Trump's America stands utterly alone

Article Image

What does the death of Soleimani mean for U.S. interests in the Middle East? CFR President Richard Haass tells Fareed why it "totally changed the narrative."

Posted: Jan 5, 2020 2:10 PM
Updated: Jan 5, 2020 2:10 PM

This time, the United States stands utterly alone.

Since his inaugural address three years ago, President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted his nationalist views and acted on a warped belief that the essence of American foreign policy is self-reliance. Now, for the first time in at least a century, America may be going to war all by itself.

Trump launched his attack on Iran's Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani without the backing of American allies. Trump even kept British Prime Minister Boris Johnson out of the loop, according to the BBC. A United Nations expert on extrajudicial executions said the killing "most likely" violated international law, while UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab urged "all parties to de-escalate."

Trump has repeatedly alienated most of America's traditional allies and led them to question his style of leadership. He has railed against fellow NATO members, and attacked leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron.

And despite protests from US allies, Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal while the remaining members -- Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany -- pledged to maintain the agreement designed to prevent Iran from making a mad dash toward a nuclear weapon. And the Europeans have bent over backwards to find ways of neutralizing or circumventing the sanctions Trump subsequently loaded onto Iran.

In withdrawing from the nuclear pact, the Trump administration launched a maximum pressure campaign, and Iran reciprocated with a number of provocations including shooting down a US military drone in June 2019. Trump nearly responded with a military strike, before calling it off and writing that it was "not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone."

In 2013, when President Barack Obama contemplated a massive attack on Syria for use of chemical weapons during that nation's civil war, he backed off when the British, following an eight-hour debate in Parliament, refused to join in. The UK's support might have helped sway Congress, where Obama faced opposition from both parties.

The foundations for Britain's distrust were laid in 2003, when the UK supported the invasion of Iraq under the pretense that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, and members of Parliament were wary of making the same mistake a decade later. As Prime Minister David Cameron admitted during the debate, "One thing is indisputable: the well of public opinion was well and truly poisoned by the (2003) Iraq episode and we need to understand the public skepticism."

George W. Bush convinced the world that Saddam was building a nuclear arsenal. Secretary of State Colin Powell even went before the UN Security Council with aerial photos purporting to show such advances. "My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources," Powell said on February 5, 2003. "These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence." Of course, it turned out to be all utterly bogus. And Powell later acknowledged it was a blot on his record. By then, however, tens of thousands of troops fighting for America and its allies, had lost their lives, as well as at least 180,000 Iraqi civilians.

This time, Trump said, "Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him." Since then, he has produced no such evidence.

By killing Soleimani, Trump has provoked a power that has powerful friends, and little to lose. Last month, Iran joined Russia and China on massive joint naval maneuvers in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman. China has also proved to be a receptive customer for Iran's oil sales, despite Trump's efforts to crush the Islamic Republic's economy. Iran has also aligned with Russia in backing Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria.

History would also suggest that Iran is fully prepared to unleash asymmetric warfare unlike any before seen. Its eight-year war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988 has shown it to be capable of assembling vast reserves of would-be martyrs in the form of human wave attacks unlike anything terrorist groups have been able to mount.

By his action, Trump crossed several critical red lines in the region, without notice and without backup. For the past two years, I have been studying the nature, structure and history of red lines for my forthcoming book, A Line in the Sand: Red Lines in Peace and War," to be published by Pegasus. I've found that the Middle East, particularly Iran, Iraq and Syria today have a density of red lines -- ranging from geographical borders to political, diplomatic or military realities -- replicated in no other region of the world, nor at any other moment in history. Each line must in some fashion be carefully communicated or structured so that all parties understand the reality and the stakes for violating them.

Certainly, Soleimani crossed a critical red line himself by going into Iraq where he was killed in a drone strike at a Baghdad airport. But Trump, by his response, crossed an even more dangerous one by escalating an already tense situation across a red line that was not its own -- without support from crucial allies.

