Patterico's Pontifications

1/3/2020

A Pretty Good Distillation of Yesterday’s Momentous Decision

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:35 pm



[guest post by JVW]

This Twitter thread from a freshman Democrat Congresswoman from Michigan is very interesting, and gives you some good insight into conventional thinking among the intelligence community over the past two decades:

You can click on the embedded tweet to read all ten of the posts in her thread, but to conserve space I am going to omit some of them. I am not trying to misrepresent her point, which I think is valid and well-argued, so please forgive me if you think my omissions remove important context.

It isn’t too surprising that Rep. Slotkin, who narrowly beat an incumbent Republican in the midterm election to win the seat for Democrats for the first time since 2001, is playing this close to the vest, questioning the wisdom of this successful attack yet not directly criticizing it, while demanding that the Administration brief Congress (she serves on both the House Armed Service and Homeland Security Committees) on the matter. She’s certainly not beclowning herself in the manner that Obama Administration alumni are by attempting to salvage their dignity and pretending that their Iran strategy was honest and coherent.

Earlier today, Trump antagonist David French persuasively argued that yesterday’s attack was permissible and did not require Congressional authorization, because General Soleimeni was in Iraq where U.S. troops lawfully were stationed under Congressional authorization, and because Soleimeni and his crew sought to direct attacks against our forces. But like Congresswoman Slotkin, he wonders if the Trump Administration has thought through all of the potential consequences and has plans in place to protect our personnel, allies, and interests in that part of the world. If the Congresswoman is correct, then the CIA and military intelligence brass — at least as she knew it from 2003-2016 — likely had a great deal of trepidation over this bold and decisive move.

On the other hand, perhaps our nation’s spies, spooks, and analysts had reached the conclusion that attempts to contain General Soleimeni and his terrorist pals were failing, and the time had come to neutralize him as a threat. One of the most interesting, frightening, and exciting (all at the same time!) aspects of the Donald Trump Presidency is his administration’s willingness to chuck conventional wisdom out the window and chart a new course. If this is indeed a decision that was not particularly well-received within the intelligence community, no doubt that the New York Times and Washington Post will have lots of “background sources” kvetching about it in time for the Sunday editions.

What’s done is done, and now we have to face the consequences. It’s interesting that President Trump, who seemed to be so cautious about entangling the U.S. in yet another overseas adventure, now finds himself ordering 3,000 troops back into the region, eleven months before facing the voters. Though it is unlikely that the Iranian military would attempt to wage a full-scale war against our armed forces, it is to be expected that ambush attacks against our troops will continue which, should they prove successful, will certainly bring about the “I told you so” chorus from the usual suspects.

– JVW


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