A few rockets more

Somebody just fired a half dozen rockets at another military base in Iraq (Aljazeera, Reuters, DW, Time, The Times of Isreal, ABC), but no one is claiming responsibility.  It’s hard to imagine who would stand to gain from this attack.

We seem to have confirmation that the “imminent threat” posed by Qassem Soleimani being alive was more of a vague unease (Reuters).  According to U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, President Trump figured “there probably could be additional attacks against embassies.”  Who knows?  Coulda been.  Might still could be.  I hope the ‘cooler heads’ at Fox News will continue to prevent Trump from further escalation (Politico, AP).

And the poor Iranian people, who, for a few glorious hours, might have delighted in their government’s brilliant (and fortunate) response to the recent U.S. provocation, are back to protesting after getting confirmation that it was their own military that shot down the passenger plane (BBC) and that their own government made a lame attempt to cover it up.

It seems as if the U.S. and Iranian administrations are simply trying to outdo each other’s ability to tell silly stories.  Based on the level of protests, the Iranians currently seem to be ahead.

 

The U.S. response

So far, the year’s gone something like this:

The U.S. administration decides to publicly blow up the top Iranian military commander (The Hill, Vice News).

In response, Iran gives notice of coming attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq (CNN, USA Today, The Guardian) (a notice for which the U.S. tries to credit its “early warning system” (The Hill, Fox, Daily Wire)!).

The attacks cause minimal damage and Iran notifies the U.S. that this will be their only response (Forbes, CNN, The Guardian).

The U.S. backs down (CNN).

Both nations come away with domestic bragging rights.

A lovely start to the year.

But, what about that plane (BBC, NYT, Intelligencer, Aljazeera, National Post)?

The Iranian response

Iran has just attacked U.S. bases in Iraq in response to the U.S. assassination of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani (CNN, Military.com, The Hill).  The U.S. president seems to be taking it in stride (“all is well…So far, so good!”).  Just as the U.S. did after its attack, Iran has claimed that it doesn’t want war and recommended that the U.S. not retaliate for Iran’s attack (Reuters).  This actually sounds pretty smart to me.  The U.S. can pass some sanctions or whatnot and gracefully back out with a win at this point.  They will have gotten away with a very reckless gambit if they do.  Meanwhile, Iran can buddy up to North Korea with wads of cash and find out what they know about building nuclear weapons (now that their nuclear deal is a fond memory).

It will be pretty horrible if Trump does the only thing he knows how to do and escalates the situation to appease his base.  Now that he’s sending thousands of more troops to the area, the Iranians will have even more targets to choose from (WP, Military.com).  What will that do to oil prices and the economy (CNN), let alone the poor troops being sent off on another fools’ errand?

And what’s with that plane that just crashed?  That is either horrible (if it was just another Boeing failure) or really horrible (if it was deliberate) (CNN, NPR).

Iranian strikes – map by CNN

Suleimani

It seems the United States just assassinated Iran’s top military commander while he was visiting Baghdad airport in Iraq (NYT, CNN, The Hill, Fox, Reuters, Reuters, Reuters, AP, Breitbart, BBC).  The U.S. State Department said it took this action to ‘avoid war’ and make the region safer for Americans and their allies there, and suggested that perhaps now might be a good time for them to leave the area.

Impeachment

Reality in America has bifurcated.  Either a working system of checks and balances has delivered a stinging rebuke to an infantile, lawless, and grossly unqualified head of state, or an evil deep-state system has foolishly and fecklessly lashed out at the one beacon of truth and freedom left in the country.  More likely, the truth is nowhere in the middle.  More likely, it’s just another stupid day in the U.S. of A.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

Triggered

Donald Trump, Jr. is on a book tour with an important message for America.  He wants us to know that half of the country’s citizens are closed-minded, anger-driven, easily-offended buffoons who seek to subvert thoughtful discussion of meaningful topics.  To prove this, he took his message to UCLA, where he was met with peaceful protesters outside his speaking venue, and raucous, unruly, and (according to his girlfriend) poorly-dressed protesters inside, who eventually caused him to leave the stage, flustered (Guardian, Fox, Washington Post, Haaretz, Fox KTVU, KSBY).  He seemed to be very triggered by the right-wing protesters who shut him down.

Oxycotin Blues

Hey–remember that nice family of doctors that created the opioid crisis (Wikipedia, Purdue (not this Purdue)) in the United States and made billions of dollars from it and then named a bunch of museum wings after themselves (Vox, NYT, The Guardian, The Art Newspaper, OpenSecrets News, Forbes) with the drug money they made?  Well, they’ve decided to courageously fix the mess they’ve caused by shuffling their money out of the country (Global News) and declaring bankruptcy (CNN, Vox, CBC, Global News, NYT, Purdue).  Lord, I love the American health care system.