With Suleimani’s Assassination, Trump Unites A Divided Iran

Jim here.

Marcy has already provided some perspective on the assassination of Qassem Suleimani, although I would double the time frame in her observations by pointing out that the Tehran embassy hostage situation began just a year before the 1980 election and provided a chance for Reagan to break many norms in his back channel negotiations during the campaign. Note that had the militias acting as Iran’s proxy been successful in storming the Baghdad embassy and taking hostages earlier this week, we would have been put in the exact same situation just a year before an election 40 years later.

What I want to concentrate on here, though, is that Trump’s desire for regime change in Iran, even with John Bolton now sitting on the sidelines, was showing at least a small chance of success without a need for outright military confrontation. Barely a month ago, Iran was rocked by internal unrest that led to massive demonstrations that were violently quashed. From the New York Times:

Iran is experiencing its deadliest political unrest since the Islamic Revolution 40 years ago, with at least 180 people killed — and possibly hundreds more — as angry protests have been smothered in a government crackdown of unbridled force.

It began two weeks ago with an abrupt increase of at least 50 percent in gasoline prices. Within 72 hours, outraged demonstrators in cities large and small were calling for an end to the Islamic Republic’s government and the downfall of its leaders.

In many places, security forces responded by opening fire on unarmed protesters, largely unemployed or low-income young men between the ages of 19 and 26, according to witness accounts and videos. In the southwest city of Mahshahr alone, witnesses and medical personnel said, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps members surrounded, shot and killed 40 to 100 demonstrators — mostly unarmed young men — in a marsh where they had sought refuge.

But today, after last night’s assassination, there are massive demonstrations mourning Suleimani and calling for a presumably united Iran to avenge the killing. This photo the New York Times put up from Shutterstock conveys the mood:

Iran’s Fars News Agency tweeted more from the protests:

Those protests against Iran’s government are now gone and seem very unlikely to come back. Assassinating such a popular figure has clearly united the country in a newly-stoked hatred of the United States. On the surface, then, it would seem that Trump’s dream of regime change in Iran now has to align fully with the neocon desire to do so by means of a massive invasion.

With Trump, though, linear paths of logic never apply. Perhaps I’m being too much of a Pollyanna here, but note that Trump’s M.O. in many cases is to undo a perfectly good policy, escalate the bad result, and then go back to something very akin to where we started while claiming to have broken through a situation that was previously insoluble. In that regard, let’s remember that Obama sat quietly while Mossad assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists inside Iran but then a couple of years later signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Here’s hoping that Trump decides to pull back from war by “negotiating” a “whole new agreement” that takes us right back to the JCPOA from which he unilaterally withdrew and takes the world back from the brink of disaster.

120 replies
  1. BobCon says:

    I think the one thing he will pay attention to is the Dow. I’m worried analysts will find a way to convince themselves that burning tankers in the Gulf is somehow a good thing.

    • 200Toros says:

      The Dow, SP500, and Nasdaq are down less than -1% as I type. Lots of money to be made in times of war, so I wouldn’t expect any big pullback. Like all things, IMPOTUS has no slightest understanding of how capital markets work (“the stock market gains have wiped out the national debt”), and he takes responsibility only for the upside, not the downside.

      I read Just Security’s Backgrounder on the legal framework for military action against Iran, and it was just frightening, because just a couple paragraphs in, you quickly realize that Trump simply isn’t capable of understanding ANY of it. The words are too big, and it uses historical context and the idea of doing what is best for our national interests. All of which the IMPOTUS and his inner circle care nothing about and are incapable of understanding even if they did care.

      Just frightening times we’re in. Hope to see Pelosi step up, very shortly.

      And of courses, he blasted Obama repeatedly for doing this very thing, saying that he would start a war with Iran in order to get re-elected.

  2. orionATL says:

    any u.s. tilt against iran advantages Saudi arabia. as the premier arab military states, better in my view to keep them balanced against each other.

    both are antideluvian, authoritarian theocracies, but i give a nudge to iran because they do hold elections and thus have a mechanism in place for any better future.

  3. Jenny says:

    Trump is looking for a fight. He is always internally at war, therefore war with Iran is the external manifestation.

  4. dude says:

    Mike Pompeo says Suleimani’s killing makes the world safer.

    I have heard several reporters claim Suleimani’s stature is practically that of a celebrity in the eyes of many Iranian people.

    If that is true, I imagine the Iranian reaction will be similar to what American reaction would have been had the Iraqi’s killed Gen. Colin Powell or Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf on or before the Iraq War.

    Pompeo’s claims are like Cheney’s and Bush’s rationalizations.

    This is not headed for a good place.

    • Roger says:

      Pompeo, a shining example of a perfectly good waste of a taxpayer funded million dollar West Point education.

  5. Wm. Boyce says:

    “With Trump, though, linear paths of logic never apply.”
    That’s because he has no logic, being completely crazy. This, as another poster noted, is not going to end well. The USA has zero credibility in the Middle East, and any American deaths attributed to Iran’s military wouldn’t have happened in the first place had we not illegally invaded Iraq based on lies.
    Iran has all kinds of ways to make us feel pain, and I feel very sorry for our military personnel who will bear the brunt of the orders of Caligula.

