Tag Archives: Iran

Zero, to 34, now to 50 injuries in missile attack

What’s going on at the Pentagon?

The Iranians fired ballistic missiles at our forces in Iraq in response to our killing of Qassem Soulaimani, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Hey, this was a bad dude, a ruthless terrorist chieftain.

The missiles landed on our base. The Pentagon and Donald Trump said immediately there were zero U.S. casualties.

Wait! Then the number rose suddenly to 34 service personnel. The brass said they suffered traumatic brain injury when the missiles blew up.

Now we hear the number has reached 50 military personnel.

Is this how it goes now? The public gets information handed out in dribs and drabs.

We all are grateful that none of the injuries is life-threatening. Most of the personnel who were injured have returned to duty.

This sloppy information release seems all too common in an administration that simply cannot seem to get its story straight the first time.

The men and women who serve us — as well as their families who pray for their safety while they stand in harm’s way — need to know the whole truth all the time.

POTUS steps into the Twitter sewer … once again!

You know, as weird as Donald Trump’s retweet of an image involving House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer was, it seems to almost pale in comparison to the White House press flack’s lame defense of what Trump actually did.

Trump retweeted a doctored picture of Pelosi wearing a Muslim hijab and Schumer wearing a turban. They’re standing in front of an image depicting the Iranian flag. It is captioned “Democrats 2020.”

Trump sought to make some sort of statement about Democrats’ criticism of the air strike that killed Iranian terrorist leader Qassem Soleimani, suggesting that Democrats are soft on those who inflict terrorism on the rest of the world.

Well, of course that is a preposterous claim. Democrats, moreover, haven’t been “mourning” Soleimani’s death.

But then came White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham to defend Trump’s hideous behavior. According to CBS.com: “I think the president is making clear that Democrats have been parroting Iranian talking points, and almost taking the side of terrorists and those who were out to kill Americans ‚Ķ I think the president was making the point that Democrats seem to hate him so much that they’re willing to be on the side of countries and leadership of countries who want to kill Americans.”

Uh, no, Ms. Grisham. Democrats aren’t “on the side of countries” that want to “kill Americans.” They are questioning the intelligence and whether the White House gave enough thought to the consequences of such a significant act.

How about stopping the demagoguery, Ms. Grisham? As for the president, how about ‚Ķ oh, never mind. I’m wasting my time.

An apology comes forth — and it’s a real one to boot!

How about this?

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins popped off on a cable news show this week that Democrats are “in love” with terrorists and are “mourning” the death of Iran’s leading terrorist, Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an air strike ordered by Donald Trump.

Democrats became outraged. They lambasted the Georgia Republican for his heartless comments.

Then he apologized. It was the real thing. Collins wrote on Twitter: “Let me be clear: I do not believe Democrats are in love with terrorists and I apologize for what I said earlier this week.”

I am speaking only for myself, but I accept Rep. Collins’s apology. I wish he hadn’t made that hideous statement in the first place. The apology doesn’t expunge the public domain of what he said.

However, his apology sounds to me like the real thing. I’m glad he had the guts to say he was wrong to say such a thing.

Settle down with the ‘soft on terror’ hyperbole

Preet Bharara has sought to take down a Georgia Republican member of Congress, who has fired off some of the most demagogic rhetoric many of us have heard perhaps since 9/11.

Rep. Doug Collins told Fox News that critics of Donald Trump’s ordering the killing of Qassem Soleimani are “mourning” the death of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader and that they are “in love with terrorists.”

Bharara, a former Southern District of New York federal prosecutor, has called out Collins’s shameful rhetoric. You can read his essay¬†here.

Collins’s idiotic hysteria takes the discussion of Soleimani’s death to an absurd and utterly ridiculous level.

I’ve been listening to and reading the news incessantly in the days since the air strike that killed the Iranian military leader. I have countless critics of the mission express support for the death of the murderer; their criticism calls into question whether the president has planned for the consequence of such a daring mission.

As Bharara said, dissent, debate and discussion of public policy is quintessentially American. Rep. Collins’s reaction to this event is quintessentially idiotic.

It’s the constant lying that gets in the way

Donald Trump has done what I once thought was the seemingly impossible.¬†He has turned me into a hard-core cynic. How? It’s the lying, man! It is constant. It is gratuitous. It is never-ending.

