Iran on the Brink
Trump’s unqualified recent success in dealing with Iran throws Democratic reactions into sharp contrast and leaves the U.S. media with egg on its face.
What a difference a week makes.
Last week, right about this time, mainstream media outlets were chorusing with one voice that Donald Trump had recklessly drawn the U.S. into yet another endless wartime quagmire in the Middle East.
If not World War III.
The reckless, thoughtless, unfettered decision by the Trump administration to conduct a drone missile strike on Iranian General and terror chief Qassem Soleimani had doomed us all- they said.
The Iranians were sure to push back with extreme force after this unforgivable war crime against the sovereign Iranian nation, these same authorities promised darkly.
Congressional Democrats acted quickly with a symbolic vote to limit Trump’s ability to respond with the U.S. military to Iranian aggression.
That the vote was merely symbolic, with no real power whatsoever, is beside the point. It is the thought that counts in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House of Representatives.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), not to be outdone, suggested- via Twitter- that the Iranian regime might target Trump properties and possibly push Trump to perhaps violate the emoluments clause and use U.S. forces to defend his business interests.
“Trump needs to immediately divest from his businesses and comply with the emoluments clause. Iran could threaten Trump hotels *worldwide* and he could provoke war over the loss of revenue from skittish guests.” — Rep. Ilhan Omar, Twitter. January 6, 2020.
A nice dream, perhaps, for Omar.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) indulged in similar fantasizing: Wouldn’t it be nice if Trump bombed some important Iranian cultural sites during this conflict? That, she assured us, would be a war crime.
That none of these things happened, is, of course, beside the point: Trump no doubt wanted to or would have done, and it’s the thought that counts.
Celebrities chimed in with the usual Trump condemnations; good actors usually are right on cue. Celebrity reactions ran the usual gamut from threats to leave the country to conspiracy theories about Trump “wagging the dog”.
That all of this was so much sound and fury, signifying nothing, has become only too clear as the events in Iran have continued to unfold over the last few days.
The news that the strike on Soleimani was ordered by the Trump administration, with certain conditions, seven months ago severely undermined the Democratic narrative that Trump’s decision was thoughtless and reactionary.
Trump’s condition for the Soleimani strike seven months earlier had been the loss of American lives.
And indeed, Trump was true to his word. When Iran seized Saudi oil ships last year, Trump did nothing. When Iran brought down an unmanned U.S. drone a few months ago, Trump did not respond with force.
Though liberal journalists might argue that Iran didn’t actually intend to kill an American contractor during one of its recent aggressions, this is a moot point. Any reasonable person understands the legal responsibility involved if someone “accidentally” kills someone else during an armed robbery where no one was supposed to get hurt.
Even according to Bloomberg, Trump is going for regime disruption and economic sanctions- not warmongering by any stretch.
And any argument against the U.S. and Donald Trump’s actions in Iran over the past weeks that must hearken back to the U.S. downing of a commercial airliner way back in the 80’s is truly weak indeed.
Today, the best Politico and the Atlantic can come up with to criticize Trump’s Soleimani strike is that Iran will certainly now retreat to its former position of killing Americans and hurting American interests wherever and whenever they find them using proxies so as not to provoke retaliation.
That this is a tacit admission of Iran provoking its current conflict with the U.S. over a long period of time appears to have gone unnoticed.
But as a lone voice in the echo-chamber wilderness of the NYT bemoaned recently: Donald Trump has made journalists stupid. Voters distrust the American media more than they distrust Donald Trump.
No, unfortunately for liberal progressives in office and in the media, all of the truly strong arguments are on the side of Donald Trump’s defenders, at least as it pertains to Iran.
Former Vice President Joe Biden doesn’t think so. But when the man who has been wrong about every foreign policy decision for the last four decades says you are wrong about foreign policy, you’re probably right.
For its part, the New York Times would very much like a Democrat to win against Donald Trump in November.
But the audio version of the New York Times daily featured the headline story “Trump ‘20? Moves on Iran Raise Doubts” today followed immediately, and contradictorily with “Broken Economy May Keep Tehran from Waging War.”
