Trump’s impulsive attack underscores the danger his administration poses

On Tuesday (Jan. 7), as the prospect of World War III seemed conceivable, I began fretting over that scenario and thinking about how long it had been since I was able to tune out the news of the day.

The answer: nearly two decades. Choosing journalism as a profession has meant living in a fairly constant state of anxiety about current affairs. As a community newspaper editor, I’m most often focused on what’s happening here in our backyard. But I also research and write about global affairs, and the thought of the mercurial leader of the free world taking us a step further into conflict in the Middle East raises the hair on my neck.

What has happened over the past week—Trump ordering a drone strike near Baghdad that killed a top Iranian general, and the rejoinder of missile strikes that fortunately didn’t harm American troops—arguably began without justification.

Iran has ostensibly been provoking the U.S. for the better part of a year, including by shooting down a drone that entered the country’s airspace back in June. One of the lingering questions: Why take the bait now? Even our closest allies were caught unawares.

Given our embattled president’s political troubles, and the fact that the late Iranian general for years moved freely through the Middle East, a “wag the dog” scenario isn’t far-fetched. The timing is extremely suspect.

Indeed, it provides an all-too-convenient distraction from impeachment during a period when re-election is top of mind. And considering the raft of potential prison-worthy crimes this president faces when he’s out of office, you can bet he will do whatever it takes to get a second term. To hell with the American lives he’d risk—that he’s already put at risk—as well as the millions of Iranians who’d have no say in any sort of altercation with the West.

Speaking of those innocent citizens, lost in the talk of the never-ending war on terror is how sanctions in the region have crippled the economy and the fact that recent escalations likely stem from a desire to open negotiations with the White House. However, as has been pointed out even by the president’s allies, there’s no strategy with Iran.

This week, though it’s been almost 17 years, the start of the Iraq War feels eerily recent. At the time, I was in my last semester at Chico State, where I worked on the student newspaper, The Orion. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since I covered an anti-war protest that shut down traffic on Main Street. I’ll never forget the images of riot-gear-clad police officers—photos I captured on a camera with actual film.

What I didn’t know that day was that nearly 5,000 U.S. service members and hundreds of thousands of others, including civilians, would lose their lives as a result of the invasion, the collapse of that country’s infrastructure, and the subsequent rise of the Islamic State.

I certainly hope these recent events speak to some fence-sitters about the dangers this president’s impulsiveness presents. I don’t want our nation to spend another four years on the white-knuckle flight that is the Trump administration.