Quick, brief summary/update:
On Sunday, the Iraqi Parliament, in a politically significant move, voted to request that the U.S. withdraw its troops from Iraq.
Almost immediately, Trump threatened Iraq with serious repercussions
On Monday, a letter drafted by Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William H. Seely to Iraqi military officials stated: “In due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and its Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement…We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.”
Almost immediately, the U.S, military scrambled to declare the draft, unsigned letter a “mistake.”
Then followed a couple of days of silence on this issue while Iran reacted to the assassination of senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
But on Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi asked the United States to “send a delegation to Iraq to set up a mechanism for U.S. troop withdrawal from the country…” In other words, “Yes you’re leaving.”
Today, the U.S. State Department replied, “At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership — not to discuss troop withdrawal…” In other words, as they say in Texas “No, we ain’t”
It’s anyone’s guess how this shtick will end.
The Washington Post reports Senior administration officials have begun drafting sanctions against Iraq after Trump threatened Iraq with such if it follows through on its threat to expel U.S. troops from the country, even though “such a step would represent a highly unusual move against a foreign ally that the United States has spent almost two decades and hundreds of billions of dollars supporting.”
There are simple, uncomplicated letters – the kind you and I used to write, when such was fashionable.
There are historical letters such as Albert Einstein’s 1939 letter to President Franklin Roosevelt suggesting the U.S. focus on the research and development of how “a nuclear reaction in a large mass of uranium” could be used in the construction of “…extremely powerful bombs of a new type…”
There are soaring, inspirational letters such as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
And then there are “beautiful” love letters such as the ones Trump claims North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un writes to him: “And then [they] fell in love.”
Trump himself — when not tweeting 280-characters, ALL-CAPS, inane rants, insults and mis-spelled claptrap — has authored some beauties himself.
Take his Dec. 17 five-page “rambling and angry letter” to Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressing his “most powerful protest” against his impeachment. The New York Times counted no less than 19 exaggerated, inaccurate, misleading and false statements in his insulting, disrespectful letter to the Speaker.
This should come as no surprise from a fellow who, as of only a couple of weeks ago, had made “15,413 false or misleading claims.”
We are all familiar with the incendiary, bellicose tweets and statements Trump has been making in the wake of his ill-advised, Ill-planned and ill-considered assassination of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force.
Trump gives the finger to Congress and makes a mockery of the War Powers Act by claiming that his twitter posts serve as notification to Congress of any strikes Trump may launch against Iraq, “perhaps in a disproportionate manner.”
Trump threatens, in violation of the laws of armed conflict, that if Iran takes military action against the United States, he may order attacks on, among other, Iranian cultural sites.*
Finally, Trump bombastically counters the Iraqi parliament’s decision to expel U.S. (and foreign troops) and threatens to impose on Iraq “very big sanctions…sanctions like they’ve never seen before…” and to demand that Iraq reimburse the U.S. for the billions of dollars it has invested in a major air base — pretty much vowing the U.S, would not leave Iraq if requested to do so. As usual, Trump grossly exaggerates the amount the U.S. has spent on military equipment. “Two Trillion Dollars…” he says.
But today, a letter written by a U.S. General was released that defies any characterization.
A letter addressed to Iraqi military officials, drafted by Marine Corps Brig. Gen. William H. Seely III, the US Command in Baghdad, said among other:
“In due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and its Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement.” The letter assures the Iraqi government that measures will be taken to ensure that “the movement out of Iraq is conducted in a safe and efficient manner”
It concludes: “We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.”
Of course, the letter created mass confusion and prompted calls of incompetence and disarray among the military.
Was it that, or was it dissent, “jumping the gun,” a rogue general, prescience — or sanity?
* Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said today, “As to the United States attacking Iran’s cultural sites, U.S. forces will follow the laws of armed conflict.”