Fully crediting Trump’s crippling sanctions, the NYT seems strangely blind to the contrast presented by these two warring narratives.
One narrative says Trump’s moves in Iran have hurt his reelection chances; the next says Trump’s moves in Iran have the regime teetering on the brink of collapse and unable to wage war against the U.S., its neighbors or U.S. interests.
The New York Times has no choice: Every event this week has weakened Iran’s position and strengthened Trump’s.
First came the grudging admission from the Iranian government confirming what many had suspected and feared: The Ukrainian passenger airline which crashed last week in Iran was brought down by an Iranian missile strike.
With a public admission of guilt that smacked of “I’m sorry, but it was still someone else’s fault” Iranian authorities blamed American adventurism for its terrible blunder.
In the days since the admission, Iran is facing massive protests demanding accountability, and in some cases, death to its leaders.
Unlike the anti-American demonstrations that have been going on for some time in Iran, where “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” chants are often heard, and which are fully supported and often paid for by the Iranian government- these protestors face death for expressing their displeasure at the totalitarian government in Iran.
Voices on the left, particularly those from Middle Eastern nations, have been vocally denouncing their fellow liberals for jumping on the Iran bandwagon when it looked like it might hurt Donald Trump and jumping off when it looked like it might be hurting the Iranian government instead.
“Iranians are in the street calling for prosecutions, saying Soleimani is a murderer. Telling the leadership of the Iranian government to resign and saying that Trump isn’t the problem, that the Iranian government is. To say that these protestors are brave is an understatement.”
“I’ve gone through some of the most active and prominent liberal Twitter accounts and none of them mentioned the Iran protests today. These same people were actively tweeting about wanting to avoid war and attacking Trump for his decision. What happened?”
“It seems to me the protests were inconvenient for some of these folks today. They were placing the blame on the Iranian leadership who lied repeatedly about what happened. They weren’t blaming President Trump…so it wasn’t worth it to bring attention to or support them?” — Yashar Ali, Huffington Post contributor, Twitter. January 12, 2020.
Prominent liberal voices were strangely silent on another sharp and public blow to the Iranian regime this week.
Iran’s only female Olympic medalist has defected from the Islamic Republic, citing the oppression of women among other reasons. In a heartfelt public statement announcing her decision, she drew a scathing sketch of Iran’s authoritarian government.
“I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran who they have been playing with for years. They took me wherever they wanted. I wore whatever they said. Every sentence they ordered me to say, I repeated. Whenever they saw fit, they exploited me.”
“I wasn’t important to them. None of us mattered to them, we were tools. [to Iranian authorities] the virtue of a woman is not to stretch her legs!” — Kimia Alizadeh, via Instagram.
It isn’t difficult to see Alizadeh’s point: The Iranian government has lamented only the failure of “incompetent officials” to prevent such a loss of “human capital”.
Where are Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar now? Strangely silent on the subject.
In more good news for Trump, European powers are responding to the recent call to action he issued during a press conference on Soleimani. Trump urged European nations to join with him and use this opportunity to step up their pressure on Iran.
Now, France, Germany, and Britain have formally accused Iran of violating the 2015 nuclear agreement. In a joint statement, the three nations rejected Iran’s insistence on blaming the U.S. for its noncompliance: “We do not accept the argument that Iran is entitled to reduce compliance with the JCPoA.”
In some quarters, and not all on the right, is the feeling that at last someone is finally standing up to the Iranian regime. Not least of which are a handful of U.S. soldiers, some of whom lost limbs and others whose families lost enlisted loved ones, in explosions they have long laid on Iran and Soleimani’s door, even going so far as to sue the Iranian government in court.
Instead of turning a blind eye to this mountain of overwhelming evidence, it is time for U.S. liberals to stop doubling-down on a strategy that is backfiring more by the day and admit the truth:
Every problem currently facing Democrats both elected and in the press can be attributed to their inability to sit quietly in a room by themselves and admit there are worse things in this world than Donald Trump.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)