the letter stated.

It was signed by U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General William Seely III, commanding general of the U.S.-led military coalition against Islamic State.
posted by katra at 2:46 PM on January 6 [11 favorites]


Is America great again yet?

I think we are at the "you will win so much you will get sick of winning" phase. Because of the "please stop winning" being said.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:46 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


... it was poorly worded ...

I'm guessing that Trump saw the words "deference" and "respectfully" and had an Oval Office fit.
posted by JackFlash at 2:55 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Do generals usually sign drafts? And send them to other countries' governments? Someone get Seely on the horn and ask him.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:56 PM on January 6 [9 favorites]


Trump’s Iran mess is getting worse. Here’s Adam Schiff’s idea on what to do about it. (Greg Sargent, WaPo Opinion)
In open hearings, Democrats could seek to grill Pentagon officials on whether Trump’s threats represent real planning — which they surely do not — and on whether in their view, such threats could recklessly lead to more negative consequences.

Another thing that could be explored in open hearings is how this decision was made and whether the intelligence supports it. Schiff told me the intelligence he has seen as part of a briefing of select congressional leaders on Friday does not support the decision to kill Soleimani.

“I’m certainly not satisfied that the intelligence supports the conclusion that the killing of Soleimani was going to either prevent attacks on the United States or reduce the risk to American lives,” Schiff said.

“If anything, that risk is going to go up, not down,” Schiff continued, citing the news that the Iraqi parliament has voted to expel U.S. troops from Iraq, which could compromise the fight against the Islamic State. “A lot of these reactions were predictable. And the long-term consequences could be even more grave.” [...]

“I fear this is the result of the president purging anyone of stature who could stand up to him,” Schiff told me. “I think this is the result of a dysfunctional and nonexistent National Security Council process.” Schiff added that Trump is “making decisions by the seat of his pants while he’s on vacation in Mar-a-Lago.”
posted by katra at 3:25 PM on January 6 [10 favorites]


> is that why we're seeing crusades stuff on social media from the clink free kids?
Hm.
posted by farlukar at 3:35 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


Hm.
As several of the comments say: send him to war
posted by mumimor at 3:37 PM on January 6


In open hearings, Democrats could seek to grill Pentagon officials on whether Trump’s threats represent real planning — which they surely do not

Is "we're gonna prove that he's Chaotic Evil, not the apparently acceptable Lawful Evil" the best the opposition party can do?
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:44 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]


> As several of the comments say: send him to war
IIRC Michael Moore asked a bunch of congresscritters who voted for the Iraq war “You've got a 18/19/20 year old son, I assume he'll be enlisting?” and invariably just got a blank stare.
posted by farlukar at 3:47 PM on January 6 [7 favorites]


TV pundits praising Suleimani assassination neglect to disclose ties to arms industry:
“It is imperative that viewers are aware when their news commentary is coming from someone with a financial incentive tied to the topic they’re commenting on, especially when so many lives hang in the balance,” says Gin Armstrong, a senior researcher with the Public Accountability Initiative, which tracks conflicts of interest. “The key question is why media outlets allow anyone with a financial interest in war — regardless of their previous military or government experience — to have access to their platforms at a critical time like this.”
Profoundly grateful for The Intercept during these times (and all the times before).
posted by Ouverture at 4:23 PM on January 6 [12 favorites]


IIRC Michael Moore asked a bunch of congresscritters who voted for the Iraq war “You've got a 18/19/20 year old son, I assume he'll be enlisting?”

Those 18/19/20-year-olds are actual people and legal adults, not just political points to be scored. I don't think it's fair to expect them to follow their parents' ideals.

If they've expressed support for a war themselves , then it's a fair question to ask them directly.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:27 PM on January 6 [3 favorites]


18 year olds don’t really need to be receiving requests for comment because they have shitty parents either.


It’s enough that that the people in charge are willing to make the call to commit other barely adult citizens, who were yesterday someone’s children. Shades of “what if it were your daughter” from the abortion debates.

The ethics aren’t dependent on whose kid it is.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:35 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


"Which AUMF? 2001 or 2002? 2001 authorized actions against forces responsible for 9/11 and associated forces. 2002 authorized actions against Iraq. Which AUMF authorized killing all terrorists generally?"

Very true, and granted. My generalized memory of the 9/11 AUMF is at fault.

Regardless, the logic of "Iranian senior general and politician = terrorists" applies to essentially every senior US military officer working in the Beltway - appointed to cabinet or advisory positions or just puttering around in the Pentagon.
posted by Evilspork at 4:42 PM on January 6


Those 18/19/20-year-olds are actual people and legal adults, not just political points to be scored.

18 year olds don’t really need to be receiving requests for comment because they have shitty parents either.


Absofuckinglutely! I'd rather we go to war than cause a powerful person a moment of discomfort! Punch down, not up!
posted by great_radio at 5:18 PM on January 6 [13 favorites]


I had to leave an anti-war protest this weekend because they started blocking traffic. Those commuters are actual people and legal adults. Not just political points to be scored. Whatever happened to civility??????
posted by great_radio at 5:20 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


Trump ordered some unwitting Gavrilo Point'n'click sitting in a shipping container in Qatar etc to assassinate a high ranking member of the Iranian government and despite pouring on the rhetoric they have so far displayed superior self control in their response, which seems very much to be contrary to Trump's expectations. Maybe I'm just looking for projection but he probably expected them to melt down and fold because he would if the situations were reversed. By my reading, the silence of the Iranian inaction so far is deafening but this is probably one of the world's most complex geopolitical situations right now.

The white house's performance here has been characteristically ineffecive. One additional sign of the abnormality of this situation is the lack of a presidential address discussing it in any real depth. (Recall how Obama broke into live TV late on a weekend when bin Laden was killed and Bush similarly promptly announced the capture of Saddam Hussein in an address early the following morning.) Loyalists are desperately trying to spin this as Trump's bin Laden or the anti-Benghazi or whatever but they haven't even been able to muster a victory lap outside Twitter yet which is deeply weird and speaks to the doubtlessly bananas situation among his staff, among other things. I guess we'll hear about it at a rally if that hasn't happened already.

I do think that Americans will be wrestling with the implication of having declared it open season on government officials on the basis of literally Trumped up charges for a long time to come. It doesn't even matter if there is some sort of nuanced argument to be made that this wasn't technically an assassination or was somehow justified or whatever because clearly it is being interpreted as a political murder by the people involved and they are the ones who will be reacting.
posted by feloniousmonk at 5:23 PM on January 6 [9 favorites]




Interesting timing:
Defense secretary's chief of staff, Eric Chewning, resigns
Chewning's departure comes after a series of senior Pentagon officials have announced their resignations in recent weeks.

He's not, like, walking out of the office into a press conference; he's staying until the end of the month; but still.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:31 PM on January 6 [5 favorites]


Trump administration begins drafting sanctions against Iraq.

Gulf Wars 3: Revenge of the Dotard.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:43 PM on January 6


Yamamoto and Heydrich were killed in occupied territory during a declared war.
And Suleimani was killed in disputed territory in an undeclared war. That makes him more of a fair target, not less.


I want to believe that, on some level, you understand that the goalposts are now pressed up against the perimeter wall and that you're just gouging out of parts of the Pepsi banner by continuing to push, but that's the optimist in me.
posted by invitapriore at 7:03 PM on January 6 [25 favorites]


Trump administration begins drafting sanctions against Iraq.

Sweet, maybe we can invade them again in a couple of years. Operation Didjamissus: The Reinvasioning
posted by kirkaracha at 7:09 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


At this rate, we are blowing past "invasion" and just getting straight down to Iraq Occupation II: Just Totally Pointless Now. That's what these threats of sanctions amount to: we're trying to coerce Iraq to let us station troops on their soil, having literally yesterday claimed it's the Iranians who are trying to coerce Iraq to kick us out.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:14 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


@CillizzaCNN:
Warren, Jan 2: Soleimani is a "murderer"

Warren, Jan 3: U.S. "assassinated" Soleimani

Warren, Jan. 5: Soleimani is "a government official, a high-ranking military official"

Your Daily Cillizza
Cillizza, 1974: “First you say Henry Kissinger is a war criminal for bombing Cambodia, but then you say he’s Secretary of State! MAKE UP YOUR MIND!”

As incredibly stupid as this is, it’s also very telling. The fact that one of the highest-paid political reporters in America thinks that it’s somehow contradictory to have observed that a foreign government official is a bad actor and also to argue that assassinating him is a terrible idea is an object illustration of why the mainstream media was a big cheerleader for the Iraq War. It’s also a good illustration of what the Dem nominee will be up against as the media desperately searches for pretexts to Both Sides Do It Trump.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:23 PM on January 6 [36 favorites]


Those 18/19/20-year-olds are actual people and legal adults, not just political points to be scored. I don't think it's fair to expect them to follow their parents' ideals.

The sons and daughters of US Senators and Representatives have lives of incredible luxury and privilege, compared with the average child who grows up in relative want (and often outright poverty), who enters the military, at severe risk to life and limb, to otherwise try to escape what amounts to a life sentence in an economic prison.

It is perfectly fair to ask legislators if they have any conception of the human cost of war, and if it is necessary to invoke their emotional and/or biological attachment to their own offspring to make the damn point clear to them, then so be it.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:51 PM on January 6 [37 favorites]


Collective sanctions have got to be one of the biggest policy failures of the neoliberal world order.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:00 PM on January 6 [9 favorites]


96 total veterans in the 116th Congress.
30 are Democrats, 66 are Republicans.
19 will serve in the Senate, 77 will serve in the House.
48 served in the military after 2000.
21 served in the military in the 1960s or earlier.
19 are first-time lawmakers.
7 are women.
50 served in the Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard.
17 served in the Marine Corps or Marine Corps Reserve.
17 served in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard.
13 served in the Navy or Naval Reserve.
1 served in the Coast Guard.
posted by clavdivs at 9:34 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]


Sorry. So that's 5.5℅ of congress. And in 2015, an accurate stat that 7℅ of the U.S population served and serving the military.
posted by clavdivs at 9:45 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]




@EliClifton
Bret Stephens published a Friday NYT column quoting “Iranian journalist” Masih Alinejad saying “Suleimani’s death could bring a sense of realism to [Iran’s] thinking.”

Fox News had her on the air all weekend.

Neither disclosed she’s a US govt contractor
According to Clifton, writing for Responsible Statecraft, she's an “anchor, writer, reporter for [Voice of America] Persian Service”. The full article can be found here.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:53 PM on January 6 [18 favorites]


Good to have further confirmation that the NYT considers disseminating propaganda its actual job, rather than a series of unfortunate errors as they would like us to believe.
posted by wierdo at 12:00 AM on January 7 [7 favorites]


To be fair, if the NYT started throwing people commentators off the op-ed page for outright lying there'd be no conservative voices left at the NYT.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:24 AM on January 7 [13 favorites]


You know, because without balancing voices, how can they be ENLIGHTENEDCENTRISTS and politically neutral.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:25 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I like to read conservatives in the Times, so I don't have to go other places. If they lie, it's because conservatives lie. But the paper should fact check their columns and tell us when they are lying.
posted by mumimor at 12:42 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Or not employ them in the first place, if it has the pretense of being not trash.
posted by kafziel at 1:03 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Krugman:
International crises often lead, at least initially, to surging support for a country’s leadership. And that’s clearly happening now. Just weeks ago the nation’s leader faced public discontent so intense that his grip on power seemed at risk. Now the assassination of Qassim Suleimani has transformed the situation, generating a wave of patriotism that has greatly bolstered the people in charge.

Unfortunately, this patriotic rallying around the flag is happening not in America, where many are (with good reason) deeply suspicious of Donald Trump’s motives, but in Iran.

In other words, Trump’s latest attempt to bully another country has backfired — just like all his previous attempts.

From his first days in office, Trump has acted on the apparent belief that he could easily intimidate foreign governments — that they would quickly fold and allow themselves to be humiliated. That is, he imagined that he faced a world of Lindsey Grahams, willing to abandon all dignity at the first hint of a challenge.
posted by mumimor at 1:52 AM on January 7 [39 favorites]


Telling us that people are lying is a good thing. Uncritically printing propaganda, on the other hand, makes them propagandists, no matter their justification for doing so. If you feel compelled to print propaganda or lies, call it out as such or accept the blame, you don't get to have it both ways.
posted by wierdo at 1:54 AM on January 7 [18 favorites]


Those 18/19/20-year-olds are actual people and legal adults, not just political points to be scored. I don't think it's fair to expect them to follow their parents' ideals.

But the question was put to the parents, not to the children. It absolutely is fair to ask the parent whether their children endorse and will act on the parent's putative convictions. That doesn't require a response from the children; it's a marker of the parent's sincerity.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:06 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]




Anti-Putin activist says Russian government likely scared by Trump's attack on Iran (Matthew Rozsa, Salon)
Bill Browder — the British businessman and anti-Vladimir Putin activist who has successfully pushed for sanctions on Russia for its human rights violations — spoke with Salon to analyze why Russian officials and media outlets are condemning President Donald Trump's decision to have a drone strike assassinate Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

"I think that more than anything, Putin is absolutely terrified by the assassination of Soleimani," Browder told Salon by email on Saturday. "If the US can go after a high level military enemy from the air with drones and kill him, it means that the US can go after any of their political and military enemies in the same way. At some point it could be Putin’s turn."

He added, "Putin was traumatised after Gaddafi’s killing and this opens up a whole new range of terrible possibilities for him. Putin only respects extreme violence and power and this speaks to him like nothing else."
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:21 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I respect what Bill Browder has done, but that is just plain silly clickbait. As it says in the article, everyone condemns Trumps assassination of a foreign leader. I don't think Merkel goes around fearing Trump will assassinate her, still she gets that Trump is wrong.
posted by mumimor at 6:32 AM on January 7 [16 favorites]


"I think that more than anything, Putin is absolutely terrified by the assassination of Soleimani," Browder told Salon by email on Saturday. "If the US can go after a high level military enemy from the air with drones and kill him, it means that the US can go after any of their political and military enemies in the same way. At some point it could be Putin’s turn."

Or, gosh, the various treaties, obligations and alliances nations have with each other means a spiral out of control can happen leading to the use of nuclear weapons.

For Mr. Browder to be correct the US military would have to think they could attack the Russian leader and Russia would go "sorry. my bad" and NOT strike back?

As for:
He added, "Putin was traumatised after Gaddafi’s killing and this opens up a whole new range of terrible possibilities for him. Putin only respects extreme violence and power and this speaks to him like nothing else."

Facts not in evidence as to the mental state of Putin. Unless in the public domain these facts exist.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:39 AM on January 7 [6 favorites]


I respect what Bill Browder has done, but that is just plain silly clickbait.

I agree.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:41 AM on January 7


Trump’s insistence on proving his toughness is in open conflict with America’s actual strength (Philip Bump, WaPo)
Once inaugurated, that often self-conscious insistence on his own toughness was often in conflict with the stated ideals of the government Trump had been elected to lead. The Washington Post reported on an incident early in his presidency when he was briefed on efforts to reduce incidental casualties in drone strikes.

"The president seemed unimpressed," Greg Jaffe reported. "Watching a previously recorded strike in which the agency held off on firing until the target had wandered away from a house with his family inside, Trump asked, 'Why did you wait?' one participant in the meeting recalled."

[…] “They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites?” Trump said. “It doesn’t work that way.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) replied on Twitter.

“That’s exactly how it works. We follow the rules even when others don’t. We behave morally to set an example,” Murphy wrote. “That’s like … the whole freaking point of America.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:50 AM on January 7 [33 favorites]




The Real Winners of Iran Conflict: Threat of War Inflates Stock Holdings of Military Contractor CEOs
As long as the top executives of our privatized war economy can reap unlimited rewards, the profit motive for war in Iran — or anywhere — will persist. (via Juan Cole - Informed Comment)
posted by adamvasco at 7:04 AM on January 7 [15 favorites]


While I appreciate Rep Murphy's sentiment, it's really more of a sentimental delusion on his part rather than having any close relationship with the truth of how the United States conducts itself abroad.
posted by bardophile at 7:04 AM on January 7 [21 favorites]


Sorry, Sen Murphy...
posted by bardophile at 7:42 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


History repeats, the first time as tragedy, the second time as whatever the fuck is going on now.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:28 AM on January 7 [6 favorites]


“That’s exactly how it works. We follow the rules even when others don’t. We behave morally to set an example,” Murphy wrote. “That’s like … the whole freaking point of America.”

