Democrats Let Trump Off the Hook on Iran

Party leaders did not challenge the president’s decision to once again have the U.S. dictate behavior to the rest of the world,  writes Jeff Faux.

CNN footage of what it reports as President Donald Trump giving detailed account of the U.S. killing of Iranian General Soleimani at a fundraiser at his mansion in Florida. (Screenshot)

By Jeff Faux

Polls tell us that American are not isolationists, but that they strongly oppose their country playing the role of global police officer. 

For many of President Donald Trump’s 2016 voters in depressed communities in battleground states, “America First” meant spending less time on the world’s problems and more time on their own. As Trump loyalist Steve Bannon said the day after the assassination of the Iranian leader Qasem Suleimeni,  “One of the central building blocks of why he [Trump] was elected president was to get out of these wars.”

Trump has clearly betrayed that trust. Over the last three years  he has spent most of his limited attention span indulging a childish master-of-the-universe obsession with picking fights around the world while his voters’ unattended domestic needs pile up.

Democrats scold and scorn Trump for his recklessness and ignorance. But as the Iranian crisis shows once again, the party’s leaders are not willing to challenge his claim that military might authorizes the United States (i.e., Trump, as president) to dictate and enforce the rules of behavior for the rest of the world.  In effect, they are letting him slip off his own hook, and may well be helping him get re-elected.

‘Gets the Job Done’

The murder of Suleimeni is consistent with the media storyline being promoted in Trump’s TV and social media re-election ads: “You may not like him, but he gets the job done.”

The “job” in this case was ridding the world of a bad guy who “has targeted, injured, and murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen.”

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As Trump tells it, his predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush did not have the guts to do, it. He alone had the moral courage to act.

With the exception of Senator Bernie Sanders, the most prominent Democrats
running for president — Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar — along with the congressional leadership, agreed with Trump that Suleimeni deserved to be killed.

Presidential contenders at the January 2020 debate. (Screenshot)

Their complaints are about process. First, he didn’t inform Congress. So House Democrats passed a non-binding resolution telling Trump that in the future he should. Even if the Senate concurs, Trump has already make it clear he will ignore it.

The Democrats second objection is that the murder was risky because the timing wasn’t right. Typical was the response of Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee:  “I believe there was a threat, but the question of how imminent is still one I want answered.”

As one military source told a Reuters reporter, it all depends on how you define


The media followed Democrats down this semantic rabbit hole. “If there was real intelligence of impending strikes,” wrote The New York Times’ David Sanger, “then the long-time principles of pre-emption, enshrined anew in American policy by George W. Bush, would apply.”

Ordinary voters may not share Sanger’s reverence for the policy principles of the president who gave us the Iraq War. But they can certainly spot the logical dead-end in the Democrats’ parsing of the word “imminent.” If Suleimeni was the master criminal dedicated to killing Americans,  does it matter that whatever he was planning had a timeline of weeks rather than days, or months rather than weeks?

Farcical Briefing

The administration’s subsequent farcical briefing of Congress demonstrated that it was naïve to the point of simplemindedness to expect Trump to provide any serious answers to the “imminence” question.  As with the fake Gulf of Tonkin incident that justified the Vietnam War and the myth of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction that rationalized the invasion of Iraq, Americans’ will not know the truth in time for it to make any difference. And far too late to address suspicions that the murder of Soleimani was a wag-the-dog election year ploy.

Mourners of General Qassem Soleimani in Azadi Square, Tehran.
(Mehr News Agency, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Lost in this preoccupation over process is the awkward fact  that Suleimeni’s acts of violence were not committed against Americans in the United States; they were committed against Americans in the Middle East who have been sent by both Republican and Democratic presidents to intervene in regional religious and ethnic civil wars that the vast majority of Americans think is none of their business. If there were any doubts that “Operation Iraqi Freedom” represented an army of occupation, Trump’s arrogant rejection of the Iraqi parliament’s demand that U.S.  troops surely dispelled them. And, by the way, Suleimeni and his Iranian backed “terrorist” forces were essential to the defeat of ISIS, for which Trump takes virtually sole credit.

The assassination is now sinking us back into the quagmire that has already cost U.S. 4,500 lives, 32,000 casualties, some $2 trillion and has swelled the ranks of the people who hate our guts.

After 17 years, it is stupefying that Democrats should be so intimidated by both the shallow-brained Trump and his ostensible enemies among the Deep State hawks, that they cannot bring themselves to articulate the simple question that a majority of the electorate is clearly ready to hear:  why — especially now that the  U.S. is virtually self-sufficient in oil and gas — are we still spending blood and dollars on a hopeless effort to impose our will on the political snake pit of the Middle East?

