Tag Archives: Iran

On the brink of conflict with Iran … or what?

Donald Trump is giving me the heebie-jeebies.

The president of the United States ordered a military strike against Iran because the Iranians shot down an unarmed drone apparently over international waters. The Iranians contend the surveillance craft had flown into their air space, which is why they knocked it out of the sky.

But then the president changed his mind and called off the strike against Iran.

I’m wondering today: Why did the president change his mind? What prompted him to order the aircraft back to their bases? Did he get a call from the mullahs? Did they admit to making the “mistake” to which he alluded earlier in the day?

Well, at this moment — but that could change in the next moment — I am glad he called off the hit against military targets in Iran. I heard something this morning about the reported threat to civilians had the strike been allowed to continue.

Let’s not be coy. Iran presents a serious threat to the entire region if we hit them hard. They hate the Saudis, and the Iranians damn sure hate Israel. The mullahs are in control of a terrorist state, which suggests to me that they can seek their vengeance against targets all around the world.

Please keep that in mind, Mr. President, as you ponder the best way to respond to the shootdown of an unmanned military asset.

No war with Iran!

Donald John Trump continues to send astonishingly conflicting messages.

Back when he was running for president of the United States, Trump said he opposed sending U.S. troops into “useless” wars. He cited the Iraq War as Example No. 1 of a war that wasn’t worth the fight. I happen to agree with him.

Now here he is, two-plus years into his term and the president is threatening to go to war with Iran. What the hell?

Why is that? Iranian-backed Yemeni forces have been launching rocket attacks against Saudi shipping. They are threatening the flow of oil out of the region. Trump says Iran’s continuing provocation could prompt a devastating response from this country.

We have sent the USS Abraham Lincoln battle group into the Persian Gulf. We’re flexing our muscles. We’re telling the Iranians: Don’t mess up, here, or else you’re going to pay too drastic a price.

Trump made the correct call to end our involvement in these wars with no end. Now, though, he has surrounded himself with a cabal of uber-hawks — led by national security adviser John Bolton — who seem hell bent on going to war with the intention of overthrowing the ayatollahs who run the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I am not prone to insist that Trump rely on his own instincts, but on this matter, he should do exactly that.

However, Trump also says Iran shouldn’t have nuclear weapons. But wait! We had that treaty that aimed to end Iran’s nuclear development; then the president pulled us out. But . . . there are reports from other nations still involved in the agreement that suggest that Iran is actually complying with the conditions set forth by then-President Obama and then-Secretary of State John Kerry.

I’m baffled. Confused. Bumfuzzled.

Listen to that wiser angel whispering in your ear, Mr. President.

Trump tosses needless insults at intelligence brass

Try for a moment to wrap your arms around this bit of idiocy.

Donald J. Trump, the guy admits to not wanting to read policy briefings, has declared that the nation’s top-level intelligence command is “naïve.”

He wrote this on Twitter:

The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong! When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but….

….a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!

These individuals, all seasoned political figures and national intelligence experts, have contradicted the president’s assertions about Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State.

CIA Director Gina Haspel, a career spook who has spent her entire career with the spy agency, says Iran is complying with previous restrictions enacted designed to keep the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons. Trump calls Iran an existential threat to the Middle East.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a veteran U.S. senator from Indiana with serious foreign policy chops, said the Islamic State poses a dramatic threat to the civilized world. Trump says the United States and our allies have “defeated” ISIS in Syria.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, who’s forged a career in law enforcement and counter-terrorism, joined his colleagues in suggesting that North Korea is still looking to develop nuclear weapons. Trump has said that North Korea is no longer a threat.

Who do you believe? The seasoned, experienced and serious intelligence professionals? Or do you believe a political novice with zero experience in anything even remotely connected with intelligence, counter-intelligence or counter-terrorism? The serious public servants or the man who spent his entire public life devoted to self-promotion, self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment?

I am going to go with the intelligence and law enforcement pros.

Now I must ask: How much of this denigration of their skill, knowledge and experience are they going to take from the carnival barker who managed to get elected president of the United States?

Time for Saudi sanctions, Mr. President

OK, Mr. President, you’ve got a problem.

Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in the brutal assassination of a Saudi-born journalist in Istanbul, Turkey. But wait! Now the CIA has determined that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

What are you going to do about it, Mr. President?

You see, the United States has some skin in this game. Khashoggi was a journalist employed by the Washington Post. He was a U.S. resident who wrote columns for the newspaper and, indeed, his final essay called for greater tolerance of political dissent in Saudi Arabia. The crown prince, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, took umbrage at Khashoggi’s view.

So he had him killed. Maybe he even ordered the reported dismembering of Khashoggi, torturing him while he was still alive, screaming for his life.

How in the world do we let this pass, Mr. President?

I wish I could presume you’ll accept the CIA assessment. I mean, you had to be dragged kicking and screaming to endorse the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia attacked our electoral system in 2016.

But the CIA now is being run by one of your appointees. Gina Haspel is a career spook. She is a first-rate spymaster. Her agency also is among the best intelligence outfits in the world. But you know that already. Right?

You need to set aside that top-dollar arms deal the Saudis want done. Those high-performance jet fighters the Saudis ordered ought to be put back in the hangar.

The Saudis are bad actors at many levels. Sure, they’re our “allies” in the effort to corral the Islamic Republic of Iran. They are brutal, though, in their handling of political dissent, as Jamal Khashoggi’s hideous fate would attest.

The CIA says the crown prince is involved. You, sir, need to act.

Respond to Iran threats? Yes, but do so the right way

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a threat to the United States.

The U.S. president took it seriously. So seriously that he employed his favorite forum to respond: Twitter. He fired off an all-cap response that says Iran had better think twice about issuing threats.

Hey, I no longer am surprised by Donald Trump’s Twitter fetish. He’s got it bad, man.

I just long ago grew tired of reading these tweets when he decides to issue policy pronouncements or when he articulates some sort of threat to a foreign adversary.

I don’t have a particular problem with Trump responding to Iran’s bluster. My concern is the forum the president keeps using. He blathers these counter-threats for all the world to hear.

I wonder if it ever occurs to Trump to just pick up the telephone in the Oval Office and phoning some intermediary nation (since we have no diplomatic relations with Iran) and offering a warning to Iran to pipe down with the tough talk.

It’s called back-channel diplomacy.

Donald Trump, though, knows nothing of how these matters ought to be resolved. None of that is a surprise, given the utter absence of any understanding of government in Trump’s background.

He goes with his gut, his instinct, his penchant for showmanship.

Dangerous.

Verbal threats prompt this kind of response? Wow!

The Iranian government makes a verbal threat to launch “the mother of all wars” against the United States.

The response from the president? He fires off a tweet — written in all capital letters — that Iran should “NEVER, EVER” threaten the United States or else face the consequence of a full military strike.

This is where we’ve come? A rogue nation’s head of state makes a foolish statement and the commander in chief responds with threats of total annihilation, again via Twitter.

Sheesh.

Social media etiquette gives way to threat of war

Get a load of a tweet that came from the fingers — reportedly — of the president of the United States.

To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!

Isn’t that amazing?

Rouhani made some kind of threat to launch the “mother of all wars” against the United States.

Donald J. Trump answered with this message via Twitter.

I’m a frequent Twitter user myself. Trust me on this: I am not an expert on social media etiquette, not that having good manners is necessarily a requirement at all times. I do know, though, that typing something in all caps denotes an anger that some could construe borders on instability. Is that the message that Donald Trump seeks to convey to the Iranian president?

Yes, he did the same thing with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. He threatened him with total destruction. He spoke of the threat of “fire and fury.” Kim and Trump did meet in Singapore. The jury is out on what was accomplished. This much appears to be certain: The world remains under threat of a nuclear North Korea, no matter what the president has said.

So, what’s the deal with this all-cap Twitter message? If the president intends to convey the message that he is so angry that he’s out of control, well, millions of Americans have harbored those thoughts already.

Thanks, Mr. POTUS, for putting screws to our allies

Did anyone out there realize the irony of today’s decision by the president of the United States to withdraw from a deal that aims to deny Iran the ability to acquire nuclear weapons?

