There is not evidence that President Trump ordered the airstrike in Baghdad that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani for any personal political purpose. Still, the initial reaction by many of our letter writers to potentially the most consequential military action undertaken by this administration imputes a sinister motive to Trump’s action: to distract from his impeachment.
I’ve written before that Trump is the most frequent target for criticism by our letter writers, many of whom note the president’s thousands of documented prevarications and the dissembling explanations given for his obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that they do not take the administration at its word now.
Andrew Liberman of Santa Monica compares Trump to one of his predecessors:
Is Trump initiating a war to distract from impeachment, similar to President Bill Clinton when he ordered an attack on Baghdad in 1998?
If the U.S. goes to war with Iran, this fight will be much different than past American ventures. Iran has a powerful military, and Trump is lighting matches to ignite a big war in the Middle East.
Will the corporate media cheer lead again, like they did for past wars in the Middle East? Speak up while you can and there is time to stop it.
Hermosa Beach resident Cynthia Lum worries about a war with Iran:
If you wondered what Trump was going to do to distract us from impeachment, you have your answer: assassinate Iran’s most important general.
Never mind the consequences; all that matters is that Trump gets the news cycle moving in a new direction.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei ordered three days of mourning and vowed that the U.S. would face “severe revenge” for the killing. This is an unbelievably ignorant act of war that places all Americans at risk.
Trump has to go before we face a full-fledged war with Iran. If the Republicans close ranks around him, they too have to go.
Richard Cherwitz, a professor of rhetoric at the University of Texas, notes Trump’s past behavior:
Are we witnessing the paradigm case of rhetorical projection and deflection?
It is hardly a surprise that when we awoke Friday morning, the media were not talking about impeachment and Ukraine, the major headline of prior weeks. The story now has changed suddenly and dramatically.
I don’t think I am being a cynic to suggest that the timing of Trump’s order to kill Suleimani is far from a coincidence. Wouldn’t we be naive to assume that this president is reticent to use war as a political strategy -- to change the narrative and rhetorically extricate himself from the new and mounting evidence about his inappropriate actions in Ukraine?
After all, Trump is the master of deflection and projection, of shifting the topic and doing precisely what he has accused others of doing. In the past he wrongly predicted that President Obama would attack Iran in order to get reelected.