By giving Trump a pass on this fundamental question, Democrats are allowing him to have it both ways as we move toward the November election.

If there is no war with Iran, he can claim, with some credibility, that he crippled Iranian terrorism by being brave and tough where Democrats were frightened and weak. In the less likely, but still possible event of an expanded war, Democrats’ concurrence that Iran is our deadly enemy will give a wartime Trump president everything he needs to take us the rest of the way to fascism.

Jeff Faux founded the Economic Policy Institute and was its first president, from 1986 to 2002. He is now the institute’s distinguished fellow. Among other books, he wrote “The Global Class War and The Servant Economy.”

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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25 comments for “Democrats Let Trump Off the Hook on Iran

  1. January 21, 2020 at 00:48

    War is not the solution for everything, Being a leader of the world you should have a peaceful solution for it.

  2. robert e williamson jr
    January 20, 2020 at 21:12

    Yes, well the fake media needs to remember that comment about “Himself” “getting the job done” could be said about Hitler also!

    This is past ridiculous , which is where one ends up when one loses their way and acquiesces to anything and everything!

    Don’t rock the boat, be a good citizen, don’t question anything least of all authority, . . . . move on nothing here to see folks.

    Edmund Burke may have reminded us that , the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

    That our society yields silence rather question how authority is used in our names by our government rings true of a society that is not upholding it’s responsibility to hold that government accountable and can be traced to the press which fails to question society’s failure or its own responsibility for finding the truth. Garbage in garbage out!

    Where are the good men?

  3. January 20, 2020 at 11:58

    “…Democrats should be so intimidated by both the shallow-brained Trump and his ostensible enemies among the Deep State hawks…”
    They are not intimidated. As above, the one party is the War Party. As long as we accept that war is good for business, war will be endless, until the end…

  4. January 20, 2020 at 10:51

    There will be a reckoning

  5. Garrett Connelly
    January 19, 2020 at 21:19

    Struggle between capitalist totalitarian war parties and cosmic biology manifest as human?

    Hollywood/CIA propaganda against evolution accelerating at an accelerating rate.

    Who’s side are you on?

  6. LJ
    January 19, 2020 at 17:32

    This race is Sanders to lose. Nobody likes Pocahontas or Good Old Joe Biden. Cant give them a makeover that will last more than a few hours. Like Low Energy Jeb Bush, it’s c’ya later…..Democrats are disgraceful. The Democratic Party is corrupt. Their leaders , that is the DNC, want Hillary resurrected , not going to happen. The reason they won’t tell the truth or do the right thing about this murder is obviously because it is what Israel wanted . If the USA and Israel were interested in Iran not pursuing a nuclear weapon they would have not chosen this path. The USA, Big Satan, and Israel, Little Satan, want continued destabilization of the Middle East and demonetization of Israel. Protracted and irrational conflict between Sunnis Shiites Alawites and Kurds ( and Christians and others) Their is no Plan B. We, that is to say, the DEEP STATE , will start war to prevent peace. The Democrats are not the party of George McGovern or Jimmy Carter. That is ancient history AND the networks, Washington Post, NY Times ,MSNBC , CNN, Yahoo News , Google News, Fox News and the Fox Wall Street Journal are in lockstep. Sanders wins anyway. They cant ” Corbyn” him. They will try. Off Point, Question? What does it matter what he said , if he said , a woman cant win the Presidency? He is right until he’s wrong . Then he’s wrong if and when it happens. Nonsense. Talk Issues. Trump is weak on issues. Talk the new Trade Deal with China. Like the Paris Accords. No enforceable targets , Whatever happened to those poor souls in Hong Kong that thought the USA would support them? The New NAFTA? Democrats,,, I cant hear you.

  7. Eugenie Basile
    January 19, 2020 at 14:30

    Oooops do you mean they should impeach him for the assassination of Suleimani ? They have their hands full already with an impeachment based on a phone call and a whistleblower intelligence agent….

  8. Mark Thomason
    January 19, 2020 at 13:04

    Democrats let Trump off the hook when he is clearly wrong, because they are themselves just as wrong on that subject.

    Democrats are wholly on board with wars and pandering to the Israel Lobby. Their position? They don’t want to be left out.

    This is why Biden and all of those like him must be defeated. They are as much the problem as any Republican, and by occupying the space of Democrats, they prevent anyone from doing the right things. This is very convenient for the Lobby and those who profit from the wars.