The USA is three corporations and the military-industrial-intelligence complex in a trench coat. Those, plus
a heritage of settler-colonialism and chattel slavery, are in fact the whole freaking point of America
posted by Rust Moranis at 8:40 AM on January 7 [14 favorites]


Donald Trump's new "fire and fury": More madman cosplay, with no exit strategy (Bob Cesca, Salon)
Getting played and exposed by Kim Jong-un wasn't enough. Now Trump will allow the Iranian regime to eat his lunch
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:19 AM on January 7


"International crises often lead, at least initially, to surging support for a country’s leadership."

I think I can see what he was hoping for.
posted by Evilspork at 9:30 AM on January 7


Can I just fave bardophile's observation once more? inhonein kabhi haraa nahin hain, aaj tak.

I read an interesting longread on the way home and this caught my eye:

In 1987, Georgi Arbatov, a senior adviser to the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, had warned: “We are going to do a terrible thing to you – we are going to deprive you of an enemy.”

Literally, the best thing Iran can do is nothing. Or maybe something. Somewhen. Perhaps. You never know. Carry on big boys with your big toys.
posted by Mrs Potato at 9:36 AM on January 7 [14 favorites]


Now phrases like deep state are not in favor 'round these parts but Pepe Escobar had some points worthy of putting up on The Blue.

Knit together ideas like 'a president in recession is not re-elected', the effects of $100+ a barrel oil on the economy, and the rabbit trails in the Escobar op-ed and if a price rise can happen without firing a shot/using force that will put the world in a bad place with Mr. Trump being blamed.

The observation:
Yet this might as well have been a purposeful blunder. Killing Soleimani does prove that Trump, the Deep State and the usual suspects all agree on the essentials: there can be no entente cordiale between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Divide and rule remains the norm.
is one to consider - Iran/Saudi Arabia getting along is a threat?

And this claim prompts me to ponder - what funds?
This past Friday, two American, mid-range, traditional funds bit the dust because they were leveraging in derivatives linked to oil prices.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:38 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I can't find any source on the two funds that allegedly collapsed, except for reposts of the article making the claim itself. Very odd.

Oil right now is around $63/bbl (WTI Crude) which is about where it was back in May, before a big drop in June. If someone had a fund blow up because of that, I'd have real questions about their management style. That doesn't seem like it was really outside the realm of possibility of things that could happen.

Not saying the funds didn't collapse, just that there's probably some story there beyond international geopolitics? Would be interesting to know more, but my Googling is turning up nothing.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:50 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]


guys, guys, we have a new meme

"a weapons of mass destruction moment"

oh I say, Ralph, old chap, I'm having a bit of a WMD moment, hand me the gin will you please dahlink?
posted by Mrs Potato at 11:00 AM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Menendez was referring to the faulty intelligence cited by President George W. Bush's administration that led to war in Iraq on the grounds that the country was developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that ultimately were never found.
There was never anything faulty about that intelligence. It achieved exactly the purpose it was manufactured for, like a nice reliable toaster.
posted by flabdablet at 11:18 AM on January 7 [12 favorites]


Not saying the funds didn't collapse, just that there's probably some story there beyond international geopolitics?

Maybe some people were told what was happening and expecting the outcome of this to be a full-blown war, by now, with commensurate changes in markets, which thankfully didn't pan out?

It's not like the Trump administration hasn't engaged in insider trading, before. Investor Carl Icahn is a notoriously infamous benefactor of inside information.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:54 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]




I mean, everyone should be contacting their reps. But those four Republicans could be particularly important. And if you were to occupy their offices, I'd definitely contribute to the bail fund.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 2:08 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]




Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced a measure on Friday that would force the Trump administration to stop hostilities with Iran that are not authorized by Congress — unless the United States faces an imminent attack.

They've already been claiming that they killed Soleimani because of an attack that was extremely real and incredibly imminent (just, uh, don't ask for any proof because we got distracted and set it down somewhere, but I'm sure we'll come up with it any minute now), so I'm not sure what good this would actually do. If the record of the US's foreign relations in the 21st century shows any one thing clearly, it's that people who want a war aren't going to be shy about lying to whoever they need to.
posted by Copronymus at 2:29 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


If the record of the US's foreign relations in the 21st century shows any one thing clearly, it's that people who want a war aren't going to be shy about lying to whoever they need to.

You left out the 20th century. And the 19th.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:40 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


if the interview I just listened to on NPR with Brian Hook is anything to go by, the media needs to start treating all the spokespeople for this administration as a hostile witness.
posted by valkane at 3:14 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]




@Joyce_Karam
BREAKING: US Base in Iraq is now under Missile attack from #Iran. "Either Cruise or short range ballistic missiles": US Military source tells Fox News.

Unprecedented escalation:
quote-tweeting: @JenGriffinFNC (National Security Correspondent for @FoxNews )
From senior US military source in Iraq:
“Under missile attack from Iran. These are either cruise missiles or short range ballistic missiles. All over the country.”
There was an earlier report from the same area that was apparently false, but seeing this from a lot of sources.

In other words: fuck.
posted by Buntix at 3:28 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Whoops, now they are BBC reports.
posted by Harry Caul at 3:36 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


The Guardian have a live reporting page and have just added
In a statement, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said: “The brave soldiers of IRGC’s aerospace unit have launched a successful attack with tens of ballistic missiles on Al Assad military base in the name of martyr Gen.Qasem Soleimani”.
So they're not even going via Hezbollah proxies.
posted by Buntix at 3:41 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


If that letter yesterday hadn't actually been a big silly oopsie-booboo, US troops would be packing right now instead of dying.
posted by Rust Moranis at 3:52 PM on January 7 [10 favorites]


Obviously our president is a stupid senile criminal, but let's look at the bright side for a minute. Maybe $200/barrel for oil will do for global warming what Greta Thunberg couldn't. Time to invest in solar and buy a hybrid. (edit) The missile attacks will just give Trump and the war mongers what they want. I was hoping Iran was smarter than that.
posted by ambulocetus at 3:57 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised and horrified that Iran took such a direct and obvious attack. But I'm sure we can count on Donald Trump for a calm, reasoned response.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:57 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


It's a good thing Trump had the good judgement to not fuck over potential allies in any ground offensive like, say, the Kurds...
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:10 PM on January 7 [13 favorites]


I'm surprised and horrified that Iran took such a direct and obvious attack.

it's an open invitation for the u s to attack iran - i suspect they have something planned
posted by pyramid termite at 4:11 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


BREAKING: US Jets seen taking off from UAE. Iranian news media reporting Iran will also target UAE if US jets strike Iran that originated from UAE.
posted by adamvasco at 4:13 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]




[Quick reminder: this is a topic-specific thread about the US/Iran situation, not a Trump or US politics catch-all.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:19 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


One thing to keep in mind:

None of this is happening if we had not invaded Iraq.
posted by azpenguin at 4:22 PM on January 7 [8 favorites]


Garrett Graff:
Reminder that as this crisis escalates, we have no Director of National Intelligence, no Dep Dir, no Homeland Security Secretary, no Dep Sec, no head of CBP or ICE, no State Dept Under Sec of Arms Control, no Asst Sec for Europe, and no Navy Sec.
posted by neroli at 4:22 PM on January 7 [46 favorites]


Iran's Tasnim news agency reporting a second wave has now been launched.
posted by bcd at 4:24 PM on January 7


I don't even know what to say about this but the impact of this news has kind of a 9/11 vibe to me, like, oh shit, I don't understand the parameters but things just changed and we live in a different world. You're holding the rope and it gets jerked out of your hands. Nothing is in place to prevent this from even more fully going off the rails. Why would it stop escalating? We used to have institutions whose responsibilities were the answer to that question but they've all been drowned in bathtubs. I just hope that it somehow stops before real red lines are crossed.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:25 PM on January 7 [25 favorites]


Fortunately the Sec of Defense is an aerospace executive and lobbyist for Raytheon. I feel safer.
posted by Harry Caul at 4:26 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


This is terrifying. Trying to get in touch with school friends in UAE.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:28 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


this news has kind of a 9/11 vibe to me,

Well, really bad stuff happened because a Republican president chose to ignore the knowledge he was presented. And then it got worse.
posted by mumimor at 4:33 PM on January 7 [11 favorites]


For all their faults Bush 2 & Co. were not compulsive double downers.
posted by Evilspork at 4:36 PM on January 7


Russia Re-ups Offer To Arm Iraq With S-400 Air Defenses As Relations With The U.S. Sour –
Russia and China have both offered Iraq advanced weaponry and other military aid as its relations with the United States are now in doubt.
, The War Zone, Joseph Trevithick, January 7, 2020:
Amid confusion and uncertainty about the future of the U.S. military's presence in Iraq, Russia has unsurprisingly swooped in to re-up its offer to sell the country S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile systems, as well as other air defense weapons. The U.S. government's recent decision to kill Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian commander responsible for overseeing assistance to terrorist and militant groups overseas, has raised the potential for the Iraqi government to expel American forces, which would open up a vacuum that Russia and others are already looking to fill.

Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti reported this week that the Kremlin had offered S-400s to Iraq to "ensure the country’s sovereignty and reliable protection of airspace." That phrasing is an obvious reference to the U.S. drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, which Iraq's Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi and other senior officials have since decried as a violation of the country's sovereignty.

"Iraq is a partner of Russia in the field of military-technical cooperation," Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Russian Defence Ministry's public council and Russian media personality who's regular style of dress has earned him the nickname "The Terminator," told RIA Novosti. "The Russian Federation can supply the necessary funds to ensure the sovereignty of the country and reliable protection of airspace, including the supply of S-400 missiles and other components of the air defense system, such as Buk-M3, Tor-M2 and so on."
...
Other countries will be heard from: sabers are rattling.
posted by cenoxo at 4:39 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


For all their faults Bush 2 & Co. were not compulsive double downers.

That's an awfully generous read of the administration that got us into an apparently-neverending war in Afghanistan and Iraq!
posted by Greg Nog at 4:43 PM on January 7 [15 favorites]


Remember when common sense was NOT starting a land war in Asia.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:45 PM on January 7 [11 favorites]


so it's either follow all of this as it goes down, blows up (whatever) ... or put together that sort of obscure 1970s drone ambient mix I was planning.

I think I'll stick with Plan A.
posted by philip-random at 4:47 PM on January 7


Guardian with the rapid updates:
'Nancy Pelosi says she’s “closely monitoring the situation”, adding that she’d like “needless provocations from the Administration” end.

@SpeakerPelosi
Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war.


Donald Trump tweeted back, asking her to “step back”.

In the meantime, defense secretary Mark Esper and secretary of state Mike Pompeo have arrived at the White House. According to CNN, Esper was carrying a large bag.'
posted by Harry Caul at 4:49 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Giving a mentally ill sociopath and reality TV host a nuclear football will probably not prove out to be a good idea. Good luck, everyone.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:52 PM on January 7


Donald trump did not tweet “step back”.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:53 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Donald Trump tweeted back, asking her to “step back”.

No, he didn't. It was a twitter account named "CryDumbLiberals" with the screen name "Mr. President" and a picture of Trump as the profile pic.
posted by Roommate at 4:54 PM on January 7 [10 favorites]


@aliarouzi "Iranian Air Force has been deployed."

(NBC News Tehran Bureau Chief & correspondent.)
posted by Buntix at 4:54 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


From the Guardian:

Iran’s Tasnim news agency is now quoting Iranian officials warning that if the US retaliates to these strikes in Iraq, Hezbollah will fire rockets at Israel — a threat to widen the conflict and bring Iran’s regional allies into play.
posted by bcd at 5:08 PM on January 7


We all know the old saying about the first time as tragedy. But what is it when even the first time was a fucking farce?
posted by great_radio at 5:08 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


"That's an awfully generous read of the administration that got us into an apparently-neverending war in Afghanistan and Iraq!"

I do try to be an optimist.
posted by Evilspork at 5:09 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Iran Strikes Back: Missiles Rain Down On American Forces In Iraq (Updated) (Joseph Trevithick, The War Zone/The Drive)
This unprecedented attack is in retaliation for an American strike that killed a top Iranian commander and can only provoke a U.S. response.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:21 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Trump is a lost cause. Surely no one thinks he's psychologically capable of NOT blowing this up.

McConnell and et al, on the other hand, are sitting on an easily way to stop this from going to hell. That's not usually the case, but right now it very much is. If they do not act, they should be seen as every bit as culpable.
posted by bcd at 5:25 PM on January 7 [9 favorites]


...although Navy war games often disallow this reality, the very fact that the American Navy is the most powerful to fight a specific type of naval engagement practically guarantees that a future opponent will be so rude as to play a different game.
The U.S. Navy’s Big Mistake — Building Tons of Supercarriers
posted by kirkaracha at 5:27 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


There hasn't been a day since he was inaugurated that I would've been surprised to learn that Trump had launched nukes. And now there's an excuse.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:30 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Oh boy. My Facebook feed is literally overwhelmed with frightened friends posting unattributable screencaps of Twitter posts showing hot takes with jokey stock photos, actual reporting, obvious lies and propaganda, and so forth. I’d post a Smudge meme about how Putin’s already won, but it doesn’t even make me laugh.
posted by mwhybark at 5:39 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Chris Hayes :"I honestly think the best chance is sustained lobbying of Trump by Putin and Tucker Carlson."
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:42 PM on January 7 [9 favorites]


Remember when common sense was NOT starting a land war in Asia.

When did anyone ever say Trump had any common sense?
posted by mwhybark at 5:43 PM on January 7


For all their faults Bush 2 & Co. were not compulsive double downers.

Um, that’s why we invaded Iraq. Bush 2 was trying to finish off the man he thought had tried to kill his daddy.
posted by mwhybark at 5:46 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


@ethanklapper: "FAA just out with three NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen) banning US operations (US air carriers, US-registered aircraft, licensed airmen) over Iran, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman"

Iran has also now threatened to strike (well, destroy) Dubai and Haifa if there is any U.S. response. Additionally threatening retaliation within the U.S. homeland.

There's a twitter thread from @JaneLytv tracking disinformation and false reports.
posted by Buntix at 5:47 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


In the meantime, defense secretary Mark Esper and secretary of state Mike Pompeo have arrived at the White House. According to CNN, Esper was carrying a large bag.'

Oh boy. Mike Pompeo, card carrying member of the "start the rapture by starting nuclear war in the Middle East" death cult is here to calm Trump down. I feel so much better already.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 5:50 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Glad to see Kushner got that Middle East thingy all worked out.
posted by valkane at 5:53 PM on January 7 [16 favorites]


There's reporting that the Pentagon has said that no Americans were injured in the attacked, so between that and Trump not planning to give a televised address tonight, we might not have a major response from the US immediately. I don't have the tweet handy, but apparently this base has frequently been the target of similar attacks and was largely empty, which may be a sign that this was intended to be a proportional response and not a re-escalation by the IRGC.

It does remain grotesque that an infinity of dead Iraqis will never add up to one injured American in the eyes of the people charging ahead with this, not to mention that a major signal for whether thousands will die is whether Trump gets to inflate his self-image on TV, but I guess for the moment I'm hopeful that mass death will wait at least a few more hours.
posted by Copronymus at 5:57 PM on January 7 [22 favorites]




Just a reminder - if you’ve got a Facebook account, this is a good night to stay away from it.
posted by azpenguin at 6:03 PM on January 7 [8 favorites]


Shimon Prokupecz, of CNN:
Top national security officials -- including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper -- have departed the White House.
Vice President Mike Pence also departed.
Plus Jim Acosta, also CNN:
WH Press Sec Stephanie Grisham also tells CNN she won't be issuing another written statement tonight on the Iranian missile attack.
So, that gives some hope there won't be retaliation tonight, I think. Not sure it means anything beyond that.
posted by bcd at 6:10 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


WH Press Sec Stephanie Grisham also tells CNN she won't be issuing another statement ever. Unless it's Fox News.

