Before we address the killing of Qasem Soleimani and the controversial monologue from Tucker Carlson that followed, let’s recap 2019 as a backdrop.
A series published in the Washington Post just before Christmas detailed how our top military, national security, and political leaders have lied about the war in Afghanistan for nearly two decades. The exposé, based on thousands of documents and hundreds of interviews, is an infuriating account of the failed conflict, which killed 2,300 servicemen, wounded more than 20,000, and cost $1 trillion.
“Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public,” the Post reported. “They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul—and at the White House—to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.”
More lies: A report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller confirmed that despite the political class’s two-year crusade to convince the American people that the president won with coordinated help from a foreign foe, Mueller could not find evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to steal the 2016 presidential election.
The alleged crime that consumed Washington, the media, and the body politic; expended precious government resources; crippled Trump’s first few years in office; and ruined countless reputations? It never happened. Another campaign of deceit by our trusted leaders.
Zero Accountability So Far
Attorney General William Barr, in response, named a U.S. attorney to probe the origins of the destructive Russian collusion hoax; that inquiry now has turned into a criminal investigation. One of the suspects is John Brennan, the former chief of the Central Intelligence Agency. Other targets include top officials at the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
While we await any charges resulting from the ongoing investigation, two reports issued in 2019 confirmed malfeasance and criminality at the highest level of the FBI. Inspector General Michael Horowitz recommended criminal charges against former FBI Director James Comey for stealing and hiding his official memos related to private conversations he had with the president before he was fired in May 2017. (The Justice Department declined to charge Comey.)
A follow-up report by Horowitz revealed how the FBI violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in order to obtain an unlawful warrant to spy on a private American citizen to infiltrate a rival political campaign. Top law enforcement officials wrongfully accused Carter Page, a Naval Academy graduate and government source, of being a foreign agent—a traitor.
Horowitz’s findings include evidence tampering, abuse of power, perjury, and other offenses from people who have a sworn duty to uphold the rule of law. When confronted with the report, the secret court, rather than accept responsibility for failing to do its job and properly vet evidence in a proceeding where the defendant not only is denied representation but doesn’t even know he’s a suspect, pointed fingers.
It was the FBI’s fault, the court claimed, those federal judges signed off four separate times to permit the government to trample Page’s constitutional rights.
A so-called “whistleblower” with ties to the same corrupt cabal that manufactured the collusion hoax tattled on the president of the United States about a classified phone call with another world leader. The “whistleblower” filed his complaint with the intelligence community’s inspector general—a former Obama Justice Department lawyer who worked directly for the same officials involved in the Page FISA warrant—who promptly changed a government document to accommodate the “whistleblower’s” hearsay account.
Americans want out of pointless and unwinnable foreign wars that don’t serve America’s interests but do serve the self-interests of our elites. Trump has promised to deliver this.
The subsequent impeachment inquiry conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, led by the same top Democrat who lied to the American people for three years about evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, featured a cadre of embittered bureaucrats who were more concerned about the people of Ukraine than the people of the United States.
House Democrats impeached the president not because he jeopardized the security of the country or violated the Constitution or sent innocent young men and women to die fighting an unwinnable war. No, Donald Trump was impeached in order to protect the degenerate, privileged son of the leading Democratic presidential contender. Democrats now refuse to follow the Constitution by withholding their two articles of impeachment from the Senate.
The year 2019 was a metaphorical 1814; the year Washington, D.C. burned itself to the ground. Worse yet, none of the arsonists have been charged. Instead of confessing to their crimes, the culprits play the victim on CNN and in the Washington Post and on Twitter.
With that sweeping indictment of the country’s governing aristocracy in mind, it is not just appropriate but necessary to question what comes next after the January 3 strike that killed Soleimani, an international terrorist disguised as a government official. Soleimani’s deadly rampage against American troops, not to mention innocents throughout the Middle East, has ended.
As my colleague Liz Sheld detailed Monday, Soleimani terrorized the region and U.S. interests with impunity. The drumbeat for war, Sheld wrote, is promoted by “those who want to agitate the war-weary public against the president and those discredited war enthusiasts who want to commence the lucrative war industry and reassert their discredited foreign policy authority.” There is no compelling reason to believe Trump has immediate designs on entering another conflict in another hostile nation, although his comments about regime change are alarming.
So, the worry about a further escalating situation in Iran is not unjustified.
An Uneasy Feeling of Déjà Vu
This is why Tucker Carlson’s scathing monologue Friday night merits consideration. And lots of it. Some Trump supporters objected to Carlson’s critique of Soleimani’s killing and insist the slippery slope to war that Carlson suggested might happen won’t come to pass.
While one can argue that Carlson is wrong about whether Soleimani’s killing was warranted, his broader view is spot-on: We’ve been misled before and this path sure looks familiar.
Washington, Carlson noted, has wanted war with Iran “for decades.” Despite promises to the contrary, U.S. troops remain dangerously stationed at outposts around the world, and for what? Twenty U.S. servicemen were killed in Afghanistan in 2019, not that anyone noticed. This comes four years after we supposedly drew down our engagement in that country after invading Afghanistan nearly 20 years ago.
Further, Carlson is correct that assurances from our leaders are unconvincing. Carlson blasted Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for describing the strike against Soleimani as “very simple.” It’s that sort of empty rhetoric that raises red flags. We’ve been duped into “simple” wars before; Sasse’s irresponsible remark is typical of a D.C. elite that has long been incentivized to pursue endless, winless, pointless wars far away even while they ignore the real problems at home.
“No one in Washington is in the mood for big-picture questions right now . . . the obvious ones, is Iran really the biggest threat we face and who’s actually benefiting from this, and why are we continuing to ignore the decline of our own country in favor of jumping into another quagmire from which there is no exit,” Carlson seethed on Friday night.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s insistence that the action prevented an “imminent” threat to the United States also is somewhat disconcerting, particularly since he cited classified intelligence he refused to discuss. Recent history—as recent as a few months ago—provides plenty of reasons why we should doubt an intelligence apparatus working to sabotage Trump’s presidency. This is the same Intelligence Community that got us into these international debacles and has kept us there at tremendous cost.
The Wrong Direction
It’s fully reasonable, therefore, to have deep concerns, even with Trump at the helm. Is the administration’s talk of an “imminent threat” enough vague justification to keep Americans where we aren’t wanted, and indeed, as targets?
A kerfuffle on Monday over the legitimacy of a Defense Department letter suggesting the United States would withdraw troops from Iraq already has the administration in defense mode. Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed there’s no plan to leave Iraq—to the contrary, troops being pulled from Syria have been redeployed to Iraq. That’s going in the wrong direction.
Americans want out of pointless and unwinnable foreign wars that don’t serve America’s interests but do serve the self-interests of our elites. Trump has promised to deliver this. True, he’s been thwarted at every turn by both Democrats and Republicans, and for different reasons. So, it’s fine to be inclined to trust Trump and his team for now even as early messaging—regime change, looming attacks, endorsements from notable war-seekers—offers some warning signs.
“The United States is trying to square a circle, remaining strong and deterring our dangerous elements, but to do so for U.S. interests—interests that increasingly seem to be fewer and fewer in the Middle East,” Victor Davis Hanson wrote Monday.
It’s imperative that the president is on notice that his leash is short. The neoconservatives that have created this mess have torched their credibility and their usefulness. We won’t be fooled again.