    January 19, 2020 at 13:01

    The greatest crime is defiance against the United States—stop the regime change wars–get out of the middle east— we don`t need the oil—and develop renewable energy. We don`t own the world .

  10. Bob In Portland
    January 19, 2020 at 12:38

    To understand Democrats’ behavior you must understand the actual lines of power in government. In 1963 the CIA, the military and other members of the military-industrial complex staged a coup. Clinton would have been the perfect figurehead to lead the US into war in Syria, Ukraine and against Russia. She has always been on board.

    We know that unless Trump hops off the Lolita Express, goes to Times Square and starts shooting people he will not be convicted in the Senate. Even before the impeachment, which is merely some kind of charade, Trump will be in the White House for the election. If someone like Biden is nominated America either gets the same warmonger as Trump, or we get Trump.

    Right now, without a progressive victory in November, we get a Trump or a typical neoliberal like Biden who seems like a nicer guy.

  11. Rob
    January 19, 2020 at 12:15

    There is only one political party in Washington—the WAR PARTY.

    • Michael
      January 19, 2020 at 19:25

      I agree. Colonel Larry Wilkerson (ret) observed the same in his interview with Aaron Matte on “Pushback” at the “Greyzone Project” site.

  12. January 19, 2020 at 09:28

    The author refers to the “people” who don’t want war and be involved in the Middle East conflicts. Just who is he referring to? What people? Certainly not the people who matter when something like the death of Suleimeni occurs. When our leaders and the media parrot that Solemani is responsible for hundreds of American deaths, no one challenges the numbers, although CN writers have.

    Observe the fate of Tulsi Gabbard. Why have not the people supported her as the only candidate who speaks like the people the author refers to? Part of it is that she has been ignored or misrepresented by Washington and our major media, but is that the only answer.
    I don’t think so.

    So, for the millions who would like the people to rise against endless war, expecting the distracted and uninterested people to awaken is not born out by their history of behavior.

    Perhaps they will be awakened when a little boy calls out, the Emperor has no clothes and people suddenly awakened will say by golly, that little tyke is right.

  13. torture this
    January 19, 2020 at 09:11

    “…why — especially now that the U.S. is virtually self-sufficient in oil and gas — are we still spending blood and dollars…”

    Now, every other country that has oil to sell is our competitor. Of course, we want to take their oil or at least make sure it never gets to market. American capitalism is all about eliminating competitors and our foreign policy is being dictated by American capitalists.

    • torture this
      January 19, 2020 at 09:12

      Oops! And, Israel.

  14. Skip Scott
    January 19, 2020 at 08:42

    The democratic response is easy to understand. They are the servants of Empire. They know who butters their bread. The “will of the people” does not matter at all. Tulsi Gabbard is the only one with any courage on the issues of war and peace, and even she is “weak tea” when it comes to outing the goals of empire.

  15. Eric
    January 19, 2020 at 08:37

    “Why — especially now that the U.S. is virtually self-sufficient in oil and gas — are we still spending blood and dollars on a hopeless effort to impose our will on the political snake pit of the Middle East?”

    How could you have possibly missed the elephant in the room, Israel?

    “Could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?” Chris Mitchell of the Christian Broadcasting Network asked Pompeo.

    “As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” Pompeo, who was visiting Israel, replied.

    And the Democrats in Congress, who helped pass the anti-BDS legislation, apparently have no problem with the direction in which this Christian Zionist is leading the nation.

  16. AnneR
    January 19, 2020 at 07:56

    In addition – of course the Demcans are on board with the assassination of Soleimani, fully as much as the Reprats. They are *all* imbued with the totally idiotic notion that the USA is somehow “better,” “superior,” “exceptional – in a perfection way,” than any other people/nation and therefore can invade, destroy, grab, steal slaughter whomsoever we want, whenever we want, however we want. But no other people, nation has the right to fight us, deny us their resources, demand that we leave their soil, make decisions about their own governance, economic trajectory. Only we have the right to determine the fate of others.

    And this worldview is fully shared by all of the US Congress, their cronies on Wall Street, in the MIC and WH, in the secret bureaucracies and so on. One only has to consider how little pushback the Demcans produced re any of the wars, invasions, bombings, drone killings that the various admins/prezs have initiated and then how willing the majority of the Demcans in Congress voted – happily – for the obscene sums for this year alone for the Pentagon (the MIC in toto) to know that had the Strumpet followed the rules asked for permission of Congress, few at all would have opposed the assassination.