Fixed that for you.
posted by valkane at 6:15 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


@aliarouzi:
This is key right now: If America does not respond to these attacks then this may be over for now. If America attacks then this will escalate.
posted by gwint at 6:16 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


My husband turned the TV to the state propaganda channel because I guess he thought my blood pressure was too low; highlights so far include that Lindsey Graham just called the Iranians "bastards" and Bill O'Reilly showed some 15-year-old footage of himself visiting one of the bases that was bombed.
posted by tivalasvegas at 6:25 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Unless it's Fox News.

There's been suggestions that Trump didn't want to address the nation before watching Hannity, now this...

@michaelcrowley (NY Times WH correspondent).
Fox’s Sean Hannity opens his show saying of Iran: “They’re gonna get hit hard.”

“Their three major refineries could soon go up in flames.”

“We can report six B-52 bombers are on their way to the region.”

This could all be bluster. Or not.
Worth noting that the 6 B-52's were sent to Diego Garcia a couple of days ago, so there does seem to be an element of bluster in the way he stated that.
posted by Buntix at 6:29 PM on January 7


The optimist in me hopes that the lack of immediate reprisals tonight means that, impossible though it seems, some voice of reason got through the cloud of malignant narcissism that informs Trump's every action. Maybe de-escalation is still possible.

The pessimist in me figures the only reason we haven't heard anything yet is because they're still wrestling over the football.

The realist is pretty confident reprisals are coming, there's no way Trump could let this pass without some dramatic demonstration of American supremacy, but maybe not tonight at least.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 6:31 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


I mean, we can be absolutely certain there will be reprisals of some kind. Trump doesn't give a shit about anyone but himself, true, but this is a narcissistic injury. He will lash out. Likely target is Iran, but who the fuck knows? Could be Finland, the AARP, the concept of the color green. He's not well.

I fear for the Iraqi civilians right now. I don't know when / if we will get accurate data on who has paid the price tonight for Trump's insanity.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:39 PM on January 7 [17 favorites]


The US military is now backed into a really tough spot due to Trump. American air power can do a lot of damage to Iran. The problem is that Iran has soldiers on the ground and the US does not. The US has around 60,000 servicepeople in countries around Iran. In the runup to the second Iraq war, the US sent three times as many people out there, plus war fighting equipment, to face a far weaker military. Iran's forces are better trained and better equipped than Iraq's were by a long shot. (For comparison, in 1999, Iran had 460k servicepeople while Iraq had 430k, but Iran spent almost six times as much.) The US would have to send a lot of people, tanks, trucks, artillery etc to the region to be able to win a conflict against the Iranians. Air power alone doesn't do it, because you have to be able to hold territory, and your supply of bombs and missiles is finite (yes, they can make plenty more, but that takes time.) Iran would not win a war against the US, as the Americans would eventually overrun them as more power was deployed to the region, but they would make it very costly. They are well equipped on the ground with a good number of tanks and a lot of artillery. The best move for both sides is to walk away from escalating, but if there's one thing we can't count on anyone doing right now, it's making the smart decision.
posted by azpenguin at 6:45 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


War! What is it good for?

It's good for business.
Billy Bragg
posted by kirkaracha at 6:45 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


I caught a few minutes of CNN tonight. Our media default is so pro-war, and our president is so obsessed with his TV coverage, that I'm actually more nervous about that than I am about Pompeo.

Trump's latest tweet sounded...good, actually. Disinterested in bombing stuff. I hope that holds.

I really hate that I decided to cut down on drinking this winter.
posted by grandiloquiet at 6:49 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


azpenguin, i think your analysis assumes that the costs associated with the US deploying to war with Iran is a bad thing for decision makers in the US. Lots of evil people would get really rich off of making all that stuff you mention. And they could give a shit about human life. For much of the American military industrial complex, a new war is just like, opening up a new market.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:53 PM on January 7 [10 favorites]


I remember thinking the crazed, religious, psycho president launching a global apocalypse (literally) in Dead Zone was over-the-top unbelievable. Well.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:03 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


For much of the American military industrial complex, a new war is just like, opening up a new market.

Iran is a target-rich environment.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:06 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I didn't expect a military response from Iran this soon but I can see how extended inaction would corrode Iran's authority. I hope the targets were chosen so as to minimize or avoid casualties, allowing Iran to project an image of strength while allowing Trump to downplay the significance of the attack.
posted by dmh at 7:06 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


i think your analysis assumes that the costs associated with the US deploying to war with Iran is a bad thing for decision makers in the US.

Oh, completely agreed. Hell, there’s a huge Raytheon plant a few miles from me that employs over 10,000 people. The GOP is more than happy to throw money at war nonstop. But, for everyone else, we don’t need this bullshit war.
posted by azpenguin at 7:17 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I expect a few more rounds of missiles over the next few weeks. I don't think the US or Iran will back down immediately; unless China or someone comes in to mediate.
posted by interogative mood at 7:28 PM on January 7


@realDonaldTrump: “All is well! ... Assessment of casualties and damages taking place now.”

Please take the nuclear arsenal away from this gentleman thank you 🙏
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:33 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


I showed Trump’s tweet to my eight year old daughter and she said “That’s not well!”
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:38 PM on January 7 [10 favorites]


[Comment removed, and a general reminder: tense situation + lots of noise = please slow down and either double-check your sources and link to them if bringing in some new breaking tidbit, or hold off until its possible to do so. I'd really appreciate if folks can work together to keep the signal to noise ratio in here significantly higher than the social media storm.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:43 PM on January 7 [13 favorites]


CNN: A Boeing 737 plane carrying 180 passengers and crew crashed shortly after takeoff from Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran early Wednesday local time, Iran's semi-official news agency ISNA reported.

The Ukranian Airlines plane crashed due to technical difficulties, according to ISNA.


... isn’t it a bit early to give a definitive cause for a plane crash?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:55 PM on January 7


The Ukranian Airlines plane crashed due to technical difficulties, according to ISNA.

... isn’t it a bit early to give a definitive cause for a plane crash?


"Technical difficulties" isn't a definitive cause, it's just saying that the pilot reported something wrong with the plane before the crash.
posted by Etrigan at 8:06 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


If so, every plane crash is due to technical difficulties. Even if it’s shot down. The journalists should be trying to report the root cause, is what I’m saying.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:10 PM on January 7


i had to
posted by weed donkey at 8:27 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


If so, every plane crash is due to technical difficulties. Even if it’s shot down.

I think you know what I meant was "the pilot reported a technical difficulty with the plane".

The journalists should be trying to report the root cause, is what I’m saying.

Yes, it sure would be great if reporters in the country with the 170th-ranked free press in the world were able to deduce the reason a plane fell out of the sky an hour or so after it crashed. However, in the world we actually have, we'll have to rely on "according to the regime's favored news agency" for a little longer.
posted by Etrigan at 8:28 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Hopefully not an echo of Iran Air 655
posted by interogative mood at 8:32 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


@JZarif: Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defense under Article 51 of UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched.

We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:39 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


FWIW, a friend of ours has a son in the navy, stationed in Spain. He’s just been deployed to “an unspecified location.”
posted by Thorzdad at 8:54 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Interesting that there aren't reports of casualties yet, even after 12 ballistic missiles. This could mean a lot of things: the US anti-missile technology is really amazing, the US anticipated the attacks and evacuated just the right buildings, Iran has some very inaccurate missiles, or Iran intentionally missed. Any way, it seems like an "off ramp" to hostilities: Trump isn't required to respond and can claim that Iran is inept, Iran can claim a restrained show of power (and probably keep ratcheting up the deniable attacks), and any objective analysis can be classified.
posted by netowl at 9:52 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


They've already been claiming that they killed Soleimani because of an attack that was extremely real and incredibly imminent (just, uh, don't ask for any proof because we got distracted and set it down somewhere, but I'm sure we'll come up with it any minute now), so I'm not sure what good this would actually do.

I don't know either. It seems to me that Congress passing a War Powers resolution is better than Congress not passing a War Powers resolution. There aren't a lot of options but we need to do everything that we can to stop this. Calling your reps will take 10 minutes and does not preclude you from taking more radical actions.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 10:48 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


This article has details about the War Power resolutions in the House and the Senate. The truth is of course that even passing the resolution through both houses of Congress is unlikely to have much concrete effect. But it's not nothing.

It's also not just about passing a bill. Maybe you live in a blue state and are represented by Democrats but they're probably still awful and need to hear loud and clear the message NO WAR ON IRAN.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 11:19 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Interesting that there aren't reports of casualties yet, even after 12 ballistic missiles. This could mean a lot of things: the US anti-missile technology is really amazing, the US anticipated the attacks and evacuated just the right buildings, Iran has some very inaccurate missiles, or Iran intentionally missed. Any way, it seems like an "off ramp" to hostilities: Trump isn't required to respond and can claim that Iran is inept, Iran can claim a restrained show of power (and probably keep ratcheting up the deniable attacks), and any objective analysis can be classified.

There's a pretty obvious other explanation here. That the Pentagon, which is the source for the claim - which is not "no casualties", by the way, but rather "only Iraqi casualties", though of course those don't count, right? - is lying to people. Recall that at the beginning of the Iraq War, there was a gag order in place with media in the event that a carrier went down, to stagger out the reporting of deaths so the war would be more palatable to people.

Middle East Monitor is reporting quite a lot of US personnel dead, in this large ballistic missile attack on US facilities that Iraqi personnel were kept away from. It's not fully confirmed, but then, the only real confirmation could come from the Pentagon, and they are lying to us.
posted by kafziel at 11:46 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


There are also matching bills in the House and the Senate from Ro Khanna and Bernie Sanders aimed at prohibiting funding for war with Iran.

I think it's well worth it to either pressure your reps to come out strongly in support of these bills or to give them hell if they never will. I think that people outside the US who are concerned about a war with Iran can pressure their local politicians to condemn US actions.

If the White House is isolated diplomatically and facing stiff domestic opposition, it's going to be harder to start a war. The United States always has the option to just walk away from all of this in a way that Iraqis and Iranians can't.

Edited to add that my last sentence is still true even if the Iranians just killed a bunch of Americans.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 11:46 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


I don't know either. It seems to me that Congress passing a War Powers resolution is better than Congress not passing a War Powers resolution. There aren't a lot of options but we need to do everything that we can to stop this. Calling your reps will take 10 minutes and does not preclude you from taking more radical actions.

How about, instead, you call your reps and senators and tell them to support something that may actually work, instead of something that we know for a fact will not? Kaine's mealy-mouthed bullshit wouldn't have stopped the assassination, let alone anything now.
posted by kafziel at 11:47 PM on January 7


How about, instead, you call your reps and senators and tell them to support something that may actually work, instead of something that we know for a fact will not? Kaine's mealy-mouthed bullshit wouldn't have stopped the assassination, let alone anything now.

Yes, people should call about that too. Is there a reason to not mention both while you're on the phone? The point is you're telling them that you don't want war on Iran.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 11:50 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Middle East Monitor is reporting quite a lot of US personnel dead, in this large ballistic missile attack on US facilities that Iraqi personnel were kept away from. It's not fully confirmed, but then, the only real confirmation could come from the Pentagon, and they are lying to us.

Middle East Monitor seems to just be regurgitating Iranian media:
Iranian media: 80 US nationals killed in ballistic missile attack on US military bases in Iraq. This report remains unconfirmed.
As bleak as things are and while there is every reason to be critical about information coming from the Pentagon, I also think Iran has a stronger incentive to exaggerate the impact of the attack than the Pentagon has in downplaying it. At least right now I hope so.
posted by dmh at 1:59 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Middle East Monitor is reporting quite a lot of US personnel dead, in this large ballistic missile attack on US facilities that Iraqi personnel were kept away from. It's not fully confirmed, but then, the only real confirmation could come from the Pentagon, and they are lying to us.

FWIW, the Danish Defense Ministry is also reporting no casualties, and I can't imagine they could get away with lying.
posted by mumimor at 2:33 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


The United States always has the option to just walk away from all of this ...still true even if the Iranians just killed a bunch of Americans.

Yes. Reagan essentially walked away when his stupid empty show of force got some 280 Marines killed. Unfortunately, Trump is much more unhinged.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:44 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


The Guardian live blog (here) has a variety of updates, including Iraq claims that there were no Iraqi casualties, a tweet from the Iraq PM that he was verbally warned by Iran that the attack was incoming just before it happened, confirmation from the Canadian & Australian governments that there were no casualties among their people, some excerpts from a speech by Khamenei describing the attacks as a "slap in the face" to the US and saying, "Retaliation, these military actions, do not compensate for the issue. What is important is the ending of American presence.”

The only "evidence" of American casualties is from Iran state media or its proxies.

Quoting The Guardian's international correspondent Michael Safi:

"The attacks will provide an opportunity for hawks inside the Donald Trump administration to ratchet up the conflict with Iran – but also potentially a pathway out of the crisis.

The Iranian strikes were heavy on symbolism. The missiles were launched around 1.30am in Iraq, roughly the same time as the drone strike that killed Suleimani on Friday morning. Top Iranian advisers and semi-official media outlets tweeted pictures of the country’s flag during the attack, mirroring Donald Trump’s tweet as the first reports of Suleimani’s death were emerging. The Revolutionary Guards dubbed the operation “Martyr Suleimani”. Videos of the missiles being launched were released to Iranian media outlets.

But in their immediate aftermath, the attacks appear to have been carefully calibrated to avoid US casualties – fired at bases that were already on high alert."

posted by soundguy99 at 4:36 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


This is somewhat related, somewhat indulgent.
From well before the actual Iraqi invasion in 2003, my friend and colleague where I teach, Dr. Ibrahim Ali gave me insight into the situation.
He was a refugee from the early days of Saddam Hussein and he told me that there were no weapons of mass destruction. Behind his bravado, Ali told me, Hussein was basically a coward and he would have done anything to prevent a war which would end his regime and life. He would have turned over any WMD, but the U.S. asked for something impossible: they didn't exist.
Ali went through a painful couple of years as he received messages that members of his extended family in Iraq suffered and died from war-related reasons.
I say a couple of years, because he died in 2005, a massive heart attack while playing soccer with students. His Iraqi family were shocked that he could die so far away from the war.
He was immensely popular with the students here. He won the teacher of the year award at least ten times. When I wondered about his popularity, I realized: he always had a smile. He represented to me a person who could scoop out a cup of joy from a well of sorrow.
I suppose my point is to say that these are humans, most often good people who pay the consequences of our lies.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:26 AM on January 8 [56 favorites]


Guardian: EU leaders plead with Trump not to respond to Iranian attacks
Diplomats fear hawks in Washington are insisting the US respond militarily to missile attacks on US bases in Iraq
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:36 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


According to the Los Angeles Times, "U.S. radar was able to track the missiles in flight and, as a result, personnel at the base were able to take cover."
posted by kirkaracha at 6:56 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Reagan essentially walked away when his stupid empty show of force got some 280 Marines killed.

Untrue! Brave Sir Reagan turned about and gallantly unleashed Operation Urgent Fury. Um, against Grenada.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:11 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Reagan essentially walked away when his stupid empty show of force got some 280 Marines killed.

Untrue! Brave Sir Reagan turned about and gallantly unleashed Operation Urgent Fury. Um, against Grenada.


No, you missed a step. In between, the US Navy shelled the crap out of Beirut on the way out.
posted by Anoplura at 7:25 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Trump's chaotic response to situation has generated more fear than Iran's missile attack (Mark Sumner, Daily Kos Staff)
That Trump’s supporters haven’t coalesced behind a single message [claim victory or take more action] isn’t surprising, because well before the moment when Trump signaled the military to assassinate Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the whole situation at the White House had been worse than chaotic. As The Washington Post reports, everything about this so far mini-war has been a terrifying illustration of what it would mean if this White House had to face a greater peril.
The referenced story: Amid confusion and contradictions, Trump White House stumbles in initial public response to Soleimani’s killing (David Nakamura and Josh Dawsey, WaPo)
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:34 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


According to the Los Angeles Times, "U.S. radar was able to track the missiles in flight and, as a result, personnel at the base were able to take cover."