I cannot believe a single pronouncement that comes from the mouth of the president of the United States of America. I am not proud of this revelation. You see, I’ve resisted the label of cynic. I have batted it away. Even as I worked in daily journalism for all those years I usually sought to believe the best in people, who generally had to do something that would destroy by faith in their basic goodness.

Then along came Donald Trump from the world of reality TV celebrityhood, real estate dealmaking and a glitzy lifestyle about which he was so very proud to boast.

Trump lied when he proclaimed himself to be a self-made zillionaire. It has been demonstrably proven now that he isn’t a self-made anything. He ran for president ‚Ķ and then won!

He has been lying to us daily ever since he took the oath of office.

Here is now faced with the most serious crisis of his tenure as president. I want to believe him when he said he ordered the air strike against the Iranian terrorist/general because of “imminent attack” threats against the United States.

However, I cannot believe him. I cannot accept anything he says about, well, anything.

I have lost count of the lies he has told. The Washington Post has been keeping a running tab on the lies; the paper’s count has exceeded 15,000 whoppers since his inauguration. His lying is accelerating. He is telling more lies daily now than at any time since he became president.

How in name of truth-telling can Americans of any stripe — even those who count themselves as Trump supporters — believe a word that comes from this guy? They can’t. Yet many of them still do. Are they liars, too? I won’t buy into that notion. I only am left to presume that they have been snookered by this guy, who spent his entire adult life searching only to enrich himself. There isn’t a single moment of public service in his pre-political background.

My cynicism is raging at this moment as I watch the president of the United States continue to lie his way through this crisis, through the impeachment file by the House of Representatives and as the Senate prepares to put this individual on trial.

I truly don’t like feeling this way. Donald Trump won’t allow my cynicism to go away.

Where’s the ‘intelligence’ at the briefing?

When a leading Republican supporter of Donald J. Trump comes out of an intelligence briefing and calls it the “worst” one he’s heard in his time as a U.S. senator, then it looks as though the president has some trouble on his hands.

Mike Lee of Utah came out of the briefing today to blast the briefers. He called the event “sophomoric,” and was highly critical of the national security team’s instruction to avoid any debate about what they learned behind closed doors.

Lee didn’t like what he heard. What’s more, he said so out loud.

The briefing came from some Trump administration heavyweights, including CIA Director Gina Haspel and Defense Secretary Mark Esper; a third briefer was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who I should add has emerged as a high-profile disappointment as the nation’s top diplomat.

At issue was the justification for killing Iranian Revolutionary Guard chieftain Qassem Solemaini. The president said Iran was planning an “imminent attack” on U.S. interests and that the air strike in Baghdad was meant as a “defensive” measure. He didn’t provide any evidence of such an “imminent” attack. Senators came out of today’s briefing saying the national security team didn’t provide anything new, either.

Iran responded with the missile attack against two U.S. bases in Iraq. The missiles didn’t inflict any casualties. Iran backed down. Trump said the United States would not pursue any further military action. “All is well,” the president said via Twitter. Well, it isn’t all well.

What is stunning to me was the anger expressed by Sen. Lee, who until now has stood foursquare behind the president. He said the briefers’ admonition was “insulting.”

This is the troubling aspect of the hit against Solemaini. The strike itself needed to happen. What also needed to occur was the development of a cogent after-action strategy by the Trump administration.

It appears that there is nothing of the sort available for public review.

Trump scores direct hit on a military target, then bungles the aftermath

It is worthwhile to compartmentalize Donald Trump’s two-pronged approach to dealing with Iran.

On the one hand, the president’s decision to kill Iranian Revolutionary Guard commanding general Qassem Solemaini took courage. I applaud the death of this killer, the man responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of U.S. service personnel.

On the other hand, Iran has responded with two strikes against U.S. military targets in Iraq. No one seems to know the extent — if any –of American casualties. The Iranians took immediate responsibility for the missile launches.

The president has said he struck at Solemaini because of “imminent” attacks on U.S. targets. He said he intended to prevent a war. The effect might be the start of one.

We now up to our collective necks in an international crisis that well might evolve into all-out war with Iran. Just think that the president campaigned for the office on a pledge to pull us out of “endless, needless” war in the Middle East.

