The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, January 03, 2020

Right Back Where They Started

In 2015, Barack Obama muscled through the most naive and stupid foreign policy move of a presidency that was distinguished by naive and stupid foreign policy moves. He decided to appease the mad mullahs who run Iran and accept their promise that they wouldn't build nukes, hoping against hope that they would moderate their hegemonic behavior throughout the Middle East. To encourage the deal, he released about $150 billion held because of Iran's bad behavior and then sent cash bribes that are estimated at over a billion dollars in the dead of night. That money has been used to fund Iran's terror network in Iraq, Lebabon, Syria, and North Africa, including the group of Islamist militants who attacked our embassy this week.

I consistently opposed the "Iran Deal" (e.g., here, here, and here) and castigated Democrats for accepting a catastrophically bad arrangement. Today, that's water under the bridge.

Although this week's attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad failed, you'd think the leftist media were on the side of the Mad Mullahs. Left-wing commentators responded with glee, calling the attack "Trump's Benghazi." Nothing could be further from the truth, but that never stops the trained hamsters. When the Benghazi analogy was dismissed as absurd by serious observers (i.e., there was NO penetration of the embassy, NO ONE was injured or killed, a U.S. ambassador was NOT murdered, U.S. military personal were rushed into action immediately), the hamsters moved on to mischaracterizing the success of the attack and the origins of the people who participated. Erielle Davidson writes:
The New York Times has labeled the attackers “mourners” responding to the U.S. strikes, while the front page of the first Washington Post edition of 2020 labeled them “protesters.” The latter is a particularly pernicious mislabeling. The media has done its best to conflate the attacks with anti-Iran protests that have been happening across Iraq for the last three months, but of course those actual protesters are pro-Iraqi sovereignty demonstrators fed up with the corruption and the broad perception that the Iraqi government is controlled by Iran.

Confirming exactly that accusation, the Iraqi government has repeatedly attacked the anti-Iran protesters, killing hundreds and wounding thousands, while giving a free pass and ready access to the Iran-backed fighters who stormed our embassy.

The media’s goal is to characterize the protests as a wholesale rejection of Trump’s policies in the region, hence the wall-to-wall disinformation about mourning and protesting. What’s actually at stake is Obama’s legacy. The Iran Deal was a bargain in which Iran would be handed control over the Middle East in exchange for some temporary limitations on nuclear activities.
Despite the media's attempts to give a victory to Iran, the embassy attack was a debacle for the mullahs. Richard Fernandez (@wretchardthecat) discusses this in a series of tweets:
1/ Could Benghazi have been saved? That counterfactual can never be settled definitively. But the present case demonstrates the embassy assault tactic cannot be repeated ad infinitum. The amazing thing was there were some, even among the punditry, who thought that it could.

2/ The idea that what worked against Carter, what worked against Obama would always work proved false. The ayatollahs will probably try something different next time.

3/ Winston Churchill once said there was no more exhilarating feeling than to be shot at and missed. Conversely there is nothing worse than to shoot at your sworn enemy and publicly miss. The ayatollahs have committed the ultimate diplomatic crime and walked out empty handed.

4/ If the object was to teach the US not to strike back at Iranian proxy bombers the exercise also failed. Things are right back where they started: the low level conflict and the strangling sanctions continue.
And that's the reality of the Middle East. Things always wind up "right back where they started." With the exception of Israel, a liberal democracy (that incredibly, leftists love to hate) the region is a mess, ruled by corrupt and ruthless theocrats, dictators and a collection of bad actors who will never do right by their people. History indicates that we should limit our involvement in the region as much as is possible. Donald Trump gets that while the foreign policy elites do not. It's worth noting those same elites have been consistently wrong about the region and our strategies associated with it.


Every strike and countertstrike has risks, but there are times when the risks must be taken in an attempt to decapitate an enemy. Donald Trump took that risk last night when he ordered an air strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, "commander of Iran’s elite Quds force and architect of its growing military influence in the Middle East."

Unlike the previous administration that preferred no action and/or capitulation as the Iranians ran roughshod over the region. Trump has decided to react aggressively to Iran's provocations. The Democrats, not surprisingly, are clutching their pearls warning against such moves, and Trump had shown great restraint in dealing with Iran up to now. No more, it appears.

In my view that's a good thing. When a bad actor—and Iran is a bad actor—thinks it can act with impunity, bad things continue too happen. That will probably be the case in any event, but now Iran understands that its actions carry risks as well.