Donald Trump on Sunday doubled down on threats to commit war crimes if Tehran seeks retribution for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, whose death plunged the Mideast into crisis and brought the US to the brink of open war with Iran late last week.
“They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site?” an irritated Trump asked reporters aboard Air Force One. “It doesn’t work that way”.
Trump was responding to withering criticism following a series of Saturday evening tweets that found the leader of the free world openly threatening to bomb cultural sites in Iran, presumably with the aim of destroying places of worship and Shia shrines.
Mike Pompeo attempted to play down the president’s threats during an interview with George Stephanopoulos.
“As you know, the Geneva Conventions outlaw attacks on cultural objects and places of worship [and] our own DoD war manual discusses protection of cultural property”, Stephanopoulos said.
“Yeah, we’ll behave lawfully”, Pompeo responded.
Trump seemed to cast considerable doubt on Pompeo’s reassurances. “If it happens it happens”, the president said of what most believe is imminent action from Iran, Hezbollah and/or militias in Iraq. “If they do anything there will be major retaliation”.
Asked on Sunday about the Iraqi parliament’s vote to expel US troops in the wake of Soleimani’s death, Trump suggested he might refuse to leave unless Iraq reimburses the US for expenses which, at the end of the day, were incurred because America chose to invade the country 16 years ago. (Because you really cannot make this stuff up anymore.)
“We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it”, Trump said. “We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it”.
The president went on to assert that if the Iraqis do rescind the invitation for US troops to operate in the country and they refuse to write him a check covering the cost of the air base, he will impose worse sanctions on Iraq than those the US placed on Iran.
“If they do ask us to leave, if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis, we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever”, Trump told reporters. “It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame”.
So, just to be clear, Donald Trump, the man who promised to leave Iraq and who, for the better part of a decade prior to becoming president, maligned the invasion of the country as one of the worst military blunders in history, is now refusing to leave unless somebody writes him a giant check.
Basically, America is being run by Johnny Roastbeef, your low-brow, overweight, connected uncle who runs a backdoor card game for the Bonannos out of the back of a laundromat in Queens.
Also on Sunday, Tehran said the country would no longer abide by any stipulations of the nuclear deal.
Soleimani’s body, meanwhile, moved slowly through Iran to an outpouring of grief from the largest crowds since the 1989 funeral for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Estimates of the turnout were in the millions.
Iranians march behind a vehicle carrying the coffin of Qassem Soleimani in the northeastern city of Mashhad on January 5, 2020. (Photo by MOHAMMAD TAGHI / TASNIM NEWS / AFP)