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Where I’ve Been, Soleimani, and Solace

I thought you were all deserving of an explanation. I said, “I’m back,” and since then there’s been little further. As well as the other posts I previously mentioned, I’m now trying to write a Proper Post about the Iran situation, but it’s going slowly. So, I’m including a few initial thoughts here about the crisis following the killing of Iran’s Major-General Soleimani by the US last week.

Further, Martin Heck put up another of his amazing films this morning. That gave me the impetus to get going and explain where I’ve been. After anything about the Iran situation, I think we all need reminding that there’s good stuff in the world too. The stunning landscape and skies of the Atacama Desert in Chile are a visual balm, and you’ll find that below my thoughts about the Iran situation.

 

Where I’ve Been

There’s no longer any special religious significance at Christmas for most of my family. However, we do see it as a special time to all get together. Since my siblings have married and had children of their own though, they’ve naturally had other people to consider. So these days the Hasties only get together at Christmas in alternate years. My siblings spend the years we’re not together with their in-laws.

1919 wasn’t a Hastie Christmas year, so I had no plans except for lunch on Christmas Day. Then, some of one of my sister’s in-laws were unable to attend the celebration she was hosting. So, my mother and I got an invitation to make up the numbers. Of course we did so, and had a lovely time.

It did mean a lot of extra work, using unfamiliar furniture, and traveling though. It therefore took my body some time to recover on our return. Then I got sick. The upshot is I’ve done very little writing since my last post.

As you might expect given that Iran is a topic I write about fairly regularly, I’ve been working on a post about the latest goings on there. The problem is that I’ve become such a slow writer, and the situation is evolving quickly. In case the difficulties I’m having mean the post doesn’t make it onto the website, I’ll give you the basics of my thoughts.

 

The Death of Soleimani

My basic premise is that it was wrong to kill Iran’s Major-General Soleimani. Don’t get me wrong; I do not mourn his death. I think it’s better that he’s dead and no longer contributing his outstanding military expertise to multiple bad actors in the region, especially Shi’a terrorist groups.

However, although he gave support and expertise to many terrorist groups, he was not himself a terrorist despite what Trump and others say. He was a general in the Iranian army. And you can’t just go around killing members of another country’s military because you don’t like them. Imagine if everyone did that? Democracy all across the world would break down.

The world has been a better place since 1945 with a country as strong as the USA protecting international democracy. But that doesn’t mean they’ve done everything right. They’ve made a lot of mistakes, and often they’ve got away with them just because of how strong they are. Further there are, and have been, USian leaders (and I’m not just talking presidents) who have thought they can do things they would condemn if done by any other nation.

Trump is a case in point. He makes an announcement that he’s got 52 cultural sites in line to attack (a war crime) if Iran respond to the war crime  that he already authorized (killing Soleimani). Imagine how people in the US would react if Iran said they were going to bomb 52 US cultural sites if the US responded to their illegal killing of a US general. The outrage across the country would be huge. US people would rise up, and chants of “Death to Iran” would be heard everywhere. But Trump is reacting with disgust that they’re doing it in the current situation. (Of course, that doesn’t forgive the times some Iranians do that without such provocation.)

Iran’s Response

I actually think Iran’s response has been quite measured. They deliberately did not kill any US servicemen in their bombings, and the sites were not technically US bases. They also made it clear that this was their response, and they would take no further action unless the US did. Trump has an out in which he will not lose face. He can prevent escalation.

Trump’s attack on Soleimani is effectively an admission that his economic sanctions weren’t working. Besides, when have economic sanctions against an undemocratic regime ever been effective? North Korea, for example, lets millions starve rather than dial back their military and nuclear preparations. Iran’s population was suffering, but that made no change in their military preparations.

Also, the population that was increasingly protesting against the regime, has been brought together by the fact they’re under attack. Soleimani was a national hero to many, and this move has made regime change more difficult. The man in this tweet has a message which I sometimes wonder if Trump and those around him could ever understand.

 

 

The Future

The US/Iran relationship has been fraught for decades. There were faults on both sides, but Iran was mostly to blame. The signing of the JCPOA (aka the Iran Nuclear Agreement) was a turning point. Iran was still a bad actor, but there was a clear mood for change. Although they were still developing ballistic missiles, they were sticking to the JCPOA. There was a definite improvement in international relations. Iran was keen to make it work.

Trump’s election changed all that. His irrational need to destroy anything done by Obama saw him illegally pull the US out of the JCPOA. Initially the other parties to it (Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, European Union) tried to continue. But then the US put a whole new set of economic sanctions on Iran. Because so much of international trading is done using the US dollar, that eventually made it impossible for the other countries to continue. That gave Iran an excuse to pull out of the deal.

Thus, when Trump came into office, Iran was at least fifteen years from obtaining enough fuel for a nuclear warhead. Now they’re about five months away. That’s entirely down to Trump. In addition, his killing of Soleimani has made an already unstable region even more unsafe and a hot war more likely. And, for someone who campaigned on bringing US troops home from the Middle East, there sure seem to be a whole lot going in the other direction.

 

The Solace

After all that, we need that balm I spoke of. So here’s the latest release from New Zealander Martin Heck’s Timestorm Films. It seems the Atacama Desert in Chile is a favourite location of his, and you can understand why. Both the landscape and the skies are absolutely stunning. Remember to put your device on full screen. Enjoy!

 


 

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15 Responses to “Where I’ve Been, Soleimani, and Solace”

  1. Diana MacPherson says:

    I hope you’re feeling better, Heather. Goodness knows I have had enough of being sick over these few months myself so I can empathize.

