There are so many urgent global problems we need to address — starting with the waning time we have left to avert utter climate catastrophe, even as the apocalyptic images of the fires raging in Australia remind us of the damage already being wreaked by the inexorable warming of the planet.
(For an interesting poll of Canadian attitudes about the need to transition to a lower carbon future, see: Energy transition a widely accepted concept; Canadians want governments to work on it, not against it (abacusdata.ca, 3 January 2020).)
Yet, here we are on the third day of January 2020 forced to confront another hair-raising crisis created by the Trump administration — this time through their illegal assassination of the second most powerful man in Iran, General Qassem Suleimani. See: Qassem Suleimani’s death threatens to open grisly new chapter in the Middle East (Julian Borger, theguardian.com, 3 January 2020).
Given General Suleimani’s importance and stature, Iran has no choice but to retaliate. Many even fear this could be the spark that leads to another Middle East war. Hence the call from some U.S. allies for “all sides” to “de-escalate” tensions. Canada’s statement was an exercise in hypocrisy, condemning Iran but voicing nary a peep about U.S. actions.
For other reactions, see: Factbox: Reactions to the killing of Iranian general in a U.S. air strike (reuters.com, 2 January 2020). Note that, in addition to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice-President Joe Biden, other Democratic presidential nominees have also opposed the general’s killing.
Here is the first thing to remember about this latest crisis with Iran — it is entirely of Donald Trump’s making.
When Trump took office, there was no US crisis with Iran. He created one – driven by hawkish advisers, many of whom had supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and his desire to undo one of Barack Obama’s major foreign policy accomplishments. See: Donald Trump blundered into a crisis of his own making with Iran (Mohamad Bazzi, theguardian.com), 3 January 2020.
Think about that for a moment. The world has been brought to this latest precipice because the pathologically insecure and petty American president wants to undo every shred of his predecessor’s legacy.
But it is one thing to have an out-of-control president, as bad as that might be. What makes this situation exponentially worse is the failure of the much-vaunted American system of “checks and balances” to rein him in.
Add to that the equally craven failure of Western allies to take any meaningful action either — for fear Trump might turn his vengeful eye on them.
How long will our leaders continue to stand virtually mute in the face of one outrageously dangerous and horrifically damaging Trumpian action after another?
Let us remember that the illegal sanctions imposed on Iran by the Trump administration are crippling its economy and inflicting untold suffering on the Iranian people. Almost all of the rest of the world (save Israel, Saudi Arabia and its hapless lackies) have declared their opposition to this action. But they do not act collectively to counter it. And that is what is needed — collective action on a broad enough scale that even Donald Trump could not dismiss it.
Iran is in the cross-hairs right now. Who is next?
More than that, the Trump administration is the single biggest obstacle to marshalling a truly global response to the twin existential threats of climate catastrophe and the devastation of nature.
One thing is clear, our governments will not stand up to the criminally dangerous Trump administration until we collectively say, “Enough!”
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