Wednesday, January 08, 2020


On Twitter last night, I made a prediction:

In response to the Iranian attack on military targets in Iraq occupied by U.S. forces, Representative Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) said:
So what I'm watching for, as these missiles fall literally as we speak, is: Are they hitting infrastructure, or are they specifically trying to target Americans and kill Americans? If they're hitting infrastructure, that could be a signal that, while [the Iranians] had to respond, they did so in a way that would lead to some type of future deescalation.
That clip was from Fox News. A clip from Fox & Friends this morning suggests that "We won!" will be the GOP line very soon. The guest is Michael Anton, a former official in the Trump White House and the author (under the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus) of a much-discussed 2016 article urging a vote for Trump titled "The Flight 93 Election."

Anton said:
Well, when I look at the ledger, what I see is a dead enemy of the United States who's responsible for the deaths of at least six hundred American soldiers, who's responsible for an attack that killed an American a few days ago, and who ginned up an attack to try to besiege a U.S. embassy, which any country whose embassy comes under attack has got to defend it -- so we have this dead enemy of the United States on the one side of the ledger, and on the other side we have twelve or so missiles that apparently didn't hit a single target. When I look at that, I think the United States came away from that exchange the clear winner, and I don't see that we necessarily need to do anything in response.
Anton went on to note the word "concluded" in this tweet from Iran's foreign minister:

The key word in that was "concluded" -- "took and concluded." Now, he knows the whole world is watching what they're going to do next, is going to watch everything that they say. It seems to me unlikely that he would carefully use a word like "concluded," signaling to the whole world that they're done, if they had something else immediately planned.
So after a presidential statement this morning that's likely to be soft-spoken and measured, I assume that the message from the White House, the GOP, and the right-wing media will be: BOO-YA! WE KICKED ASS!

The good news: Maybe there really won't be a further escalation. The not-so-good news: Like Reagan after Grenada, Trump might treat this as a triumphal moment on the order of V-J Day. It might be a made-for-the-campaign-trail moment, just the way Trump hoped it would be.

On the other hand, if the crisis is over, non-deplorable Americans will forget all about it by Super Bowl Sunday -- it won't take until November.

And, of course, those who were deeply unsettled by Trump's recklessness won't be calmed by future acts of chest-thumping, even if we're not on the brink of war anymore.

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