  2. Randall Schenck says:

    Good to see you still at it. You somehow manage to stay calm when covering U.S. politics and this president. Must be the distance that allows you to do what I cannot. My brief statement on this one is that Trump, in his usual ignorance did this assassination to shift the news cycle from his impeachment. Whether talking about domestic or international items, Trump remains the same train wreck. However, to further review your piece, John Kerry, Secretary of State, for Obama, who made the great agreement with Iran just a few years ago, was on the Lawrence O Donnell show last night and did a fine job of ripping Trump into little pieces. He seemed nearly as angry as I have become.

    By the way, I suspect the terrible plane crash in Iran during or right after they shot their attack the other night was not just a plane crash. I have to think the plane was either hit by something or a bomb went off internally.

    • You will probably remember that book that was written by multiple (?47) eminent psychiatrists that Trump wasn’t mentally fit to be president. The one from Yale who brought them all together has a recent article in ‘Raw Story’ saying this is a typical reaction of his personality type to something like impeachment. If I can find it again I’ll add a link.

  3. GBJames says:

    Welcome back!

  4. Mark R. says:

    I am always happy when I see a Heather Homily in my inbox. Good to know your feeling strong enough to write this insightful post and that you had a nice Holiday with your family.

    Re. Iran:

    I’m not sure Iran’s response is going to be limited to the missiles they launched. They also have many proxy groups who still yearn for revenge. Now, if a proxy group does attack, Iran can say, it wasn’t us, we already got our “revenge”. Anyway, with Trump as POTUS it’s never going to be easy and you can’t believe a word of what this administration says. Pompeo is a bad liar by the way. And now they apparently downed a Ukraine airline Boeing jet. I’m afraid this is far from over.

    • Trump even lied at least three times in his announcement from the White House with all those generals behind him (and I didn’t see the whole thing), I agree there will be issues with proxies for which Iran has plausible deniability. There will also be events for which the US has plausible deniability. The sooner Trump is out of office the better.

      And Obama is still living rent-free in his mind. He couldn’t help but mention him. However, though Obama did make mistakes in the region, he did more to settle things than any other president. How? He was trusted, even by his enemies. Even US allies know full well they can’t trust Trump. Heck: not even his own people can trust him in any part of his administration, whether or not they are supporters of his.

  5. rickflick says:

    Thanks for the Martin Heck!

  6. Ann German says:

    So by now you’ve seen the news that it looks like the Ukraine passenger plane may have been shot down by Iranian missiles thinking it was incoming from the US. I cannot contain my rage at the stupid, thoughtless, reckless and venal asshole running our country (into the ground) and his religious zealot accomplices Pence and Pompeo. Anyway, glad you’re back here and more later. Love, ann

    • And because no one can trust Trump’s administration, no one is likely to work with them to find out what really happened. Boeing at least should have a seat at the table in the investigation and be able to get the information from the black boxes, but because of Trump taking the relationship between the two countries so far backwards that’s never going to happen. There was at least a chance something could have been negotiated when Obama was around.

  7. Randall Schenck says:

    Sounds like another mad american to me. Is this thing doing replies correctly…I don’t think it is.

    Anyway, Trump has screwed up our international reputation so completely, we are now nearly an annex of Russia. By the time we get back to impeachment his chances are not looking so good. He is about as popular as a diabetic in a candy store.

    • No. Replies aren’t being done correctly. You’ll have to say who you’re replying to. The site is being redesigned because of the problems, but because I wasn’t doing much the business that looks after that for me wasn’t either (with my agreement).

  8. Jenny Haniver says:

    Good to know you’re feeling well enough to write. Given the rapidly changing events in just the past two days – from the shooting down of the plane to Iran’s admission that they shot the plane down by mistake (I don’t trust anybody’s explanation these days, though given what I’ve heard, it was probably a mistake on someone’s part), to the huge popular demonstrations against the regime in Iran, it’s difficult to make any sort of definitive statements. I find these demonstrations quite interesting — what will happen?
    Trump is already using them to his advantage and will co-opt them, he’ll claim sole credit for any good that might come of this and deny blame for the havoc he is responsible for instigating.

  9. Jenny Haniver says:

    Given that replies aren’t working, this is an addendum to my previous post. Re Raw Story, you’re referring to Bandy Lee, MD. Just do a search on Raw Story and you’ll find a list of what she’s published there and interviews. However, perhaps you’re referring to Justin Frank, MD, a close associate of Bandy Lee, who’s also published and been interviewed in Raw Story a number of times. I remember this article, which directly addresses the points you refer to: https://www.rawstory.com/2020/01/trumps-severe-impairments-are-now-unleashing-global-catastrophes-psychiatrists/.

    I find Justin Frank’s take on Trump to be on the mark, but he’s a psychoanalyst, so that might turn some people off. Bandy Lee is a psychiatrist but I find both analyses complementary, and I can no longer evaluate any of Trump’s actions without taking the psychological/psychopathological elements into consideration on a basic level and see everything else flowing from his several psychopathologies.

  10. Jenny Haniver says:

    Thanks for the link. I’m glad that Bandy Lee is writing regularly for Raw Story, and that Justin Franks puts in frequent appearances, too. There’s such a plethora of articles on that site, some hits some misses, and I must have overlooked it. Hope you read her latest, where she goes after Giuliani, and before that, Dershowitz, declaring that those two as well as Trump’s base have been afflicted with a shared delusion, spread by “contagion.” The doctor doesn’t mince her words. If you’re interested and don’t already know of this, there’s an excellent documentary about Giuliani, “Giuliani Time” that was made some years ago but it might be even more relevant now. It’s free on Youtube. I think a great triple feature would be “Giuliani Time, “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” and “Get me Roger Stone.”

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