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Quote of the Day

From the New York Times, by Jonathan Stevenson:

“Unfortunately, Secretary Pompeo has succeeded precisely because he seems to have few if any principles that he won’t suppress for the sake of holding and wielding executive power. The Ed McMahon of American foreign policy, he is smart enough to be in on the Trump joke, doesn’t care that it’s not funny and laughs anyway.”

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1

Trump: “Who Do You Believe? Me or Your Lying Ears?”

From the Washington Post:

President Trump lashed out Sunday night at the news media for reporting that he would meet with Iranian leaders with “no conditions” — something Trump has said on camera at least twice and that senior administration officials repeated to reporters just last week.

“The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Conditions.’ That is an incorrect statement (as usual!),” Trump wrote to his more than 64 million Twitter followers.

In fact, Trump said as much during a June 23 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” after host Chuck Todd asked if he had a message to deliver to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, about his country’s potential development of a nuclear weapon.

“You can’t have a nuclear weapon. You want to talk? Good. Otherwise you can have a bad economy for the next three years,” Trump said.

“No preconditions?” Todd asked.

“Not as far as I’m concerned. No preconditions,” Trump replied.

That echoed Trump’s comments at a July 30, 2018, joint news conference at the White House during a visit by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Asked about a potential meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Trump said: “I believe in meeting. I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don’t know if they’re ready yet.”

“I’m ready to meet anytime they want to,” Trump added. “No preconditions. If they want to meet, we’ll meet.”

During a briefing at the White House on Tuesday, both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that Trump remained open to such talks.

“The president has made clear, he’s happy to take a meeting with no preconditions,” Mnuchin told reporters.

“The president’s made it very clear: He is prepared to meet with no preconditions,” Pompeo said shortly afterward.

 

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President* Trump Just Stumbled Into, Then Out of, a War With Iran

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.”

Consistency.

Discipline.

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.

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Uh, Oh. Get Ready for a New Secretary of State

From CNN:

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pompeo was asked by host Jake Tapper whether he believes North Korea remains a nuclear threat.

Yes,” Pompeo replied. Trump and Kim are set to hold a second summit in Vietnam this week.

When pressed about Trump no longer seeing North Korea as a nuclear threat, Pompeo said that’s not what Trump said.

“What he said was the efforts that had been made in Singapore, this commitment that Chairman Kim made, have substantially taken down the risk to the American people,” Pompeo said. “We’re aiming to achieve that.”

The president has maintained that North Korea is on the path to get rid of its nuclear weapons and at times has said there is no nuclear threat from the hermitic nation. On June 13, Trump tweeted, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.“

 

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“Oy. The big guy isn’t going to like that.”