January 6, 2020
I don’t usually feel that New York Times headlines represent my feelings on an issue, but when I do, they’re written by the right-wing radical anti-Semite Max Fisher.
Truly, no one does know.
And it is so confusing that it almost has induced a form of insanity in a lot of people who have genuinely tried to figure it out.
A day after the assassination, I wrote an article entitled “I Don’t Even Know What is Going On, lol.” I feel the same way today, but worse.
Not having a war doesn’t seem to be the strategy – you don’t really assassinate a country’s number two official if you’re not trying to start a war with them – but nothing is in place for having a war. And short of a draft, no one can explain where the manpower would come from.
“Mad” Max Fisher expresses our collective societal confusion on this issue for the New York Times:
When the United States announced on Friday that it had killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, something about its explanation left many analysts puzzled.
The strike was intended to deter further Iranian attacks, administration officials said. But they also said it was also expected to provoke severe enough attacks by Iran that the Pentagon was deploying an additional several thousand troops to the region.
The apparent contradiction left many experts wondering about the strike’s intended goal, and the strategy behind it.
The next day did little to settle the matter. The strike had been intended to prevent an imminent Iranian attack, officials said publicly. Or to change the behavior of Iran’s surviving leaders. Or to cow those leaders, whose behavior would never change.
Others said privately that President Trump had ordered it in response to television reports of an Iranian-backed siege on the American Embassy compound in Baghdad.
Mr. Suleimani’s killing has left a swirl of confusion among analysts, former policymakers and academics.
And also among right-wing radicals like me and Max Fisher, a vicious Jew hater who is constantly agitating in defense of Hebrew Israelites on Twitter.com.
The United States had initiated a sudden, drastic escalation against a regional power, risking fierce retaliation, or even war.
“There’s not a single person that I’ve spoken to who can tell you what Trump is up to with Iran,” said Ellie Geranmayeh, an analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
It’s not that experts or foreign officials suspect a secret agenda, but that the administration’s action fit no clear pattern or long-term strategy, she said. “It just doesn’t add up.”
This is the situation I’ve experienced.
I’ve been texting and calling everyone I know who knows anything about anything, and no one understands what’s going on with this situation.
The number one response I’ve gotten from people I’ve asked what they think is going on is as follows: “Uhhhhhhhhhh, well, uhhhhhhhh.”
The killing, many say, deepens the uncertainty that has surrounded Mr. Trump’s ambitions toward Iran since he withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear accord and began a series of provocations that he terms maximum-pressure.
The risk, experts say, is that if they cannot figure out the administration’s goals and priorities for Iran, its red lines and points of possible compromise, then foreign governments won’t be able to either.
“Absolutely not,” Ms. Geranmayeh said when asked whether European or Middle Eastern officials, whom she speaks with regularly, understood Mr. Trump’s strategy. “Not even the closest U.S. allies, like in London.”
It makes me feel better to know that, I guess.
Though I already did know that me and my circle of friends are smarter than global government officials.
This imposes a layer of confusion on the conflict, just as it enters a dangerous and volatile new chapter, inviting mixed messages and misread intentions.
“If it’s that hard for us to understand, imagine the Iranians,” said Dalia Dassa Kaye, who directs a Middle East policy center at RAND Corporation, a nonpartisan research group.
Mixed signals, she said, make any effort to shape an adversary’s behavior “incredibly ineffective.” Uncertainty about Mr. Trump’s intentions also increases risks that the conflict could spiral out of control.
Without a clear understanding of what actions will lead the United States to ramp up or ramp down hostilities, she said, Iranian leaders are operating in the dark — and waiting to stumble past some unseen red line.
“That’s what makes this a dangerous situation,” she said.
Trump … has cycled between ambitions of withdrawing from the Middle East, positioning himself as a once-in-a-generation peacemaker and, more recently, promising to oppose Iran more forcefully than any recent president has.
Yeah, the fact that he keeps switching his stated goals back and forth doesn’t make things any easier, I can tell you that much.
He has also been pulled between his advisers, with some urging cautious adherence to the status quo and others arguing for overtly topping Iran’s government.
United States diplomacy has emphasized calls for peace but has conspicuously declined to offer what diplomats call “offramps” — easy, low-stakes opportunities for both sides to begin de-escalating, which are considered essential first steps.
“There’s been no talk of, say, ‘If you do this, then we’ll bring back waivers,’” Ms. Kaye said, referring to American waivers allowing other countries to buy Iranian oil. “‘If you do X, then you’ll get Y.’ There’s been nothing tangible like that.”
Throughout months of proxy conflict, American military responses have ranged from muted or nonexistent — as in the case of an attack on Saudi oil facilities that was believed to be the work of Iran — to extreme escalations like killing Mr. Suleimani.
Even if each action might be defensible on its own, experts and foreign officials have strained to match them with a consistent set of motives and objectives.
Suspicions have deepened that there may be no long-term strategy at all, even among those sympathetic to Mr. Trump’s policies.
Ms. Geranmayeh stressed that the conflict between the United States and Iran also threatens to draw in a host of Middle Eastern and European countries.
To navigate tensions and avoid worsening them, allies and adversaries alike must astutely judge American intentions and anticipate American actions.
All of them, she said, seemed at a loss.
“Most experts and officials that I’ve spoken to from the Middle East, including close allies — Saudi Arabia, Israel — they also can’t tell you with confidence what Trump wants on Iran,” she said.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had already been ramping down tensions with Iran, Ms. Geranmayeh said, “because they have no idea how Trump will behave from one week to the next” and fear getting caught in the middle.
Similar confusion in Tehran, she added, could become “the biggest problem.”
“If Trump is not managing a consistent and clear message to the Iranians about what he wants,” she said, “then this opens up a lot of space for a lot of miscalculation.”
Brett McGurk, who until last year was the administration’s special envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State, warned his former bosses, in an article for Foreign Affairs, that their maximalist demands had left “no plausible on-ramp for Iran to enter negotiations, since nobody, including the Iranians, knows what Iran is supposed to negotiate about.”
Ms. Kaye said Iran might conclude that it should tread with extreme caution. Or it might reason that the United States poses a threat that is both existential and unyielding, compelling Tehran to gamble on taking extreme measures.
“What I’m concerned about is that mixed signals, plus the perception of existential threat,” Ms. Kaye said, “might lead to dramatic steps that we might not have thought possible.”
The idea of a literal war with Iran sounds completely impossible.
But when you have this level of escalation, with no clear objective, you have a situation where there almost has to be a war.
And as the Times piece points out – Iran has no idea what is going on, and so might get to the point where they just decide to go all out and start killing Americans across the Middle East and/or in America.
Conversely, the Jews could stage some kind of false flag attack and blame it on Iran and then force a US bombing, that would lead to terrorist-style payback, that would then lead to an invasion.