Pulling Back From War: Trump and the Politics of De-Escalation
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As “the loudest voice” in the room, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo successfully lobbied for President Trump to authorize the illegal assassination strike against Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. This “victory” proved fleeting, however, considering the risks to this administration’s reelection that accompanied all-out war. A full-blown conflict appeared increasingly likely following Iran’s missile strikes on American bases in Iraq’s Anbar province and in Erbil, so it is understandable for Americans to be surprised by Trump’s reversing course, and with the de-escalation he announced in his latest speech to the nation.
American politics has become increasingly carnivalesque in the era of Trump. Making effective predictions is difficult with a leader this volatile. One day, he’s escalating the conflict with Iran by ordering the assassination of a major state leader. The next, he’s pulling back from the precipice of war, showing restraint by avoiding a full-blown conflict. Despite this schizophrenia, I believe there is a coherent explanation for why Trump reversed course with Iran, and it is directly motivated by fear of public fallout in the face of war.
For one, it’s worth pointing out that the Jekyll and Hyde foreign policy approach has become routine with this President. Trump has a long history of playing chicken with foreign leaders, particularly with regard to potential military conflicts. Consider examples that litter his presidency: 1. The threat to “totally destroy North Korea,” followed by rhetorical overtures in the form of a diplomatic PR meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un; 2. Trump’s “escalation-deescalation” against Syria’s Bashar Assad, via the 2017 bombing of the Shayrat air base. The strike was undertaken in the name of stopping Syria from future use of chemical weapons against its own people. But the bombing was largely symbolic, as it was accompanied by Trump providing Russian and Syrian leaders with advance warning, and which wrought minimal damage on the Syrian government’s military capabilities; 3. Trump’s back-and-forth with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which he repeatedly insisted, despite seeking to avoid a Turkish invasion of Syria, that Erdogan was free to invade, but that Turkey would be forced to take over anti-ISIS operations following its occupation. These examples, in addition to his latest actions with Iran, reveal a picture of a president who thinks that militarism and aggressive posturing are central to maintaining his “credibility” as a strong-man and a decisive leader, even as he has little interest in pursuing all-out wars with foreign adversaries.
Pompeo! What a waste of good oxygen.
“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”
January 10, 2020 at 11:53 PM #248997Jan BoehmermanModerator
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I wonder if Trump still thinks that HE is the one calling the shots?!!
January 11, 2020 at 3:59 PM #249213EarthartistParticipant
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I’m not buying this. All the dc puppets are pushing the anti Iran bs even while claiming trump should have asked congress. The fact is they don’t work for us any more they work for the oil industry arms industry, military contractors, big pharma, big banks and of course Israel. They will now continue to escalate tensions. The neocons want to control the dollar and Russia and China are making this hard, Iran along with Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are a thorn in the side of the empire.
I believe having read other sources like Moon over Alabama and the Saker that this is an interlude only.
On the bright side other countries with the exception of our number 1 puppet have pulled or are pulling their troops out.
January 11, 2020 at 5:04 PM #249226Ohio BarbarianModerator
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This is a good political science analysis as seen through an electoral perspective. Trump really does make his decisions as if he is in a reality TV show to get ratings; I really believe that is how this crazy narcissist sees the world. He does one thing really well–he knows how to read a room.
He saw the room didn’t like his act and so he looked for an exit, which the Iranians provided him.
It’s not as fun as a good CT, but banal people like Trump seldom make good ones.
It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs
You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton
January 12, 2020 at 10:26 AM #249447GoldfishParticipant
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Deep down in his warped little mind, Trump wants to look like a peacemaker so he can win the Nobel Peace Prize. That’s one thing that Obama has, that he doesn’t have, and he wants to show the world that he is better and superior to Obama. He is a megalomaniac.
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