From Esquire, by Charles P. Pierce:
I will grant you that I’m no Mike Pompeo, the Talleyrand of Topeka, but it seems to this untrained eye that, given the events of Thursday night, it would be enormously helpful at the moment to have an actual Secretary of Defense. You know, someone with the undeniable constitutional authority and the political muscle to turn a fire hose on John Bolton whenever Bolton’s mustache starts twitching with bloodlust, and whenever he gets that raging Bomber Harris look in his eye. In that case, at the very least, we would know that the decision to start making war in a place would not depend necessarily on who wins a argument between Bolton and Tucker Carlson.
From The New York Times on Thursday night came the latest news bent on murdering sleep:
As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations. Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries. The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.
The abrupt reversal put a halt to what would have been the president’s third military action against targets in the Middle East. Mr. Trump had struck twice at targets in Syria, in 2017 and 2018. It was not clear whether Mr. Trump simply changed his mind on the strikes or whether the administration altered course because of logistics or strategy. It was also not clear whether the attacks might still go forward. Asked about the plans for a strike and the decision to hold back, the White House declined to comment, as did Pentagon officials. No government officials asked The New York Times to withhold the article.
Make no mistake. I’m overjoyed that, for whatever reason, the United States as yet has not been led, stumbling, into a war with Iran. I don’t really care why, although I’m leaning a little bit in the direction of the president*’s suddenly realizing how much actual work he’d be expected to do as a wartime president. After all, he’s completely lost interest in Venezuela, which was the interventionist fandango of a few months back, and Temporary Hitler Nicolas Maduro is still running things down there because the president* got bored. It did, however, get the Washington Post one fantastic, if anonymous, quote.
“The United States never said that its effort in Venezuela would be limited to one round,” another senior official said. “The administration’s maximum-pressure policy relies upon consistency and discipline to achieve the ultimate goal.”
The planes already were in the air!
I also don’t mean to minimize the coincidence that the attacks got turned off after Vladimir Putin had put out a warning about how catastrophic an attack on Iran might be. But I choose not to think too deeply about the fact that a former KGB thug and imperial wannabe has joined with Tucker Carlson in warning the president* off of what indeed would be a catastrophic decision.
And thus did we not launch yet another devastating conflict in the Middle East, this time over the destruction of a flying video pod. Or at least we haven’t done it yet. My god, it’s Fail Safe in reverse. It’s Dr. Strangelove as a Three Stooges short subject. The age-old question has been answered. Nobody there can play this game.
And at last, we have heard from the president* himself on this very strange affair. From his Twitter thread on the subject.
President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran – Gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus I.8 Billion Dollars in CASH! Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out. Gave them a free path to Nuclear Weapons, and SOON. Instead of saying thank you, Iran yelled Death to America. I terminated deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions. They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Now they are Bust!….On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not….proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!
I am not reassured.
“Don’t worry about a thing,” Trump told interviewer Sean Hannity on Fox News on Wednesday evening. “Everything’s under control.”
Whiplash inducing quote of the day from Sarah Palin’s new tome Going Rogue:
(Palin) pretends no particular familiarity with the Middle East, the Iraq war or Islamic politics — “I knew the history of the conflict,” she writes, “to the extent that most Americans did.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa…wait a cotton pickin’ minute. This is the woman who would have been a heartbeat away from the Presidency and she’s admitting that she shares the same amount of knowledge about these extremely important and volatile areas of the world as the average “Joe Six-Pack”?
For my part, I want someone sitting in the White House who knows a helluva lot more about everything than I do, not as much—or God help us—less.
How many “average” Americans can even find Iraq on the map, much less know the history of its conflict? Yet this is a mere technicality for Palin. No biggie. She’ll just do a quick skim of a position paper on the way to her inauguration. What’s all the fuss about? You liberal-leaning-media types are always carping…..
To this end, I dedicate this ATC to Sarah Palin and her non-existent desire to learn more about the world outside of her little bailiwick—Alaska.