What now? What is the consequence of this attack on the Iranian military leader? Are we headed toward another war from which we cannot extricate ourselves? Are we engaged in any serious diplomatic initiatives to try to fend off the bloodshed that might be the inevitable result?

I have to ask, too, about Donald Trump’s credibility. I happen to disbelieve practically anything he says about ‚Ķ anything!¬†

Imminent attack? What in the world is the president talking about?

We are witnessing a fearsome set of events. Iran has done what it said it would do after the killing of Qassem Solemaini. Are we now going to do what Donald Trump has threatened to do, which is hit Iran harder than they’ve ever been hit?

Does the president of the United States have a plan? I am glad the Iranian general is dead. I am worried now — along with the rest of the world — about the consequence that might result.

Now it’s the ‘Obama-Biden administration’

Did anyone other than me notice something a bit different coming from the Donald Trump administration’s criticism of policies put forward by the Obama administration?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the Sunday morning news/talk show circuit to explain Trump’s decision to kill Iranian terrorist leader Qassem Solemaini with an air strike in Baghdad, Iraq.

He kept referring — get ready for it! — the mistakes made by the “Obama-Biden administration.” Do you get it? Pompeo is now trying to link former Vice President Joe Biden to former President Barack Obama. Why is that? Well, it appears to me that the Trump team believes the former VP is going to be the Democratic Party presidential nominee later this year.

It’s a subtle tactic to demonize a political foe. Do I think the demonization is valid? No. I do not. I do not believe Iran’s standing as a terrorist state is the result of mistakes made during the Obama administration.

That won’t preclude Donald Trump’s key administration and campaign aides from employing this little game of rhetorical mumbo-jumbo. It has begun already.

Recall Einstein’s projection about ‘WW IV’

An excellent analysis on Politico.com suggests that Iran isn’t likely to trigger an overarching armed conflict in the Middle East in reaction to the death of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Sulemaini on orders from Donald Trump.

The Iranians are blustering about a severe response to Sulemaini’s death in a U.S. air strike. Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, believes Iran will back off and will not provoke a conflict that would fester into a third world war.

Read his essay here.

It goes without saying that I hope he’s right. I’ll say it anyway: I hope he’s right.

I want to look back at a statement attributed to the physicist Albert Einstein, who after contributing to the development of the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project during World War II, offered his view of how future world wars would unfold.

He supposedly said he didn’t know how World War III would be fought, but said he was certain “World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones.”

If ol’ Albert Einstein didn’t say precisely that, the message remains vital if the Iranian mullahs have any ideas about how they intend to react to the death of a killer.

As Takeyh said, the “last thing (the mullahs) need is a costly confrontation with a president willing to do things they once considered unimaginable.”

Some way to change the subject

I don’t know for certain why Donald Trump chose this particular moment to kill an Iranian terrorist leader, but it certainly has yanked the nation’s attention away from the other big story on a lot of Americans’ minds.

That would be the pending impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. Yeah, we still have that matter to settle, too, but back to the crisis of the moment.

The president ordered the air strike that killed Qassem Sulemaini, head of the Revolutionary Guard. The Iranian government is angry. As in fiercely angry, you know? Who can blame ’em? Imagine some hostile power launching an air strike that killed, say, our chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.¬†Sulemaini was, I suppose, the equivalent in Iran. Except that he was a hostile enemy combatant. He was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. service personnel and thousands of others. Therefore, his death is nothing approaching an “assassination.”

However, it has steered our attention away from impeachment. I suppose that’s — politically speaking — good for Trump. He is now dealing with the potential after effects of this surprise hit.

I’ll be candid on this point: Given the stakes involved with a potential Iranian response to Sulemaini’s killing, public discussion about impeachment juxtaposed with the dire peril that might be lurking will seem even more like a partisan exercise than it is already.

I guess my sincere hope at this moment is that the Donald Trump administration is pulling out all the diplomatic stops in an effort to prevent war with Iran. Trump says such an event would be over quickly, and that Iran wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of firepower from the world’s pre-eminent military power. Remember, though, the Bush administration said as much about going to war with Iraq; it didn’t work out that way.

The president did say the other evening that he prefers peace over war. Uh, so do the rest of us, Mr. President. The sooner we can resolve this Iran crisis the sooner we turn our attention to pondering that impeachment trial.