    • sproggit says:

      Actually, there may be logic there, if only in a narrow context and for the briefest moment in time.

      The logic is that, for at least the moment in which the President gave the order, he believed that the assassination of Soleimani would look good for him personally. That is the only lens through which the President views the world and thus the only one that needs to be fathomed to make sense of this.

      Not familiar with the robustness of their reporting, I note that the Daily Beast is reporting that Trump was telling friends and random guests at Mar-A-Lago to expect “big Iran action” for the period immediately prior to the strike. It is interesting to note that the one Republican who did seem to get advanced warning – Lindsay Graham – just happened to be there playing gold with IMPOTUS at the time.

      In a second article, the Daily Beast also point out something remarkably telling, which is the complete switcheroo performed by Fox News and Hannity in particular. Having spent years railing against the “Deep State” and the complete misinformation coming from the FBI, CIA and Intellilgence Community (e.g. with respect to Russian meddling in the 2016 election), Hannity turned around:-

      ““The ability of the military, our intelligence community, the State Department, and the president making the call, very quickly, you know, understood that the Iranian forces on the ground bore a direct threat to the American people,” said Hannity, calling into his own show on Thursday night. “Once the intelligence was confirmed, once the understanding that they were there to sow the discord and discontent, the president acted as quickly as possible, taking out this top general.”

      “But I will say the big headline is, this is a huge victory for American intelligence, a huge victory for our military, a huge victory for the State Department, and a huge victory and total leadership by the president,” the primetime host, who has spent more than two years and countless on-air segments railing against shadowy “deep state” intelligence, concluded.”

      Err, right…

  6. Sandwichman says:

    Not to mention that Trump has effectively crushed the anti-corruption movement in Iraq. A single tail wags many dogs.

    • Cathy says:

      It’s probably not very enlightened of me to laugh at an image of conjoined dogs (poor doggies) but…well put.

  7. Roger says:

    There is a big difference in killing scientists like the Mossad and assassinating a key figure in a foreign government. Neither is a good course of action, but assassinating foreign governmental officials can and will have far reaching implications and you can’t rely on the Saudi’s to assist in anything. Remember that when the Saudi’s committed troops for use against the Israelis in the Golan Heights that they were use as ammo carriers because they couldn’t be relied upon to fight on the front line, also remember that the Saudi’s used the French in Mecca to handle the terrorist in the Holy Mosque because they were incapable. Their capability hasn’t increased, the Yemeni’s continue to handle the Saudi’s with much success. And let us not forget that the Saudi’s funded the destruction of the Twin Towers and most of the fundamentalist Islamic terrorist organizations in the world.

    And as for Trump, your lips to whatever entity looks over us. Regardless, civilian lives will be lost needlessly, and in my view this is equivalent to Trump saying “I could kill someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it”. The problem here is that will our congress hold the president accountable for his action? There was already one war started over the assassination of an archduke (whatever that is), do we need another war/conflict/police action, declared or otherwise. The answer is an unequivocal, NO

    The US is one of the top exporters of oil, so why do we need oil from the ME? Why do we persist in committing US forces into places most Americans don’t understand nor would take the time to understand because rent, food, utilities and our dysfunctional government are of paramount concerns?

    I apologize for the tangental rant.

    • Geoguy says:

      No problem Roger. The US was the top oil producer in 2018 but unfortunately we are also the top consumer. We are not a net exporter as the media would have it. Our net import was about 2.3 million barrels per day in 2018. Oil is a somewhat fungible commodity so crude and refined products flow among many countries. We import from about 90 countries and export to about 190 countries. Canada exports the most to us followed by Saudi Arabia. The US Energy Information Agency has a good Q&A on their website.

  8. Rugger9 says:

    I will observe that the Palace has been hankering after a war to provide a distraction from the pending impeachment trial and the constant flow of incriminating evidence that Individual-1 did actually try to blackmail Ukraine’s Zelensky.

    We have Pompeo admitting he had no evidence that Suleimani was a direct threat to the USA, in addition to other waffling in his CNN interview. We have Stu Varney insisting that because Suliemani was killed and war imminent, that impeachment has to stop. It’s a short step from there to saying that it’s too dangerous to run the 2020 election, and those of us with long memories will remember how the Bush II minions (IIRC it was Condi Rice that floated this idea) said that the War on Terror made it too dangerous to do the 2004 election until they were reminded that we’ve held elections during all of our prior wars including the ones fought on our soil. Expect to see more of this reasoning from the current Palace as its popularity craters.

    I had noted before that a distraction was needed by Individual-1 and nothing distracts like a war. I had also noted that wars like this defy containment and the Iranians are already in jihad mode. This is where a wiser leader would have ensured that all of our allies were on board to encircle and isolate Iran (like the JCPOA did) especially given that all it takes to close the Strait of Hormuz is a battery of anti-ship missiles. But, we have Jarvanka instead.

    Watch what the Russians and Chinese do. If they don’t come in clearly on our side, this war will not succeed.

      • Rugger9 says:

        They will if it is to bail out the Palace, but the useful question is whether Individual-1 is going to honor his pro quo for that quid.

