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Published 01/03/2020 | Reading Time 4 min 31 sec
By Daniel Rogers, Contributing Writer
TULSA, Okla. — President Donald J. Trump has made ardent allies of Saudi Arabia and Israel — Iran’s biggest enemies in the region. While this conflict has been going on for decades, the Trump Administration’s commitment to Israeli and Saudi Arabian interests have perpetuated fears that the conflict we saw coming is now at our doorstep.
To catch you up on American policy with Iran: Over the last few years, Trump campaigned on terminating the Iran nuclear deal. Although the United Nations (UN) certified that Iran was in compliance all the way up to terminating the deal, the Trump Administration disregarded the UN.
In May of 2018, Trump pulled out of the agreement and then said the US would impose tariffs on Iran starting that November. In response, the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani began their enrichment program, as the US seemingly helped Saudi Arabia commit mass genocide in Yemen. Iran was blamed for an attack on a Saudi Arabian oil shipment off the coast of Yemen, reinforcing tensions between the countries with no definitive proof Iran coordinated the attack.
In November of 2018, Trump re-imposed all the sanctions removed by the Obama Administration. The International Court of Justice — the principal judicial body of the United Nations — ruled the sanctions on Iran was “economic warfare” and illegal according to the treaty. The UN urged that the US must reverse some of the sanctions.
When the Court advised sanctions on “foodstuffs, medicines, including life-saving medicines, treatment for chronic disease or preventive care, and medical equipment” causing an untold number of deaths of innocent civilians, The Trump Administration terminated the 1955 treaty with Iran, removed the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council, and continued the devastating sanctions.
The impact of the sanctions on Iran have been terrifying and has sent the country into an economic decline spiraling into chaos. Not only in the worst recession Iran has ever seen — unemployment has skyrocketed in the country to almost 17% as of 2019. The currency has hit an all-time low, and inflation has caused the cost of living to go up as much as 116% on certain food and goods.
There has been no hiding Trump’s love for Saudi Arabia and Israel, Iran’s fiercest enemies. Though Trump wasn’t much of a fan of Saudi Arabia before he was president, he’s developed a strong kinship with absolute monarchy and has been quoted saying this at an Alabama rally, “Saudi Arabia -and I get along great with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much”. Though the emoluments clause was written specifically for someone using the office of the president to enrich himself, the Saudis have spent over $350 million in business deals with Trump.
Trump’s first trip out of the country was to Saudi Arabia, where he was presented with an extravagant gold medal and in turn, sold what will amount to billions of dollars worth of ammunitions back to the country. In one interview, when asked about the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the president looked the other way alluding to tolerating the murder as long as weapons manufacturers can continue to make billions of dollars in arm-sales to the country.
This brings us to terms with the evidence that the Trump Administration, and the military-industrial complex he propels, has been committed to destabilizing Iran by any means necessary since he was elected into office, and most of our US congressional leaders are okay with that.
If we’ve learned anything from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lybia, Egypt, Venezuela, Guatemala, Argentina, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Ghana, Honduras, Haiti, it’s that the United States is awful at regime change wars.
Worse is starting a regime change war in the interest of Saudi Arabia, one of the largest state sponsors of terrorism in the world today, for no other conceivable reason but profits for the military-industrial complex, weapons manufacturers, and Trump properties.
This brings us to the US drone strike ordered by the president on January 2, 2020, that targeted and killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, and a cultural icon for the Iranian people.
Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif said in a tweet “this is an act of terrorism” and will be interpreting the killing of its top general as a declaration of all-out war.
A conflict with the world’s 14th most powerful military would make the $3 trillion wars of Iraq and Afghanistan look like a walk in the park.
Worst of all, Congress could have stopped this!
There was a bipartisan amendment in the defense spending bill that would prevent Trump from being able to launch an offensive war against Iran, but Congress removed the protection before signing it into law. Knowing full well without the amendment, the Trump Administration — with the full power of the entire US military — can wage war without any deliberation, nor debate; every single one of Oklahoma’s representatives voted for this bill.
James Lankford was a staunch supporter of removing the provision and has rallied behind the president and the aggression towards Iran.
The Congress that voted for this bill must be held accountable for the decision to give the president unchecked authority for offensive military action.
The question we must ask ourselves is: How do we prevent an all-out war?
In the short term, we must call on our elected officials to act immediately. One of the few representatives that wouldn’t budge on key amendments being removed from the bill, Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted, “So what if Trump wants war, knows this leads to war, and needs the distraction? [The] real question is, will those with congressional authority step in and stop him? I know I will.”
For each of the Ilhan Omars, representing some sort of check and balance of peace and diplomacy, there are another seven or eight James Lankfords or Jim Inhofes leading the way to military aggression and war.
Today, Sen. Lankford has doubled down on his choice to give the president authority to wage his own war absolving the president of any wrongdoing, as has been typical since the president took office.
Every single Oklahoma representative in Congress voted to give the president unchecked-use of military force against Iran. Blood has been shed and will be on the hands of all the representatives that voted to allow it to happen. We must hold our legislators accountable before we are left without a vote, voice, or choice in our foreign policy and the monopoly of force that is the US military.
Daniel Rogers is committed to objectivity and fact-based reporting that speak truth to power, holds our representatives and public officials accountable, and bring awareness of a corrupt and broken system in need of repair. Daniel’s biggest influence is his aunt, Joyce Ann Rogers, who was an honoree and award recipient of multiple human rights organizations for her activism in the Tulsa community and a leading member of the NAACP. When not contributing to the Black Wall Street Times, Daniel is a freelance audio engineer and co-founder of The Lab Recordings est. 2010. Daniel is an Oklahoma native who graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and a strong believer that one must be the change they want to see in the world.