So what in the world just happened here?

That’s the question of the moment as we struggle to get our heads around the latest head-snapping episode in the bizarre presidency of Donald Trump. In the last few days, we’ve seen: (1) a U.S. drone strike in Iraq, killing Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force; (2) Trump’s justification of the killing on grounds that Soleimani, architect of hundreds of American military casualties, was planning imminent violence; (3) bellicose threats from Trump to bomb Iranian cultural sites (which would be a war crime); (4) vows of revenge from Tehran, and (5) Iranian missile attacks upon the Iraqi Green Zone, where the American Embassy is, and upon Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops. The attacks caused no casualties and thus may — may — have allowed Iran a face-saving way to avoid escalating hostilities.

And there is also word — breaking as this is written — that U.S. officials now believe a Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed near Tehran killing 176 people after the retaliatory attack was shot down accidentally by Iran.

Somewhere in the midst of that chaos, Marco Rubio, Florida senator and Trump sock puppet, tweeted a call for unity. “#Iran is now openly calling for American’s (sic) to turn on each other. The time will come to debate U.S. policy. Tonight American & allied troops have come under direct attack by a nation-state & Americans must come together to support & protect them & respond appropriately.”

In other words, support the troops and don’t ask any questions.

It’s an appeal to the same sense of patriotic duty that welded Americans together after Sept. 11 and Dec. 7. And you might even allow yourself to be persuaded, if this president were not such an infernal liar.

Yes, presidential lying is hardly unique to Trump. But no president has ever lied as profusely, prolifically or prodigiously as this guy — 15,413 falsehoods since Inauguration Day, according to a December tally in The Washington Post. Truth finds itself not simply assaulted, but also deposed by Trump followers convinced that reality is whatever their great and powerful Oz says it is from one moment to the next. They blithely parrot lies as if they were truths and it’s hard to decide if they don’t know the difference or just don’t care.

But here’s the thing: A president can make no more consequential a decision than to use military force. When that happens, we need and should demand a full understanding of what makes it necessary. If we are to risk the blood, flesh and treasure of our people, we should at least know why.

And we don’t. Oh, we know what Trump has said. Unfortunately, 15,000 lies later, no president has ever had less credibility as he deployed U.S. military assets. That includes Bill Clinton who, in the midst of a scandal over his relationship with a White House intern, authorized strikes against terrorist targets.

No one comes close to Trump. This lying liar lyingly lies — nonstop.

So you’d like to believe there was good reason for what we just did. And that an attack was, indeed, imminent. And that killing Soleimani was the best option — not just a diversion from Trump’s impeachment. And that we have a plan for the aftermath.

You’d like to, but you can’t. That’s the sad state of our Union. That’s the graveyard we whistle past.

And Rubio says we must support the troops and ask no questions? No. Let us support them by asking questions, questions as bold and shameless as the lies we are told. Begin with these:

What in the world just happened here?

And what in the world will happen next?

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald. Readers may email him at lpitts@miamiherald.com.

Copyright 2020 Tribune Content Agency.

(8) comments

des21

We killed a hyperactive Terrorist leader who happened to also be an Iranian general via a drone strike. (You know those things we killed many with we didn't like during the Obama administration.) In turn the Iranians shot down a Ukrainian civilian airliner and pounded sand in northern Iraq to make sure they didn't kill any Americans and get a more severe beating. Stay tuned, it's fluid but is there anything else I can help you with? Oh, Iranians are taking to the streets against their theocratic medievalist government while Democrats here in the US somehow want to throw it another lifeline. Why? You'd have to ask your friends. Do keep up.

DickD

Great column. But the Donald Trump cult live it up believing all of his lies and Faux News.

Obadiah Plainsmen

What in the world just happened here? The World is falling apart.

And what in the world will happen next? The World will fall into place.

Thewheelone

"No one comes close to Trump. This lying liar lyingly lies — nonstop" And yet, his followers continue to drink the kool aid.

threecents

Not sure which was the most spot on quote from the column - that or the description of "little Marco" as "Florida senator and Trump sock puppet."

gary4books

Now for a minority report, I call it "tit for tat" and is a way to deal with information from intelligence reports that people do not want to see. They will say "Give me the reports" and then "What is the source?" and the intelligence services can either give up a source or say that is sensitive information. Most of the time they attribute the electronic information to hypothetical human sources. But the dilemma is real - give up sources or back down on the information. Mr. Trump seems to have done this with the Russian reports of his cooperation and now he works to protect his sources in Iran. "Tit for tat?" Just a possibility/ I spent ten years in Army Intelligence and later on working for a civilian agency.

gabrielshorn2013

Gary, agreed on your assessment of the issue. Issues are classified because if the report is released, the targets will realize how they were discovered. That's why OBL went from using cell phones, to using satellite phones, to using only trusted couriers. Every time an Intel report came out, he changed his tactics. Also, sources of information could easily be determined through such reports, even if the sources are not named. Again, in the case of OBL, it was determined that the source of the information was a doctor pretending to be doing surveys for vaccination use. He was subsequently arrested by Pakistan, and sentenced to 33 years in prison. He will be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life. That issue caused a backlash against vaccines in the region, and people are dying from easily preventable diseases, such as measles.

gary4books

Gab - [smile] Thank you also agree and think of what reporters do to protect sources.

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