        My thinking was more along the lines of isolating Iran in an effective way. If it is a wink-wink and a nod one like we have seen with China and the DPRK sanctions, the intent will be to bog us down in Iran while the Russians and Chinese move on other fronts (like Ukraine and Taiwan).

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It has been long speculated here that Russian money has been behind Trump for decades. The arrangement would have been highly unusual, at best, because it was not economically rational or “market driven.” That suggests, in turn, that it was built on money laundering, developing an easily manipulated mole, influence peddling, etc.

      It fits with Trump’s intense nervous energy over everything Russian, most especially his need to respond to Putin before either has finished their first cigarette. Just yesterday, there was news about Trump’s rant in January 2017, when he was not informed immediately about a Putin call shortly after his inauguration. (Trump apparently waits to be asked before reporting in.)

      As the dailykos article points out, the need to verify and investigate this “leak” is paramount. It’s even the sort of thing a House impeachment inquiry should want to know more about – before Trump wags America’s tail into another hot war in the Middle East.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Anyone checked for spikes in futures trading in crude ahead of the attack, beyond the norm? We’ve speculated for some time that Trump’s lips are so loose, half of Mar-a-Lago could commit insider trading. And that’s before considering intentional leaks toward that end.

        • 200Toros says:

          Good question, particularly if someone looked at GOP senator’s trades over the past few days. It is infuriating to me that insider trading is NOT illegal for congress members, as long as they publicly disclose their trades, which is done via a paper registry in the basement of some obscure records building in Maryland, if I recall correctly. After the massive cashing-out of many congress members prior to the crash of 2008, laws were enacted to require public disclosure on a website, and that worked great for about one year, after which congress tweaked the regs to allow public disclosure in the aforementioned file cabinet in the basement in Maryland.

          Any member of the public is of course welcome to travel to Maryland and peruse the paper files themselves. SO, congress, and senators in particular, generate investment returns many times higher than the average investor. And all perfectly legal, since they wrote the laws to accommodate themselves. No surprise to you I’m sure, EOH.

          All that being said, the headlines made much of stock futures “tanking” last night, and it’s not happening. All three major stock indices are off less than -1%.

          However, the bond market is the big money, and looking at the move in yields today tells another story…

        • P J Evans says:

          “a paper registry in the basement of some obscure records building in Maryland”
          Like the plans for the interstellar bypass in Hitch Hiker’s Guide?

          “But the plans were on display…”
          “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
          “That’s the display department.”
          “With a flashlight.”
          “Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
          “So had the stairs.”
          “But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
          “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

        • 200Toros says:

          That’s hilarious! One of my fav book series ever, can’t believe I missed that. Life imitating art…

          Which of course begs the question – would Zaphod Beeblebrox, with all his massive flaws, make a better POTUS than our current IMPOTUS?

          Probably so…

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Coincidentally, in Russia, oil prices soared after the Baghdad airport strike, and the Moscow stock exchange rose to a record high. I wonder how Vlad and his oligarchs made out. If any of them guaranteed Trump’s DB loans, they might need a little cushion soon.


        • Ken Muldrew says:

          Given the frequency with which Chinese Nationals are discovered strolling about the grounds of Mar-a-Lago with no particular reason for being there, I don’t suppose there are many secrets being kept for members-only. The US congress should consider installing their own eavesdropping devices so that they can at least keep up with the briefings given to Lindsey Graham.

        • P J Evans says:

          He apparently was talking about it before it officially happened.
          (One of the things that bothers me is him retweeting D D’Souza running his mouth about how they couldn’t tell Congress because *Dems* leak. Last I heard, all the leaks were from the GOP-T.)

      • Rugger9 says:

        It does line up nicely with the [alleged] activity that DB has taken over the years in laundering Russian money and propping up Individual-1 even though he sued DB for a lot of cash. Someone told DB to give I-1 a lifeline, why not Vlad?

        Your comment about looking for trading irregularities (puts, principally) is spot on, since there is very little the Palace does without something in it for the exchequer.

      • Ed Walker says:

        I agree with this. Early on I thought that Deutsche Bank was laundering Russian money through to Trump. After multiple defaults, and his aggressive defense on promisory notes (!) why would any reputable lender give the guy their money?

    • Vicks says:

      Is there new information in the Deutsche bank report?
      I thought the loans were old news, and interest was reignited with an unconfirmed report of someone, perhaps the whistle blower (?) that led to O’Donnell’s claim Russia co-signed the loans but we were still waiting for the courts to override team Trump’s demand for a stay on documents?
      FYI I can’t remember why, but I felt at the time O’Donnell was onto something real but jumped the gun in amatuer fashion.
      That being said I also recall Maxine Waters stating she already had received what I thought were loan docs from Deutsche bank way back in the beginning of this experiment…

      • Vicks says:

        Actually O’donnell said it was a Russian Oligarch that co-signed.
        Since Deripaska seems to be a hot topic…
        “As part of the deal to lift the sanctions in what was stated to be an effort to dilute Deripaska’s control, EN+, the parent of his aluminum company Rusal, announced seven new directors, four of them American or British. They include former Deutsche Bank executive Christopher Bancroft Burnham, who served on Trump’s State Department transition team.
        “Mr. Burnham is a former Vice Chairman at Deutsche Bank Asset Management and co-founded and led Deutsche Bank’s direct private equity group, RREEF Capital Partners. Mr. Burnham is also a former Assistant Secretary of State for Resource Management and Chief Financial Officer of the US Department of State.”
        Deripaska and Trump have both been clients of Deutsche Bank. The bank has paid billions of dollars in fines for money-laundering, interest rate manipulation and toxic mortgage assets.
        Deripaska was also once a client of Trump campaign manager and convicted felon Paul Manafort.
        Burnham also served as undersecretary general for management of the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration when John Bolton — now Trump’s national security adviser — was the U.N. ambassador.

