A Few Americans Dead: What’s the Problem? Trump’s disastrous foreign policy looks even worse

It seems like it happened years ago, but you may recall that earlier in the year the United States came very close to going to war with Iran. There had been a series of skirmishes in the previous months and Iranian representatives had been launching rocket attacks on bases in Iraq, none of which was particularly unusual. But after a US contractor named Nawres Waleed Hamid died in one of those attacks, the Trump administration decided to retaliate by murdering Iran’s most illustrious military leader, General Qassem Soleimani. It was an extreme provocation and only the surprising tolerance of the Iranian leadership prevented the region from plunging into war.

After some very tense days in both countries, the crisis passed and we immediately turned our attention to President Trump’s impeachment trial in the United States Senate.

At the time, it was reported that Trump was so upset about the death of this American contractor that he simply couldn’t let it go, so he almost launched a major new war in the Middle East. Interestingly, then, the New York Times reported last weekend that they told Trump that Russian agents had rewarded the lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan and that they didn’t even bother to issue a warning to the Russian government.

Of course, Trump’s record of empathy for the deaths of US troops, even soldiers in distant lands, is not exactly stellar, so it is not entirely surprising. His excuse for Soleimani’s murder was an anomaly. But still, putting a reward on Americans is an extremely provocative act; one would expect some kind of response.

According to the Times, and as later confirmed by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, Trump was briefed on this in March, but he did a great show of insisting that Russia be allowed to return to the G7 last spring, so it did not. He seems too concerned. Leaving aside the pretext for Soleimani’s murder, he is typically very cynical about these things. (Remember that you excused the murder of journalists by Russian President Vladimir Putin saying, “Well, I think our country also kills many.”)

Since the story became known, Trump and the White House have offered several responses. Trump tweeted that he knew nothing about this and was never informed. He also misrepresented the story and said, curiously, that “there have not been many attacks on us.” Is the thought here that even if it happened, we didn’t lose a lot of people, so what’s the problem?

The President continued his weekend, playing golf with Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C., incessantly tweeting about the arrests of four people for defacing a monument, and otherwise acting without concern for this story.

His completely disqualified and flattering subject John Ratcliffe, the new director of national intelligence, stepped in to say that Trump had not been informed. The White House did the same. You’ll notice that Ratcliffe did not deny that the story was accurate, meaning that the intelligence community really dropped the ball if they didn’t bother to tell the president about it, especially while he was there pushing for Russia to be allowed back in the G7.

Trump finally stepped in on Sunday night and suggested that it’s all a hoax, as we all knew he would do.

Since Graham had spent the day on the golf course with Trump, this is a strange exchange. The subject did not arise? But most importantly, in none of these tweets and statements, the president indicates even the slightest interest in obtaining more information about it. Nor does anyone seem to be a bit interested in why intelligence professionals wouldn’t tell the president about such a thing, even if it was just a rumor. History says they found tons of American money, and you know Trump would at least be interested in that.

We know for sure that Trump does not read his daily reports, and we know that he gets angry every time someone mentions Russia in the truncated oral reports he prefers. You may recall that he, too, wanted to personally have peace talks with the Taliban at Camp David, planning a surprise summit that collapsed after the Taliban killed an American and 11 others in a car bomb just before the meeting. (I wonder if that was part of the rewards plan?) Perhaps the intelligence insiders did not want to combine bad news by suggesting that Russia and the Taliban, Trump’s alleged partners in peace, were actually sabotaging him.

It’s also possible that, just as Trump was so consumed by his “big trade deal” with Chinese President Xi Jinping last January that he ignored all the alarms about the growing threat of a pandemic, this spring he was obsessed with planning his big G7 contest. Organized by the United States (but sadly not at his Doral golf resort, as he had once proposed). He wanted to show off to Putin, take him back to the club, and put on a great show just before his convention. He didn’t want to get in trouble for something silly like a few dead American soldiers. How would that help you get reelected?

Considering Trump’s total lack of empathy for the more than 128,000 people who died from COVID-19 in just four months, I think there is also a good chance that his assistants have told him about this, he only half listened. and he didn’t care much. After all, it is obvious that Trump is more concerned with saving the statues of dead Confederate generals than with saving the lives of American citizens.

Little did we know, in 2016, that when Trump cheerfully excused Putin’s murders of his own people by saying “our country also kills a lot,” he saw that as part of his job description.