A Fraught New Year’s Day

A FRAUGHT NEW YEAR’S DAY

The word “fraught” applies to something causing stress and anxiety, or to a person or situation pregnant with them. On New Year’s Day 2021 at the dawn of a new decade, it is the adjective that most perfectly describes the state in which America find’s itself. As if calamitous climate change, devastating disease, and economic contraction not seen for 90 years were not enough, now in the final stress-filled weeks of the Trump presidency, millions face the additional fear that he will take actions that will damage America and the world far into the future.

It is here that that an additional meaning of “fraught” is significant — “perilous,” applicable to a situation or an ill-conceived course of action almost certain to end badly, with outcomes ranging from the merely unfortunate to the devastatingly catastrophic. If it is Trump’s intent to inflict maximum damage on his country before leaving office, as it appears to be, his final and most damaging act will be to order an attack on Iran that will put his successor in an impossible position, kill innumerable innocents, and destabilize the volatile Middle East for decades to come.

Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his hatred for Iran and its people. His unilateral abrogation of the nuclear agreement (JCPOA) evidenced his intransigent refusal to allow the country to make progress while negatively pressurizing its political leadership. The baseless sanctions he unilaterally imposed have impoverished the nation and resulted in many deaths due to lack of medicine, the screws tightened even amidst the covid pandemic responsible for filling the country’s graveyards. This, at bottom, is nothing more than a foreign policy imbued with cruelty, a trait shared all the tyrants Trump loves and desires to emulate, Kim Jong Un being only one example.

The groundwork for the attack was prepared even in the first days of Trump’s presidency. It has long been known that both Israel’s Netanyahu and the Saudi Crown Prince desire a war with Iran fought not by their militaries but by ours. On August 24th, Pompeo met with Netanyahu in Jerusalem for private talks, and in lockstep with his desires Trump has deployed carrier task forces in the Persian Gulf and spent huge sums for intimidating flyovers of B-52 bombers dispatched from far distant bases requiring dangerous mid-air refueling. Additional advance troops have for months been being deployed without fanfare in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region. Ominously, on November 22nd, Pompeo and Netanyahu quietly flew to Saudi Arabia for a secret meeting with the Crown Prince.

Now, on New Year’s Eve, we are told that the Department of Defense is in possession of “intelligence” indicating that Iran may be planning to attack Americans in retaliation for the death of General Soleimani on the anniversary of his murder, just days away. The skeptical raise many questions. Aren’t these the same intelligence agencies Trump has often denigrated for incompetence as part of the deep state? Is this intelligence any better than that justifying the Iraq War on the basis of non-existent weapons of mass destruction? Couldn’t this intelligence have been planted by Mossad or the Saudis who murdered Kashogi? Why would any sensible Iranian order an attack with the Biden presidency only days distant? Yet these sensible objections will carry little weight against anonymous gossip if rumor aligns with the agenda of a war hawk president. All signs substantiate the hypothesis that twenty years after the Middle East war Trump repeatedly decried, he is planning to please the strongmen he loves, Bibi and MBS, and damage the country he claimed to be making great by launching a devastating attack against a third world country incapable of defending itself. Trump’s well known obsession with self-interest raises another penetrating question: what has the Crown Prince promised him in return for taking care of the hated Iranian Shiites, hundreds of billions of dollars and sanctuary if that becomes necessary to avoid prosecution?

The most likely way war would be provoked is under a false flag operation. In just one of many possible scenarios, Saudi agents or the Mossad could strike from a vessel surreptitiously lurking near the Iranian coastline. The attack would not even have to actually kill Americans, only seem to threaten a base in Iraq, purportedly justifying what would be one of the most shameful, most despicable, and most self-destructive acts in our nation’s history.

If this fraught course is pursued and the evil genie is let of the bottle, God help us all. Republicans will face eternal shame and obloquy for not having removed Trump when they had the chance. Instead of serving their country, they made a conscious decision to slip between the sheets with a rattlesnake who will not apologize for plunging his fangs into the world.

Diagnosed and cured of Acromegaly in 2013, I have spent the last seven years researching and writing about the disease.