There have been loads of heartfelt condemnation of the perceived lawlessness of the Trump administration. And the predictable attacks by self-proclaiming "revolutionaries" against Democrats, particularly Joe Biden, for not being strident enough in their condemnation of the assassination. But are there ways that progressives might actually perceive in this murderous episode any basis for thinking positively about the future?
Let's start by thinking about how Trump benefits by this assassination. Immediately, it took press attention off Moscow Mitch's efforts to kill any real impeachment trial in the Senate. As more and more Republican Senators expressed concern about the overtly corrupt efforts to coordinate Senate action with White House attorneys, and to stop any testimony by witnesses with direct, inside-the-White-House knowledge of Trump's crimes, the need for a distraction became enormous.
Then there was the dog whistle to base voters. As increasing numbers of evangelical "christians" express concern about Trump's behaviors, a strike intended to incite conflict with a Moslem nation was designed to rally round the "christians" to their orange messiah. And for the generic alt-white base, any attack on non-white foreigners is a good thing.
The war profiteering corporations, from big banks to the manufacturers of faulty body armor and billions of bullets are delighted by the prospect of more sales if Trump is re-elected and dives further into middle east (and other?) wars. Their campaign dollars are going to the candidate who promises more sales, and not to those who promise more peace.
And, after refusing to allow witnesses to testify in the impeachment hearings, claiming that standard legal subpoenas and other laws just don't apply to him, Trumps refusal to comply with laws requiring consultation with Congress BEFORE starting a war provide one more opportunity for the Republican Party to embrace the concept that the Rule of Law is a passe, old fashioned concept that is no longer relevant in the U.S. This is particularly good news for the "Proud Boys" and other groups that want the freedom to attack all who disagree with them.
Mainstream Democratic organizations will assail Trump on all these issues. Is it necessary for every progressive to pile on? Or could we try to put this recent assassination into a broader context?
Might Trump's efforts to stir up a new Middle East war actually have the potential to motivate Middle East nations to align themselves in ways that promote more balance, and therefore, better opportunities for less war and more peace?
Think back to 2001. Iraq was a Sunni dictatorship, with a long history of close alignment with the U.S., even following Bush-1's crazy war with Kuwait. The U.S. toppled that friendly, Sunni government, with no plan for any replacement. The inevitable result was that we opened the door for the majority Shia population of Iraq to start communicating more freely with the neighboring Shia Iran.
While U.S. colonial, military rulers tried to prop up unpopular and increasingly corrupt puppet governments, Shia clerics and the militias they controlled, worked to establish some level of social order in their areas of influence, often with the help of Iran. Similarly, in the north of Iraq, Kurdish populations worked on establishing functional civil societies, protected by Kurdish militias.
American administrations, from Bush to Trump, including Obama's, continued our colonial indifference to the opinions, desires and needs of the Iraqi people. People who had had electricity and indoor plumbing under the Saddam regime had been bombed back toward the Stone Age, and saddled with U.S. sanctioned corruption at every level.
Under Trump, our attention has shifted to dealing with the wealthier, less disrupted, Wahabi Sunni Saudi government and royal family. Taking our vision away from Iraq, we let Iran move into the void we left. Now, after having assassinated both an Iranian General and a high Iraqi military official, officially announcing our utter contempt for Iraqi national sovereignty, have we provided impetus for the Shia nations of Iran and Iraq to find some common ground and reasons to cooperate?
Might Iranian/Iraqi cooperation lead to a Shia establishment of sufficient resources to counterbalance the Wahabi Sunni effort to dominate the Middle East? Israel counts heavily on its friendship with the Saudi Sunnis. The Iranians want Israel wiped away. Might an Iranian/Iraqi block be enough to distract Saudi attention, and lessen the bellicosity of Israel toward Iran?
In short, might Trump's efforts to stir up a new Middle East war actually have the potential to motivate Middle East nations to align themselves in ways that promote more balance, and therefore, better opportunities for less war and more peace? Such action would probably include local efforts to oust the last colonial power in the Middle East. The vote by the Iraqi government to order all U.S. troops out of Iraq after the assassinations, seems a step in that direction. And it is in line with what Osama bin Laden wanted before "9-11" when he demanded the removal of U.S. forces from his beloved Saudi Arabia.
Whether or not Trump is the unexpected (and unhappy) sponsor of peace in the Middle East, he certainly is going to have long-term environmental affect. As an indefatigable booster of the burn-it-down industry, trouble in the Middle East is a gold mine for Trump and his oil industry supporters. But at what long-term cost?
Oil prices boom with Middle East strife. But booming oil prices also spur more activity in alternate energy research and development. It used to be said that alternative electricity production wasn't cost effective below certain crude oil prices. But technology has driven that price point constantly lower. As oil prices rise, alternative energy only gets more attractive.
The oil price spikes are always short term. But the research into alternatives is forever. By creating short-term profit booms with irrational war efforts, Trump is also inevitably promoting more research and development of alternatives. We already know that operating any electric car costs far less in fuel than the most efficient gas-powered car. And by pressing the cost of alternative energy ever lower, that cost of operation continues to fall.
And with every windmill, every solar array, and every electric car on the road, we reduce exhaust pollution, from power plants as well as vehicles. This is the law of unintended consequences in action.
The Middle East, as we know it, is a creation of European colonial powers. Territories were divided up by the victors after World War I, without concern for local history, culture or desires. As a result of America's colonial efforts, most forcefully with the Cheney/Bush administration's wars, local populations have worked hard to reduce foreign influences. Might those efforts be a model for European nations?
Since World War II, the U.S. has been the guardian and oppressor of Europe. We sponsored the rebuilding of a shattered Europe after World War II, but then stayed on with occupation forces and overbearing political pressures. With everything from opposition to climate change reality to trying to force our GMO crops and hormone laden beef, chicken and pork on European consumers, we use our power and money to try to force our corporate policies on other nations.
With Trump's new effort to force the entire world to join a war in the middle-east, should the Europeans finally say, "Enough," and stand up to U.S. bullying? The Chinese economy is now substituting for the U.S. as consumer of European cars, foods, wine, etc. Attorneys' fine Italian and Bond Street suits are now all sewed in China. In every part of life, American financial dominance is being challenged. And from Korea to Vietnam, to Grenada and Iraq, the world has seen that the U.S. military, bloated on barely functional, exotic war toys, can't win wars against peasants with bolt action rifles and roadside bombs made from coffee cans.
Now is a time for Europeans to step back from decades of dependence/obeisance to U.S. pressures, and call the bluff. Say, "We will not honor Trump's unilateral sanctions on countries, just to advance his own political goals." As the petro-dollar weakens, even small steps toward European independence could have massive effects on U.S. influence and trouble-making. Trump's war fervor has handed Europe an excuse. Progressives should be encouraging the rest of the world to take advantage of it.