(TMU Op-Ed) — Despite years of Donald J. Trump talking tough on Iran and recent escalations bringing Iran and the United States to the brink of war, there are a few tell-tale signs that the U.S. will not be bombing the country anytime soon.
The first clue comes from the recent and highly controversial leaked cables of British ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, published by the Mail on Sunday. While the leak was damning to the unbreakable U.S.-U.K. relationship due to Darroch’s description of Trump as “inept”, “insecure” and “incompetent,” it turns out the leaks revealed something even more intriguing about Trump’s strategy regarding Iran.
In one memo dated 22 June of this year, Sir Kim referred to the “incoherent, chaotic” U.S.-Iran policy, stating that it was unlikely U.S. policy on Iran was “going to become more coherent any time soon.” Sir Kim also questioned Trump’s recent claim that he had rolled back on a plan to strike Iran due to potential casualties as it “doesn’t stand up.”
“It’s more likely that he was never fully on board and that he was worried about how this apparent reversal of his 2016 campaign promises would look come 2020,” the diplomat said.
Some sources have gone even further and alleged that Trump was even asking Iran to allow him to strike back, which was not well received. War correspondent Elijah Magnier reported on this take, stating:
“According to well-informed sources, Iran rejected a proposal by U.S. intelligence—made via a third party—that Trump be allowed to bomb one, two or three clear objectives, to be chosen by Iran, so that both countries could appear to come out as winners and Trump could save face. Iran categorically rejected the offer and sent its reply: even an attack against an empty sandy beach in Iran would trigger a missile launch against U.S. objectives in the Gulf.”
This allegation was reaffirmed by an Iranian general, according to Iranian media. While astounding in nature, the allegation may not seem as far-fetched when considered against Trump’s infamous strikes on the Syrian government in April 2017 and April 2018 which appeared to be more of a symbolic, muscle-flexing show of force than anything else.
Furthermore, despite Trump’s recent tweet (directed at none other than Sir Kim himself) that “the USA now has the best Economy & Military anywhere in the World, by far…and they are both only getting bigger, better and stronger” a ProPublica investigation into the Farsi Island incident of 2016 found that standoffs between the U.S. and Iran have been plagued with issues for years, including: inadequate training, poor leadership, and a refusal to heed warning that personnel were being placed in vulnerable situations.
“Prior to the mission, the sailors had received little training on their weapons, and the crew of one boat forgot to load the limited number of guns at their disposal during the transit,” the report states. “One sailor prepared to record the potentially hostile encounter with the helmet camera she’d been issued but couldn’t get it to work. So she filmed it on her personal iPhone 4. And when they were captured, a rescue seemed unlikely given that no one back at shore had yet realized they were off course.”
Whether or not the U.S. navy and military is adequately prepared for a standoff with Iran, and whether or not Trump plans to receive consent from Tehran before striking its territory, the blunt truth is that even the State Department is aware it doesn’t have the legal basis to strike Iran. In a State Department letter dated June 28, 2019, written in response to a query by Rep. Eliot Engel, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Rep. Ted Deutch, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and International Terrorism, the State Department wrote:
“The Department of State has great respect for Congress’ role in authorizing the use of military force. As Secretary Pompeo has noted, the Administration’s goal is to find a diplomatic solution to Iran’s activities, not to engage in conflict with Iran. Moreover, the Administration has not, to date, interpreted either AUMF as authorizing military force against Iran, except as may be necessary to defend U.S. or partner forces engaged in counterterrorism operations or operations to establish a stable, democratic Iraq.”
While this may be the letter that helps anti-war activists breathe a sigh of relief, it is also makes clear the situations in which the U.S. does believe it has justification to strike Iran: to protect its forces stationed in the Middle East from Iranian-backed mercenaries. Perhaps this also explains National Security Advisor John Bolton’s statement released on May 5, 2019, when he stated that:
“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.”
Based on the above reasoning, it is this author’s assertion that until such time as the U.S. can pin such an attack on Iran or Iran’s proxy forces in Iraq or Syria — or maybe even Yemen — the U.S. is unlikely to attack Iran anytime soon. As for now, downed drones and oil tankers attacked by forces most likely outside of Iran’s ambit, don’t seem to cut it.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.