Hey, speaking of the Pentagon lying, this is probably bullshit. The reason US personnel were able to take cover is that Iran gave a warning about the attack to Iraq, who passed it on to the US. It increasingly sounds like there were no casualties at all, not just no American casualties, which would track with having been warned about this beforehand.
posted by Copronymus at 8:07 AM on January 8 [8 favorites]


So Trump was supposed to speak at 11 am ET but it's 11:22 and the briefing room still has an empty podium ...
posted by freecellwizard at 8:23 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Appears to be live now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XY_RVhO4mc

Pence and Esper, plus some brass I don't recognize standing there waiting for the big entrance.
posted by bcd at 8:28 AM on January 8


my god, he's out of breath - this is a very sick man standing up there
posted by pyramid termite at 8:29 AM on January 8


Trump at podium: ...no American or Iraqi lives were lost...
posted by XMLicious at 8:31 AM on January 8


you dont know that, pyramid termite! Maybe he was just jacking off
posted by Greg Nog at 8:32 AM on January 8 [12 favorites]


If that missile attack wasn’t the Iranians giving Trump a giant fucking get out of jail free card, I don’t know what is. They save face domestically with a show of force without actually killing any more Americans. They probably decided that Trump’s complete dismantling of any positive relations with the Iraqi government and subsequent Iraqi demands for eviction of US forces was enough of a victory for the moment.

Now let’s see if he’s smart enough to take it.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:35 AM on January 8 [27 favorites]


How many shots do we have to down if he starts in on another toilet-flushing rant?
posted by flabdablet at 8:38 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


he's not even smart enough to realize that there's no chance that russia and china are going to work with him to contain iran - at best, they're just going to sit around and watch, at worst they could ally themselves

and he's still telling lies about that money - it wasn't our money, it was their money to begin with
posted by pyramid termite at 8:40 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


And done. The usual lies but not really anything new or more disturbing the usual. No new provocation and announcements of actions beyond more vague sanctions. I guess that's a win, as far as such things go.
posted by bcd at 8:40 AM on January 8


So I read that as the U.S. standing down for now, but reminding Iran that we have "big missiles" etc. and that we don't need their oil. So I'm cautiously optimistic for now. The ball is in Iran's court.

I'm also keen to see a fact check from that speech. He took credit for a lot of things that I don't think he can.
posted by freecellwizard at 8:40 AM on January 8 [2 favorites]


Is there a transcript anywhere or is he still talking?
posted by bardophile at 8:41 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


They save face domestically with a show of force without actually killing any more Americans.

Or any Iraqis.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:44 AM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Oh it was ludicrously dishonest, but really just par for the course. He's been spinning lies about the US giving Iran cash for years now, when what happened was some of Iran's own assets were unfrozen as part of the deal.
posted by bcd at 8:45 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


On the fact-checking question, as usual Daniel Dale has been doing so live. He's an indispensable resource for that.
posted by bcd at 8:46 AM on January 8 [14 favorites]


It's extremely absurd that I've actually been on an exhale from tension since Trump's deranged tweet last night. I can pinpoint the moment where I mostly stopped worrying about getting Korematsued. The speech this morning full of partisan lies, but Trump didn't look like he was having fun. That's good for minimizing the likelihood of more of this plot line happening in the future.

I'm quite curious about the sanctions. I didn't know there were more sanctions to be applied, at this point? Like...we have a lot in place, already?
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:54 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]


It's Trump. As long as it looks like he's applying sanctions, it doesn't matter if they're valid or not valid; already in place or brand new.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:59 AM on January 8


Just a reminder that after every forced, scripted speech, an equal and opposite unhinged tweet must follow.
posted by swift at 9:00 AM on January 8 [6 favorites]


Usually I hope that he goes on a golfing break to avoid worsening a crisis, but the real horror is that this thing hatched at Mar-a-Lago. If you keep that in mind, this is going to be a long winter...
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:03 AM on January 8 [5 favorites]




Did Twitter Help Stop War With Iran? (Garrett M. Graff, Wired)
Tweets from US president Donald Trump and Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif Tuesday offered a fascinating glimpse at how world leaders can communicate more quickly and directly than ever in times of crisis.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:44 AM on January 8


It's a sign of a magnificent, statesman-like performance when the top Twitter trends afterwards are:
  • TelePrompTer
  • Adderall
  • slurring
Truly everyone backing this guy must be proud as fuck right now.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:13 AM on January 8 [26 favorites]


Don't amphetamines affect pupil dilation? I very specifically looked for that when I noticed what seemed like his composure on the mic, because I figured he must have imbibed something to seem so....different...in front of the cameras.

His pupils seemed to be a normal diameter, but that only rules out so much.
posted by Gatyr at 10:24 AM on January 8


He didn't seem to me any different than he usually is when he's supposed to be giving a serious speech from a teleprompter. This is very much the way he talks and sounds when he's trying to be "presidential", instead of in full ranting rally/campaign speech mode.

Which isn't to say it's not jarring and concerning every time, but, well.
posted by Roommate at 10:35 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Did his orange makeup look especially badly applied today? it was missing on half his forehead and patchy everywhere else.
posted by octothorpe at 10:36 AM on January 8


If that missile attack wasn’t the Iranians giving Trump a giant fucking get out of jail free card, I don’t know what is. ...
Now let’s see if he’s smart enough to take it.


Considering the reporting is:
Trump contacts Saudi Arabian leaders, those leaders reach out to request Suleimani and get him to show up to function as a diplomat under a banner of peace in a 3rd country and Suleimani gets killed.

Reporting also had Suleimani as a load-bearing member in the effort supporting the defeat ISIS.

The double down on a willingness to order a war crime exists.

Thus:

Various nations are going to really have a problem with person functioning as a diplomat trying to create a state of peace being killed at a location he was lured to. The "I'll war crime" and killing a partner in ISIS fighting is going to also be objectionable to nations which respect international law but its not killing a messenger under a banner of peace you lured to slaughter.

Depending on the nation their ability to apply personal leverage to Mr. Trump personally could be very effective. From data dumps of his military school background, college grades, business records of the Trump Org, or whatever other things his ego might be injured over. Trump Org assets might be credibly threatenable.

The past funders of the Trump campaign and Republican Party may have issued advice to sit down on his tweeting thumbs or the money spigot would not only NOT fllow, but flow to the other side,

Odds are Mr. Trump was told to stand down and the people around him have been told to make sure not-stand down orders issued by Mr. Trump won't be followed.

The 'I'll issue a war crime' should prompt the Military to remind staff to not follow illegal orders to help back the Don't follow commands position.


The next couple of months for social media bot trackers will be interesting. Do the bots go quiet, double down on their botting, or change from one "side" to the other? If the bot nets are under the control of other nations they should change their output if this attack has them concerned.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:38 AM on January 8 [8 favorites]


It sounds like the GOPers are asking him behind the scenes to tone it down. They're the ones that can hold him accountable and yet refuse to do it. The more he does, and the more they let him do it, the more they own it. There's not many paths to the Dems taking over the Senate, but if Trump gets more and more unhinged and the GOP just lets him, that could clear the way.
posted by azpenguin at 10:52 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I'm an occasional actor. When I perform, my articulation is excellent. This is true when I give a presentation, or do radio or what have you. When I'm tired or not into it, I sound like I do when I'm just talking, which is to say tired, mumbly and a little annoyed. That's what I hear when Trump isn't into it. An asshole pitchman just talking like he does when he's off camera.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:00 AM on January 8 [7 favorites]


So. . . Iranian leadership took a chance of starting a war to help bolster support from their base after the fervent protests last month. Sounds familiar.
posted by Harry Caul at 11:33 AM on January 8


That may be a factor, but realistically, what country could just let the assassination of their 2IC just pass? Especially when the offending country not only did the assassination, but also owned up to it, forcing you to stand up for yourself. The long play is you can't let the US bully you too much. This long play seems to be what Trump misses sometimes; sure China is going to be hurt by the tradewar, but in the long run they can't be taken as chumps who will roll over every time someone strong arms them. And so on for many other countries. I'm surprised Iran didn't demand blood.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:38 AM on January 8 [17 favorites]


Trump’s Iran speech seemed like a victory lap. It actually made things worse. (Alex Ward, Vox)
The three ways Trump needlessly escalated the Iran standoff

First, Trump announced he would impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic, increasing America’s economic squeeze on the country that has already decimated its economy.

Second, Trump called on all parties to the Iran nuclear deal to exit it like the US did in 2018. [This] gives the Islamic Republic another reason to unshackle itself from the nuclear deal’s restrictions and move closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Finally, Trump called on the US’s NATO allies to be “much more involved in the Middle East process.” […] Having more troops enter the region to join American ones would be viewed as an escalation by Tehran.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:56 AM on January 8


Trump said Soleimani "should have been terminated long ago."

Trump's been president for almost three years. What took him so long? Why was it necessary to kill Soleimani now?
posted by kirkaracha at 12:15 PM on January 8 [10 favorites]


The three ways Trump needlessly escalated the Iran standoff

I'm not sure of the sanctions (does he have the authority to do so on his own?), but neither of the other two is going to happen, and that's exactly what Trump wants. He doesn't care about Iran or its nuclear capability or its leadership in the region. Not in the least. It doesn't affect him or his interests at all. What he's looking for is the grievance -- something he can complain about, endlessly, at his rallies and on the phone with Sean Hannity. "See, I told Germany that they need to get out of the JCPOA, but Angie ignored me! So everything is her fault!"

It's not escalation, it's just setting up his whining.
posted by Etrigan at 12:26 PM on January 8 [16 favorites]


Second, Trump called on all parties to the Iran nuclear deal to exit it like the US did in 2018. [This] gives the Islamic Republic another reason to unshackle itself from the nuclear deal’s restrictions and move closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Finally, Trump called on the US’s NATO allies to be “much more involved in the Middle East process.” […] Having more troops enter the region to join American ones would be viewed as an escalation by Tehran.


The EU signatories of the nuclear deal have already clearly stated that they will not leave it, and obviously, neither will Russia or China. Also, the murmurations on the situation right now in Europe is that no one is going to back a war against Iran. I guess the UK is the weak link here, but even they seem to be very wary. I suppose Blair's fate is a stark warning, even for Johnson. I think if Tony Blair had kept off of Iraq, he would stand next to Churchill and Thatcher as a legendary PM (for good and bad, like them). Now he is a living embarrassment.
In that sense, there will be no repeat of the Iraq war.
And Iran knows it. I'm just guessing here, but I think that while they are angry and frustrated with the Europeans being too weak and vague, they are very aware that Europe wants to uphold the deal and enter trade. Incidentally, it will be interesting to see if the new Commission can create an independent banking and money transfer system, based on the Euro, rather than the Dollar. It's been a vision/ambition of some Europeans for more than a decade, but it was never a UK interest. With the UK out of the Union, who knows what is possible?
posted by mumimor at 12:32 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


Maybe Boris will pull a Howard and negotiate a special visa class for British citizens for supporting a war. Getting added to the E-3 class would make it much easier for Brits to move to The States.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:34 PM on January 8


mumimor, I concur with your comment including the murmurations. My only caveat, and I've said and written this before is to be cautious about assessing softer stances as weakness or vagueness simply because X behaviour or Y response time is the norm in the assessor's own dominant culture. One thing the EU prefers is some degree of consensus among its member states before speaking up, and tbh, aren't they only learning to speak up to the US in these past 3 years of trump, dating from the day Merkel realized a new independent path had to be forged? All toddlers are wobbly when first learning to walk imo.

In addition to the euro banking and probably crypto (also referred to as digital in news) payments transfer, it will be interesting to see the EU's take on the Valley's tech giants in the coming months.
posted by Mrs Potato at 1:35 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]




I am really glad I woke up to find out that for once there wasn't an overnight meltdown. It's kind of amazing how surprised I am to see what is basically a bare minimum response that merely meets the bar of not being 100% unhinged.

It's really interesting that these missiles hit without causing casualties and appear so clearly aimed at aviation targets. There has been a fair amount of coverage lately about Iran's advances in missile technology but this was quite a show of accuracy. Even recent coverage didn't ascribe this level of precision to them. I think the assumption on the story breaking was that they lacked the capability to do this and any missile attack was basically approximately aimed at best and that casualties would therefore be inevitable.

It's also interesting that they weren't intercepted. Apparently the ability to do so didn't exist in the region at the time. If this is true, this strike is more of a wake up call than it is being positioned as right now because with that level of precision and no defenses in place they could have killed everyone on the base or done much more damage or worse. I'm glad to see this angle not being played up but it seems undeniable that this is a little bit more than an ineffective symbolic gesture and that US forces kind of got punched in the nose here and probably lost a little bit more credibility of whatever remains with our dwindling allies in the region as far as being a genuinely effective defender of their interests and people. It's not 80+ dead as Iran claimed but it should be a real reminder that this isn't 1991/2003 and they aren't Iraq. Apparently one reason there were no such defenses is that they're stretched too thin and can't be everywhere meaning if things were ever to escalate further, there will likely be plenty of similarly undefended targets.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:36 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


There has been a fair amount of coverage lately about Iran's advances in missile technology but this was quite a show of accuracy.

Not sure if this is the story feloniousmonk is thinking of, but Joby Warrick, one of the best reporters at the WaPo, had this yesterday: How a Quantum Change in Missiles Has Made Iran a Far More Dangerous Foe

Some good quotes from generals and experts and such, like this one:
The result is a line of short- and medium-range missiles that can deliver warheads with an accuracy range in the tens of meters, a Defense Department intelligence official said. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive assessments of Iran’s military capability.
and this one:
Gen. Joseph Votel, the former U.S. Centcom commander who retired from the Army in March, said the gains in Iran’s missile capability have been surprisingly rapid.

“We’ve been watching this for a while, with both these drones and with missiles and other things that can actually penetrate defensive systems and get in and hit those sensitive targets" ...

Most disturbing, Votel said, is the “maturation of these systems and how quickly [the Iranians] are learning.”

“When you look at our long learning curve here, theirs is much sharper,” he said. “They’re taking advantage of what we have learned.”
posted by martin q blank at 1:57 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


One of the huge differences between Iran and some other countries that US administrations have demonized is that Iran really prioritizes quality education and research. Even when it leads to millions of well-educated jobless youth who protest in the streets.
Part of the reason Europe wants to trade with Iran is that there is a huge potential in all that knowledge. Yes, there is oil, but everyone knows oil isn't the future. Smart industry is the future. (And then Iran has a lot of other valuable resources and products, and a desire for quality product from Europe).
posted by mumimor at 2:07 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Iran Briefing: "That was insulting." (CSPAN video on YouTube 5min44sec)

"It is not acceptable for officials within the executive branch of government…to come in and tell us that we can't debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran. It's un-American. It's unconstitutional and it's wrong."
posted by phoque at 2:18 PM on January 8 [23 favorites]


We've not talked about the passenger plane that crashed in the middle of this. It seems there's been a disturbing new twist there. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says 138 passengers killed in the Iran plane crash were connecting to Canada.

I hope I'm just over-reacting, but what he said is those 138 were all supposed to be on a connecting flight to Canada. The fact that they would soon be on American's doorstep and they are all now dead gives me a bad feeling about covert actions all around.
posted by bcd at 3:48 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]


I think we need another FPP for the plane crash, as it's certainly a significant event in its own right, and quite possibly unconnected to the recent events in Iran.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 4:07 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Yeah. The timing and the fact that it was leaving for Kyiv was a bit on the nose from the writers, but was hoping it was unrelated. This new detail certainly doesn't mean it absolutely is related... but it is worrisome.
posted by bcd at 4:36 PM on January 8


There seems to be something fishy about that plane crash. Another vote for a separate post, but maybe in a day or two, when hopefully we have more details.
posted by mumimor at 4:42 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


Second, Trump called on all parties to the Iran nuclear deal to exit it like the US did in 2018. [This] gives the Islamic Republic another reason to unshackle itself from the nuclear deal’s restrictions and move closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Iran will not get or create a nuclear arsenal. Khameini issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons in 2003, reinforced in 2005, declaring them religiously forbidden under Islamic law. They have rigidly adhered to that ever since, and Iran's other senior clerics are in full support of the fatwa.

