"Iran - Message Sent, Message Delivered"
by Tom Luongo
"It is clear that Iran is sending the U.S. a stern message. And that message is we can hurt you asymmetrically as much as you hurt us. Over the weekend Iran’s leadership made it clear there was no mistake in their actions last week. They purposefully shot down one of our most advanced drones to send the U.S. a very clear warning. ‘Our capabilities far exceed your tolerance for withstanding them.’
The more we learn about this incident the more the initial story concocted by the U.S. looks specious. Drone in international airspace? Most likely not. Trump said someone made a mistake? No, completely deliberate.
The drone that was shot down, an RQ-4A Global Hawk, was the cream of our surveillance drones. It was flying in tandem with an anti-submarine Poseidon P-8 spy plane, which, according to Elijah Magnier was carrying far more than its normal crew of 9. Try 38.
That was not reported at first either in the initial flush for war. Iran then revealed just how loose with the truth the U.S. turned out to be and that forced a complete rethink of the situation. There was no mistake involved. No IRGC officer panicked. Iran deliberately targeted the Global Hawk after it failed to respond to hails to leave Iranian airspace and turned off its GPS, lights and digital systems. It was acting as a hostile and Iran treated it as such. After sparing the Poseidon P-8 and its crew and passengers Iran shot down the drone.
That said Iran made this decision only after getting confirmation that the U.S. ruled out going to war with them. So, they stood down from shooting the Poseidon, which was the initial target, according to Magnier’s sources within the IRGC.
“Iran was about to hit and destroy the US Navy P-8 Poseidon spy and anti-submarine Boeing that was flying in the area when we received confirmation that the US had decided not to go to war and not to bomb any control and command or missile batteries positions, cleared or non-cleared, along the Straits of Hormuz. Had Trump decided otherwise, we had orders to hit several US and US allies’ targets and the Middle East would have been the theatre of a very destructive war with huge losses on all sides”, said an Iranian IRGC General.
But even after that confirmation came down Iran still chose to shoot down the drone. This was a clear message that actions speak far louder than words. The Iranian leadership decided it was time to test Donald Trump’s mettle. They didn’t have to shoot down the drone. But if they didn’t it would give the U.S. carte blanche to violate Iranian airspace without fear of reprisal solely because back-channel communications say, for now, the U.S. has stayed its hand.
This is likely why Trump was so angry at the presser the other day with Justin Trudeau when asked about the incident. He made what he thought was a gesture of good faith to Iran and, to him, Iran spit in his eye.
And this is where Trump’s fundamental character flaws come to the fore. He’s simply not able to see things outside of his own personal costs. A classic narcissist. And this is why he wanted desperately to bomb Iranian targets in response. Because of his fundamental flaws he had to be talked off the ledge by, reportedly, Tucker Carlson. Good on Tucker if this is even remotely true, but should it have come to this?
If this is what passes for the decision-making flowchart of the Trump administration then we should all be really worried. In the end, this was just a drone and one that was 1) somewhere it shouldn’t have been and 2) acting in a very suspicious manner, if the Iranian side of the story is to be believed. And given the potential costs for Iran if they were wrong, the onus of proof, in my mind, lies with the U.S., which it will not provide. That’s a clear signal that we don’t have the evidence to back up our story.
Then Trump floats this nonsense about killing 150 Iranians wouldn’t be “proportionate.” So people who starve or are denied a better life because of sanctions and threats aren’t casualties, Don? Only those killed by bombs? Again, this is the position of a sick and dangerous narcissist. And don’t think I would only say this about Trump. No, this goes for all of this country’s leaders going back decades.
Sanctions are acts of war. Embargoes are immoral. Just because you can’t tie deaths to it directly doesn’t mean the effects of them aren’t real.
So Trump sends out two signals today. First, he tells everyone in the region they are on their own to protect their regional assets, i.e. oil tankers. This is a clear message that he’s done escalating this stand-off with Iran and is looking for ways out of this. Because if he were truly serious about taking all of Iran’s oil off the market he would be pledging 5th fleet escorts today rather than complaining that China should pay for securing their oil shipments.
Trump started this fight, now he doesn’t know how to get out of it. I expect Putin and Xi will sit him down at the G-20 and work through his options. These men always allow Trump to save face. Iran can’t. The only way they win here is to beat him thoroughly such that everyone knows it. But as I said over the weekend, Iran isn’t interested in allowing Trump to save face here without him giving up something "yuge". He started this fight and it’s up to him to put something tangible on the table. And saying, “I won’t bomb you back to the stone age over a drone” is not an olive branch.
The second thing he did today, confirming his impotence, was putting ineffectual and idiotic sanctions on Iran’s political leadership. I’m sure they are shaking in their turbans now!
The war-gaming after this incident was clear, however. Any retaliation by the U.S. would be catastrophic for the world economy. It would unleash a regional conflict on multiple fronts which would not be any kind of controlled theater. I’m sure even the biggest hawks on the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have been uncomfortable with fighting those battles.
In the end, it looks like Iran’s message was sent and delivered. Trump found out that no amount of external direct pressure will get the Iranian government to fold. That for all the might of the U.S. military and financial empire, its weaknesses are deep enough that even a relatively weak military and economy like Iran’s can stop it all dead cold because of basic things like geography, logistics and simple human resolve."