  9. Peterr says:

    Meanwhile, over in North Korea, Kim Jung Un said this at the Central Committee Meeting of the Korean Worker’s Party just before the New Year:

    We can not give up the security of our future just for the visible economic results and happiness and comfort in reality now that hostile acts and nuclear threat against us are increasing, and nothing has changed between the days when we maintained the line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of nuclear force and now, when we struggle to direct our efforts to the economic construction owing to the U.S. gangster-like acts.

    Note, please, that this was said BEFORE Trump’s actions to assassinate Suleimani. Today, Kim Jung Un and his generals are telling each other “See? *This* is why we have to have nukes! There’s no way the US would do this to a nation that has nuclear weapons.”

    • Rugger9 says:

      And, if I’m on Team Mullah, I’d be looking to the DPRK and/or Pakistan to just buy one and let the Palace know I have it. In this case causation is indicated by correlation (read about the Kashmir Factor, covering why India eased off on its military responses to Pakistan once they knew AQ Khan gave them the Bomb). Neither nation is too concerned about the USA’s well-being to say “no”.

    • P J Evans says:

      Today, Kim Jung Un and his generals are telling each other “See? *This* is why we have to have nukes! There’s no way the US would do this to a nation that has nuclear weapons.”

      It’s been true for decades.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump does not understand consequences. Presumably, he rationalizes that by assuming they are the other guy’s problem, and that any consequences to him will come out right.

    The odds that there will be no reprisals for the killing of Iran’s No. 2 politician – the equivalent of Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, or Nancy Pelosi – are between slim and none. But it would take only a little collateral thinking on the part of Iran to make them painful for Trump, while minimizing the antagonism they cause American allies and, hence, Iran.

    Iran could, for example, target the physical or IT infrastructure of any of his businesses, without harming their people. They could hack their computers, sift for embarrassing data, and release it. Or do the same to Faux Noise or a handful of Trump’s other top supporters and critical business suppliers/partners. The fear would cause more disruption than attacking more traditional targets in the conventional way.

    A non-violent assault like that might spread mirth among American allies – Trump hoist on his own petard – demonstrate American weakness, and expose the Great Orange Satan to what he fears most: ridicule. The US should consider its exposure to such non-traditional, “asymmetrical” attacks, especially since preparing for their potential costs is already a consequence and an added burden caused by Mr. Trump.

    • P J Evans says:

      Considering what we’ve seen and read in the last couple of years about the WiFi and other security at his properties, those should be easy targets. You probably wouldn’t even need to be on the grounds.
      And then there’s his phone security….

    • bmaz says:

      Iran is not a simpleton reactionary as Trump obviously is.

      The long game will be more interesting to watch.

    • Ed Walker says:

      This seems right to me. I wouldn’t blow up a building or attack in the US, but arranging for a TRUMP TOWER sign to fall off a building in, say, Istanbul, would be hilariously funny. If they took down the sign on that building in Chicago, I’m not sure Trump could get Mayor Lightfoot to allow it to be put back up.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Causing serious economic harm to as many Trump businesses as possible would be symbolic, proportional, and largely non-violent. It would demonstrate considerable power, tied with target-specific restraint, that would benefit Iran in ways a more violent response would not. Done serially, it would be the PR gift that keeps on giving.

        It would cause consuming rage in Trump’s White House, beyond any that would follow the loss of other people’s property and American lives. It would attack what Trump holds most dear – status, money, and unaccountability.

        Trump would want to lash out violently and at scale. But it would be harder for him to do that because a few golfers in a temperate climate had to play elsewhere, or some hotel in a shithole country went bust.

      • Raven Eye says:

        In September I took some fun night photos from aboard one of the Chicago River tour boats. There was one shot I really liked, but there was a five-letter word on one of the buildings that kept me from posting it. Perhaps, with PhotoShop…

    • P J Evans says:

      The US government is denying involvement. (It was after 1am Iraq time.)
      Needless to say, there’s a lot of doubt.

  11. harpie says:

    Some details from rcallimachivia Cheryl Rofer:

    6:27 AM · Jan 4, 2020 [<<<this is Twitter for iPhone time]

    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:

    […informative thread…]

    10. Since the strike, Iran has convened its national security chiefs. Chatter intercepted by American intelligence indicates they’re considering a range of options. Cyberattacks, attacks on oil facilities and American personnel and diplomatic outposts have all been cited so far. / 11. But among the “menu options” that I had not heard before were: (1) kidnapping and execution of American citizens. […]

    […fight against ISIS has been “all down hill”…]

    17. Before I go back to the pool let me just say the obvious: No one’s trying to downplay Suleimani’s crimes. The question is why now? His whereabouts have been known before. His resume of killing-by-proxy is not a secret. Hard to decouple his killing from the impeachment saga.

