Strike Proves Trump's Iran Strategy has been a Catastrophic Failure

 On Thursday, Donald Trump ordered a drone strike at the airport in Baghdad that killed the second most powerful man in Iran and the commander of Iranian forces, Qassim Suleimani. There is little doubt that Suleimani was responsible for multiple attacks on US troops and interests in the region. He was also behind the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq that the Iraqi military is often powerless against.

Nevertheless, the strike against a high ranking official of a state - as opposed to a terrorist figure - brings with it additional implications and the high possibility of retaliatory attacks. The Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks approves military action against terrorist organizations but not states, and the subsequent 2002 authorization applied only to Iraq.

Speaker Pelosi released a statement saying that Congress has not authorized the use of force against Iran, and demanded that Congress be immediately briefed on the administration’s strategy to deal with the coming blowback, assuming it has one.

There are no reasonable interpretations of Trump’s actions other than that he is attempting to start a full scale war with Iran with no Congressional authorization in an attempt to turn attention away from an upcoming impeachment trial, and from his abject failure on the policy front that has him trailing Democrats by double digits for re-election.

After all, it was Donald Trump who first thought of starting a war with Iran as an election strategy (always a tweet).

But let’s not forget what this strike - even if one assumes the best of intentions, one thing Trump has never shown -demonstrates: a spectacular failure of Trump’s and the GOP’s Iran strategy.

When President Obama brought together an international alliance to put pressure on Iran and negotiated a nuclear deal that would have put a nuclear weapon out of the hands of the Iranian regime for the foreseeable future, Republicans nearly unanimously objected to the measure. The deal, which also eased some economic sanctions on Iran as international inspectors verified compliance, was trashed by Republicans and right wing media for being weak.

In a show of not just disapproval of policy but deep disrespect and contempt for President Obama, the then-Republican Congress invited a foreign leader - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - to undermine American foreign policy on the floor of the United States Congress.

The Republican policy on Iran insisted heavily that the sanctions must stay, the nuclear deal must go.

Donald Trump campaigned against the Iran deal, and on May 8, 2018, Trump withdrew the United States from it. Then in November of 2018, Trump reimposed the sanctions. At the time, the Trump White House claimed that the sanctions would keep Iran from funding militias and terrorism to advance its interests in the region. The announcement featured a comment from Donald Trump making that exact claim: “The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda,” Trump said then.

And yet, barely a year after that, the Trump administration now says it was necessary to kill top military leader of Iran because of how well Iran is doing in advancing its agenda in the region. Obviously, Trump’s withdrawal from the Obama Iran deal has made Iran much more dangerous, and his sanctions have failed to meet his stated goal.

That failure, combined with a foreign and military policy with zero strategic planning and forethought, now has the high potential to turn into a catastrophe for the United States and the region.

Donald Trump’s removal from office can’t come soon enough.

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