Wednesday, January 8, 2020

After Soleimani Killing, Suddenly the US Is Alone - By Thomas Luongo

The silence is deafening. The lack of response from U.S. allies around the world to President Trump’s assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani tells you things have fundamentally changed.
Normally when something like this happens the U.S. has all of its allies lined up with statements at the ready. A gaggle of the usual suspects behind lecterns pledging support replete with the requisite hand-wringing and virtue signaling.
That didn’t happen this time. Only arm-twisting by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cajoled a few lukewarm responses from European allies stunned by Trump’s violations of International Law and escalation of hostilities.
It’s clear Trump stunned them into silence.
Because they know the world is more dangerous today than it was a week ago.
Pompeo’s whining that no one believed the White House’s ludicrous talking point that this strike was done to prevent a war rather than start one, betray epic levels of fatuousness.
But, make no mistake, Miracle Whip Mike got everything he wanted here.
The strategic errors the Trump Administration has piled up over the past twenty months since abandoning the JCPOA have reached a breaking point, especially with Europe.
Europe has taken the brunt of Trump’s belligerence with Iran and Russia.
Their businesses have suffered. Their energy security is threatened. The neocons have humiliated them and treated them like chattle. And to this point Europe’s leadership has been up to the task playing the part.
It’s obvious the Necons’ policy is to leverage Trump’s America Uber Alles mentality to get everything they want to subjugate Russia, China and Iran.
Trump’s instincts are the right ones, avoiding open warfare. Substituting economic leverage for tanks in the streets is still war, however.
Just because you don’t define it as war doesn’t mean it isn’t war.
Trump’s mistakes come from his believing sanctions are legitimate tools of terror, while simultaneously holding that Soleimani’s tools are not.
And that can no longer be an excuse to absolve him of the strategic and tactical errors he’s manipulated into by his staff or takes upon himself.
Pompeo’s whining about Europe betrays a solipsism and narcissism that reflects Trump’s madness and frustration. No amount of pressure on Iran seems to get the desired results.
He sees their attacks on U.S. troops as personal affronts and thinks raising his threats to existential levels will finally make people see he’s serious.
Iran knew he was serious three years ago. It didn’t deter them. If anything, their discretion in the face of open hostility only emboldened Trump to go farther.
But now he’s just a madman with nukes, being pulled by betrayal, frustration, anger and fear towards making even more dangerous decisions than the ones he’s already made.
Because, when you realize that Soleimani was in Baghdad to deliver Iran’s opening terms for a negotiated peace with Saudi Arabia, this attack was a blunder.
When you further realize that Soleimani was there at Trump’s behest with Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi as broker, this attack looks like patently insane.
Last resolution:
-A complaint to UN for #US target assassinations in #Iraq
-Impose on the gov to terminate the request of support from the interntnll coalition (all countries)
-End presence of ALL foreign forces and to prevent any country from using Iraq against another country
— Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai) January 5, 2020
Soleimani was in Baghdad to begin the peace process, again, at Trump’s request. He was uniquely positioned within the Iranian government to handle said negotiations because of his position as head of the IRGC Quds Forces.
If he brought these terms to the table, the militias and proxies he trained and tacitly commands would take them far more seriously than if they were brought by President Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani represents, to them, the failed diplomacy that led to the current crisis, thinking the U.S. would honor their deals.
So, the meeting between Soleimani and the Iraqi Prime Minister would have been a major opportunity for peace.
But as we know, the U.S. is Not Agreement Capable, in the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Remember what both Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov have said about the U.S. It is ‘not agreement capable.’ Any deal made with the U.S. government or military will be broken at the earliest possible opportunity to further its goals.
So, now the question is why did this happen? What’s the rationale here?
A New York Times article detailed the situation in the White House in the days leading up to Trump’s decision. It reads like a Pentagon whitewash of its role in creating the atmosphere which led to Soleimani’s death.
It paints the picture of a president sinking into madness as the ‘attacks’ on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad unfolded.
It tries to deflect all the blame onto Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence were two of the most hawkish voices arguing for a response to Iranian aggression, according to administration officials. Mr. Pence’s office helped run herd on meetings and conference calls held by officials in the run-up to the strike.
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and General Milley declined to comment for this article, but General Milley’s spokeswoman, Col. DeDe Halfhill, said, without elaborating, that “some of the characterizations being asserted by other sources are false” and that she would not discuss conversations between General Milley and the president.
