Friday, January 3, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He ordered American troops into, and American civilians out of, the place he said he'd made safer.

Yesterday, Trump ordered the assassination of an Iranian military leader, Qassim Suleimani, who was traveling in Iraq at the time. Trump kept Congress in the dark, and didn't warn allies in the region either.  (Trump did, however, drop hints in advance to his paying guests at Mar-a-Lago. Surprise sneak previews of major government actions is something of a perk for guests at Trump's luxury resort.)

Not telling designated Congressional leaders is illegal, but not informing allies is dangerous, because Iran is all but guaranteed to respond with violence. And reprisals are most likely to happen in the Middle East, rather than on American soil. 

Today, Trump tried to insist that Americans were safer with Suleimani dead. "Under my leadership," he declared from his vacation resort, "the world is a safer place."

But at the same time, he was ordering at least 3,500 additional American troops into the Middle East, with more likely on the way, in anticipation of counterattacks. And the State Department today urgently warned Americans to leave Iraq—previously a relatively safe area—immediately. Americans were warned not to even approach the U.S. Embassy, which is an extremely secure compound in Baghdad.

Why should I care about this?

  • Voters who believed Trump when he said he would get the United States out of "endless wars" in the Middle East probably didn't want him to start a new one.
  • It's wrong to say things are "safer" when your government is clearly preparing for things being more dangerous.
  • Presidents are not above the law.