The Current Situation In Iran: How Did We Get Here?
Get to the terrifying news of the day President Trump essentially started a war with Iran when he ordered the assassination of Iranian major general. Qassem Soleimani who was the second most powerful figure in the Iranian government in response. What's around has vowed to retaliate against the United States in? US forces serving abroad. They've announced they'll be restarting their nuclear program. The Iraqi parliament voted to expel all US. US troops from Iraq and we've been forced to suspend our operations against Isis in Iraq. A meanwhile trump has responded by sending another three thousand five hundred troops to the Middle East and tweeting that if Iran retaliates quote we have targeted fifty two around the incites representing the fifty two American hostages taken by Iran many years ago some at a very very high level and important to Iran in the Iranian culture in those targets in Iran itself will be hit very fast and very hard targeting cultural sites is in fact an internationally internationally recognized war crime so lots to unpack here guys. Tommy let's start at the beginning. What do we know about so far why this happened? Y did trump make this decision. Well it depends on who you believe. Okay The Washington Post reported that Mike pompeo has been pushing trump to do this for many many months. And you know back in the day there were a bunch of senior officials in the trump administration like Jim Madison Rex. Tillerson the secretary of State. who were cautioning less caustic line on didn't want him to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal but over time all these reasonable got pushed out the right-wing hardliners are in in. And so here. We are now the stated reason that the trump administration did this is. They said that there was an imminent threat from Qasim Sumani from Shia militia groups in Iraq. That we're going to attack and kill. US forces Everyone who has seen that intelligence so far people quoted in newspapers people. I've talked to you said that that that does not hold water They've seen nothing that indicates there was some imminent threat. which would justify this strike legally or you know rationally so it just seems like something that a bunch of nuts wanted to do and it sounds like the sort of would immediately precipitated? The decision was the fact that there had been There was an attack that killed an American contractor in Iraq. Right this is the problem. Their explanation is all over the place. They one of these militia groups K. H. A. Shia militia group in Iraq killed a US contractor and wound servicemembers Kirk in response to that the US military hit a couple of sites associated with cage training sites weapons depots etcetera. You'd think that response was to killing. US contractor but then they went in killed Qassem Sumani and the justification for that was an an alleged imminent threat of another attack but even in the way pump goes on television lies obviously but even in the way. He's lying to be admitting that that's not totally true. Because they he's he said something along the lines of He was in the process of Planning attacks against American interests in two things about that one. That seems seems to have been a good part of his job for the better part of seconds. And the second part of that is He's not the actual. He's not pulling the trigger. He's wearing a suicide vest right. He's he's he's just a he's involved in the chain of command and one other part of this. No one has been able to answer at all is how does killing This figure prevent those attacks. Why aren't those? It was a tax more likely than not less likely to happen. Now that this person is it also seemed like there was reporting in the New York Times in Washington Post as well that in retaliation for the contractor you're being killed Trump ordered those set of strikes and then there were protests outside our embassy in Iraq. Yep and it said there. Apparently trump was watching those protests and then got really mad and decide that he wanted to do another strike. What is surprise that trump was watching cable TV and it made him angry? Although this time with this sounds like what happened with Mike Pompeo and and Secretary of Defense Esper- flew flew down to mar-a-lago and they pitched trump on a menu of ideas to further respond and the New York Times reported that on the menu was killing Soleimani money and that that very extreme proposal was only put on there to make the other ones look more reasonable and everyone was shocked when ultimately decided to do it but no one apparently push back. That was the craziest anecdote of all the New York Times that they were like. We'll just put this on as an extra so and and you know in some people may have seen this. But both the Bush administration and the Obama Obama Administration basically passed on this option at times as well because and the reason they did is because they were too concerned both administrations even the administration that took us to war in Iraq were concerned that this would escalate tensions in the Middle East into full blown. War Yeah Before we talk about what a stupid and dangerous move this this was tell me what do you think about the debate over whether it was legally justified whether we call it an assassination. And how much do these debates matter. I mean they matter if you care about international law so from that like it's a complicated case They're sort of like a common sense like lexical. What's in the dictionary definition of assassination? And then there's the definition of assassination which has been banned by the US government under executive orders that date back to like the when we used to give Fidel Castro explosive cigars