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Trump Card: A war of distraction

Political scientist John Mueller  in his landmark  paper, “Presidential Popularity from Truman to Johnson,” published in 1970,  launched the concept of the rally ’round the flag effect (or syndrome), introducing the theory to  political science and international relations.

United States President Donald Trump

This theory seeks to explain increased short-run popular support of the President of the United States during periods of international crisis or war.

The Flag effect, researchers outline, can reduce criticism of governmental policies, and can be seen as a factor of diversionary foreign policy. 

President of United States Donald Trump who is  now facing the possibility of being removed in a Senate trial following his impeachment in December by the lower house,  and who is also uncertain about his lot in the upcoming presidential elections; may have created a diversion with his attack on senior Iranian military personnel.

Trump faces the possibility of being removed in a Senate trial following his December impeachment.

He appears, in line with Muellers theory, to have pulled a Trump card.

General Suleimani, a strategist who represented Iran’s influence across the region, was killed by an American drone at Baghdad airport this week, an attack authorised by President Trump which has increased tensions between Washington and Tehran.

 The death is threatening to intensify hostilities.

“His departure to God does not end his path or his mission, but a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands.”

– Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The Pentagon said Trump had ordered Soleimani’s “killing” after pro-Iran protesters this week stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad.

Dozens of protesters broke into the US Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, smashing and burning.

This followed US military strikes on Sunday against the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah.

Major General Qassim Suleimani (Photo: aljazeera.com)

Washington claimed it was acting in retaliation for last week’s killing of an American contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that it blamed on the group.

Protestors were also incensed by the inflationary and punitive effects of ongoing US sanctions.

In May 2018, Trump withdrew the US from a 2015 international agreement under which Iran agreed to limits on its nuclear work in exchange for relief from economic sanctions imposed by countries worried it was trying to develop a nuclear bomb. 

The remains of a vehicle hit by missiles outside the Baghdad airport. The commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps, Major General Qassim Suleimani, was killed. (Photo: Associated Press)

Trump began re-imposing old sanctions and added new ones.

The new target of President Trump, Major General Qassim Suleimani, led the powerful Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

His death intensifies tensions with Iran that have been continuously growing since Trump unilaterally withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal.

The New York Times reported today that Iranian leaders have issued strident calls for revenge.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani  (Photo: time.com)

Other news sources, including Al Jazeera, quote Middle Eastern sources which describe the act by President Trump as a declaration of war.

With the killing, President Trump may deliver a very big distraction which might see him slip back into a second term as president with greater ease.

The distraction is war, a strategy previously used by beleaguered American presidents to distract the voting public from other issues and improve presidential t ratings.

Meanwhile, the killing is resulting in mass displays of mourning in Middle Eastern countries and of allies.

General Suleiman, it is reported, was the designer of almost all important operations by Iranian intelligence and military forces over the past twenty years.

News analysts state that his death is a considerable blow to Tehran, and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for retaliation on Friday and for three days of national mourning.

“His departure to God does not end his path or his mission, but a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands,” the Supreme Leader said in a statement.

The New York Times states that the general’s prominent role means that his demise might cause a response “in any number of countries across the Middle East where Iran and the United States compete for influence.”

Other news organisations, meanwhile, note that the killing ordered by Trump has resulted in a predictable wave of emotions and will foster solidarity and retribution.

The action has united an otherwise divided Iranian political spectrum.

The dead strategist was widely believed to be the second most powerful figure in Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani  has also, meanwhile, promised revenge and vowed that there will be consequences. 

 Foreign Minister Javad Zarif condemned the killing as an “act of state terrorism” in a statement.

EIN Newswire quoted him as saying “The pure blood of Qassem Soleimani will surely strengthen the tree of resistance, unite the Iranian people, and make US policies in the region less effective by the day.”

Iran’s National Security Council convened an emergency meeting with Khamenei participating  in the meeting for the first time ever, it is reported.

 Esmail Qaani has also been appointed the new head of the Revolutionary Guards’ foreign operations.