Here’s how I see it: Seventy-three years ago today, the shooting stopped in Europe, ending one phase of World War II; the result of that was to build alliances with nations across the continent, those with which we fought side by side and, yes, those we opposed.

Those nations had lined up in favor of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. They lobbied Donald J. Trump to stay the course, to improve it, to renegotiate a better deal if he saw fit. What’s more, didn’t Trump campaign for president in 2016 on a pledge to negotiate the “best deals” ever?

The president today — on VE Day — stuck it to our “allies,” the nations we helped liberate from tyranny in World War II.

The president has managed to isolate this nation from much of the rest of the world in its effort to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which no self-respecting civilized nation anywhere on Earth wants to see happen.

I should point, too, that the deal struck by the Obama administration in concert with several other nations provides for the world’s most vigorous inspection process, which has resulted in Iran ridding itself of many centrifuges used to enrich uranium, the key component in the making of nuclear bombs.

Donald Trump, though, wants to speak directly to the hardliners among his inner circle of advisers — and to those voters who continue to abide by the fiction that isolating the United States from this country strengthens American interests.

It does nothing of the kind! It weakens the United States in a world that is shrinking at an accelerating pace.

I fear the president once again has failed to “make America great again.” He instead has made us untrustworthy among those with whom we once fought side by side.

Barack-Bibi feud ratchets up seriously

Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanhayu have been anything but BFFs ever since they became leaders of the United States and Israel, respectively.

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have had a final falling out that seems a bit difficult to understand. I want to share my own perspective on what I believe lies at the core of antipathy.

Obama reportedly instructed the U.S. United Nations delegation to abstain from a resolution condemning Israel over its construction of settlements in what often is called “occupied territory” that Israel took from Palestinians who call that land their own.

The abstention has enraged Netanyahu, who I believe has a point.

It is this: During the entire existence of the Israeli state, the nation has gone to war against its neighbors. None of the conflicts has been of Israel’s choosing. It has responded to attacks from its Arab neighboring nations: in 1956, 1967 and 1973. While the Israeli armed forces weren’t being mobilized for battlefield combat, they have been summoned time and again to put down insurrections in places like Gaza and the Golan Heights.

The Israelis feel a direct threat from their neighbors every day. Yes, they have peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt; Syria, of course, presents an existential threat with the presence of Islamic State fighters doing battle with government forces that answer to a dictator who’s also a sworn enemy of Israel.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has vowed to exterminate Israel; the Hamas terrorists who run the government in Gaza also have vowed to destroy Israel. Hezbollah runs wild in Lebanon along the northern border of Israel.

Is there any reason to doubt why the Israelis view their situation with a great deal more alarm than any other state leader can fully appreciate? I’ve been able to peer into Gaza from just outside its border; I’ve been allowed to see damage in Israeli cities such as Sderot by rockets launched from Gaza; I’ve seen the heavily secured border fences along the Israel-Lebanon border; I’ve had the pleasure of obtaining passage through the heavily guarded wall separating Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Thus, in my view the Israelis have ample reason to feel a sense of betrayal by their allies in Washington who over many years have used their U.N. Security Council veto power to quash these resolutions.

The Israelis have never provoked armed conflict with their neighbors, but they certainly have finished it.

Thus, our most reliable Middle East ally is asking itself: Will the United States of America stand with us if the shooting ever starts again? The question, if it’s being asked, is not an unreasonable one.

Reaction to ‘Brexit’ vote is most revealing

trump-scotland

What am I missing here?

President Barack Obama is dismayed at the results of the British referendum that means that the United Kingdom is going to leave the European Union.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is saddened, too, by the outcome.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who staked his reputation on keeping his country in the EU, announced his resignation.

Meanwhile, Russia has applauded the result.

So has the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Here’s the best one yet: Donald J. Trump has joined Russia and Iran in cheering the referendum result.

Yes, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is now in league with Russia and Iran.

Aren’t these countries two of our more fearsome adversaries?

Oh, I almost forgot. Trump says Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is a “strong leader.” He’s also endorsed the ham-fisted tactics of other totalitarian regimes, such as Iran, for their firmness.