      • bmaz says:

        Swell, we are further removed from NATO. A Trump goal.

        By the way, Cheryl is fantastic, I urge everybody to follow and read her. She is a very sane voice in a sea of chaos.

    • harpie says:

      Bwahahaha! [not really funny, but…:-{ ]
      …Trump administration thinks it can dictate the script, like some reality show:

      3:33 AM [this is ET] · Jan 4, 2020

      ICYMI: Swiss envoy to Tehran on Friday delivered US message to Tehran that
      ‘if you want to take revenge, do it in a way that’s proportional to US attack’.
      But Iran has rejected the request angrily & said we’ll give our own response in due time and appropriate place

      • Cathy says:

        Buh-by, US grid! Y’all are welcome to start making your travel plans to TX anytime (as though the So. Texas Project control systems are any more hardened than elsewhere). With your help we can turn TX BLUE even if the rest of the country doesn’t descend into chaos. ;-)

    • harpie says:

      …about that “(1) kidnapping and execution of American citizens, part [via Adam Klasfeld]:

      Shane Bauer:
      10:02 AM · Jan 4, 2020·[Twitter for iPhone]

      Iran always has American citizens in detention to use as a card against the United States. I was one of them for two years. Currently there are at least two—Michael White and Morad Tahbaz. I guarantee you they aren’t getting any sleep right now.

  12. Willis Warren says:

    Iran is going to go after Trump’s hotels. This was the stupidest thing he could have done, really. Hotels can’t be protected, either.

    The big question is what he does when Mar a Lago gets burned.

  13. Willis Warren says:

    Someone asked about trading ahead of the strike, and yes, there’s a big spike in Lockheed before the strike. The rest will come out soon enough.

    Trump bragged about it to people at Mar a Lago, like a dumbass.

  14. Ed Walker says:

    1. As Jim points out, Iran’s regime was facing a lot of opposition interally, and the population was restive and sullen. This idiocy doesn’t help.

    2. We obviously know where the guy was, we were watching with a drone. Why kill him and make such a point of it? There are all kinds of ways to get rid of someone with plausible deniability. The message gets through either way.

    3. It’s easy to speculate about the gains to Rump from this, and to guess that he’s smart enough to see the benefits. What neither Trump nor his Administration seems to have done is to think past those immediate benefits. Of course, Pence says otherwise, but he’s irrelevant. I doubt he was involved in any significant way. and if he was, he didn’t say what his involvement was.

    4. There’s a lot of discussion of whether this was legal under US law. I don’t have any idea of whether or not it was. But if if wasn’t legal, that means DoD acted on an illegal order. WE know they have lawyers, so it was intentional. That’s scary.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      And there’s a year to go before he is removed from office the old-fashioned way. Trump’s lies and lashing out have kept reality at bay for 70 years. I suspect he is not about to let it in now. That is all on McConnell and the GOP.

  15. klynn says:

    The most import lines from the State Dept briefing in EW’s Twitter feed:

    “SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL TWO: And the ball – the ball’s in Iran’s court. I mean, they can choose to escalate.

    SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: The ball has been in their court – yes, they can choose to escalate. And they typically choose to escalate asymmetrically. It’s the nature of modern terrorism.”

    Escalate asymmetrically.

    So we killed him because he was planning attacks on Americans so that they can plan even bigger attacks on Americans.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Announcements like that are as intellectually alluring as an ounce of Hai Karate spilled on unwashed bell-bottoms is sexually alluring.

      • klynn says:

        Well…the whole briefing would meet that standard. However, if your “reason” for action was to protect US citizens, announcing worse actions will come, pretty much blows your “mission” justification.

        They should have ended the briefing here. The fact that it continued on was insulting to US citizens.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is what Trump does. He tells himself he’s being smart, a Roy Cohn-acolyte genius, really. In fact, he is violently acting out to quell his inner fears, a dynamic parents go to great lengths to help their kids learn not to do.

    Trump is addicted to humiliating others, to make them feel worse than he does, a deepening problem as impeachment gloom overcomes him. That used to mean frivolous court cases, goombahs threatening the vulnerable in parking garages, and a few tales told to other bad guys, which meant trouble for those bothering him. Now he gets people killed. Pathologically, he thinks that’s grand because it makes him feel better.

    And let’s not beat around the bush the way the MSM and Trump supporters are. “Targeted killing” is a politician’s euphemism, one of many meant to obscure reality. Trump ordered Suleimani’s assassination – the secretive surprise killing of an enemy, usually for political purposes.

    He created the potential for economic loss, political chaos, and loss of life. He told Vlad about it, Lil’ Lindsey, the diners at Mar-a-Lago, but not the Congress he was obligated to tell. Never has a president more deserved impeachment, removal, prosecution, and imprisonment than Donald Trump.

