I had learned that you should always shout louder than your aggressor.” — From “Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood” by Iranian emigre Marjane Satrapi.
“Persepolis” is the title of a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about Satrapi’s experiences growing up in the 1970s Revolution in Iran.
It is also the name of a historic city that is just one of 52 cultural sites in Iran that President Trump has astoundingly and disturbingly said he would target if Iran responds in kind to the drone attack assassination of the Iranian General Qassem Solemaini.
The bombing has both galvanized opponents of the U.S. and suddenly pushed the already-volatile Middle East nearly to the precipice of war. It is the latest example of Twitter-driven “decisions” made by the impetuous and dangerous American president.
He now has the temerity to call his tweets “Media Posts,” in yet another Orwellian twisting of words by this unpredictable man.
Where, indeed, are the adults in the room, be they in the Oval Office or at Mar-A-Lago?
The mere fact that Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani from his Florida resort is concern enough — that he did so not from the Situation Room, the place so designated for life-or-death, drastic actions. Or from any other place where cooler — and less-distracted and less spiteful — heads might prevail.
Trump has set a new, low standard for petulant, ill-thought military decision-making by any commander-in-chief. He chose the kill-Soleimani option with a rapidity that surprised his Pentagon advisors, and did so without any notification of American allies, let alone U.S. Congress.
And to threaten bombing cultural sites as re-retaliation to the “hard revenge” the Iranians have vowed, is not only suggesting the U.S. military be ordered to commit a war crime, but a threat to decency and respect for cultures everywhere.
When they took power the Taliban we have fought at the cost of thousands of American lives for nearly two decades committed their own offenses against holy and cultural sites in ancient Afghanistan, dynaming shrines and centuries-old statuary.
We cannot stand by and put the United States of America on that same shameful plane.
Put another way, threatening to bomb Petropolis would be like Teheran threating to bomb Philadelphia or the ancestral Hopi settlements.
All this to wage war over the corpse of an Iranian general the American people had never heard of way back in 2019.
Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, both Democrats, have spoken out in concise and powerful terms against the president’s reckless action.
Wyden correctly called for Congressional oversight to take hold of all future military action, if any, against Iran.
Merkley released the following statement regarding what he termed “the spiraling national security concerns stemming from President Trump’s reckless and impulsive actions and statements”:
“President Trump and Secretary Pompeo are either dangerously inept or colossally ignorant, and have done enormous damage to U.S. security.
“In short order they have...
“Turned massive demonstrations in Iran against the Iranian government into massive demonstrations against the U.S.;
“Turned demonstrations in Iraq against Iranian influence into demonstrations against U.S. influence;
“Mobilized the Iraqi parliament to vote to expel the United States forces from Iraq;
“Given Iran an excuse to cancel the restraints on their nuclear program that Iran had agreed to and followed for four years before the Trump administration broke the agreement;
“Strengthened the role of Iranian militias in Iraq, expanding Iranian influence — the exact opposite of our goal of reducing Iran’s influence in Iraq;
“Caused U.S. forces to set aside their operations against ISIS in order to prepare to defend themselves against attacks by Iran;
“Placed U.S. forces and assets in the region at greater risk of attack;
“And, most dangerously, set in motion an escalation of attacks that could generate a war between the U.S. and Iran.
“Now all sane Americans must strive to stop the escalation into war.
“We must insist on following our U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress, not the president, the power to decide to go to war.
“Our founders argued that the cost of war in blood and treasure is far too great to be decided by any one person.
“They were right.”