The Iran nuke is a ghost story. There is an ideological ban against their development or deployment.
posted by kafziel at 4:45 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


Iran will not get or create a nuclear arsenal. Khameini issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons in 2003, reinforced in 2005, declaring them religiously forbidden under Islamic law. They have rigidly adhered to that ever since, and Iran's other senior clerics are in full support of the fatwa.

Yes, but: they will very probably build the capacity to create a nuclear arsenal on short notice, if it is deemed necessary.
posted by mumimor at 5:30 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


... I don't think you understand what a fatwa is, to be saying that.
posted by kafziel at 5:44 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]


I understand completely, but I also understand politics.
posted by mumimor at 5:45 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


The Iran nuke is a ghost story. There is an ideological ban against their development or deployment.

I know nothing about the background and ramifications of this, and would really like a nice solid article to both know more and push around when necessary.
posted by Evilspork at 6:14 PM on January 8 [5 favorites]


The Iran nuke is a ghost story. There is an ideological ban against their development or deployment.

I know nothing about the background and ramifications of this, and would really like a nice solid article to both know more and push around when necessary.


You might start with PRI's interview with Omid Safi, the director of Duke's Islamic Studies Center, for an overview of the theological jurisprudence behind the fatwa and its significance. Gareth Porter's article for Foreign Policy is a good breakdown of the "but I also understand politics" ignorance about the context of it, emphasizing the historical example of the 8-year Iran-Iraq War, during which Iraq deployed chemical weapons killing 20k Iranians and severely injuring 100k more, and Iran refused to retaliate on the grounds of their strict prohibitions against weapons of mass destruction - all of which happened a good 15-20 years before Khameini's fatwa declaration, lest this be thought a political expedience.

Weapons of mass destruction, be they biological, chemical, or nuclear, are haram. They are not to be built, kept, or used. Iran has been unshaking in that.
posted by kafziel at 6:58 PM on January 8 [30 favorites]


The book Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon, while a wonderful book about it's title topic, is also a very interesting primer on Iran's nuclear program. It is a worthy read.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:00 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Small pedantic detail:

The current spiritual head of Iran is Khamenei.

The one who led the 1979 revolution and was in power through the 1980s was Khomeini.

When those names are mis-spelled, it becomes hard to figure out who is being referred to.
posted by bardophile at 7:13 PM on January 8 [15 favorites]


Satellite Images Show The Aftermath Of Iran's Missile Strikes On Al Assad Air Base In Iraq (Updated) – The photos show Iranian missiles damaged or destroyed a number of hangars and other aviation-related facilities at the U.S. occupied base Iraq, The War Zone, Joseph Trevithick & Tyler Rogoway, January 8, 2020. In their opinion (summarized):
  • Damage to targets at Al Assad Air Base was accurate and deliberate, and not minimized by Iran. The intent was to kill American personnel and destroy equipment.
  • Roughly 1,500 American personnel avoided casualties by evacuating, taking cover, etc.
  • American forces did not shoot down any missiles. There are no U.S. antimissile assets in this area of Iraq: even if there were, they could not stop all incoming missiles.
  • Total number of missiles fired, exact types, and strikes is unclear.
  • Some missile parts on ground may be lower stages separated from warheads in flight.
The fog of war slowly but surely creeps in.
posted by cenoxo at 7:20 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Thanks for those two links, kafziel, they're very illuminating.
posted by bardophile at 7:26 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


You know who really caught a break? Xiyue Wang, the Princeton graduate student released last month from an Iranian prison, where he was held on charges of spying. I don't think his release would have gone through this month....
posted by thelonius at 7:34 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


Weapons of mass destruction, be they biological, chemical, or nuclear, are haram. They are not to be built, kept, or used. Iran has been unshaking in that.

According to Glenn Kessler, factchecking this in The Washington Post, the extent or even existence of this religious position is unclear, as is the degree to which it would actually bind Iran: Did Iran’s supreme leader issue a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons?

There's no doubt that Iran has a substantial nuclear program, although it claims that it's solely for peaceful purposes. And there's certainly good reason to think Iran is/was trying to acquire nuclear weapons, which is why Obama fought so hard for the nuclear "deal". The sanctions imposed on Iran were (according to Iran) very onerous; they were imposed because Iran refused to cooperate with the IAEA. I don't think you can just point to an alleged fatwa and say that it disproves evidence accepted by so many Western countries, including my own, particularly when Iran itself would have been in the best position to demonstrate that their concerns were groundless.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:49 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


particularly when Iran itself would have been in the best position to demonstrate that their concerns were groundless

I don't know enough about the history to comment intelligently on the question of the fatwa, but this point at least is a non-starter. Iran repeatedly assured the US that Iran was fulfilling their responsibilities under the terms of the JCPoA, and signatories and third parties confirmed and agreed, yet this administration called them liars and walked away from the deal.

What exactly do you think that Iran could say or do, to demonstrate to the satisfaction of this administration that their concerns are groundless?
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:32 PM on January 8 [6 favorites]


What exactly do you think that Iran could say or do, to demonstrate to the satisfaction of this administration that their concerns are groundless?

To a president who is facing an impeachment trial and probable felony charges upon either leaving or being forcibly removed from office, nothing at all.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:44 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


from that gareth porter/foreign policy article,
The chemical-warfare issue took a new turn in late June 1987, when Iraqi aircraft bombed four residential areas of Sardasht, an ethnically Kurdish city in Iran, with what was believed to be mustard gas. It was the first time Iran’s civilian population had been targeted by Iraqi forces with chemical weapons....

As popular fears of chemical attacks on more Iranian cities grew quickly, Rafighdoost undertook a major initiative to prepare Iran’s retaliation. He worked with the Defense Ministry to create the capability to produce mustard gas weapons.
june 1987 gas attack. "a major initiative to prepare Iran's retaliation." and i don't know how long it takes for a mobilized military industry to create and deploy mustard gas weapons. by september, the article notes, raw materials had been acquired and production of requisite chemicals began. (the article notes no delivery vehicles were ever armed, but when he was informed of the capability in december, khomeini explained, again, that such weapons are forbidden). so, months: months of preparation, maybe six, for Iran's retaliation. during wartime.

noted for emphasis: victims of iraqi gas? kurds.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:46 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]


I hope I'm just over-reacting, but what he said is those 138 were all supposed to be on a connecting flight to Canada. The fact that they would soon be on American's doorstep and they are all now dead gives me a bad feeling about covert actions all around.

Given that we don't have a new thread, I'll comment here: if there is a new thread in a day or two, which I'd appreciate, I'll move over.

There were 176 people on the plane; 63 Canadian citizens, 83 Iranians, 11 Ukrainians (9 crew members, so 2 passengers), 3 Brits and I don't remember the rest. The 138 people flying through to Canada were largely students, researchers and faculty members returning from visits in Iran for the winter break: we take a lot of foreign students, and Iran is a major source of graduate/medical/research candidates. We also have one of the world's largest Iranian diaspora populations (dates back to the 1979 Revolution -- they fled it, and couldn't get into the US). They weren't coming to attack America: they were coming home after seeing family, or coming to the West to study dentistry or medicine or engineering.

There's some evidence that the plane was struck by something; the Ukrainians have withdrawn their assertion that it was a mechanical failure, and there's footage of the crash, in which it looks to be on fire as it's falling from the sky.

I won't say that I think Trump ordered the destruction of a Ukrainian plane that was en route to Canada and full of Canadians because Justin laughed at him, but I will say that both he and Russia have the motivation to punish both Ukraine and Canada, and the access to non-state groups that would do the job.
posted by jrochest at 11:14 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]


The current spiritual head of Iran is Khamenei.

It’s a good thing my t-shirt works on any ayatollah-- Ayatollah Nakhbadeh, Ayatollah Zahedi. As we speak, Ayatollah Razmara and his cadre of fanatics are consolidating their power.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:15 PM on January 8 [7 favorites]


What exactly do you think that Iran could say or do, to demonstrate to the satisfaction of this administration that their concerns are groundless?

As They sucked his brains out! indicates, nothing: this is not a reality-based Administration. But if you look at historic IAEA reports, from before Trump's election, it's pretty clear that Iran had been trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability. You can find the relevant reports here, but a good summary can be found in the IAEA Board Report from 2 December 2015: Final Assessment on Past and Present Outstanding Issues regarding Iran’s Nuclear Programme.

The most relevant paragraph from the summary is this:
The Agency assesses that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003. The Agency also assesses that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities. The Agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.
That report itself covers most of the issues, but you can find more details in the Annex to which the 2 December 2015 report refers. So yes, Iran was following the JCPOA, but the JCPOA was necessary; it gave us all some reassurance that Iran wasn't going to restart its nuclear weapons program. In a better world it would perhaps have led to more and better engagement from the US and we'd be a little bit further from WW3.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:16 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


And just as I write this, the BBC's Diplomatic Correspondent, @BBCJLansdale
These remarks from Foreign Secretary @DominicRaab overnight in Washington are significant & under reported. As far as I can tell, they are the 1st time a UK minister has threatened publicly to trigger the dispute mechanism that could collapse the Iran nuclear deal.
I presume it's a followup to Trump instructing the UK - there really is no other word for it - to "break away from the remnants of the Iran deal."
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:26 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Jrochest - any links for that Ukranian Airlines flight information?
posted by cenoxo at 5:47 AM on January 9


I think it was Chomsky who put it this way: other countries would be crazy to want Iran to develop nuclear weapons, and Iran would be crazy not to want to develop them.
posted by Rykey at 5:53 AM on January 9


So yes, Iran was following the JCPOA, but the JCPOA was necessary; it gave us all some reassurance that Iran wasn't going to restart its nuclear weapons program.

Love to commit years of economic warfare against Iran's poorest just to feel reassurance that a nonexistent program continues to be nonexistent.
posted by Cezar Golescu at 6:25 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]




I won't say that I think Trump ordered the destruction of a Ukrainian plane that was en route to Canada and full of Canadians because Justin laughed at him, but I will say that both he and Russia have the motivation to punish both Ukraine and Canada, and the access to non-state groups that would do the job.

Why were so many Canadians on the plane that crashed in Iran?

For Canada, this is just a very unhappy coincidence.

That plane itself wasn't en route to Canada. The Canadian passengers on board were connecting to another flight headed to Toronto (that flight left anyhow, with about 130 empty seats according to the article above). I think it's much too sophisticated a plan - to actually select a plane to shoot down based on the passenger make-up, which in this case would have been especially unusual. The plane was carrying so many Canadian passengers because these people were visiting Iran over the winter break and taking the cheapest route, which happened to be through Ukraine (air travel for Canadians is crazy expensive). This is very sad. In Edmonton, our Iranian community lost 1% of it's members.
posted by kitcat at 9:20 AM on January 9 [16 favorites]


cenexo here's the most recent CBC article and Trudeau's speech. Flags flying at half staff on Parliament Hill; vigils held and planned.

The numbers were prominent in the first articles; I'm sure on the Canadian and Iranian numbers, and on the Ukraine ones, and I"m pretty sure there were 3 brits on the plane. But the other, smaller numbers I"m less sure of.
posted by jrochest at 9:22 AM on January 9 [1 favorite]


kitcat -- I'm not suggesting that they set out to destroy the plane because it was full of Canadians.
The fact that it was Ukrainian is probably the reason -- and the fact that it was full of Canadians would be a bonus.

I'd like to know who the two non-crewmember Ukranians were.
posted by jrochest at 9:33 AM on January 9


The fact that it was Ukrainian is probably the reason -- and the fact that it was full of Canadians would be a bonus.

Hanlon's razor please. Passenger planes have been shot down mistakenly before, and they will be shot down mistakenly again.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:39 AM on January 9 [13 favorites]




Based on the Trump quotes in that CBS article, I'm pretty sure that the U. S. shot it down.
posted by thedward at 9:41 AM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Trump does tend to ad lib in a way that's revealing.
posted by emelenjr at 9:49 AM on January 9


Kabaddi -- of all the planes taking off from an airport serving a city of 9 million, to hit the one Ukrainian one? The Ukrainian one serving a country that you're deeply pissed at?

Oopsie!

What are the odds...
posted by jrochest at 9:58 AM on January 9


Yeah but can you determine whether it was part of his U.S. racket that shot it down or is privy to information from part of his non U.S. rackets?
posted by avalonian at 10:01 AM on January 9


Wow, never knew the tinfoil-hat percentage on Metafilter was this high...
posted by Pendragon at 10:02 AM on January 9 [23 favorites]


I'm wondering why the two (small) rockets that struck in the green zone close to the US embassy in Baghdad yesterday isn't a bigger story.
posted by kitcat at 10:12 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


We are definitely spiraling into unfounded speculation. Let's wait and see.

Seen on the internet:

Person 1: People keep talking about Occam's Razor. What is it?
Person 2: I dunno - probably a razor that belongs to a guy named Occam.
posted by freecellwizard at 10:22 AM on January 9 [31 favorites]


That is a brilliant illustration of what Occam's razor is. Or is that the joke?
posted by Rykey at 10:28 AM on January 9 [8 favorites]


Wow, never knew the tinfoil-hat percentage on Metafilter was this high...

You know, maybe. Probably. But after many people were called crazy for saying, around 2002-03, that there were no WMD in Iraq, that the U.S. was heading to war under false pretenses, motivated by lies and fabricated "evidence"; and also called crazy in early- to mid-2016 for saying that Russia (and others) were directly interfering in U.S. elections through disinformation and social manipulation; and, even farther back, also called crazy for knowing in the mid-1980s that George Bush (et al) committed treason with the Iran-Contra deal; and of course it was not actually crazy to say or think those things at the time, or at any point since....

One has to wonder, at what point is it imprudent not to don the tinfoil-hat as daily haberdashery?
posted by LooseFilter at 10:29 AM on January 9 [21 favorites]


It’s unfortunate that “conspiracy theory” has become a perjorative term. Conspiracies are very real. It’s “non-evidence-based claims of probability of conspiracy” that are the problem. But that’s less catchy!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:33 AM on January 9 [6 favorites]





Donald Trump’s rant against Iran is the howl of a dying empire
As the president slurred ritualised abuse of Iran and pleas to Nato, we saw the US’s days as world hegemon dribbling away

When your drones can kill anyone anywhere, the temptation is insuperable. If you think you can police the world from a bunker in Nevada, why not try?

This.
posted by Mrs Potato at 10:46 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]


The US is fighting six wars – also in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. None has any conceivable relevance to its own security. continued with same link

[...]

Twenty years of western interventions in the Muslim world have rested on two falsehoods. One is that terrorism poses an existential threat to western democracies, grotesquely underrating their inherent stability. The other is that intervention can remedy such a threat, can enforce obedience and even democracy on victim states. I remember watching rightwing US thinktankers trying to administer Iraq from Baghdad’s Green Zone in the months after the 2003 invasion. By what right?

[...]

The issue now is not whether we can any longer plant the flowers of democracy in fields we have drenched in blood. It is how to get the hell out.
posted by Mrs Potato at 10:52 AM on January 9 [7 favorites]




I'm wondering why the two (small) rockets that struck in the green zone close to the US embassy in Baghdad yesterday isn't a bigger story.

Probably because rockets have been regularly fired at American facilities around Iraq since Trump pulled out of the JCPOA. In a world where Suleimani was breathing, nobody would notice another couple rockets.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:15 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Well, I'm sure that now he is dead, all those attacks will cease and peace will again return to the region.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:19 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Killing airliners to make a point only works if you can take responsibility for it, seems to me. How does an "Iran accidentally shot down a Ukrainian airliner" story serve Trump or send a message to Iran, Ukraine, or Canada?

Shooting airliners down by accident is easy to do by trigger-happy idiots who are in a shooting war. It happens with some frequency.
posted by BungaDunga at 11:21 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Killing Iran’s top general showed that the US was more unpredictable than Iran had expected. The Iranian air-defense staff may have been anticipating the real possibility of an attack in Tehran for the very first time. Overreaction may have ensued.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:28 AM on January 9 [9 favorites]


The media are focusing on "Canadians" and "Ukrainian jet" but let's remember that 82 of the passengers were Iranian and almost all of the 63 Canadians would have been dual citizens born in Iran (except young children of course). And the others (Swedes, Brits, Germans)? I'm guessing they weren't tourists - they were probably visiting family as well.

