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Wag the Dog was a 1997 movie about a president who fabricates a war in Albania to distract voters from a presidential scandal.

Trump Is Wagging the Dog

Trump launched the airstrike on General Suleimani to distract from impeachment and assist his re-election campaign. There was no imminent threat.

According to the NY Times: “Trump made the decision, senior officials said on Saturday, despite disputes in the administration about the significance of what some officials said was a new stream of intelligence that warned of threats to American embassies, consulates and military personnel in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. “Days, weeks,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Friday, when asked how imminent any attacks could be. According to one United States official, the new intelligence indicated “a normal Monday in the Middle East” — Dec. 30 — and General Suleimani’s travels amounted to “business as usual.” That official described the intelligence as thin and said that General Suleimani’s attack was not imminent.”

By beating the war drums, Trump is making a successful effort to drive new revelations about the Ukraine scandal to the back burner of the national discussion. Within the last few days it has been reported that it was Trump himself who ordered the hold on aide to Ukraine over the objections of Mike Pompeo, Mark Esper and John Bolton. Moreover, officials at the Pentagon and OMB were concerned that withholding aide violated the Nixon era anti-impoundment act. (The Congress made withholding appropriated funds illegal in response to Nixon’s abuses of power.) It was also revealed that the Administration is illegally hiding 20 emails that discussed the aide holdup.

In the absence of this Middle East crisis that Trump has ginned up, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell would now be under rising pressure to hold a legitimate impeachment trial. Moreover, five vulnerable GOP Senators would be feeling the heat. Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis, Joni Ernst and Martha McSally are all up for re-election in states where Trump is toxic. They are in a no win position.

What are Trump and McConnell hiding? Why are Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse complicit in this cover up? We deserve answers.

Trump is mistaken if he believes that a crisis or war with Iran will assist his re-election campaign. Due to his habitual lying and low approval ratings, there will be no rally around the commander-in-chief (or flag) effect if Trump starts a war with Iran. As former Bush 43 speechwriter David Frum tweeted: “Today’s a day when the most untruthful administration in US history will wish its statements could be believed.”

This is also a much different environment than the one in 2001 and 2003. At the beginning of the Bush 43 Administration, the U.S. had been on a bit of winning streak with the successes of Desert Storm and Clinton’s military interventions in the Balkans. Most of the country is now war weary and skeptical of the U.S. getting involved in another war. A Gallup poll conducted in August 2019 found that just 18 percent of Americans prefer to “take military action against Iran” as against 78 percent wanting to “rely mainly on economic and diplomatic efforts.”

Last summer, Senator Elizabeth Warren flatly rejected Secretary of State Pompeo’s claim of virtually unlimited executive power to wage war in the Middle East: “If the administration wants to go to war against Iran, then the Constitution requires them to come to Congress to ask for an authorization for the use of military force. This is Constitutional Law 101, that it is Congress, not the president, that declares war. We would have to have a debate on the floor of the Senate. And if the administration doesn’t believe that they can withstand a debate, then they shouldn’t be aiming themselves toward war.”

I’m getting a feeling of deja vu now that Trump is falsely claiming that Iran has planned an “imminent attack” without any credible evidence. This period of time is reminiscent of the Bush Administration’s push for war with Iran in 2002–03. We need to call our members of Congress and demand that there be no war with Iran without Congressional approval. Thank you for all that you do!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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