September 19, 2020

Trump and Iran, a dangerous ruse to distract from political judgment



So far nothing has worked for the US president, Donald Trump, to curb the political trial against him. Immerse us in a crisis of excessive proportions with Iran seems to have become his last trick, a risky attempt that could be very expensive.

The US media have described Trump’s order to end the life of the powerful Iranian commander Qasem Soleimaní as an “impulse,” a decision so aggressive that he stunned senior Pentagon officials and that the Administration has justified the danger of a supposed “imminent attack”.

Before Trump, presidents George W. Bush (2001-2009) and Barack Obama (2009-2017) already knew where Soleimaní was. The Iranian military was not hiding and everyone in Washington pointed him as the architect of Iran’s expansionist policy in the Middle East.

However, before Trump, no US president. UU. He had dared to attempt the life of Soleimaní: the price could be too high and the consequences unpredictable.

A DISTRACTION STRATEGY

So why did the president take that step now?

Michael Traugott, a professor at the University of Michigan (USA) and an expert in public opinion, tells Efe that “probably” Trump took into account two important events: the political trial against him and the presidential elections of November of this year, in which it is presented to the re-election.

“What he wants is for the media and members of Congress to talk about something other than political judgment,” he summarizes.

And, in part, Trump has done it. Since the death of Soleimaní in the early hours of Friday, the crisis with Iran has filled the news and the covers of the great American newspapers.

Even Nancy Pelosi, the top-ranking Democrat in Washington, has entered the game and on Monday announced that the House of Representatives, which she presides over and where Democrats have a majority, will vote this week to “limit” the powers Trump currently has to Go to war with Iran.

“US FIRST” AND WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES

Although for the moment it has been successful, Trump could bet very badly.

The president has repeatedly said he does not want to go to war with Iran and wants to take the US out. UU. of the “endless wars” of the Middle East; but it seems that, this time, he has been carried away by vanity and the desire to show the military supremacy of his country.

“His stance is ‘USA first’,” Traugott explains. “For Trump, demonstrating strength is ordering an attack without consulting foreign leaders, demonstrating strength is launching aggressive action independently. And for him there is a reason, which is to defend the independence of the United States.”

Of course, acting separately has a price. Just after the bombing, several US allies. The US, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, expressed concern about the escalation of tension.

And, as a consequence, the US secretary of state. UU., Mike Pompeo, has had to spend the next few days on the phone trying to calm down. Since the death of Soleimaní, Pompeo has telephoned more than twenty international leaders, according to the State Department.

AN ATTEMPT TO WIN POINTS WITH THE BASE

Despite the rejection of the attack worldwide, within the US. In the US, Trump’s electoral base approves his movement against the Islamic Republic.

A survey of the HuffPost newspaper published on Monday shows that 61% of those who voted for the president in 2016 fully support his decision; while 85% of those who supported the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton totally rejects what happened.

“Trump’s base sees this as an affirmation of American dominance, just as he wants to be interpreted. And certainly (Trump) will use a narrative of dominance and control to describe this event,” says Efe Madiha Afzal, a relationship expert. in the Brookings center of thought.

However, things could get complicated if the president ends up getting the US. UU. in a warlike conflict, since in recent years the rejection of Americans to military interventions abroad has increased, especially after the war in Iraq, according to data from the consultant Gallup.

If the crisis escalates and transforms into a war with American dead and massive sending of troops, then Trump could have a hard time selling his message. And the cost could be reelection.

Beatriz Pascual Macías

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