This certainly looks like an accident and it should be very embarrassing for Iran.
posted by kitcat at 11:48 AM on January 9 [3 favorites]


The US is fighting six wars – also in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.
Only an idiot fights a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the kingdom of idiots would fight a war on twelve six fronts.

Lando Mollari
April 16, 2280
posted by TheHuntForBlueMonday at 11:58 AM on January 9 [13 favorites]


I found out this morning that a 3rd grade student at my kids' old school was on the plane and died. My daughter is in grade 3 so there's a pretty good chance they knew each other. I found out from another parent whose son was in the same class as the student. I can explain an accident to my kids. I can explain an act of terrorism or war. But when it is still unclear what happened it makes it harder to explain in a way that isn't going to worry them the next time they get on a plane.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:24 PM on January 9 [11 favorites]


I'm going to drop some links and tweets here from the ongoing OSINT investigation into the PS752 plane crash. Apologies as it's a bit messy. Best to keep an eye on both the twitter feeds of Bellingcat and Christiaan Triebert (NY Times Visual investigator)

Bellingcat seems to be leading the way with their open source investigation into what exactly happened. For context, Bellingcat are the one's who broke the MH17 story.

NY Times: Video Shows Ukrainian Airliner Being Hit Over Iran

Bellingcat
@bellingcat
We are analyzing this new video supposedly showing a mid-air explosion. By our initial estimation, the video shows an apartment block in western Parand (35.489414, 50.906917), facing northeast. This perspective is directed approximately towards the known trajectory of #PS752.

Bellingcat
@bellingcat
By measuring the time that it took for the camera to hear the explosion, we estimated the distance of the event (red circle), and cross-referenced it with the geolocation of the video and the flight trajectory of #PS752 (taken from from FlightRadar24).

Christiaan Triebert
@trbrtc
·
2h
The preliminary report by the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization also stated that #PS752 turned right after take-off, so deviating from its intended path to Kyiv, and then managed to head back in the direction of the airport while being on fire. https://flightradar24.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Iran-CAO-PS752-Initial-Report.pdf

Christiaan Triebert
@trbrtc
Here's some detail on how we determined that Flight #PS752 had turned around and was heading back toward Tehran's International Airport.
Quote Tweet

Malachy Browne
@malachybrowne
· 22h
By analyzing photos of debris, structural damage & blood spatter, and video of the crash, we determined that flight #PS752 had turned around and was heading back twd Tehran airport when it crashed, some 10 miles from where its transponder last pinged https://nytimes.com/2020/01/07/world/middleeast/iran-plane-crash-boeing-ukraine.html…
Show this thread
2:43 PM · Jan 8, 2020·Twitter Web App
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:30 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Shooting airliners down by accident is easy to do by trigger-happy idiots who are in a shooting war. It happens with some frequency.

Yep. This would be a good time to remember what the USS Vincennes did to the 290 (mostly Iranian) civilians aboard Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988.

The Americans who did it got medals and ribbons for that particular tour of duty.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:32 PM on January 9 [13 favorites]


Killing Iran’s top general showed that the US was more unpredictable than Iran had expected. The Iranian air-defense staff may have been anticipating the real possibility of an attack in Tehran for the very first time. Overreaction may have ensued.

It's almost like the madman strategy has some downsides when everybody involved is well-armed!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:38 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Canada is now backing the Iranian shootdown theory, based on their own intelligence.

I am doubtful we'll ever get a complete explanation of who pressed the button and why.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:38 PM on January 9


One ought not place stock in poorly sourced rumor and barely informed speculation when it comes to the plane crash. In addition to the normal social media misinformation, there are at least a couple of pieces of active disinformation circulating regarding supposed proof of a shootdown, and poor journalism has already taken official statements far beyond any rational or even remotely plausible reading and turned them into confirmation where there was none in the original statement.

Moreover, the timing of the sudden pushing of the missile narrative is suspiciously correlated with a certain government leader's preferred message, both in content and timing.
posted by wierdo at 12:41 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Also, the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran has now requested Boeing’s participation.
Hesameddin Ashena
@hesamodin1
:رئیس کمیسیون بررسی سانحه سازمان هواپیمایی
ما از آمریکا به عنوان کشور طراح بوئینگ بابت حضور در کمیسیون
بررسی سانحه دعوت کرده‌ایم، اما هنوز درخواست حضور به ما
نداده‌اند‌، نماینده به ما معرفی کرده‌اند اما نگفته‌اند که قطعا حضور
می‌یابند/ فارس
12:03 PM · Jan 9, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:41 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


To be clear — the CNBC story cites to this tweet, which only says Canada's Government is crediting the US intelligence, not that it has its own sources.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:43 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]



Christiaan Triebert
@trbrtc
Two photos of an apparent Tor M1 (SA-15) missile remain are circulating on social media. These photos are not verified. See @Bellingcat for more. If they happen to be from the #PS752 incident, they were probably found somewhere around Parand.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 12:43 PM on January 9


Also, the reporting of "the US will be denied access to the investigation" was a misunderstanding of "the US won't get any special treatment beyond what is called for by ICAO treaty obligations". I suggest not believing anything you read in the media on the topic until at least 24 hours have passed without correction unless there is some urgent action required.
posted by wierdo at 12:45 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


Wow, never knew the tinfoil-hat percentage on Metafilter was this high...


I dunno, when a single global oligarch can be the necessary push to get an orange idiot to POTUS, and said oligarch has a ruthless assassination program, at the same time U.S. citizens with knowledge of global child trafficking rings for oligarchs began getting murdered in government custody (I don't think this was Putin, just yet another group of individuals that can extrajudicially murder). Both countries of which have murdered thousands of civilians.

Considering that passenger airlines are shot down every couple years, and globally there are over 100,000 flights a day, and the first one in 8 years happens to hit a Ukranian plane with 147 Iranians on board days after an unprovoked extrajudicial assassination of a ranked official of said sovereign nation on the soil of another sovereign nation. I'm not a math man, but those ain't the odds I'm looking for when I'm looking to write something off as unfounded conspiracy.

I don't know where the tinfoil begins and the "rules of murder/war/power that I, a reasonable person ends. But I'm happy to subscribe to your newsletter in hopes of restoring my sanity.

I'll be happy to be persuaded it was just an oopsie, though.
posted by avalonian at 12:48 PM on January 9 [9 favorites]


I’ve been sick for the past week and am not following what the conspiracy theory is. What’s the background of it?

What I wanna know is, why was a civilian airliner taking off in the midst of a war? This ain’t like it just happened to be flying over incidentally.
posted by gucci mane at 1:00 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


CNN is specifically reporting that "Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday his country has intelligence from their own sources and allies that suggests a Ukrainian airliner was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile." (Emph. mine)

Though waiting 24 hours in a fast-moving situation for sources to stabilize before drawing conclusions is not, in general, a terrible idea.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:08 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


What I wanna know is, why was a civilian airliner taking off in the midst of a war? This ain’t like it just happened to be flying over incidentally.

No one is saying that the 737 happened to wander into the path of a missile headed for Al Asad Airbase. The theory is that it was mistakenly targeted and shot down by an Iranian air defense battery, which had determined it to be a hostile aircraft. It was no more "in the midst of a war" than any aircraft taking off from DCA is just because it's a mile and a half away from the Pentagon.
posted by Etrigan at 1:22 PM on January 9 [12 favorites]


A theory: Trump thought picking a fight with Iran would boost him. It backfired (Amanda Marcotte, Salon)
Late on Tuesday, evidence emerged for the theory that this was, in part, a campaign stunt. After Soleimani's killing, the Trump campaign reportedly conducted a targeted Facebook ad blitz (NYT) crowing about the assassination (Buzzfeed). Almost 800 unique ads were written, trumpeting variations of how Trump's actions meant that "Iranian General Qassem Soleimani is no longer a threat to the United States, or to the world."

[…]

That Trump and his White House team thought killing a prominent Iranian military leader as little more than a campaign stunt to kick off the 2020 elections was already evident in the flat-footed response that came even before Tuesday night's bombings. They can't get their story straight on what the supposed legal and strategic reasons for the assassination are, perhaps because they didn't have any.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:23 PM on January 9 [8 favorites]


It's just such a terrible mistake. They have basically killed Iranian people, for what?
IMO they should pay out the millions ASAP, even though money doesn't bring back anyone. It's an admission of guilt, and that does help the grieving process. Still, there is a huge scream in my head, imagining the feelings of those whose loved ones were killed.
posted by mumimor at 1:23 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


CNN is specifically reporting that "Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday his country has intelligence from their own sources and allies that suggests a Ukrainian airliner was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile."

As a Canadian, it's hard to follow U.S. media coverage without a quizzically cocked eyebrow when its gaze falls on us, particularly in a breaking news situation.

So.

For anyone who's interested in what the official Canadian line is as of this afternoon, here's the full press conference Trudeau gave this afternoon, including questions from the media (English closed captioning is available on the YouTube feed for all of the French portions/Q&A).

The tl;dr is [paraphrasing here] is along these lines: We have multiple sources, I'm not going to discuss them, and we're not committing to any course of action until we're convinced there's been a credible investigation into what's happened, and we're in communication with Ukraine about it and we've had direct communication with Iran.

It's worth noting that Canada hasn't had formal diplomatic relations with Iran since 2012. In the press conference linked above, a reporter asks a question about this - namely whether he had any regrets about not restarting diplomatic relations with Iran as the Liberals promised in the 2015 election.

There was also this moment, when a reporter asked him what he thought about some of Trump's remarks: "I'll let Mr. Trump's words speak for themselves."

He also said that Canada's Foreign Minister, François-Philippe Champagne is going to be giving another press conference later in the day about the status of Canada's inclusion in the investigation.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:26 PM on January 9 [10 favorites]


What I wanna know is, why was a civilian airliner taking off in the midst of a war?

Even amidst conflict, life goes on, to an extent. I say this as someone who as flown extensively out of Beirut, Cairo, Amman, Tel Aviv, and Baghdad, on a semi-regular basis.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 1:42 PM on January 9 [19 favorites]


A bit more from Bellingcat on the open source investigation, including an annotated video and description of how they were able to geolocate the video. Video Apparently Showing Flight PS752 Missile Strike Geolocated to Iranian Suburb.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 1:50 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


The theory is that it was mistakenly targeted and shot down by an Iranian air defense battery, which had determined it to be a hostile aircraft.

I ask this after taking the breath suggested by Kadin2048: Do their methods of detection and/or threshold for firing change when one of their top generals is assassinated? It seems intuitive that they would.
posted by avalonian at 2:07 PM on January 9


This isn't the first time that Russian missile system has shot down a civilian airliner by mistake, is it?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:10 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


in fucking up Iraq, Syria, and on her watch as SecState, Libya and Yemen.
The US is fighting six wars – also in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.


A reminder of something from 2001 said in 2007:
"'Oh, it's worse than that,' he said, holding up a memo on his desk. 'Here's the paper from the Office of the Secretary of Defense [then Donald Rumsfeld] outlining the strategy. We're going to take out seven countries in five years.' And he named them, starting with Iraq and Syria and ending with Iran."

While Clark doesn't name the other four countries, he has mentioned in televised interviews that the hit list included Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Sudan.


And repeated in 2014
As we have witnessed, much of what General Clark revealed has ultimately moved forward, albeit with a modified timeline.

And repeated in 2017
Donald Trump is set to sign an executive order that would include a temporary refugee ban and a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries.

The list is expected to include Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. If those countries are starting to sound familiar, there’s a reason for that.


And something else to ponder:

If the reason it is OK for the US of A to have nuclear weapons is the MAD doctrine and the reason Iran or North Korea should not have them and be deprived of MAD(ness) is because their leaders are crazy and can't be trusted then how is it the US of A has the moral authority to keep nuclear weapons?
posted by rough ashlar at 2:39 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


What I wanna know is, why was a civilian airliner taking off in the midst of a war?

While there was a tweet claiming a "do not fly" was in existance and the Urkranian plane opted to ignore the only thing I found was post-crash Turkey rerouting and the excersize of caution back in Iran crisis: US planes barred over parts of the Mideast; global airlines reroute flights after drone downed

So a 'don't fly' warning might answer yourr question.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:45 PM on January 9


If the reason it is OK for the US of A to have nuclear weapons is the MAD doctrine and the reason Iran or North Korea should not have them and be deprived of MAD(ness) is because their leaders are crazy and can't be trusted then how is it the US of A has the moral authority to keep nuclear weapons?

Who's going to take them away from us?
posted by delfin at 2:51 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I ask this after taking the breath suggested by Kadin2048: Do their methods of detection and/or threshold for firing change when one of their top generals is assassinated? It seems intuitive that they would.
This happened a few hours after Iran sent a barrage of missiles to U.S. bases in Iraq. I imagine that everyone is a bit jumpier after having just attacked U.S. assets!
posted by borsboom at 2:52 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


CNN is specifically reporting that "Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday his country has intelligence from their own sources and allies that suggests a Ukrainian airliner was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile." (Emph. mine)


Maybe there's something weird going on with CNN's website, but CTL+F does not find that text in the linked article. And that is not what is said in the video. So far as I can tell, both Canada and the UK are affirming US intelligence. I'm not saying the intel is wrong, but I'm not seeing any explicit claims of independent corroboration. (I'm not sure where it would come from, anyway.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:13 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


“We have intelligence from multiple sources – including our allies and our own intelligence: the evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” Trudeau said. “This may well have been unintentional.”
Justin Trudeau: Canada 'will not rest' until it gets answers about plane crash
(The Guardian)
I should add that I am, at the moment, unable to view the video to verify what was said. Unless it's being misreported, or perhaps or stated such elsewhere.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 3:19 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I see other sites quoting that reporting, so I'm guessing CNN revised it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:19 PM on January 9


Thanks, Ahmad Khani!
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:20 PM on January 9


Iran crisis: US planes barred over parts of the Mideast; global airlines reroute flights after drone downed

I was just looking at FlightRadar24, and apart from Iranian based airlines (Mahan, ATA, Iran Air etc), there are still a small number of non-Iranian flights flying over Iran right now including from Turkish Airways, Pakistan Airlines, FlyDubai, Qatar Airways, Oman Air, and some logistics flights from AtlasGlobal etc. In a few limited cases it makes sense because the destination is in Iran, but still...not sure I'd be super comfortable sitting on that TK55 777 Singapore to Istanbul flight which appears to be on a course to take them just south of Tehran right now
posted by inflatablekiwi at 3:22 PM on January 9


I have no idea where ballistic missiles are being launched from, all I’m saying is that it seems weird to me that civilian planes would be flying around while missiles are as well. And I don’t mean that in a conspiratorial manner, I mean that from a logical standpoint. Like if for some reason the US was launching missiles over the Atlantic from Virginia I’d think it’d be sketchy as hell to have civilian flights rolling out from JFK. But I also don’t know what I’m talking about heee so I’ll trust you all.

But again, what exactly is the conspiracy theory? That the Canadians or the US downed the plane and blamed Iran and it has to do with Ukraine?
posted by gucci mane at 3:33 PM on January 9


Or a Russian covert element, I suppose. So far as potential conspiracy theories.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:36 PM on January 9


Maybe it's just my leftover skepticism from the Iraq buildup about presidential claims about "multiple sources" of intelligence, but my money is on Canada just relying on US intelligence for the parts anyone cares about. Whether it's phrased as:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday his country has intelligence from their own sources and allies that suggests a Ukrainian airliner was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile.

or as:

“We have intelligence from multiple sources – including our allies and our own intelligence: the evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,”

we still don't know which parts of the statement came from Canada's own intelligence. For example, even if neither statement is a lie, Canada's part could be that there was an airliner, and that it was Ukrainian, with the key allegations--the plane being shot down, and the cause being an Iranian surface-to-air missile--coming from another source (likely the U.S.).

Also, I have a question about the phrase "Iranian surface-to-air missile." I was under the impression that Iran did not manufacture such missiles. Thus, I assume that this phrase is meant to convey two pieces of information: that it was a surface to air missile, and that Iran launched it. But what does "Iran" or "Iranian" mean in this context? That it was launched by Iran's military? by its government? by one of its citizens? just someone present within the borders of Iran? These distinctions probably matter, and they would require different kinds of proof.
posted by mabelstreet at 3:40 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


This isn't the first time that Russian missile system has shot down a civilian airliner by mistake, is it?