Perhaps most troubling is the fact that Trump does not seem to be at all concerned about his lack of friends and allies, nor for that matter has he expressed any real plan of response beyond a tweeted threat of retaliation against 52 Iranian targets if Iran strikes back. Above all, he does not seem to have an exit strategy or end game in mind. Establishing or violating a red line is not an action to be undertaken cavalierly or without careful consideration as to the response or the outcome.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 662213

Reported Deaths: 12595
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion907061645
Lake48425878
Allen35861636
Hamilton32099397
St. Joseph29996512
Elkhart25386415
Vanderburgh21247378
Tippecanoe20024201
Johnson16349360
Porter15975270
Hendricks15825300
Clark11965181
Madison11746318
Vigo11612229
Monroe10333161
Delaware9838179
LaPorte9772196
Howard9056197
Kosciusko8562110
Bartholomew7456147
Warrick7416151
Hancock7409131
Floyd7207169
Wayne6633191
Grant6427157
Morgan6092125
Boone609088
Dubois5910111
Dearborn547467
Cass544499
Marshall5425104
Henry542393
Noble509378
Jackson464767
Shelby460690
Lawrence4184112
Gibson401281
Harrison399864
Clinton395853
Montgomery387083
DeKalb385278
Knox357485
Miami357463
Whitley349436
Huntington344476
Steuben338355
Wabash331476
Putnam330559
Ripley327161
Adams323549
Jasper316143
White297352
Jefferson294973
Daviess285396
Fayette271956
Decatur270888
Greene261280
Posey260931
Wells258275
Scott250350
Clay241444
LaGrange240870
Randolph225576
Spencer217330
Jennings215244
Washington211227
Sullivan203439
Fountain201542
Starke188151
Owen182153
Fulton178237
Jay177828
Carroll176518
Perry173235
Orange171250
Rush164822
Vermillion160542
Franklin159435
Tipton146441
Parke139316
Pike127632
Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown95039
Benton92013
Crawford90713
Martin80114
Warren75814
Switzerland7548
Union67110
Ohio53711
Unassigned0433

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 968874

Reported Deaths: 17346
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1119871212
Cuyahoga957051750
Hamilton73287974
Montgomery47254892
Summit40184957
Butler35456473
Lucas35279767
Stark29356843
Warren22381276
Lorain21994391
Mahoning19444544
Lake18379305
Clermont18346212
Delaware16437136
Licking14967200
Fairfield14506160
Trumbull14315465
Greene13568214
Medina13370219
Clark12246336
Wood11506194
Portage11008160
Allen10768235
Richland10278206
Miami10011190
Muskingum8169131
Columbiana8120183
Pickaway8041104
Tuscarawas8029236
Marion7982137
Wayne7857219
Erie6872184
Ross6130137
Geauga6057129
Hancock5981114
Ashtabula5959147
Scioto5933104
Lawrence524974
Union512352
Darke5026124
Belmont491889
Huron4797118
Jefferson4790108
Sandusky476196
Seneca4671103
Athens463733
Washington462287
Mercer4582101
Auglaize455499
Shelby440970
Knox401686
Putnam3986101
Madison392147
Ashland379195
Fulton378664
Defiance3714102
Brown369242
Crawford357496
Logan354060
Preble352671
Clinton340064
Highland327756
Ottawa323267
Williams301878
Jackson289356
Champaign286646
Guernsey286234
Fayette268144
Perry267744
Morrow259225
Henry245765
Hardin244457
Holmes2430104
Coshocton235547
Van Wert229249
Gallia221846
Adams216032
Pike215228
Wyandot209353
Hocking194049
Carroll180828
Paulding160023
Meigs135037
Noble128742
Monroe116436
Morgan100834
Harrison100433
Vinton76715
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
20° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 17°
Feels Like: 13°
Angola
Clear
14° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 14°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
19° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 12°
Fort Wayne
Clear
20° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 13°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
19° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 19°
Feels Like: 11°
Breezy, Sunny Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events