  17. harpie says:

    1] [via Cheryl Rofer]: Pompeo yesterday:
    12:31 PM · Jan 3, 2020

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “The world is a much safer place today.” [VIDEO]

    2] Reuters: Blasts heard in Iraqi capital Baghdad, causes unknown
    JANUARY 4, 2020 / 11:59 AM / UPDATED 2 HOURS AGO

    BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Two loud blasts were heard in Baghdad early Saturday evening, Reuters witnesses said. It was not immediately possible to confirm the causes or locations.

    3] [via Wendy Siegelman]
    1:37 PM [ET] · Jan 4, 2020

    #BREAKING: Blast at #Kindi military base in #Mosul, #Iraq

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Against stiff competition, Mike Pompeo wins the Liar Liar Pants on Fire Award.

      His description of the consequences of Trump’s assassination of Iran’s No. 2 leader would impress Stormy Daniels, who has seen a liar or two up close. Frankly, I’d love to know whether any of his staff agreed with his assessment, or if he came up with it extemporaneously while listening to Trump burble.

  18. Raven Eye says:

    Yesterday I was listening on the radio — following news and commentary regarding this assassination.

    What really got to me was this Administration’s insistence that somehow the action would immediately make us all safer. That’s crazy. And one of the craziest mouthpieces was Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran, being interviewed on the BBC World Service.

    Unfortunately, the BBC interviewer didn’t press Hook with what would be the Big Question – something like: “Are you stating that with General Soleimani’s death, the Quds Force is no longer capable of launching any attacks on U.S. or Western interests, either directly or through surrogates”?

    The Administration’s statements are intentionally (big surprise) misleading. Let’s apply their logic to the U.S. Armed Forces: If aliens abducted USSOCOM’s commander, SOCOM would no longer be able to carry out its missions – the command would dissolve, and the mission responsibilities for the various special operations forces would revert back to the Geographic Combatant Commanders or the Services. Does the Administration expect us to believe that the Quds Force has no succession of command plan and that the commander was a single point of failure? Reports are that they have already promoted Soleimani’s deputy.

    There may be an operational pause by the Quds Force, and maybe a change in mission focus to adapt to the changing geopolitical situation, but I kinda think that they, and their surrogates, are still out there and communicating with each other. Unfortunately, this situation likely increases the threat to U.S. interests, and also increases the threat to the interests of our “allies”, some of whom are baffled by this event.

    Please tell us again how we are all safer.

  19. BobCon says:

    A lot of reporting is dancing around the point that US policy is rudderless and lurching in a nearsighted, reactionary way.

    Like the BBC interviewer, the US press is not digging into obvious questions like what is the plan? Where are US forces going? What kind of costs are involved?

    I have no doubt the sources are out there to put this story together, but I am not very confident the big media has the nerve.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Jim notes on twttr this description from the NYT, https://twitter.com/JimWhiteGNV

    “Vice President Mike Pence’s claim that General Suleimani helped 10 of the men who would go on to carry out the Sept. 11 attacks cross through Iran and enter Afghanistan isn’t backed up by established historical accounts or public U.S. intelligence”

    The NYT left out that Pence misremembered the number of attackers. It was 19, not 12, as he claimed. His wrong number made his allegation seem worse, implying Iran helped almost all of them rather than about half of them.

    Given that Pence was a newbie congresscritter on Sept. 11, and lived through its startling events real time and with special responsibilities, and given that he has personal assistants and access to any research facilities in DC he wants, that he made such obvious errors is reckless, at best, more probably a lie.

    With that background, could any other newspaper than the NYT make its correction of a senior government minister’s false claim seem more like a lie than the lie?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      To be more precise, the American 9/11 report accepts that some of the hijackers had earlier crossed Iran into Afghanistan. It cites no evidence that Suleimani or the Iranian government had knowledge of or facilitated that movement. It is unlikely, as the 9/11 attackers were Saudi and Sunni, and Iran is overwhelmingly Shia, as are a majority of Iraqis.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As is becoming usual, the Guardian tries to have it both ways, “killing” or “assassination,” but at least both appeared on the front page: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/04/us-political-assassinations-history-iran-suleimani

    “Suleimani killing the latest in a long, grim line of US assassination efforts.”

    But kudos to Ed Pilkington for getting his piece published. I disagree with part of his framing, though. The US assassination of Suleimani does not seem more brazen or done with less regard for “legal niceties or human consequences” than past assassinations.

    Pilkington cites two examples that disprove his point: multiple attempts against Cuba’s Castro, which could have brought the US and Russia into another conflict, and its attempts against the post-liberation Congo’s first head of state, Patrice Lumumba. The latter failed in 1961 because the Belgians got to him before the Brits or Americans did.

    The Brits took most of the credit for the earlier overthrow of Iran’s Mossadegh, in 1953, which remains an open sore in Iran about on par with the loss of Jim Crow and Jeff Davis in certain parts of America. It was largely a CIA-led and financed effort, as witnessed by the post-coup division of the spoils, which gave American oil companies a big cut of Iran’s output that previously went to the Brits.

    The list of other American-led efforts is almost too long to contemplate, but Guatemala (1954), Vietnam (1963), Indonesia (1965), and Chile (1973) stand out among them. Following Gerald Ford’s 1976 executive order, banning USG “employees” from planning or committing political assassinations (which left a few careful loopholes), the intelligence community coined the euphemism still in use – “targeted killings.”