and attempt to take political figures. You're not supposed to assassinate political figures period. the debate about in so like but Sola money's is a complicated case and that he's like the number two guy in their system but could force The organization he ran is a US designated terrorist organizations. There's no doubt that he helped build this play. This big role role in creating and supporting these militia groups in other malign acts across the globe basically. But there's no formal state of war between the US and Iran so there's no basis ACIS to target him on that level right like during the Iraq war the US targeted Saddam Hussein remember deck of cards the figures that they'd go after right so that the legality of Whether or not it was legal or justify takeouts lemani hinges on this intelligence. None of us can see these at all is about this imminence question got it but I mean I think reasonable people should say this was an assassination so I mentioned some of the consequences that are already playing out. What are some of the potential consequences that worry you the most both in short-term medium-term long-term Blake I worry about Iran on directly targeting forces in Iraq or Jordan or Kuwait or diplomatic posts in Lebanon. Worry about these Shia militia groups Lebanese Lebanon's Hezbollah came out today and said that their targets are going to be. US military personnel and they're not going to target civilians so when the head of Hezbollah sounds more reasonable than the present united United States on twitter. That's telling you something There's also these militia groups that might just sort of pay fealty to the money and not coordinate their actions with The Iranians and take action that way just because they're pissed and then there's also the fact that we had to stop the counter isis operations at a time when Isis has has had a bit of a resurgence because of our pull out from serious. There's a lot of ways this can manifest. How serious do you think the concerns are about cyber attacks against the United States or potentially a terrorist attack against the homeland? It's hard to know it's hard to know. I mean you look at what they've done what they set already about their nuclear program. They announced that they're no longer going to who abide by the enrichment restrictions in the JCP away in the Iran deal. But they said they're gonNA continue to Work with the IRA and allow them access test to inspect sites and things. So like in that instance if you're looking at that as a signal there sort of like tiptoeing out of the Iran deal. They're not like immediately announcing that they're enriching ninety eighty percent create a bomb so it seems like there's sort of an incremental response not some big blockbuster thing it seems that there's some F partout seem reasonable to international community to try a seem as though they are the victims in this absolutely. I think you're right well it we mentioned this yet but it does seem like the inciting incident for this entire crisis is trump ripping ripping up the Iran. Deal back in two thousand eighteen. Yes I mean I thought Ben Ben Rhodes on our pod. Friday walked through the timeline from the Iran. Trumping out of the Iran deal today. And I think it's a very compelling case he also wrote a piece for the Atlantic I mean I think we would be in a stronger position today. If the trump if Iran's nuclear program was being managed by a diplomatic agreement the fact that it's not everything more complicated well and I think an important point here is how you felt about the Iran. Deal in the first place whether it was a good deal or not Once the Iran deal was in place even trump's own Administration his own national security team. warned him not to get out of the deal real people who weren't necessarily fans of the deal the first place at once. We're in the deal. You shouldn't get out of the deal and he fucking did it. Anyway against the advice of most people in his administration and the whole global community in here we are by one of the reasons to non pull out was the fear that it might lead to this crisis. Right you John. Bolton now that he's left administration is very clear that his goal along has been regime. Change right so they pull out of your own nuclear deal where Iran agreed to all these restrictions on their nuclear program in exchange for economic relief from sanctions actions and instead of getting that relief they get more sanctions in an effort to crush their economy and lead to regime change. Of course over time. They're going to start lashing out. It shouldn't surprise anybody. So let's talk about how the administration is responding to all this Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was out on all the Sunday shows when he was asked by. Chuck Todd about the potential for around to retaliate. By killing Americans pompeo said quote. It may be. There is a little noise here in the in term but that America will be safer in the long run later. Donald Trump was asked the same question and and said quote. If it happens it happens. Tommy I know you have some Some strong feelings about pompeo Sunday show appearances because I was texting. You injured it before I melt down. I'm just curious what you guys think would have happened if Susan Rice said there was a little noise in the interim I saying like this those those statements both both from POMPEII. Oh and then trump saying if it happens it happens like this. President Obama would've been impeached within a day for saying that. I can't even believe there's there's such a there's such a glibness to it at but it is also it is. They're kind of whatever they're they're sort of cost playing as tough tough guys and so for them. They're they're trying to go out there