Sunday, January 5, 2020

When in Doubt, Start a War

Death to America!  But say, those new Silverados are pretty sweet, no?

In law school, my criminal law professor used to joke that in Texas, there was a defense to murder known as "he needed killing".   It probably isn't a good legal strategy, but back in the frontier days, when outlaws were, well, beyond the law, gunning down a bad guy who had committed a number of crimes was just an expeditious way of getting things done.   There was no time for capture, trial, and sentencing.  Of course, that sort of frontier justice is now frowned upon in a civilized society.

This fellow from Iran, who I guess was visiting Iraq on a tourist visa, was blown to little bits.  I am not sure why they needed a big Chevy pickup truck (an American icon, no less) to carry his remains to the airport.  They could have used a lunch pail.

It has often been said there are no "good guys" in the Middle East, only whose side you choose to be on.  And in the Sunni/Shia rift, we apparently are on the side of the Sunnis, or at least Wahhabis, in Saudi Arabia.  Nice folks - they kill and dismember journalists who disagree with them.  The Iranians have had their hands in a number of pies, of course, stirring up a shitstorm wherever they go - funding and arming Hamas and other terrorist groups.

But of course, the 9/11 hijackers were, for the most parts, Saudis, as was Osama bin Laden.   Like I said, not a lot of good guys in the Middle East.

But I am not losing any sleep over this fellow who was blown to bits.   He didn't come to Iraq on vacation, but to stir up yet another shitstorm with local Iranian-aligned "militias" who have been taking pot-shots at Americans and storming the embassy.  Sort of like how Hamas launches 400 missiles at Israel and then pretends to be the victim.  Who, me?

But of course, this will mean a tit-for-tat retaliation - continuing the bloody low-level conflict that has been going on in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and even in America since before I was born.  And that was sixty years ago.  My how time flies when you're blowing each other up.  Everyone has been drawn into this mess at one time or another, or been subject to bombings, terrorist attacks, or in the case of the Soviet Union and the United States, long, drawn-out pointless wars.

The Iranians have already demonstrated they can drop bombs on Saudi oil fields using drones, or punch a hole in the side of a tanker with a primitive missile.  Expect more of the same.   A few sunken tankers in the straits of Hormuz, and well, kiss your $2.35 gasoline goodbye.  This could be the triggering event for the next recession - or perhaps yet another way of goosing the economy for another four quarters.  Kinda sorry I sold my Lockheed-Martin stock!   Just kidding.

Some have noted that this could be a crass attempt by Trump to get re-elected, and that is a distinct possibility.  A "War President" tends to get re-elected, as George W. Bush was (and likely he would have been a one-term President if 9/11 never happened).  Not only that, it is an excellent distraction from impeachment, which now seems like a trivial matter on the back burner - at least according to the news.

And of course, the news media is loving all of this.  Ratings are boffo!   Lots of eyeballs to sell to advertisers, and hopefully, more explosive eye-candy videos of burning cars and whatnot for the plebes to lap up.  Beats the hell out of those boring Democratic debates and impeachment hearings!  The Democrats just don't understand the media, which is odd, as most people in the media are Democrats.   Maybe they need to give Nancy Pelosi some Twitter lessons.

For Trump's "base" this move solidifies support.  Granted, most of them can't tell the difference between Iran or Iraq, Sunni or Shiite - and most don't really care, or even care to care.   Trump has created a "shit yea!" moment for his base, and this will really energize the vote in the fall.   Those who were sitting on the fence, perhaps because the vaunted manufacturing jobs haven't come back, or the few that have, haven't had much in the way of high pay (and their pension plans are still in tatters) might be willing to continue with Trump.  The same is true of farmers whose Trump Subsidies haven't quite offset the damage done by tariffs (which are conveniently being removed in an election year).

For middle-of-the-road voters - the majority of Americans - the icing on the cake isn't what Trump did, but how Democrats will respond.   Playing the idiotic game of "Mr. Opposite" they will make loud anti-war statements which will ring hollow once the Iranians blow something - or someone - up.   Once again, the Democrats will be made to look indecisive and weak, while Trump is making bold moves to "defend the country" or whatever.  Poor optics for the Democrats.

In terms of election strategy, it is brilliant.  In terms of geopolitics, maybe less so.  Maybe Trump needs to take a page from the Putin or Saudi playbook, and instead of droning his enemies, put polonium in their soup - or cut them up with a chainsaw and ship the body parts out in dripping diplomatic pouches.  Plausible deniability is the name of the game.   "Gee, sorry your car blew up - maybe it was that defective GM ignition switch deal.  Did you take it in when you got the recall notice?"

Something like that, maybe.