Russia doesn't seem to like civilian planes: Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Korean Air Lines Flight 007, Korean Air Lines Flight 902, Aero Flight 1631.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:46 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


a Stinger is a man-portable surface-to-air missile. I was under the impression that this was the type of ordinance used in this case.
posted by valkane at 3:48 PM on January 9


Lest we forget Iran Air Flight 655
posted by Ahmad Khani at 3:49 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


This isn't the first time that Russian missile system has shot down a civilian airliner by mistake, is it?

It also wouldn't be the first time an American missile shot down an Iranian civilian airliner.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:50 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


The surface-to-air missile is quite likely from the Tor System, at least gathered from speculation I've seen thus far
posted by Ahmad Khani at 3:52 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


inflatiblekiwi, does the website you're looking at have historical data? Is it possible to see what flights were taking off or landing from this airport around the same time?

I'm just wondering if it was targeted because it was the only western airline in the skies at the time, or if it was the only one traveling in that direction, or what? An actual accident is certainly possible, but I'm wondering what made it stand out.

I'm suspicious mostly because it's Ukrainian -- I know, there have been several tinfoil hat comments made, but how common are planes from that country in the ME -- because Russia and the USA might well have reasons to want to bring down a plane from Ukraine. The fact that the passengers were connecting to Canada would help support the argument that NATO should join an attack on Iran.

And Russia, in particular, has several actors in the country that would happily do the job. The Trump administration is feckless enough to do it too, of course.
posted by jrochest at 4:05 PM on January 9


Wow, never knew the tinfoil-hat percentage on Metafilter was this high...

People are processing a lot these days
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:06 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Like if for some reason the US was launching missiles over the Atlantic from Virginia I’d think it’d be sketchy as hell to have civilian flights rolling out from JFK.

That happens all the time with different launch sites, for values of booster ranging from "li'l baby sounding rocket" to "Falcon Heavy." They just close the airspace directly affected by the predicted track of the rocket, not the entire seaboard.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:09 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Open mistrust of official accounts from US and NATO countries that want to foment war with Iran seems entirely justified. The families of 288,000 dead are still owed an explanation for America's fake WMD story.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:26 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


because Russia and the USA might well have reasons to want to bring down a plane from Ukraine

like what? I haven't seen any cogent explanation of how doing this could possibly benefit anyone
posted by thelonius at 4:43 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


My biggest worry right now is that there are an awful lot of Iranian-Canadian families who are going to be crazy with grief and have a huge sense of grievance against Trump and America for escalating this situation. All it will take is one of them to post something angry online and they could trigger a media shit storm that could slam the Canadian-US border even more shut for Canadian muslims than it is now. Even without that someone could very easily nurse their pain and hatred and let it loose in the world at a later date.

Military aggression is not only evil, it is stupid, capricious and contagious and has all kinds of ripple effects that cause great harm and can echo through the years.
posted by srboisvert at 4:45 PM on January 9 [6 favorites]


inflatablekiwi, does the website you're looking at have historical data? Is it possible to see what flights were taking off or landing from this airport around the same time?

They have the data (its all very public). If you are interested you can see the airspace and interact with the aircraft as it was around that time here. Their Twitter account has additional analysis and visualizations of what was happening at the time. The PS752 flight path itself is here....and shows just how soon after takeoff this happened
posted by inflatablekiwi at 4:52 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]



One has to wonder, at what point is it imprudent not to don the tinfoil-hat as daily haberdashery?

maybe not within minutes/hours of troubling news hitting the wire. I mean, we can't help but thinking what we're thinking, but doing it out loud (ie: online) is something I'm going to personally try to avoid this go around. I suppose being Canadian is a factor here as this news has hit home. Last thing I want to do is make something of it that ends up just amplifying the genuine hurt that others are currently experiencing.
posted by philip-random at 4:53 PM on January 9 [8 favorites]


theolonius -- Russia's motives would be to harm Ukraine? To sow dismay and confusion among Nato allies? To target a particular person on that plane?

The Trump admin's motives, allied to Russia's, could be to have leverage to push NATO allies into joining an attack on Iran, or to have a mass of dead but conveniently non-American bodies to wave around like a flag.

What reason did Russian have to shoot down civilian airliners over Ukraine itself?

And I'll point out that the Russians are claiming that Ukraine itself is to blame for the crash, which strikes me as pretty hinky.

And philip-random, I'm in Saskatoon. I"ll shut up now, but I'm speaking because I'm angry as fuck.
posted by jrochest at 5:04 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


how common are planes from that country in the ME

Pretty common. UAI has routes to several ME countries, and PS752/PS751 was basically 4-5 days a week route.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 5:04 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


but how common are planes from that country in the ME

Tehran's a city of close to nine million people, and a huge number of flights from or to European cities come and go every single day. I get why the fact it was a Ukrainian flight would push a lot of people's "holy shit" button, and well it should, but Tehran is not some dusty village with a single airstrip, regardless of the propaganda narratives about Iran that the US and the West in general have been saturated with.

It's not weird or exotic or strange that people would be flying to or from this destination via any number of European countries right now.

People on that flight were doing the things that people do -- visiting friends and family, conducting business, and so on.

And now they're gone.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:05 PM on January 9 [32 favorites]


I'm not a math man, but those ain't the odds I'm looking for when I'm looking to write something off as unfounded conspiracy.

So, as a mathematician, I can say that even though any given specific coincidence is very low probability, there are so many possible coincidences that can possibly occur that the probability that something coincidental occurs is quite high.

Think of it like this: the probability that, right at this very moment, a specific particle of dust is landing on the third shelf from the bottom of a specific bookcase of mine is pretty low. And yet, my bookcases accumulate dust, so the probability that some dust particles will land on each particular shelf at some point today is basically 100%. The probabilities of each very low-probability, coincidental event add to each other (more or less), and if you add enough very small numbers together you will eventually get a not so small number.

Which is to say that we should expect some number or rate of coincidences in our everyday lives as well as in larger world events. When you start to see the same type of coincidences occurring together (eg. clusters of otherwise rare cancers), then you can start making statistical arguments about the likelihood of hidden causation. (Similar to the weather versus climate distinction.) Or when there is actual evidence that an individual event may not have been a true coincidence.
posted by eviemath at 5:12 PM on January 9 [18 favorites]


To target a particular person on that plane?

Russia kills people they don't like in Ukraine- where this flight was headed- disturbingly often! They don't need to take out a planeload to do it. They have guys with guns.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:30 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Also, unless Russia or the US is sneaking guys with MANPADs into Tehran just in case, the conspiracy would have to have been set up before Suleimani was killed.

If the missile gets conclusively proven to be an SA-15, it will have been fired from a large tracked vehicle like this. They're a bit conspicuous, and an operation that involves the US/Russians commandeering an Iranian SAM to take down a passenger jet stretches my credulity.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:39 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


What I wanna know is, why was a civilian airliner taking off in the midst of a war?

A twitter thread on the subject of closing airspace during a war (in this case, Ben Gurion Airport). It's somewhat complicated!

The question can be turned around: why would you shoot at an airliner when it's so close to a civilian airport and the whole airspace is crawling with airplanes? You should be used to it, and not jump at the first radar blip that crosses your monitors. That was why I didn't find the "a missile did it" theory compelling until... it was very compelling.
posted by BungaDunga at 5:50 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


I have no idea where ballistic missiles are being launched from, all I’m saying is that it seems weird to me that civilian planes would be flying around while missiles are as well.

Ballistic missiles are nothing at all like anti-aircraft missiles. Ballistic missiles are fired from a ground location to another ground location hundreds or thousands of miles away. They are not a threat to aircraft.

Anti-aircraft missiles are fired from the ground to an aircraft target, typically very close by, generally line of sight.
posted by JackFlash at 6:25 PM on January 9


Bellingcat tweet regarding purported Tor warhead debris. I'd suggest considering this informative but not yet fully verified, I can't make a lot of sense of the surrounding Twitter timeline.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:48 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


If the missile gets conclusively proven to be an SA-15, it will have been fired from a large tracked vehicle like this. They're a bit conspicuous, and an operation that involves the US/Russians commandeering an Iranian SAM to take down a passenger jet stretches my credulity.

If you really want to go down this road, then you suppose Russia has personnel embedded with the units operating these systems, or backdoors into their command and control systems, or some combination thereof.

I'm not saying that's reasonable, mind you.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:54 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


So it's looking like the (Canadian) Transportation Safety Board will be going to the crash site in Iran in the next few days.

From Muhammad Lila on Twitter:

Iran has announced it will conduct it's probe into the Ukraine Airlines crash according to the UN's ICAO.

It allows the United States to send observers to Iran since the jet was built in the US.

The irony?

The Trump admin stopped America's payments to the ICAO in October.


Also from Muhammad Lila, whose family lost a friend on Flight 752:

I’ve been trying to put into words how big a tragedy the Ukraine Airlines crash is for Canada.

To say it’s huge or massive just isn’t enough.

So forget the details.

Here’s what it FEELS like – in communities across the country.

[A Thread]

[...]

The headlines talk about #63Canadians, but that doesn’t do it justice.

They were students, newlyweds, teachers, doctors, children, engineers, secretaries, tour guides, parents. The oldest was 75, and the youngest was just one-year old.

Yes, just one year old.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:58 PM on January 9 [14 favorites]


If you really want to go down this road, you suppose Russia has personnel embedded with the units operating these systems, or backdoors into their command and control systems, or some combination thereof.

And would require the people who hold such a system would not notice. And then not be willing to reverse engineer the device to publish such with "See! Wasn't us!"

I get the response of governments and people is to attempt to bury bad things and thus give theories about conspiracies occational correctness. And how there is a lack of trust in official statements.

But unlike planes that have incidents which have people of note on them - thus far no one is making a claim of someone being on the plane who was "worth" the lives of others in such a dramatic way.

At this point the black boxes are damaged and Iran is seeking help to read them. Perhaps that data will help people understand what happened.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:07 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Could we spin all of the stuff about this one airline off to a new FPP?
posted by Candleman at 7:13 PM on January 9 [12 favorites]


The Iran nuke is a ghost story. There is an ideological ban against their development or deployment.

Let me see if I understand the argument.

A group of people are not going to do something based on their religious belief.

A group of people who have access to levers of power.

So somehow, in this case, people claiming to have a religious based opposition to doing something are not going to do it VS the other times where people claiming a religious believe just go ahead and do the thing because they feel it would otherwise enhance their power here and now.

Doing something like enrichment to see that you understand how to do it, in theory, doesn't need thousands of centerfuges.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:17 PM on January 9


"My biggest worry right now is that there are an awful lot of Iranian-Canadian families who are going to be crazy with grief and have a huge sense of grievance against Trump and America for escalating this situation."

For shits and giggles, what would some kind of wrongful death class action lawsuit against a first world government that had just assassinated a political figure look like? Given the long odds of such a thing succeeding, would a successful suit be a super ironic Capitalism Approved™ way of blunting warhawk military adventurism?
posted by Evilspork at 8:11 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]




This is such a clusterfuck. The West is performing Keystone Kops on social media with mainstream media as their publicity guys.


may I make a tiny lol on behalf of all the brown people who've been hurt?
posted by Mrs Potato at 8:24 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


One of the most notable aspects of the crisis between the United States and Iran is how little the international community rallied to America's side. Yes, Israel's government applauded the president for "acting forcefully" in the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, but many other traditional U.S. allies were at least a bit muted in their responses, and a few actively distanced themselves.

The government of Iraq voted to cast out American troops. Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, said he wouldn't "lament" Soleimani's death, but joined other European leaders in calling on both sides to stop the escalation of violence. Saudi Arabia sent a delegation to Washington, D.C., asking the president to pull back from the brink of war. And while Israel offered its public support to the U.S., Netanyahu also reportedly told his cabinet that "the assassination of Soleimani isn't an Israeli event but an American event. We were not involved and should not be dragged into it."

Times have changed.

posted by Mrs Potato at 8:31 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


And it only took one (1) illegal Iraq War and one (1) paranoid lunatic of a president who thinks NATO owes him money to cool our allies on the prospect of a new war.

Anyway, the Europeans have been peeling away from the US w.r.t. Iran ever since the US tried to scrap the JCPOA, since they're still in the agreement.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:18 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Could we spin all of the stuff about this one airline off to a new FPP?

Seconding this. Is anyone working on such an article? I am particularly interested in how this will affect Canada-US relations. (Because everyone believes Iran had an accident, but the US created this mess.)
posted by CCBC at 11:28 PM on January 9 [6 favorites]


Agreed. Another thread is necessary.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 9:33 AM on January 10


Evilspork's linked image above (which had a lot of favorites) seems to have disappeared (I get a 404). For those wondering it was photos of Oliver North. See also Sean Hannity hosts past Iran weapons dealer Oliver North to talk up new crisis.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 9:56 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]




So now he's a GOP hitman...literally.
posted by VTX at 11:05 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]




“Mr. Trump, after the strike, told associates he was under pressure to deal with Gen. Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate.”

The grifting never ends. Assassination used for quid pro quo to stay in office would hopefully be added as another article of impeachment by the House, before Pelosi sends anything along to the Senate.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:42 AM on January 10 [12 favorites]


On the day U.S. forces killed Soleimani, they launched another secret operation targeting a senior Iranian official in Yemen
On the day the U.S. military killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad, U.S. forces carried out another top secret mission against a senior Iranian military official in Yemen, according to U.S. officials.

The strike targeting Abdul Reza Shahlai, a financier and key commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force who has been active in Yemen, did not result in his death, according to four U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The unsuccessful operation may indicate that the Trump administration’s killing of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani last week was part of a broader operation than previously explained, raising questions about whether the mission was designed to cripple the leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or solely to prevent an imminent attack on Americans as originally stated.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:53 AM on January 10 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure I can create a FPP as this one feels more personal than most; perhaps someone else is up to the task?
posted by Ahmad Khani at 2:57 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]




Rambo is also a supporter of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Awkward.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:55 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


I created a post here for the downing of PS752. I hope this will suffice.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 6:31 PM on January 10 [16 favorites]


Also Rambo goes out of his way, successfully, to not kill anyone in the first movie. The only death in the movie is a guy falling from a helicopter (because he wasn't wearing a safety harness in his zeal to kill Rambo).
posted by Mitheral at 11:05 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


US vs Iran: the costs of an erratic president (Edward Luce in Washington and Najmeh Bozorgmehr in Tehran) - FT
While Donald Trump has all but declared victory, the inconsistent decision-making in the White House has alarmed allies

*snippets below, cleaned up, because I know FT paywalls can be daunting, I use my monthly free article log in - I respect Edward Luce's take on things - spaces denote removal of intermediary sentences


It was the first time since the second world war the US had overtly targeted a foreign government official.

Mr Trump can be impulsive, his defenders concede. He may even take his advisers by surprise. But at least he keeps the enemy off balance.

The US president’s surprise strike had cowed Iran’s clerics, they said.

...said Mr Trump in an address on Wednesday following Iran’s casualty-free riposte. “We must all work together towards making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.”

That was the upbeat script on Mr Trump’s teleprompter. It was greeted with awkward silence by America’s allies.


Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, meanwhile set up an emergency visit this weekend to Moscow to talk to Vladimir Putin. The fact she is not boarding a flight to Washington is notable. Even at the lowest point in George W Bush’s Iraq war, he could point to a coalition of several dozen countries — even if Germany was not among them.

“Not a single country has said the Soleimani killing was a good idea,” says Ivo Daalder, a former US ambassador to Nato. “You have Germany’s leader going to Moscow because she thinks Russia’s leader is likelier to defuse Middle Eastern tensions than the US president. When has that happened before?”



...following the high drama of the past week, when the erratic decision-making of the Trump administration has been in full-view, the question facing the US is whether Mr Trump can regain the trust of allies — or if he even wants to. Few observers think the answer to either is yes.



...urged Nato to expand its operations and even coined a new term “Natome” — Nato Middle East — to describe his new idea. The suggestion was met with incredulity.


