Sunday, January 5, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He found an interesting way to get the United States out of the "endless war" in Iraq.

Trump ended the seventeen-day Florida segment of his holiday vacation today, although not before getting in one visit to the golf course (his thirteenth of the trip). He has observed what, for Trump, is an eerie radio silence today, tweeting only once before 7 p.m. and avoiding reporters in a situation where he normally tries to find a camera. 

The reason for the reticence is probably that he managed to lose Iraq and Iran on the same day.

Trump's assassination of the Iranian military leader Qassim Soleimani took place on Iraqi soil. Soleimani had been visiting the anti-ISIS militias that Iran had supported in recent years. Today, the Iraqi parliament—which until now had welcomed American troops—voted to expel them. It is a stunning rejection by a democratically elected government that the United States essentially founded, even as Trump administration officials begged Iraqi legislators not to go through with it.

The vote, taken by under interim leadership, is not legally binding until it's ratified by a permanent government. But as the State Department announced today, the deteriorating relationship with the formerly friendly Iraqi government has forced the United States to abandon its own anti-ISIS partnerships in the country.

Asked about the vote on the way back to Washington, Trump responded with a threat to impose sanctions "like they've never seen before ever" on Iraq. Again, Iraq's government was (at least until today) a strategic ally of the United States.

Also today, Iran announced it would no longer restrict the amount of enriched uranium—which can be used to make nuclear weapons—that it would produce. Under the 2015 deal brokered between the United States, Iran, and five other countries, Iran was abiding by strict limits on the amount and type of nuclear fuel it was producing. Even after Trump yanked the United States out of the agreement in 2018 and reimposed economic sanctions—gaining nothing but the ability to say he had done so, and threatening America's closest military allies for not following suit—Iran continued to comply. 

So what?

  • It's bad to give an enemy nation an excuse to develop nuclear weapons.
  • When voters heard Trump say he wanted to pull the United States out of "endless wars," they probably didn't think he meant by having a formerly friendly government kick us out.