I've beat this drum before, but one of the really infuriating - and more than a little unnerving - things about the Trump Administration is that you can't be sure which of its lies are lies, which are damned lies, which are statistics, and which may, just possibly, be truths.
Case in point
The Saudis apparently want the hell out of this to be Iran's doing. That makes geopolitical sense. The Saudis can't do anything to the Yemenis they're not doing already, they are regional power rivals to the Persians to the north, but they'll need some U.S. help to take a slap at the Iranians without getting slapped pretty hard in return.
If they can get the Yankees to buy it who sent the drone airmail doesn't really matter; they'll have their Gulf of Persia Resolution and it's Bombs Away!
What's less explicable is the intentions of this government as expressed by the various spokescritters within the Trump Administration.
Since the Saturday strike on the Saudi refinery at Abqaiq everybody and their dog (and Mikey Pompeo, but I repeat myself) has blamed
the tricksy Iranian devils. Pompeo practically busted a nut on Twitter fulminating about the wascally Iwanian wabbits:
Thing is, there can't really be much doubt if there's physical evidence. There will be bits and pieces of the aircraft as well as the ordnance. There is likely to have been ground-to-air tracking of the UAVs in flight.
Frankly, I find it hard to believe that the U.S. doesn't 1) know where Iran's cruise missile launch sites are located, and 2) monitor the hell out of them, Iranian communications, and, especially, their aerial attack capabilities.
If this was as unequivocally an Iranian op I have to think that the U.S. intelligence services already know that.
Now...there may be an good reason to keep the intelligence sources on the downlow - tho the Boss doesn't seem to have problems with tweeting out classified reconnaissance photos - and there may be a reason (likely something to do with fire control problems at the Abqaiq facility that are delaying crater analyses and other on-the-ground intel collection that needs to be done to nail down the exact means and methods used) for playing cagey about whodunnit.
But if that's the case, why jump in with the scary ooga-booga "We Know You Did It!"
stuff so soon?
I mean, in a tweet he fired off yesterday Trump appeared to say that all he needed was the go-ahead from his pal MBS to nuke those meddlesome Persians:
(As an aside, remember when Republicans used to go nuts about how Obama was just a cat's-paw of everyone who wanted him to use American force to meddle in foreign business? IIRC that was the point of denying him use of force in Syria regardless of red lines here and there; because we are Amurrikuns, gawddamnit, and we don't bow the knee to no furriners. Ah, yes, those were the days...)
However, at the latest White House presser Trump wouldn't directly say that
"A reporter off-camera asked, "Could you clarify Mr. President? You said you think Iran is responsible for the attack, do you think --- "
"I didn't say that." "Why do you say that?" he asked. "I said we think we know who it was, but I didn't say anybody but ... Certainly it would look to most like it was Iran but I did not say it the way you said it."
So in classic Trumpenstyle the Orange One has managed to 1) make it seem like he's waffling around waiting for his Saudi pals to tell him what to do, and in so doing 2) irk the living shit
out of a bunch of people in D.C. by opening his piehole before thinking about it.
Tulsi Gabbard's response “Trump awaits instructions from his Saudi masters. Having our country act as Saudi Arabia's bitch is not ‘America First,’”
may the juiciest, if not the most informative, but pretty much sums up the general enthusiasm for whatever-the-hell-the-Trumpkins-are-up-to.
But what's kind of weird about this is that if the Iranians DID blow the hell out of this Saudi refinery it's either an Iranian-Saudi problem (and only a US problem if we make it one, so why shout and make a fuss until we decide to do that?), or a "global oil supply" problem and thus an attack on everyone who depends on that supply, including the US - which means that we either take some action, or not; again, fulminating on Twitter seems a very odd way of re-envisioning the Ems Telegram.
Anyway, here's my take.
The bottom lines on this one are;
1) I have no idea who really blew up this Saudi refinery, and I could care less. The Houthis certainly had a good reason. But, frankly, with sanctions squeezing their own petroleum sales the Quds Force might well be disposed to remind their neighborhood sheiks that their own lifestyles aren't out of reach if they get too bitchy. Hell, it could have been the Saudis themselves trying to fool their Uncle Sammy and Tangerine Tiberius to launch a Operation Persian Pacification,
2) As a U.S. citizen, please tell me why I should
care, or want to help the Saudis in any way? As far as petroleum goes, gas made from Iranian crude drives the ol' Subaru as far as Saudi, and as far as Islamic despotisms go I'd say the difference between the two gas-pump polities is "pick 'em". I don't have a dog in the Shia-Sunni fight, and the best thing my nation can get from Middle Eastern politics is "out", and
2) I'd be a lot
less nervous about some moron starting Gulf War IV if I had a higher opinion of the grade of moron currently running things in the Fraudulency Administration, and this nonsense doesn't reassure me in any way. I think that there are still a lot of Bush Era ne'redowells in this Administration that still Want to Go To Tehran, and I don't trust the real-estate-grifter-in-chief to either recognize that or keep those damn gomers' hands off the bomb release levers.
We'll have to wait and see, unfortunately.
There seems to be an increasing consensus that some Iranian organization(s) was/were involved in this attack. The only real question at this point is whether Trump will take his marching orders from his Saudi bros.
What makes this even more frustrating is that Trump's bobo, Pompeo, is straight-up confessing
that this is all because his boss blew up the JCPOA:
“There is this theme that some suggest that the president’s strategy that we allowed isn’t working. I would argue just the converse of that. I would argue that what you are seeing here is a direct result of us reversing the enormous failure of the JCPOA,”
When you edit this for Trumpian Newspeak you get the gist that the problems Iran is involved in - whether caused by or not - are the direct result of some idiot blowing up the diplomatic agreement that was actually working and replacing it with nothing but Tweets-o-War and bombast.
The notion that people are going to die because Donald Trump's ego is chafed by the impudent Negro who twitted him at a dinner meeting years ago just reminds me of the scene in Shaw's Devil's Disciple
where Richard Dudgeon objects to paying taxes to King George. GEN Burgoyne answers that a gentleman's part is to fulfill his obligations, regardless of their distastefulness, to which Dudgeon responds that it's not the money, it's being swindled by a pigheaded lunatic like George Hanover.
To which Burgoyne admits is another matter entirely...