Playing Political Catch-Up

A brief commentary on the events of the last few weeks

White House | Photo courtesy
Trump made some of the most important decisions of his presidency these last few weeks.

Even though NDSU students have been on break for the last month, things in Washington have not seemed to slow down. The last week of December and these first few weeks of January have been incredibly busy for American politics.

Impeachment proceedings are moving forward, the democratic candidates are slowly thinning out and for the first time in history, the idea of an impending draft can be joked about via Twitter. What a time to be alive.

So here is my brief and biased commentary on a few of the key political events of the last month:

Trump doesn’t want witnesses for impeachment trial

Right before students left for break, the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, one for abuse of power and the other for obstruction of Congress. 

What will follow this is a trial before Congress to determine if Trump broke the law in promising benefits to Ukraine for dirt on the Biden family.

Despite the general outcry of positivity from the approval of impeachment, with a two-thirds majority needed in Congress (which is led by Republicans in numbers), impeachment seems unlikely.

It seems several facets of American politics are at a tipping point and it is impossible to say which way they will go.

Still, Trump and other leaders of Congress are pushing for a speedy trial. The choice to keep the trial quick seems to go against everything Trump would want. Hours and hours of people talking about him? Big names coming to testify? Being the headline news story on every station? It’s the narcissist’s dream, and subsequently, Trump’s dream.

It seems that Trump may, in fact, be pushing for a big and drawn-out trial, it’s every other member of his party that is pushing him to tone it down. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, said that witnesses would allow the Democrats to use the trial as “a kind of mutually assured destruction.”

However, if Trump is good for anything, he’s good at disappointing members of both parties, so we may get a witness-ridden trial after all. 

Five stabbed at rabbi’s house on Hanukkah

Over the break, in a suburb outside of New York, five people were stabbed in rabbi Chaim Rottenberg’s home while guests were preparing to light candles. After visiting the rabbi’s home, Governor Andrew Cuomo called the attack an, “act of domestic terrorism.”

The suspect in the attack, Grafton Thomas, was apprehended the following day and is standing trial for five counts of attempted murder and one count of first-degree burglary. 

Even in a country where politicians are constantly trying to insist that we’ve come so far, several unassuming citizens endured a targeted religious attack on the same evening that most NDSU students were able to be home quietly celebrating the holiday season with their families.

It is a privilege to be able to pretend like this country is unbelievably progressive when individuals quite literally fight for their lives due to regressive acts.

Trump blames Iran for U.S. Embassy compound attack in Baghdad

After a U.S. compound in Baghdad was compromised, President Trump promised that Iran would be held responsible for its actions. All this, according to journalist Quint Forgey, comes after a series of airstrikes by the U.S. on an Iranian-sponsored militia. 

The tensions following these airstrikes and the U.S. insistence on the role of the Iranian government in the killing of an American defense contractor led to a series of Iranian militia-men and supporters breaking into the American Embassy compound. 

Regardless of the build-up and the rising of tensions on both sides, publically blaming a foreign government for an attack and promising retribution is a sure-fire way to start a world war. This all coming conveniently timed before an election.

In Trump’s own past, he criticized Obama by insisting that the former president would start a war with Iran to get reelected. Well, now we get to watch him follow his own advice and cause worldwide chaos in the process… lucky us.

Iran’s General Soleimani killed in an airstrike

Using a drone strike, the U.S. launched an attack that killed General Soleimani, an Iranian commander. Again, this attack comes after protests against the U.S. in Iran.

For more context into this, it is important to understand the impact of the U.S. on Iran since Trump became President. According to Brian Hook, the Trump administration’s specialist on Iran, U.S. sanctions are responsible for the limited amount of oil being exported from Iran (2.5 million barrels a day a year and a half ago to 0.5 million barrels a day in 2020).

U.S. interference is thus largely responsible for economic pressures in Iran, their economy contracting by an estimated 14 percent from this same time last year.

So, after these changes have been made to the country and tensions have been growing far away from the American eye, Trump chose to attack five sites in Iran after the death of an American. These attacks killed 25 and injured more than 50.

Did this action expel violence in Iran? No. In fact, it led to protests of thousands against the American government and the U.S. as a whole. 

Mind you, we’re hearing about Trump’s feelings on this event via his Twitter account while he’s at a resort on vacation. A possible war is beginning due to his most recent actions and he uses 280 characters to inform the world about what is taking place.

Whether or not Soleimani’s death was warranted is not the question here, the question is what the effect of this one man’s death could possibly have on the world. A war with Iran would unleash violence across the world. 

The crash of the Ukranian plane as a result of a failed Iranian attack on the U.S. is only the first of what would surely be unbelievable civilian and military casualties. 

Simply put, there is a difference between a country that has strong values and protects its citizens, which America has every right to be, and one that uses fear-mongering and worldwide violence to force citizens of multiple nationalities into submission, which Trump could ultimately create. 

General replacing Soleimani promises revenge on the U.S.

Since the killing of Soleimani took place, Iranian leaders have made a series of threats to the United States. In fact, on Jan. 5, Iranian lawmakers chanted against America during a congregation to address the killing of their general. 

One of the first steps in this promise was Iran’s choice to pull out of the 2015 Nuclear Deal, wherein Iran promised to reduce its nuclear facilities. This means that recent actions will likely increase the likelihood that Iran will build weapons that would otherwise have gone unbuilt.

In conclusion…

These last few weeks have been instrumental in modern politics in the United States. A President on the brink of an impeachment trial is on vacation while coordinating the beginnings of a potential third world war from his beach chair, the attack on Hanukkah is evident of the continued hate and bigotry in this country and the whole country is holding its breath to see what will happen next.

Of course, at the same time, there have been protests from leaders in Washington and citizens alike to stop any more violence erupting between the U.S. and Iran. There are people who are insistent about hearing witnesses testify at Trump’s hearing for the sake of acknowledging what happened, even if impeachment is unlikely.

It seems several facets of American politics are at a tipping point and it is impossible to say which way they will go. Even through all the memes and joking, it is clear most Americans have little interest in going to war with Iran, and hopefully we will have a draft-free 2020.

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