Schwab: Trump playing ‘Iran card’ he warned Obama would use

A bad guy is gone, but there’s scant evidence of strategy in killing an Iranian military leader.

By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist

“Don’t let Obama play the Iran card in order to start a war in order to be elected – be careful, Republicans.” — President Trump in a tweet, Oct. 22, 2012

Ever since he became president of the Electoral College of America, Trump has been itching for confrontation with Iran, if for no other reason than that his more universally admired, darker-skinned predecessor negotiated a nuclear agreement that made the world safer and by which Iran was repeatedly confirmed to be abiding. Said Trump, it was a horrible deal. President Obama gave them $150 billion.

False. It was Iran’s money, impounded by President Obama as part of sanctions meant to force negotiation. Which it did. After compliance was certified, the money was released. Iran discontinued pursuit of nuclear weapons, but Trump, pig-headed, irrational, lying, broke it anyway. What has followed is on him. His odious lie Wednesday that Obama “paid for” Iran’s missiles is a new low of repulsive sleaze.

Along with provocations in the Middle East, Trump began tearing down alliances with our geopolitical partners, weakening our authority and respect in the world. “Go it alone” and “America first” appeal to Trumpists, but don’t work well when dangling war.

Knowing more than anyone about everything, Trump also undertook ridding federal agencies of experienced personnel, hiring inexperienced yes-people, while calling our intelligence agencies deep-state scum and traitors. Add his thousands of documented lies, and disbelief becomes the wisest response whenever he says anything.

Yet this “president” asks us to believe his choice to assassinate Qassem Soleimani came after thoughtful consideration of all possible consequences. And to accept his word, based on what he says was undisputed intelligence from his former deep-state scum, that an attack on Americans was “imminent.” Pompeo, who later said “imminent” didn’t really mean “imminent,” expressed disappointment that our allies, after enduring Trump’s insults and threats for years, haven’t been “more helpful” regarding his kill order. Funny how that works.

Except it’s not funny. Trumpists admire his screw-‘em approach. The more clear-eyed see an egotistical ignorer of knowledgeable advice, who believes his capacious gut contains more wisdom than that accumulated throughout history; history of which he’s repeatedly made clear he’s studiously unaware. Thanks to a capitulated Republican Party, decisions to send Americans into yet another destabilizing battle in the perpetually-unstable Middle East are left entirely to an impulsive, amoral, dishonest, vindictive, ill-informed “president.” Once, there was a process, now wholly ignored.

A genuinely bad guy is gone, but there’s scant evidence of strategic thinking behind it. Even some Republicans found their classified ex-post-facto briefing “insulting and demeaning,” “the worst briefing ever,” “absolutely insane.”

Maybe it’ll solve everything, including getting Trump reelected (“Our missiles are big, powerful …,” he Freuded). But already there are ominous developments: Iran announced its withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, to resume enriching uranium. And the Pentagon, needing to plan for and defend against Iranian responses to killing Soleimani, is suspending efforts to combat ISIS. (Remember them? The terrorists Trump promised to eliminate within 30 days?)

On the other hand, oil and defense stocks are up, so the troops will have at least one tangible reason to be there. Maybe not for long, though, as Iraq just voted to expel all U.S. military personnel, which would give Iran exactly what it’s wanted all along. Had Trump contemplated that possibility? What other consequences are in the offing? We’ll find out.

The killing occurred, we’re told, without consulting the National Security Council or Congressional leaders; likewise, it’s said Trump’s choice came as a surprise to military leaders (who later promised to ignore Trump’s threat to commit war crimes by destroying historical sites). Which raises the question: Is this happening because Trump, the insecure narcissist, needs to appear tough, or is it a thoughtful leader acting in our national interest? Three years of observation tell us the latter is unlikely.

As one who, unlike Trump, has been to war, witnessed its indiscriminate carnage, has a Purple Heart to show for it, I hope I’m wrong. Inciting war shouldn’t be about one man’s pathology, or an impeached “president” wagging Iran at the expense of others’ lives. But there’ll be lives enough to spend, won’t there, as Trumpists and Trump’s sons grab their ARs and head to military recruiters, eager help God’s Chosen One protect our freedoms.

“Remember what I previously said – Obama will someday attack Iran to show how tough he is.” Trump tweeted on Sept. 25, 2013.

Sometimes history doesn’t rhyme at all.

Email Sid Schwab at

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