    • Realist
      January 20, 2020 at 16:01

      Wow, did you hit the nail on the head. I’m sure the neocons will want to formally incorporate all that stuff into a new US constitution when they get around to cooking one up and force-feeding it to the nation.

  17. AnneR
    January 19, 2020 at 07:45

    Mr Faux, would you please inform us of your proof that Maj Gen Soleimani set out to kill any American military? And if,under his command, the IRGC and its allies did so, why would that be wrong? Military personnel *are* legitimate targets for another country’s military personnel if that military are invading, are supporting and training (as ours is and has been for decades along with CIA help) such groups as Daesh and the Al Qaeda offshoot Al Nusra (in the 1970s-80s it was the mujahadeen in Afghanistan that we trained/supported). And despite all efforts by this country’s ruling elites to blacken both Iran’s government and its military force, the IRGC, the latter as terrorists, they are legitimate, legal and *not* terrorist. They are also as entitled as we in the western world (such a superior bunch – the Persians have been civilized for thousands of years while we paleskinned European/European descended lot were still in caves, huts and unlettered) – to ALLIES. Not the demeaning term “proxies” that we are so keen to use to besmirch really existing allies of any government/country that we have decided are “bad.”

    And then the utter nerve of the US (and its proxies/lackeys) to demand that Iran basically wipe itself off the map as an independent, sovereign nation by getting rid of its government (fully legitimate and at least as democratic as *this* country pretends it is), all and any of its nuclear *and* any and all of its ballistic missiles and be willing to sign whatever egregiously rapacious “treaty” the US concocts (to the sole benefit of our corporate-capitalist-imperialists and Israel). In other words, it should simply hand over everything to the US and Israel (Occupied Palestine) and make total obeyance to its masters.

  18. January 19, 2020 at 07:42

    “…playing the role of global police officer.”

    Please, those are 1950s words.

    America has gone far past anything you could so benignly describe.

    It is variously estimated that in all its colonial wars and coups and interventions after WWII, the US has killed somewhere between 8 and 20 million people.

    Destroyed whole societies.

    Created millions of desperate refugees.

    That hardly sounds like police work.

    • robert e williamson jr
      January 22, 2020 at 14:13

      With respect I’d like to ad this.

      I agree with you on the dated “global peace officer” crap but I also have an observation.

      With each day that passes American law enforcement become more and more militaristic as the government becomes more and more invasive in it’s intelligence gathering on the public at large.

      By society’s silent approval it has brought the beast of oppression upon itself. Seeking security through surrendering freedom is not a trade that is the best interest of any American.

      The Patriot Act needs desperately to be repealed.

  19. michael
    January 19, 2020 at 07:29

    Nice that Faux mentions Bush/ Cheney and their two Neverending Wars (Iraq and Afghanistan), but why no mention of Obama/ Hillary/Kerry’s Neverending Wars in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, their coups overthrowing democratically elected leaders in Egypt, Honduras and particularly Ukraine (Corruption Paradise!), and their sanctions (and ongoing national emergencies) against Venezuela, Burundi and the Central African Republic (as well as their ongoing sanctions in Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia)? To explain Democrats’ warmongering and their refusal to call out Trump’s warmongering, it is essential to at least mention their “contributions” to the endless quagmires the US faces, black holes to shovel taxpayer money.
    The Neverending suffering in these Arab and Central African countries is far beyond bombed-to-oblivion Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet is conveniently ignored by our mindless neocon MSM, who refuse to note that it is a bipartisan created disaster.
    The Democrats were upset, not because Soleimani was killed (they could care less), but because Trump did not consult them in advance of the assassination (since in the past, Democratic Intelligence Leadership has been quick to leak National Security secrets). As incompetent as Congress has proven in domestic policies, now they want to run foreign policies?

  20. jsinton
    January 19, 2020 at 07:27

    I thought that would go without saying. The only time the MSM and the Dems like Donald Trump is when he’s out committing war crimes. Like the first time he missiled Syria, when every newspaper in the country had an editorial supporting his false flag venture. It’s a suffering world when Trump is the “peacenik”.

  21. Realist
    January 19, 2020 at 01:18

    The Democrats really have no objections to the outrageous policies that the American dictator enforces upon the world, they simply want that dictator to come from within their own party ranks, so they attempt the prestidigitation of obstructing and facilitating him, ousting and backing him, at the same time. Really, you can’t get much lower than that, as they are both equally disgusting in their choice of assassination and mass murder to “fix” things in the rest of the world.

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