Friday 3 January 2020

The Roaring Twenties begins

No one wants the British and Americans to keep out of war in the Middle East more than I do, and no-one sees less need in principle for conflict with Iran, but Iran gave Donald Trump no alternative. He had avoided rising to repeated provocations.

I do not mourn Soleimani but I suppose it unquestionably was murder. Moral theologians, please advise.


  1. I do not mourn Soleimani but I suppose it unquestionably was murder. Moral theologians, please advise.

    Not just murder, but a cynical re-election ploy by Trump. Trump's base will eat this up.

    The U.S. disgusts me more and more.

    Of course if there is war then Britain, America's faithful lapdog, will join in.

  2. #Pentagon statement on targeted killing of #suleimani:
    1. It mentions that it aimed at “deterring future Iranian attack plans”. This however is very vague. Future is not the same as imminent which is the time based test required under international law.
    5:32 AM · Jan 3, 2020·Twitter for iPhone
    2. Overall, the statement places far greater emphasis on past activities and violations allegedly commuted by Suleimani. As such the killing appears far more retaliatory for past acts than anticipatory for imminent self defense.
    3. The notion that Suleimani was “actively developing plans” is curious both from a semantic and military standpoint. Is it sufficient to meet the test of mecessity and proportionality?
    4. The statement fails to mention the other individuals killed alongside Suleimani. Collateral? Probably. Unlawful. Absolutely.

    Agnes Callamard
    Director, Global Freedom of Expression, Columbia University; UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions.

  3. Nothing I have said is meant to state definitively whether the Soleimani strike was lawful or not, under domestic or international law. The issue is complicated and contested—much more so than I have outlined here. But despite these complications and contestations, the executive branch will have an easy time justifying the strike under extant opinions, because for many years it has staked out ever-broader theories of presidential uses of force under both domestic and international law. Both parties in Congress have gone along with this expansion of presidential war power, especially with regard to the complex Middle East wars.

    In short, our country has—through presidential aggrandizement accompanied by congressional authorization, delegation, and acquiescence—given one person, the president, a sprawling military and enormous discretion to use it in ways that can easily lead to a massive war. That is our system: One person decides.

    Jack Goldsmith,
    Professor at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Lawfare, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution
    Friday January 3, 2020

  4. In 1956, Britain and France overplayed their hand in Egypt and underrated their American friends and rivals. The United States may now be marching determinedly and foolishly toward its equivalent of the Suez Crisis — except this time, it will be America’s enemies who expose the hollowness of failed empire. For what will Donald Trump do if Putin does in Iraq what he did in Syria, and aligns with Iran?

    Dominic Green

    1. I don't agree that the USA is weak in the way that we were in 1956.

    2. Had it not been for Eisenhower's decision to win votes by sabotaging England and France in 1956 the pro-British monarchies in Iraq and Libya would have survived. Had the Arabs defeated the Jews in 1948 I suppose Nasser would not have overthrown the Egyptian monarchy, for that matter.


    Three pretty likely consequences: Washington has begun its last foreign war and Trump’s future is in Tehran’s hands. Iran’s reaction will completely surprise Washington for the simple reason that smart people are smarter than stupid arrogant ignorant people.

    Some questions:
    Given that a large number of Israelis have dual citizenship, how many will stay when the rockets start to fall?
    What will Washington do when (not if) the Iraqi government orders all US troops out?
    But, it’s not August 1914: China and Russia will keep out and, one hopes, will have the good taste not to laugh out loud at this monstrous error.
    One might suggest that Washington finish a few wars before starting a new one: on the 25th, Washington and its minions will have been in Afghanistan for twice as long as the Soviets were.

    Patrick Armstrong

    1. I had not heard of him and googled him. I found this.

      "Russia Observer is the site of Patrick Armstrong, a former analyst in the Canadian Department of National Defense. He writes a column on some current issue every week or so, plus a useful biweekly "SitRep" covering many issues in terse style. His orientation as follows:

      "'[T]he predominant theme of my career was that we had a great opportunity when the USSR disappeared to make a more cooperative world. Instead, we have steadily turned Russia into an enemy – and a much more capable one than we casually assumed in the 1990s.

      "'So here we are today. Paying for our arrogance, incompetence and maybe worse.'

      "'But I haven't given up hope.'

      "Everything Armstrong does is first-rate. His work also appears at Strategic Culture, a Russophile site that publishes dozens of authors of multifarious perspectives, but with a commonality that none is a fan of the U.S."

    2. What I hope will happen is that Donald Trump will command more respect from countries in the Middle East and succeeds in disentangling America from the region, leaving Russia and Iran to sort out Syria and possibly even Iraq. Does this make sense?

  6. Funny how Trump frantically and repeatedly accused Obama of preparing for war with Iraq in 2013 so Obama could improve his own political fortunes. And now here we are.

    1. Yes, I agree - history is full of such ironies. I sympathise with Trump 1 and agree that Trump now wants political capital from this assassination, but understand the need to use a big stick. I agree with Pat Buchanan that going to war no longer wins votes - at least I hope Pat Buchanan is right.
      The fact that people I admire like Ron Paul, Tucker Carlson, Peter Hitchens and many others think the assassination wrong gives me pause.