If you were choosing very carefully, you wouldn’t select a President who will fly into a rage when he is watching television. You wouldn’t choose anyone who would act almost immediately upon that rage, and who is incapable of sorting out why he should or shouldn’t. You wouldn’t want a person who ushers out of the room anyone who disagrees with him for fear that she or he is closing themselves off from viable options. You wouldn’t entertain the candidacy of an incurious person, or a grudge-nurturer, or anyone whose self-regard monumentally exceeds their skills.
It’s too late! We ended up with such a person. Each week we are wounded anew. We save a place in the darkest part of our hearts for those elected officials who show allegiance for this president. When Donald Trump does the worst of things, we long for any of a score of Republican Senators to intervene.
These Senators slowed down our country’s support of the Saudi’s war in Yemen, and have insisted we maintain economic sanctions on Russia. However, there is no chance at all that they will meaningfully influence Trump’s hugely dangerous approach to Iran. He didn’t ask what they think because he doesn’t care what they think. The War Powers Act of 1973 gives Senators no path to intervene in any timely way.
Nonetheless, there isn’t going to be a war, because Iran is so inferior militarily to the United States that they will not seek it. Instead, in response to the assassination, Iran will destabilize the Middle East way beyond the levels first generated by Dick Cheney’s made up war in 2003. The 5,000 US troops in Iraq will be reduced or removed, and ISIS will be the number one beneficiary. Iran’s hold on Iraq will grow. The remaining constraints embodied in the 2015 nuclear weapons agreement will vanish.
In Dick Cheney’s war, there were three men (besides George W. Bush) who had the standing to slow down Cheney’s momentum and expose the lies regarding weapons of mass destruction — John McCain, Tony Blair, and Colin Powell, who got played by Cheney and regrets it more and more with each year. None of the three stepped forward.
Today, there are also just three that could slow Trump down, and let us get us all the way to the November elections with the world in a single piece. Not Senators. The sycophantic Mitch McConnell and the surprisingly obsequious Lindsay Graham aren’t close to making the list. Not cabinet officials — Trump’s support for Mike Pompeo doesn’t stem from him being challenged by his Secretary of State. Who did you say is Secretary of Defense?
First, there is Rupert Murdoch’s son James, who now runs Fox News. Since the plan to assassinate started with Trump watching Fox News’ accounts of protesters at the embassy, it seems fitting that the last word could ultimately fall to Fox. The company is seeking a little distance from Trump. There is no question they are recalibrating, albeit very slowly. Second, there is Benjamin Netanyahu. He needs these conflicts to have certain constraints.
Most importantly, there is Vladimir Putin. Angela Merkel is flying to Moscow on Saturday to discuss these “Middle East tensions” with him. It is in Putin’s self-interest to not let things get further out of hand, all the while reveling in the ineptitude of his White House admirer. Who would have thought the former KGB colonel would become the world’s temporary peacekeeper?