Saturday, January 04, 2020

Race for the White House # 53

The calendar has changed, we are officially having a Presidential election this year and the incumbent remains under Impeachment, with continued confusion about what the next step of the process will be. A foreign policy event also unfolded this week with tremendous potential to have either positive or negative ramifications for all the major figures in the race, but more importantly for American national security itself.

With 2020 being upon us, attention is being paid to campaign fundraising from the last quarter of the last  year. Bernie Sanders is doing extremely well. Elizabeth Warren has been losing steam. This is one of the opposite things I expected. Much like how the claims that various controversial things said by Trump would be the end of his candidacy last cycle, and he survived them all, it appears that Sanders having a heart attack is something that helped him politically. Go figure.

With the first contests being very close, reality set in for at least one candidate, as former Housing Secretary Julian Castro ended his run as the sole Latino candidate in the race. (Richard Ojeda of West Virginia had been the first to drop out eons ago.) His former opponents all saluted his efforts, with Joe Biden, perhaps not too unsurprisingly referring to him as "Cisneros." Spiritual guru Marianne Williamson laid off her entire campaign staff this week but said she is still in the race. Apparently, she will depend on the good spirits to catapult her to a surprise nomination.

On a personal note, I read today that neither Joe Walsh nor Bill Weld filed in Illinois to oppose Donald Trump in my state's Republican primary. The Land of Lincoln is also of course Walsh's home state, but his campaign seems to completely focused on whatever message they can send in Iowa and New Hampshire first. Thus, I feel like I have no choice. This March, for the first time ever, I as a longtime (now former) Republican precinct captain will take a Democrat ballot when I go to vote. I hope I do not lose my lunch in the process. I should probably vote before lunch. Primarily (no pun intended) I want to vote against the incumbent Cook County States' Attorney, and if she is to lose, it will only be in the Democrat primary. However, there will also be a Presidential question on the ballot. I do not know who will still be in the race then, but I guess I will be voting in the "beauty contest" portion for Mike  Bloomberg, the last unpalatable option. The former Mayor of New York is not even fielding delegates in the state though but just hoping to win some via the "popular vote" so to speak in the state. Surprisingly, Pete Buttigieg of neighboring Indiana failed to slate a full compliment of delegates in Illinois. (Andrew Yang did however.)

The big news of the week came out of the Middle East however. General Qassem Soleimani, considered the second most powerful man in Iran was obliterated by an American drone while at the airport in Badghad, Iraq this week on the orders of Donald Trump.

Let me state the obvious. Soleimani was an evil man with the blood of thousands on his hands. His death deserves a standing ovation. The Trump Administration is claiming that this was done because he was preparing an "imminent attack" of Americans within the region. If this is even remotely true, then Trump had no choice but to act. Any President should have and better have done the same thing. Otherwise, not only are facing the aftermath of a deadly attack, but then we are actually in a war with Iran by response .The current President says this was taken to stop a war not to start a war and I pray he is correct. The fact of the matter is that a lot of people simply do not trust a word Donald Trump says and I really cannot blame them for that. This is all very complicated, but we are indeed in a War on Terror since 9/11/01, even if Trump himself has been resisting that reality for decades. Soleimani was clearly behind an assault on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier in the week. Whatever exaggerations Trump may personally engage in regarding this matter (and I have no doubt he will do just that), it seems like the United States did what was necessary.

It is said this is the first time the United States targeted an official general of another country since World War II. That does make this a bit different from all the times that Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump successfully used drones to kill terrorist leaders but the fact of the matter is that this Iranian official was physically and very actively involved in the nation of Iraq and was thus very fair game.

Democrats and many in the media reacted with shock. They claimed we would soon be in World War III or some major conflict with Iran, since Iran is likely to retaliate. Of course, this Administration better prepare for any and all contingencies and hopefully will improve on what I believe has been an inconsistent and incoherent foreign policy. We heard much of the same thing in the past though, such as when Trump rightfully bombed Syrian targets and when he moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to the capital of Jerusalem.

Look, this is much bigger than politics. I remain as NeverTrump as ever. He should still be removed from office. He should still be defeated in November. He ought to resign his office this very minute, but as long as he does have the job, I hope he does whatever is necessary to protect our security and that such efforts are successful. Democrats put themselves at policy and political risk by merely opposing this policy in a knee-jerk action. Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg have put out fairly measured statements, which show fear from taking too strong of a stance one way or another, while preditctably leftists like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are far more critical and willing to accuse Trump of trying to get us into an "endless war."

Trump himself had spoken about "endless wars" himself a good deal in criticizing his predecessors. He know is deploying troops back to the Middle East. Is it too much to ask if he might finally learned a lesson? Probably so. It also cannot be ignored that in 2011 and 2012, Trump frequently claimed Obama would "start a war with Iran to get reelected." Now, the claim is being made against Trump. To some extent he has himself to blame, especially since he is a reelection seeking President with middling to low poll numbers and actually under impeachment. However, considering what is undeniable about Iran, I cannot actually believe this is a totally fabricated "Wag the Dog" scenario. If that is ever proven true, then obviously you can add it to the impeachment. Too many people would have to tell too many big lies though for that to actually happen. I refuse to believe Trump is that effective of an "evil genius." I will also state that as horrible of a person as I continue to believe Trump is and despite many disagreements with his policy statements, especially on foreign policy, he and his team at least have been far more realistic about what Iran is than Obama was.

Americans around the world are certainly at risk of Iranian reprisal but this is not anything new. I think the threat was far greater, especially within the U.S. after the Obama/Biden Administration took out Osama bin Laden. They even spent a political campaign unseemly spiking the football over that, but it was still the right thing to do. Killing terrorist leaders always is. Yes, it would be good to have Congress as part of it, but Congress voted after 9/11 to give the President these authorities. That war has not ended. Our enemies have not announced a cease fire.

I am proud every day of the men and women who wear our country's uniform. Every day though, I remain immensely put-off by their Commander in Chief. While he might have done the right thing this past week, I can imagine he will find a way to talk about it, purely for political purposes, in a way that diminishes the seriousness of this mission. He is trying to get Democrats to walk into a trap. Will they show restraint and intelligence in the process?


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