By Robert A. Vella
This morning, the mainstream news media reported that President Trump overrode war-hawks in his administration who planned to launch a military strike against Iran purportedly in retaliation for the downing of a U.S. drone in international airspace (Iran claims the drone and another U.S. aircraft violated its territorial airspace, see: Trump warned Tehran the U.S. was about to strike, called for talks – Iranian officials). The news stories reported just the apparent facts without much in-depth analysis which unintentionally or not presented the image of thoughtful president exercising caution about starting a war. However, such analysis is absolutely necessary to understand what’s behind this incident.
First of all, the image of a thoughtful and cautious President Trump is laughable. He has never exhibited such traits throughout his business and political careers – quite the contrary, in fact. Trump has always been an impulsive, frequently irrational, and egomaniacal leader. So, what’s really behind his pseudo-restraint on Iran?
What Trump did here is known as a feint. Typically, the term refers to a common military strategy or tactic where one side fakes an attack in one direction to divert enemy defenses away from a real attack in a different direction (e.g. General Norman Schwarzkopf’s plan for Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War of 1990-1991). Feints aren’t generally effective as a diplomatic strategy because the underlying intent is far more transparent. It’s analogous to someone who threatens to punch you unless you obey them versus someone who fakes a punch with their left hand while actually punching you with their right hand.
I’m not suggesting here that Trump does not intend to attack Iran. Someone who threatens to punch you may indeed end up punching you. But, I am asserting that Trump is trying to bully Iran first to extricate himself from an escalating conflict which he is solely responsible for instigating.
After Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran Nuclear Agreement, unilaterally enacted harsh economic sanctions against Iran, and began encouraging Iran’s archenemies in the Middle East (Israel and Saudi Arabia), that effective peace deal fell apart and Iran retaliated by restarting its uranium enrichment program to build nuclear weapons. Now, we are on the precipice of war; but, Trump would still prefer to get what he wants through intimidation only.
So far, Iran’s leaders are not backing down. The key to what might eventually happen rests with Vladimir Putin. If Russia stands firm in support of Iran, the situation could get very complicated. If it vacillates, Iran would be left alone and vulnerable.
Related story, from: Senate Votes to Block Trump’s Arms Sales to Gulf Nations in Bipartisan Rebuke
WASHINGTON — The Senate voted to block the sale of billions of dollars of munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, in a sharp and bipartisan rebuke of the Trump administration’s attempt to circumvent Congress to allow the exports by declaring an emergency over Iran.
In three back-to-back votes, Republicans joined Democrats to register their growing anger with the administration’s use of emergency power to cut lawmakers out of national security decisions, as well as the White House’s unflagging support for the Saudis despite congressional pressure to punish Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the killing in October of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
While the Democrat-controlled House is also expected to block the sales, Mr. Trump has pledged to veto the legislation, and it is unlikely that either chamber could muster enough support to override the president’s veto.
Unsanitary conditions at the border
The Trump administration went to court this week to argue that migrant children detained at the United States-Mexico border do not require basic hygiene products like soap and toothbrushes in order to be in held in “safe and sanitary” conditions. Trump’s team also argued that requiring minors to sleep on cold concrete floors in crowded cells with low temperatures similarly fulfilled that requirement.
Arguing in a 9th district San Francisco court about the conditions that they must hold migrant children in, the administration said that they did not violate a precedent set by a landmark 1985 class action lawsuit which established guidelines for the way minors held in federal immigration detention must be treated. The case, Jenny Lisette Flores v. Edwin Meese, created rules around the timely release of migrant minors to their parents, and said that those not released must be kept in facilities that are “safe and sanitary.”
The privatization of police
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed a bill into law to allow a Presbyterian church to have its own police force.
The law approved during the most recent legislative session gives Briarwood Presbyterian Church and its private school on the same campus the ability to hire private police officers who can make arrests if crimes are committed on the property, according to The Associated Press.
The police will have the same powers as regular police.