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Fri Jan 17, 2020, 11:12 AM

Adam Shatz: Trump is 'neo-infantilist' - from "Too Important to Kill"

Trump, who wasnít moved to respond when Saudi Aramco was attacked last Sept≠ember (fracking means America no longer depends on Saudi oil), couldnít allow these insults to go unchallenged. If thereís one thing Trump canít tolerate, itís defiance, especially when it comes from a non-white person. The left often describes Trumpís rule as neofascist, but the more accurate description would be neo-infantilist, the tyranny of the child who imagines himself to be omnipotent. Whatís frightening about the assassination of Soleimani isnít that Trump failed to consult Congress, as if adherence to this protocol, mostly honoured in the breach, would have redeemed the decision (the House Intelligence chairman, Adam Schiff, simply said: ĎThe world is better off without himí). Nor is it that Trump failed to present any evidence for his claim that Soleimani was planning attacks against Americans: such flimsy state≠ments are very much in the American imperial tradition. Nor is it his lack of prudence in targeting a foreign governmentís top official, though this raises the possibility that other states might follow suit.

Whatís frightening is that the attack destroyed any hope of resetting US-Iranian relations or preserving Iranís commitment to Obamaís nuclear agreement. Trumpís hostility to the multilateral deal, which he falsely claimed was a political and financial hand-out to Iran, was no secret. But the Euro≠peans had been scrambling to preserve it since America turned its back. After the Soleimani assassination, Khamenei announced that Iran was no longer bound by any limits on uranium enrichment.

The ballistic missiles fired by Iran at two American bases in Iraq were a face-saving measure; there were no casualties (by Iran≠ian design, according to some reports). But even if this highly restrained response is Iranís final retaliation for Soleimani, which seems doubtful, the unravelling of the nuclear deal means that Iran can pursue enrichment more rapidly and with less over≠sight Ė and that a future confrontation, possibly a violent one, is all but assured. The Soleimani killing was designed to strike against the vision of a diplomatic resolution to the more than forty-year-old conflict between the Islamic Republic and the United States.

As the Iranians vowed to avenge Soleimaniís death, Trump became more intoxic≠ated by his own threats of violence against Iran. Was he trying to scare the Iranians or baiting them? I was in Beirut when he threat≠ened to eliminate 52 sites of Iranian cultural heritage, one for each of the Americans held hostage by Iran between 1979 and 1981. Even people who were pleased at Soleimaniís death seemed apprehensive: Hizbullah, the most powerful party in Lebanon, is Iranís cherished ally. On 6 January its secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, gave a speech about Soleimaniís death from his bunker. It was broadcast on al-Manar, Hizbullahís TV channel, to a gathering of thousands of supporters. Nasrallah said that the Ďresistance axisí would respond to the assassination by fulfilling Soleimaniís ambition to drive all American forces from the region, starting with Iraq. But what was most striking, and most surreal, was his insistence that American civilians were not to be harmed: only military targ≠ets were legit≠imate. Compared to Trump, Nasrallah sounded like a Ďjust warí theorist.


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