Those are the words of the President of the United States. They’re also the ravings of a semi-literate lunatic. Packed full of lies, misspellings and vitriol, it’s the sort of thing you’d expect from your poor cousin Eugene, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s just last year, and isn’t it sad how fast it’s progressing.
So, we were that close last night, “cocked and loaded” to quote Donald, but for some reason he changed his mind. Perhaps he simply had cold feet, or perhaps, as suggested by Heather Digby Parton in a column posted on Salon, he balked at the last minute because Tucker Carlson came on the air and mentioned that war with Iran wouldn’t sit well with the Base. His claim that the stand-down resulted from getting a body count at the last minute, because it occurred to him suddenly to pose the question, is preposterous – projected casualties and collateral damage are always crucial to target selection, and would have been discussed from the outset, a key part of evaluating the merits of each of the no doubt numerous strike packages the Brass had on offer. It’s not something they don’t bother bringing up unless the President happens to ask, for the love of God.
Not that I’m complaining. Hooray cold feet, or yay Tucker Carlson, or whatever it was that prompted Trump to call things off. Ordinarily, I’d be happy to hear that military options were prepared, a strike was planned, but the President decided it wasn’t the right move. That’s what Presidents are supposed to do. It’s just that there’s a flukey, almost whimsical feel to the affair, like the mercurial President might change his mind again tonight, if the mood hits him. It’s also that we shouldn’t know this much about how things went down – it certainly doesn’t help America’s strategic position that by broadcasting what sounds like a flawed decision-making process all over Twitter, he makes the whole national security apparatus, especially its Commander in Chief, look sloppy and incompetent. It’s worrying, too, that reports indicate Donald visibly enjoyed playing Commander in Chief, wielding the authority to initiate and then cancel military operations. Yikes. It’s bad enough that he’s a dumbass on the cusp of being fed pabulum on a spoon. The last additional thing we need this President to be when reaching these decisions is delighted.
It’s bears emphasis that it’s beyond strange that having prepared and then aborted an attack, Trump would take to Twitter to boast about it – or, that is to say, there was a time just a few years ago when such would have seemed beyond strange. It’s certainly bad brinksmanship. If the Iranians weren’t on a hair trigger before, they sure are now, and it’s hard to figure how they’ll react to learning over social media that they almost went to war last night. With luck, they won’t feel emboldened, having concluded that the President is just a bigmouth with no stomach for the fray. Here’s hoping they don’t conclude the opposite, either, and decide that since war is inevitable they may as well make the first move. At this point, appearing weak and indecisive is just about as dangerous as being overly aggressive, and Donald, through the course of the latest Tweet-storm, seems a dissonant combination of both. “I am in no hurry” he says, before bragging about US military power (which has not been materially bolstered after only a couple of budget cycles since Donald assumed office), and concluding with a rant in ALL CAPS. What’s that supposed to mean? He seeks a negotiated solution? He’s not in the mood for a war just this minute, but rest assured he’ll get around to it? He means to starve them out with still more crippling sanctions? Or what?
Thank God there was no Twitter in 1962. If Khrushchev had yapped like that at Kennedy, I probably would have been incinerated in my crib, my wonderful life tragically terminated only a year after it began.
On the upside, Bolton must be apoplectic. For him this is the moral equivalent of a cock tease. He’s longed to bomb the crap out of Iran for so long, with such intensity, that he must have felt, for a few minutes there, as if he’d finally reached the summit of his life’s ambition. Then Donald snatched it away! The cruelty of it!
We can expect him and Pompeo to keep trying, though. If Donald changed his mind, he can change it again, right? He is bat-shit crazy, after all. Besides, maybe now that the Iranians feel even more besieged and threatened, they’ll do something stupid and we’ll be off to the races!
It seems almost pedantic to note at this juncture that of course there is no legal authorization for starting a war with Iran. So there isn’t. So what? They’ll claim it’s a matter of executive authority, or that it comes under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force – Pompeo may have been trying to lay the groundwork for the latter with his recent, farcical claims that Iran is in bed with Al Qaeda – and one way or another Mitch will see to it that Congress remains neutered and nothing’s done to stop them.
It all seems so inevitable. Yet here’s an optimistic thought: if it’s really the case that Fox News has persuaded Donald that another frickin’ war in the Middle East won’t sit well with the Base, well, that’s that. Nothing is more important than getting re-elected, and Bolton will just have to nurse his big blue balls, and dream of the glorious geopolitical bonfire that could have been.