Monday, January 13, 2020

Searching For Intelligence

This headline in the Washington Post can be interpreted in several ways:

Senior administration officials struggle to explain intelligence behind killing of Soleimani

Yeah, I get it that they’re talking about what the spies and drones knew and when they knew it and what they delivered to the Situation Room.  We all saw “Dr. Strangelove.”  But it also brings up the impression that no one really knew who was the brains behind this.

We all agree that Soleimani was a bad guy in the service of a sworn enemy, and getting him off the board was advantageous in strictly tactical terms.  But was it necessary and did he pose an imminent threat, any more than say Kim Jung-un, with whom Trump has been sending birthday cards?  The reality is that the people who were in favor of taking him out cannot agree on who said what and who called the shots, and more importantly, there wasn’t anyone who had the courage to say to Trump that this extreme measure was a lizard-brained response, most likely motivated by the fact that it was, consciously or otherwise, a reaction to the articles of impeachment.  The fact that the administration notified Congress after the fact  — something the Republicans raised holy hell when a Democrat does that — tells us that this was a get-back for the congressional leadership having the nerve to question the executive branch.  The attack notice was classified, probably because it started off with “Neener, neener.”

Trump would not be the first to make up shit about an adversary to justify doing something extreme — does the Gulf of Tonkin strike a familiar chord? — and the timing is always suspicious; Republicans have been swift to point out that Bill Clinton launched an airstrike in Iraq as his impeachment trial got underway.  But in the case of Trump, he lies about everything and with such alacrity that it reminds one of the time the perpetual drunk driver plows into a parked car and claims that this time he hadn’t touched a drop.  And his Obama Derangement Syndrome is so overwhelming that he will find anything at all anywhere to bring his predecessor down regardless of the cost because he knows he will never be as well-liked, admired, and as cool.

We have yet to learn the lesson that combining military strategy with political ambition is a formula that is doomed to end in body counts.