But the big takeaway from this article isn’t just that the Pentagon is looking to deflect blame from Defense Secretary Mark Esper and CIA Director Gina Haspel onto Trump.
The big takeaway from this article is the Pompeo/Pence narrative of Soleimani was imminently primed to attack U.S. diplomatic targets was complete fiction.
Unwritten by the Times but lurking between the words is who was really behind this narrative, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s clear over the past six months Netanyahu couldn’t accept the idea of peace breaking out around him. He consistently pushed the envelope of Israel’s belligerence into Iraq over the opening of the Iraq/Syria border crossing.
Now the Saudis were wavering? This cannot stand. War with Iran must happen.
This is the most likely scenario that pushed Trump into this action with Pompeo, Esper and Haspel feeding him a steady diet of, at best, misleading information. Trump then does what Trump does best when the game gets too hard to figure out.
He filps the table.
Netanyahu worked so hard to manipulate events and people to get to that point. He needs a win back home to show voters he is the man to bring Israel salvation through the studious application of American exceptionalism.
Now, that he’s done so, he is abandoning Trump after pushing him into the pit.
BREAKING: Netanyahu told security cabinet that Israel wasn’t involved in the killing of Soleimani and stressed “it is a U.S. event and we should stay out of it”, according to 2 cabinet ministers who attended the meeting
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) January 6, 2020
So, given all of this, is anyone surprised the leadership in Europe isn’t happy here? They were instrumental in getting Iran to the table to agree to the JCPOA, which Israel was livid about.
It was in everyone’s interest for the deal to work, especially Iran’s.
Iran got sanctions relief and much-needed investment. Its heavy water reactor became a strong source of revenue. Europe got access to cheap Iranian oil and gas through that investment, securing its energy needs.
Moreover, with the deal in place, the undoing of the U.S./Israeli/Saudi plan to atomize Syria by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah ended the flow of refugees into Europe and began stabilizing the region.
That only happens because of the JCPOA.
Trump’s entire foreign policy is based on antagonizing everyone and subjugating them through dollar weaponization and energy dominance. That’s been his modus operandi.
He aligned himself with Israeli interests from the outset because 1) he wanted to and 2) it was the path of least resistance for him to stay in power.
At every critical juncture of his presidency Trump has knuckled under to the neocons in his office.
The biggest effect of killing Soleimani isn’t Iran’s response or even Iraq’s. Yes, they will impose costs which will change the geopolitical game board. How? We don’t know.
What we do know is this big effect; the realization that everyone around the world is thinking, “Are we next?” So far Trump has accepted no limits on who he will attack with sanctions. There is no rule he’s willing to breach.
The neocons in the Senate now have the ultimate leverage over him — Pelosi’s sham impeachment. The half-men in the Senate like Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio have been at full mast so long thanks to Trump’s bombing they need to see a doctor.
They got him to kill Soleimani, ensuring there will be no peace with Iran.
They’ve begun the upward escalation of tensions which likely ends with an airstrike on Iran’s Fordow Nuclear Facility.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2020
If you don’t think that’s what that tweet means, then have either your eyes or your reading comprehension checked.
Many of Trump’s tweets are nonsense, bluff and bluster to misdirect and/or stir the pot. This has been a clear message he’s sent since the campaign trail.
And this attack on Soleimani was the next step in that process. He’s hoping it brings Iran to the bargaining table.
But it won’t.
And that’s why this only ends with bombing Fordow.
The Israelis and neocons have used Trump’s animus towards Obama and Europe to try to subjugate them as well. It’s not that Europe is praiseworthy or anything. The EU leadership deserves their comeuppance for trying to build an Empire to replace the U.S.
But regardless of whether the EU sucks or not, this incident is your point of no return in U.S./European relations. They have no choice but to slowly back away from the insane man in the White House and break bread with the sober one in the Kremlin.
This has cost the U.S. whatever moral status it has with the rest of the world. It stands alone now.
The only deals Trump will get from here on out are ones that don’t matter. He’s set the U.S. squarely on the path to its own destruction as the world realizes the cost of doing business in the dollar just rose immensely.
I’ve been looking for that moment where Europe makes the decision to move out of the U.S.’s orbit and into Russia’s. Their silence tells me this was it.

For more of my thoughts on this subject and why Europe will abandon Trump and the U.S. listen to my latest Podcast here.
Reprinted with permission from Gold Goats ‘n Guns.
Publisher of the Gold Goats n Guns. Ruminations on Geopolitics, Markets and Goats.
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