A Very Dangerous Quid Pro Quo

A Very Dangerous Quid Pro Quo


Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

For the past three years Americans and observers around the world looked on as President Donald Trump assumed control of the presidency. Throughout this time, he has conducted domestic and foreign policy with total disregard to rules, norms, traditions, laws, and even the Constitution, The President acted as his fancy struck him while the country watched with amazement as none of those in Government were able to stop him. In fact, those who sought to restrain the President, usually were summarily dismissed. Today, President Trump is surrounded almost exclusively by people who follow him without questioning the reasonableness of his actions or trying to have the President comprehend the consequences of his acts. The skeptics and critics feared that the moment would come when this modus operandi would face a major national security crisis and then the United States would face a very different challenge; it has now arrived.

Much has been made concerning Trump’s flirtation with Kim Jung-un the President of North Korea. After all kinds of meetings—twice even face to face–it is readily apparent that the deal that Trump was making with North Korea was a non-starter. To date, however, it has not provoked a actual military confrontation. The Iran confrontation may well encourage President Kim to make moves of his own in the Far East.

Similarly, the trade war with China has caused major economic problems both in the U.S. and in China. There is no suggestion that tariffs or sanctions or more trade barriers will bring the U.S. and China to military blows. As far as Central Europe is concerned as well as Venezuela and Mexico there have been brief suggestions about using U.S. forces, but there was little concern of a military confrontation.

On the other hand, it is fairly evident that President Trump assumed that Iran would not be moved to retaliate quickly in a major military manner in response to Trump’s decision to assassinate Iran’s Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. It is now evident that after a few diplomatic maneuvers—abrogating the JCPOA nuclear agreement and encouraging Iraq to order the U.S. to leave Iraq—the Iranian leaders are not seeking to adopt a more conciliatory approach with the United States.

Soleimani without a doubt was a very dangerous individual. On a strategic level Iran will suffer significantly in its military operations for some time. Soleimani’s malevolent strategic vision will not easily be replaced. Soleimani was able to consistently engage the West as well as anti-regime forces in Iran and throughout the Arab world. His killing inevitably will have political, diplomatic, and military consequences.

In Iran the people who had been demonstrating in the streets over the previous months in growing defiance of the regime, are now an aroused nation ready to accept hardships and punishment to avenge America’s attack on their powerful military leader. It is not clear whether even if they wanted to avoid a tit-for tat reaction, Iran’s leaders could assuage the anger of their people if they fail to make a major dramatic response.

In Washington there is general agreement that the President opted to kill Suleiman for the dramatic power of this act, but it is also clear that the President did not bother to “game” what would or might follow from this decision. While the Pentagon may well be developing future options and scenarios for how the U.S. could respond; President Trump never worries about the consequences of his actions.

Many have approved of the elimination Suleiman as a global force, but they also recognize that this could have been undertaken years ago and was not done precisely because earlier Presidents were concerned about the possible or probable consequences. The President is facing a potentially major military confrontation which could escalate into a regional war involving the U.S., Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Israel. America, and the entire world are now watching as President Trump confronts the very scenario that was feared from the day he entered the White House.

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