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OK, let’s cut to the chase. Do I really believe in the worst case scenario? Nope.

Am I therefore unperturbed? NOPE. There is nothing I’d confidently put past the Trumpmonster at any time, let alone when he’s frantic to cling to power, while at the same time, for some reason, the hardliners in Iran have picked this fraught moment to push things hard in the wrong direction.

Yes, Iran. They’re back at it, as is their wont. Honest to God, what’s now going on between Washington and the Persian Gulf is playing out like one of those pulpy potboilers you’re forced to buy in the airport bookstore, when it’s either Tom Clancy’s Seal Team Six Pillages Tehran (by somebody who isn’t Tom Clancy), or a florid bodice-ripper sporting an orange and purple hued depiction of Fabio clutching some swooning buxom wench.

Guess it’ll be the new Jack Ryan thriller, then.

Just look where we are. First we have Donald, still flailing around with his mad schemes to remain in office, which, as I write this, will reach a crescendo (and final, crushing defeat, God willing) in the Congress within about 24 hours. You’d have to be desperate to hope that Mike Pence and a willing cabal of fascist GOP legislators could somehow pull off a coup right there on Capitol Hill, right? Well, Donald is desperate. His sweaty, Gambino-like call to Georgia’s Secretary of State left little doubt that what looked initially to be nothing more than a fundraising scam has actually morphed into the delusion that he really can maintain his grip on the Presidency – or at least that he has to try. Perhaps he’s worried that Pence won’t pardon him, the weasel, and it might somehow have gotten through to him that he can’t actually pardon himself. Besides which there’s all those State laws that he and his kin have been violating all their lives. That nasty woman serving as NY’s AG, she’s got it in for him in just the worst way. Nasty, nasty woman.

This is set against the disquieting backdrop of Trump’s moves to repopulate the upper echelon of the Pentagon with reliable stooges, including yet another unconfirmed “acting” secretary in the form of SecDef Christopher Miller, a former special forces commander and counter-terrorism expert wholly unqualified for the top slot, unless the sole qualification is a willingness to serve as Donald’s waggy-tailed poodle. It sure looks like Trump is keeping open the option of military intervention in domestic politics, a possibility that’s been advocated by the likes of eager henchman and newly-pardoned former General Flynn, and one which has so unnerved the Washington policy community that the Joint Chiefs have issued a statement insisting it mustn’t happen, while all ten living former Secretaries of Defence just published an open letter in the Washington Post warning against it. What sort of chatter must be rattling around the back channels of the Beltway Illuminati when even Cheney and Rumsfeld feel moved to holler from the rooftops?

Then there’s formerly reliable sycophant and enabler Bill Barr’s rapid departure, the former AG skipping town as if he knows something we don’t about what’s coming next.

Now we have strange moves in the Gulf In the past few days. US forces in the region have been beefed up, with B-52s moving in-theatre, and Trump ordering the Nimitz battle group back into the hot zone after Secretary Miller tried to order it out of the region, as if he, too, fears something’s up (in this clammy scenario he’s proving, like Esper before him, to be less compliant than Donald expected). Meanwhile, what could seem to be carefully calibrated leaks have been flowing out of the administration for the past couple of weeks, describing intelligence assessments that Iran might be considering some sort of aggression to commemorate the first anniversary of Donald’s drone assassination of dear, martyred Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. As if on cue, the Iranians let it be known that they’ve accelerated their uranium enrichment program, while simultaneously seizing a South Korean oil tanker as it tried to exit the Gulf, thus threatening a reinvigoration of the on-again off-again tanker war that heats up every time the Revolutionary Guard has some sort of axe to grind.

In short, we’re at about page 30 of the latest Tom Clancy-inspired thriller (authored by this other guy Mike Maden), in which the aspiring US autocrat conspires with the foreign theocracy to supply him with the pretext for starting a make-believe war and declaring a national emergency, in concert with the invocation of martial law – the Iranians doing their part in return for promises of a favourable treaty down the road, and withdrawal of US support for the hated Saudis, or something like that.

In the alternative, if you prefer something a little less fanciful while still accounting for Donald’s infinite malevolence, maybe there’s no conspiracy, nor any plan to hold on to the White House, and Trump just wants to start a war to screw Biden and the whole country on his way out the door.

These are the places where a certain sort of nervous mind wanders in this new dark age of Trump, when any depravity seems at least possible. All rubbish, of course. You shouldn’t give it a second thought. Me, I never get agitated until the B-2s are sortied out of Whiteman in Missouri, which typically happens about 24 hours in advance of the show, and I ain’t heard no reports. Nothing to worry about!

Still. Next time, let’s plump for Fabio.

That orange dot labelled “CVN-68” is the USS Nimitz carrier battle group on its reverse course back to the Persian Gulf, circa January 1.

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