    The full list is one reason many people across the globe consider America to be the greatest state sponsor of terrorism on the planet.

  22. harpie says:

    The President of the United States threatens Iran with War Crimes:

    5:52 PM · Jan 4, 2020

    Iran is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge for our ridding the world of their terrorist leader who had just killed an American, & badly wounded many others, not to mention all of the people he had killed over his lifetime, including recently….

    ….hundreds of Iranian protesters. He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations. Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. 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!

    • P J Evans says:

      This should be an immediately-impeach-and-remove offense. especially trying to make it about the hostages from 1979, who had nothing to do with this mess and would very much prefer being left out of it.

      (I wonder how many current congresscritters screamed when the Taliban destroyed cultural monuments in Afghanistan. If they don’t have the same reaction to this threat, then they’re lying now or were lying then.)

  23. harpie says:

    Via Laura Rozen:
    6:05 AM – 5 Jan 2020

    This is stunning – #Iraq prime minister tells parliament
    1] US troops should leave.

    2] Says @realDonaldTrump called him to ask him to mediate with #Iran and then ordered drone strike on Soleimani.

    3] Says Soleimani carrying response to Saudi initiative to defuse tension when he was hit.

    • harpie says:

      From Iran:

      1] via Cheryl Rofer:
      Ambassador Ulyanov:
      5:46 AM – 5 Jan 2020

      This evening the Iranian authorities will make a decision on the future of the nuclear deal and concrete measures in the context of the fifth phase of gradual reduction of Tehran’s commitments under #JCPOA.

      2] Via Laura Rozen: https://twitter.com/AbasAslani/status/1213783977594687490
      3:27 AM – 5 Jan 2020

      #Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman: There will be an important meeting tonight over reducing #nuclear commitments and taking 5th step, and final decision will be made in this regard.

      3] Via Laura Rozen: https://twitter.com/AbasAslani/status/1213827153613246464
      6:18 AM – 5 Jan 2020

      #Iran’s parliament speaker:
      US officials have said that #QasemSoleimani wanted to conduct actions against US forces in #Lebanon, #Syria & #Iraq. US Congress & people need to know that this is a lie to cover up a terrorist & war crime.If they have any evidence, they can release it [VIDEO]

      • harpie says:

        More on Iran’s decision about the JPCOA:

        9:54 AM – 5 Jan 2020

        #Iran’s government, in a statement, announced the 5th and final step in reducing Iran’s commitments to the #JCPOA.

        ACC statement, Iran no longer faces any restrictions in operational areas (including enrichment capacity, level of enrichment, enriched material stockpile, and R&D).

        Iranian government statement: “In 5th step of reducing #nuclear commitments, #Iran is abandoning the last key item of its operational limitations under the #JCPOA, which is ‘limitation on the number of centrifuges'”.

        #Iran government’s statement: Iran’s cooperation with the #IAEA will continue as it has been the case in the past…Iran is ready to return to its obligations under the #JCPOA provided that the sanctions are lifted and Iran benefits from its interests in the #nuclear deal.

        • harpie says:

          Via Laura Rozen:
          10:09 AM – 5 Jan 2020

          Iran’s decision to put aside the cap on the # of centrifuges as its 5th step away from its JCPOA commitments is less harsh than the initially feared resumption of 20% enrichment. This shows Iran still wants the Europeans on its side and doesn’t want to break the deal yet.

          They also don’t seem to want to change the subject from Soleimani to the JCPOA and fight too many fires at the same time. But remember there are 4 more steps Iran is going to take before the Nov elections in the US

    • harpie says:

      Marcy retweeted the following tweet from this thread:
      Thread begins:
      1:24 AM – 5 Jan 2020 from Iraq

      The Iraqi parliament holds an emergency session today to discuss the vote to remove US forces from #Iraq […]

      Marcy retweets:

      “I received a phone call from @realDonaldTrump when the embassy protests ended thanking the government efforts and asked Iraq to play the mediator’s role between US and Iran” Iraqi PM said.

    • harpie says:

      Also today, in Iraq:

      6:08 AM – 5 Jan 2020

      US forces in Iraq concede they have been unable to focus on anti-Isis efforts as tensions with Iranian-backed forces increased [screenshot]

      The notification:

      January 05, 2020
      Release No. 20200105-02
      CJTF-OIR Statement on the ongoing Defeat Daesh Mission

      SOUTHWEST ASIA- Our first priority is protecting all Coalition personnel committed to the defeat of Daesh. Repeated rocket attacks over the last two months by element s of Kata’ib Hezbollah have caused the death of Iraqi Security Forces personnel and a U.S. civilian. As a result we are now fully committed to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops. This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review. 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. We remain ready to return our full attention and efforts back to our shared goal of ensuring the lasting defeat of Daesh.

    • harpie says:

      EMERGENCY meeting at NATO tomorrow:
      7:10 AM – 5 Jan 2020

      #BREAKING: NATO Secretary General @jensstoltenberg will convene an urgent North Atlantic Council meeting Monday afternoon to consult on the situation in Iraq following the US killing of Iranian military leader #Solemeini. NATO has suspended its Iraqi training mission. [link]

  24. harpie says:

    And, then [via bmaz] there is today at US borders:

    10:52 AM – 5 Jan 2020

    And the roundups have begun. Of course.