“Any decision requires unanimity of 29 allies, most of which warned that ‘maximum pressure’ would result in the very crises we’re now seeing. They won’t bail us out.”

By coincidence, Iran conducted its first joint naval exercises with Russia and China a few days before Soleimani’s death. China was also quick to offer Iraq assistance in its wake.


America’s Nato allies, meanwhile, have withdrawn personnel from Iraq in the past few days and suspended Nato’s anti-Isis mission in Iraq. It is unclear when, or whether, those operations will resume.


At the same time, leaders such as Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and his UAE counterpart Mohammed bin Zayed are strengthening ties with Russia and China. The Gulf states are also making quiet overtures to Iran.



“The Russians and the Chinese are filling the Middle Eastern vacuum,”

The question now is not whether but how quickly America’s allies can insulate themselves against further Strangelovian twists.

posted by Mrs Potato at 7:41 AM on January 11 [9 favorites]


WSJ: Trump Admin Threatened Iraq’s Access To NY Fed Account Over Proposed Troop Withdrawal

So now we're just going to extort them into keeping our troops. Soft power is dead. The new international world order will be cavemen that club countries and drag them back to their caves.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:57 AM on January 11 [9 favorites]


I would watch out for cyber attacks over any other form of response, imo only.
posted by Mrs Potato at 12:42 PM on January 11


Looks like they have been testing the power grid.

Looks like I wasn't too far off the mark.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:42 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


The irony of it all would be if they purchased FB advertising with itty bitty malware bits
posted by Mrs Potato at 5:03 AM on January 12


Trump: "We're sending more [troops] to Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia is paying us for it ... they're paying us. They've already deposited $1 billion in the bank."

Trump selling American soldiers to the highest bidder, turning them into mercenary meat.

Republicans respect the troops, my ass.
posted by JackFlash at 10:18 AM on January 12 [22 favorites]








Donald Trump's decision to assassinate Qassem Soleimani has triggered a major rupture between the United States and its historically closest ally in the United Kingdom.

We (the UK) don't have many good choices now, given that we've recently spent time kicking our most natural allies (the EU) in the face repeatedly. Who else are we going to partner with, Russia? We will almost certainly adjust to the reality that we will be a follower of the US, because we don't have and are unlikely to acquire the funds to recreate the military assets they provide.
posted by jaduncan at 4:16 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


don't have many good choices now... we don't have and are unlikely to acquire the funds to recreate the military assets they provide

That seems a little convoluted in its logic:

US: Are you guys going to invade Iran with us?
UK: Yeah, guess so.
UK Oppo: Wait that is a shitty idea!
UK 1: Look, we are a small country now, and we cannot get into large and distant wars on our own. We need to stick with the US, they are the only way to fight large and distant wars.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:32 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Cristina Cabrera, TPM | Report: Trump Authorized Assassination Of Soleimani Seven Months Ago
The Trump administration insists that it killed top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani to prevent an “imminent” attack on the U.S.–but President Donald Trump signed off on his assassination over six months ago.

NBC News reported on Monday morning that Trump authorized a fatal drone strike on Soleimani in June.

“There have been a number of options presented to the President over the course of time,” an unnamed official told NBC News.

The report further complicates the administration’s claim that Iran was right about to attack the U.S. before Soleimani’s death on January 3.

Ever since the assassination, Trump’s top officials have been unable to explain exactly when or where Iran was going to strike.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:04 AM on January 13 [5 favorites]


US: Are you guys going to invade Iran with us?
UK: Yeah, guess so.
UK Oppo: Wait that is a shitty idea!
UK 1: Look, we are a small country now, and
unless we work with the US we will have to admit we no longer have the real ability to project significant power.

It's not my logic, I'm fine with us not nationalistically playing the remnants of imperialist glory/WWII over and over. I'm just well aware that the UK is probably not ready to admit to the population that we can't actually currently deploy that many assets without the assistance of other forces. The US would also be happy to have us there for a couple of specialist capabilities but more so on the basis that they can call a military operation multinational.

I'll also note that we now very much need a US trade deal. We will not be massively militarily split from the US for a while, and I really doubt we will criticise US military action in any substantively damaging way.
posted by jaduncan at 6:37 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


7 months ago.....hrmmm what was happening then that might be of concern?

INSTEX and an announcement about how close it was to being operational

Or Rattling Cages in the Propaganda War Note the interest by VoA.


Now what happened Dec 26th?
Joint statement on joining Instex by Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden

And after the reason for this FPP.

Jan 10th 2020 - The press briefing of Mike Pompeo and Steven Mnuchin can be found here.

Note:
So let me first comment on INSTEX. I don’t believe there’s been any INSTEX transactions. As we’ve made clear, we are working on a Swiss channel that we have approved for humanitarian transactions. We’ll continue to allow humanitarian transactions. We’ve warned INSTEX and others that they will most likely be subject to secondary sanctions, depending on how they use that. So that’s absolutely the case.
I thought I read an announcement of a trade dated Dec 31st 2019 but I can't find that announcement.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:01 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]


UK 1: Look, we are a small country now, and we cannot get into large and distant wars on our own. We need to stick with the US, they are the only way to fight large and distant wars.

I don't know whether this is likely because Tories have no sense of intellectual honesty and will hypocritically switch a long held viewpoint or discard a supposed cherished belief if it suits their argument in the moment or if it's unlikely because Tories and Brexiteers insist on being absolutely fucking delusional about Britain's place as a Great Power™ since the complete fucking collapse of the British Empire.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 7:47 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]


Maybe this should be an ask, but I'm been thinking for a while about how IKEA can sell carpets from Iran. Was this something that didn't happen before the sanctions were lifted, or is IKEA so big that they don't give a damn about US sanctions? Can you get them in the US?
posted by mumimor at 8:33 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


Trump says it doesn't matter if Soleimani posed an imminent threat
President Trump on Monday said it didn’t matter if Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani posed an imminent threat to the United States because of his “horrible past.”

Trump also asserted that his national security team agreed on the imminent threat posed by Soleimani that led to the decision to kill him. He made this assertion despite remarks from Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday that undercut Trump’s claim that the Iranian general was planning to target four American embassies before a U.S. drone strike killed him in Baghdad on Jan. 3.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:51 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]


I've been searching for news on Instex, but can't find anything credible in English language publications.
posted by Mrs Potato at 8:57 AM on January 13


Pompeo says killing of Suleimani is part of 'bigger strategy' to deter US foes

‘Real deterrence’ strategy – which also apply to Russia and China – is at odds with earlier assertion that general was killed due to imminent threat to US


oh good more war crimes
posted by lalochezia at 9:49 PM on January 13 [5 favorites]


Yeah, umm, I think drone assassinations of Russian and Chinese generals would end... poorly.

(And yes, I realize that's not really what's at play, because Pompeo is just spinning bullshit in all directions to see what will stick as an excuse.)
posted by bcd at 11:23 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]


Yeah, umm, I think drone assassinations of Russian and Chinese generals would end... poorly.

The real damage in all cases is just the steady increase in the view that the US is not a reliable partner. I have wondered at what point the EU in particular leans more heavily on clause 42 (7) of the TEU than the NATO commitments it was designed to build in. It's an explicitly EU duty, and not one that requires or binds the US in any way. If I were in the Commission, I'd almost certainly plan for an EU military defensive alliance that might or might not involve assistance from the US, and in turn doesn't bind the EU into US defensive wars.
posted by jaduncan at 1:06 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


We've known from the start almost that Iran accidentally shot down the plane, where were these lies that the Anglo American papers are alleging is causing riots? What was the UK Ambassador doing out in the streets in the middle of these protests?
posted by Mrs Potato at 2:49 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


"Despite increasingly difficult circumstances, we have worked hard to preserve the agreement. All remaining parties to the JCPOA, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran, with the EU as coordinator, have stated their continuing commitment to preserve the JCPOA," the leaders of Germany, France and the U.K. said in a statement issued Sunday evening. Europe stands by Iran nuclear deal
posted by Mrs Potato at 3:31 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


Counterpoint:
European states trigger dispute mechanism in Iran nuclear deal
Move brings closer the potential collapse of 2015 deal and return of EU sanctions
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:59 AM on January 14


While the US has laws about trading with undeclared nuclear power - what is the legal basis for EU sanctions if Iran is an undeclared nuclear power?
posted by rough ashlar at 5:08 AM on January 14


Joe in Australia, the UK press is echoing the US media. The European press has been stating almost exactly the opposite. I'd wait and see what pans out in this topic. From your Guardian link:

They added the move did not mean the EU was joining the US campaign of maximum economic pressure on Iran.

[...]
The decision was taken in principle before Christmas by the three European powers, and not prompted by the recent Iranian attack on US bases in Iraq, or the Iranians’ accidental downing of the Ukrainian airliner.

Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said the three European countries “could no longer leave the growing Iranian violations of the nuclear agreement unanswered”.

“Our goal is clear: we want to preserve the accord and come to a diplomatic solution within the agreement,” he said. “We call on Iran to participate constructively in the negotiation process that is now beginning.”



They have registered their concerns/issue formally. The rest of the spin is anglospherical. rather like Kate vs Meghan's avocado eating
posted by Mrs Potato at 6:47 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


A Narrative Collapses as Trump Tweets: ‘It Doesn’t Really Matter’
In the 10 days since it carried out the drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the Trump administration has been struggling to draft an after-the-fact narrative to justify it. On Monday, President Trump put an end to that hash of explanations. “It doesn’t really matter,” he tweeted, “because of his horrible past.”
posted by kirkaracha at 6:49 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


You mean grey haired men with horrible pasts are now fair game for droning?
posted by Mrs Potato at 6:51 AM on January 14 [15 favorites]


State Department officials involved in US embassy security were not made aware of imminent threats to four specific US embassies, two State Department officials tell CNN, further undermining President Donald Trump's claims that the top Iranian general he ordered killed earlier this month posed an imminent threat to the diplomatic outposts.
Everything he says or does is smokescreen or playing to the base; nothing is off limits.
Meanwhile, the concept of Trump channelling God’s will has gained credence at the highest levels of the US government.
posted by adamvasco at 9:03 AM on January 14 [3 favorites]


State Department officials involved in US embassy security were not made aware of imminent threats to four specific US embassies, two State Department officials tell CNN, further undermining President Donald Trump's claims that the top Iranian general he ordered killed earlier this month posed an imminent threat to the diplomatic outposts.

The administration trips over their own shoelaces because nobody knows how to tie a shoe. Not like it would matter. Senate Republicans have no intention to conduct shoe oversight or hold the administration accountable for untied shoes.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:24 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


You mean grey haired men with horrible pasts are now fair game for droning?

Only if they don't dye it blond and wear orange face paint.
posted by bardophile at 11:20 AM on January 14 [1 favorite]


Senate resolution to limit Trump’s military authority on Iran has enough GOP votes to pass, key Democrats say
A resolution to curb President Trump’s military authority in Iran has enough votes to pass the Senate, leading Democrats announced Tuesday, stating that Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins will join three other members of the GOP who had previously announced their support for the measure to invoke Congress’ war powers.

“We now have the 51 votes that we need for the version that’s the bipartisan version,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the author of the resolution, told reporters, noting that Republican Sens. Collins, Todd C. Young (Ind.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.) had decided to join all 47 Democrats in backing the measure.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:00 PM on January 14 [10 favorites]


logistical question:
if the house delivers impeachment articles today, and senate rules direct senate to suspend all other business upon receipt of the articles of impeachment, when would the senate plausibly consider the resolution on the president's military authority?
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:53 AM on January 15 [1 favorite]


Rules? Where we're going we don't need rules.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:44 AM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Soleimani killing: The unintended consequences will continue to shape Middle Eastern dynamics for some time, haunting US troops in the region and triggering unintended consequences for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
posted by adamvasco at 12:42 PM on January 15 [2 favorites]


Roundtable: Backdrop & Reverberations of Soleimani’s Assassination (Part 1: Iran), Maryam Alemzadeh, Eric Lob, and Arshin Adib-Moghaddam (Jadaliyya, 14 January 2020)
On 3 January 2020, the United States assassinated Major General Qasem Soleimani of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Corps Guard (IRGC). The event was an escalation by the Trump Administration in what many critical analysts consider a decades-long war waged by the United States against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Soleimani himself joined the IRGC shortly after its establishment in the wake of the 1979 revolution. Since then, he has been involved in major battlefield engagements, including fighting in the Iraq-Iran War (1980–88), collaborating with the United States in the initial phase (2001–2002) of the US war in Afghanistan, and (at different times) directing Iranian support for allies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen.

This is a two-part roundtable convened by Arash Davari, Naveed Mansoori, and Ziad Abu-Rish on the regional backdrop and (admittedly short-term) fallout from the US assassination of Soleimani. Part 1 features scholars of Iran reflecting on the place of Soleimani and the IRGC in the political and institutional dynamics of the Iranian state. They also address the reactions in Iran to the assassination and their intersection with various instances of popular mobilization, including the most recent one against the downing of Flight 752. Part 2 features scholars of regional states reflecting on the specific nature of Iranian policy and reaction to Soleimani’s assassination in those states.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 1:24 PM on January 15 [4 favorites]


In the meantime, (possibly Russian) bots and paid agents were flooding Twitter with the hashtag #DemsAffairWithAyatollahs, trumpeting all sorts of accusations and arguments as to why the American Democrats are betraying Iranian protesters, their constituents and all humanity.

I managed to get retweeted by them ten times with pictures of Rik Mayall, Rob Ford, Turd Ferguson and the ONLY TRUST YOUR FISTS: POLICE WILL NEVER HELP YOU Sega Genesis gif, decrying the portrayal of Iranians in Rocky IV, the rise of cowardly socialist militias, the secret love affair between Nancy Pelosi and The Bernie, and the electoral chances of Indigenous Woman.

Sometimes you have to take life's little smiles when it gives them to you.
posted by delfin at 12:05 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


January 8: "...no casualties, no friendly causalities, whether they are U.S., coalition, contractor, et cetera."

January 16: Eleven US Troops Were Injured in Jan. 8 Iran Missile Strike
Nearly one dozen American troops were wounded in Iran’s Jan. 8 missile attack on Iraq’s al-Asad air base. This week, they were medically evacuated to U.S. military hospitals in Kuwait and Landstuhl, Germany, to be treated for traumatic brain injury and to undergo further evaluation ...
posted by kirkaracha at 9:30 PM on January 16 [14 favorites]


Serious answer: America is a failed state ruled by an oligarchy now.

The idea of standing prevents citizens from getting in front of a court for overruling jackass laws from representatives. The jackassery has to harm someone so a game of bring charges and drop cases before trial keeps jackass laws in play. Denying citizens from petitioning the Grand Jury directly then has citizens groveling at the feet of DA's to enforce law.

Was ours to lose and it was lost with the 'reforms'.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:08 AM on January 17


Trump privately told donors new details about Soleimani airstrike at Mar-a-Lago fundraiser
President Trump delivered a dramatic account of the airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, joked that he doesn’t care if construction projects kill all the rattlesnakes and noted his indifference to the budget during a private dinner with deep-pocketed donors Friday night at Mar-a-Lago, according to audio files obtained by The Washington Post.
...
“He was saying bad things about our country, like we’re going to attack, we’re going to kill your people. I said, ‘Listen, how much of this shit do we have to listen to, right?’ ” Trump said to applause from the donor crowd.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:41 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]


Pentagon: 34 US Soldiers Diagnosed With Traumatic Brain Injuries After Iran Strike
Thirty-four U.S. soldiers have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after the Iran missile strike on Iraqi bases late last month, the Pentagon said Friday.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman broke down the movement of the soldiers as symptoms of their injuries became apparent. Of the 34 total, 18 soldiers were evacuated from Iraq. Of those 18, 17 went to Germany for treatment and nine of them are still there. The other eight traveled to the United States from Germany. The last member of the 18 evacuees went to Kuwait, but has since returned to duty.

[...]

President Donald Trump dismissed the suspected injuries Wednesday as “headaches.”

“No, I don’t consider them very serious injuries, relative to other injuries that I’ve seen,” Trump said during a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “I’ve seen people with no legs and no arms.”

Trump, who famously claimed bone spurs to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War, was loudly rebuked by veteran organizations for his dismissiveness.
Headaches.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:17 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


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