    …links to:
    10:03 AM – 5 Jan 2020


    • bmaz says:

      Note that I retweeted that, but it is single source and not confirmed completely yet. I think it is more than plausible as the government has indicated it was stepping up security and monitoring of Iranians and Iranian interests. But I probably should have been more questioning of that original tweet until more is known.

      • harpie says:

        Yeah…I’ve been looking for something from Cair, Washington or ACLU…but no luck. I agree…grain of salt until more is known…wish I had said that in the initial comment.

    • harpie says:

      CAIR, National has this posted:

      10:22 AM – 5 Jan 2020

      BREAKING: @cair_wa Assisting Iranian-Americans Detained U.S. Border

      It links to: https://www.cair.com/breaking_cair_wa_assisting_iranian_americans_detained_u_s_border
      […] “We are working to verify reports of a broad nationwide directive to detain Iranian-Americans at ports of entry so that we can provide community members with accurate travel guidance. We will continue to update the community and other civil rights organizations as we obtain more information.” […]

    • harpie says:

      Here’s Katie Nicholson from the CBC [I got this via Caroline Orr, RVAWonk]:
      10:19 AM – 5 Jan 2020

      CAIR says more than 60 Iranians and Iranian-Americans illegally detained at US/Canada border overnight Saturday at the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington.
      [Thread ends eight minutes ago, with this:]
      Department of Homeland Security says it is working on a response to allegations made in CAIR release.

      …interesting response from DHS, if true.

      • P J Evans says:

        I’ve heard before about problems with CBP being very hard-nosed at Blaine, even if you inadvertently cross and have papers.

      • harpie says:

        Here’s the “statement” that DHS had to work on since at least 3:15 pm ET:

        2:11 PM – 5 Jan 2020

        CBP spokesperson has issued the following statement:

        “Social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing their entry into the U.S. because of their country of origin are false. Reports that DHS/CBP has issued a related directive are also false.”

        CBP is, however, [note: no quotation marks here] operating with what is being called an enhanced posture at its ports of entry. Processing times at points of entry are affected by traveler volumes, staffing, and threat posture.

    • harpie says:

      Rep Barbara Lee [via Sarah Kendzior], half an hour ago:

      2:04 PM – 5 Jan 2020

      People of Iranian descent — including American citizens & green card holders — are reportedly being detained by CBP officials. We can’t let this stand.

      If you or someone you know has been targeted or detained by CBP officials, please contact my district office at 510-763-0370.

  25. P J Evans says:

    The mess gets worse (two-part tweet, link is to first part):

    What Iraqi PM Abdul-Mahdi is saying is that Trump asked him to act as an intermediary with Iran, and that part of that task involved talking to Soleimani. But at the same time Trump went ahead with the attack on Soleimani without consulting Iraq…

    Add in leaks saying the intelligence against Soleimani was “thin” and consisted of just that he had called back to Iran to let them know he needed to come back and discuss something critical, and it’s sickeningly possible Soleimani was killed carrying Iraqi PM’s plan to Tehran.

  26. P J Evans says:

    And now it appears that Pompeo and other Dominionists were pushing Trmp into this, because they need that Rapture so they can go directly to their heaven without having to actually die first.
    There are a lot of people who need to be permanently removed from US government.

    BTW, I heard one suggestion that, if the Rs continue complaining about the impeachment articles not being delivered to the Senate quickly enough (while it’s in recess!), that Pelosi could declare that Trmp has been convicted by the Senate’s lack of action in responding to setting up the trial proceedings. I don’t believe this would work, but it’s an interesting counter to the claim that the house is taking too long on an action that has no stated time limit for completion, especially since the Senate has had months to get that part of their act together, as long as they haven’t been passing any of the bills they’ve been sent in the last year.

    • Jenny says:

      klynn, good point.

      A bit off topic; however Frontline “Zero Tolerance” aired again on PBS. Explains Bannon, Miller and Sessions embracing of Trump to change policy and put him in the White House. Saw it in October; however really resonated with all that has happened in this maniacal administration.

      SEASON 2019: EPISODE 3
      FRONTLINE investigates how President Trump turned immigration into a powerful political weapon that fueled division and violence. The documentary goes inside the efforts of three political insurgents to tap into populist anger, transform the Republican Party and crack down on immigration.

  27. Mitch Neher says:

    Mr. White wrote, “[I]t would seem that Trump’s dream of regime change in Iran now has to align fully with the neocon desire to do so by means of a massive invasion.”

    There will never be U. S. combat troops with “boots on the ground” in Iran. Never! It does not matter worth a hill of beans whose “dream, nor desire” would launch such a “massive [ground] invasion” of Iran.

    The simple fact that so many of our upper-echelon military commanders are paid, professional, lying sacks of manure who remain utterly incapable of even thinking about accepting responsibility for their very own command decisions does not in any way shape or form render the armed forces of the United States of America immune from MUTINY–EN MASSE!

    There are limits. Limits to patience. Limits to endurance. Limits to rank stupidity.

    American boots on the ground in Iran would be irredeemably imbecilic.

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