The Deep State “Entrapment of President Trump”: Competing Factions within the Military intelligence Complex

What we witnessed last week was unprecedented in international affairs: the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Suleimani, as well as a senior Iraqi military commander. Why did Trump decide to engage in this lawless, reckless act? Was it just because he hated the Obama-era nuclear accord that he unlawfully withdrew from? It is a little more than that, and requires some background.

For Trump, this goes all the way back to his campaign and his first meeting with the Pentagon generals in his Oval Office. One of the reasons he was elected was because he spoke openly about ending useless wars, bringing troops home, etc. The Pentagon generals met him only once in his Oval Office in the White House, and furious at his views, demanded that all future meetings take place in ‘the Tank’ – what they call the Pentagon. There, they felt they would be in charge and Trump would have no choice but to take orders.

What has happened during the past three plus years is a slow-motion coup d’etat against Trump since even before he entered office by the military-intelligence apparatus, or the Deep State, in alliance with the most nefarious sections of the Democratic Party. The contempt for Trump has had nothing to do with his vile racism, xenophobia, pathological lying, and imbecilic threats and tweets.

However, it did have to do with the veil of a multicultural, melting pot liberal Western order that he completely tore apart through his domestic bravado.

Internationally, it was somewhat the opposite. That entailed Trump’s campaign promises to end these endless, meaningless wars, make ‘deals’ with the North Koreans and start removing all these costly global US military bases, including in the Middle East.

This is what made elite political discourse in the US under Trump anything unlike in the 21st or 20th century. One has to go back to the US Civil War in the 1860s to find such intra-elite factional infighting.

When a former CIA director goes on national TV in the US and calls a sitting president’s behavior as treasonous – the crime for treason being the death penalty – one knows that there are significant factions of the permanent military-intelligence complex, the Deep State, that have the CIA director’s back. Otherwise, such a remark by a CIA Director about the President of the United States would be unthinkable.

The intense frustration of the intelligence agencies at not being able to first oust Trump first for the absurd ‘Russiagate’ investigations lasting more than two years, and now a ‘Ukrainian-gate’ phone call scandal, has left them hopelessly restless.

Nevertheless, that does not imply that their incredible pressure on Trump on foreign policy has not coerced the president to accede to their demands some of the times. Whether it was halting any further diplomatic negotiations with North Korea, withdrawing from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, etc. as quickly as possible – the Deep State conveyed to Trump in no uncertain terms that these were ‘no-go’ areas for him and to not even try to interfere in these matters.

Like the emperor Constantine feeling besieged by his time’s new wave of mass conversion to prophetic, revolutionary Christianity, the emperor finally decided: why fight them, just join them! Hence, you had the conversion of Christianity, a prophetic moral-ethical emancipatory force, to Christendom – an empire of and for the powerful. Trump has effectively done the same thing in his last year in office, hoping he can adequately placate the Deep State so that this time (unlike in 2016) the latter doesn’t object to his potential re-election this year.

While the war hawk on steroids John Bolton, whose fantasy was wiping Iran off the map, had a short shelf-life in Trump’s administration, there still remains a Secretary of State who’s equally reckless, idiotic, and dangerous.

Mike Pompeo, along with a small neo-con faction of the Deep State, wanted Qasim Suleimani out of the picture for a variety of reasons.

First, Suleimani understood the American forces in West Asia all too-well having worked closely with them both in defeating Taliban and ISIS forces – and Suleimani’s knowledge of the American military’s modus operandi was ‘too close for comfort.’

Second, whether you liked him or hated him, Suleimani was undoubtedly the most formidable commander (regardless of his country of origin) over the past decade in leading and guiding forces in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen – and perhaps other places as well – in defeating salafi jihadis of the Al Qaeda and ISIS types. This fact is not merely some regional Shia hagiography of the man. This is the CIA’s own assessment.

Third, because of his mastery in the battles against and defense from these salafi jihadi forces – routing them out everywhere they may crop up – Suleimani therefore became to be perceived as a threat to complete American hegemony over the world’s most energy-rich region. If a commander from a nation that the US despises the most can accomplish virtually any victory he so desires, plans for US domination of the oil resources and profits in the region, with ‘futures derivatives’ on the stock market on the price of oil in the pipeline, then the risk (of keeping this character in the picture) was deemed to great to Uncle Sam’s policy of ‘what we say goes’ here and everywhere.

And fourth and relatedly, if it is true that the Iraqi Prime Minister had received messages from the Saudis about wanting to open up diplomatic channels with Tehran, since even MBS realized by now that he is not invincible and may even be dispensable for the Americans – then this same zealous faction of Pompeo-led neocon fanatics of the Deep State perceived this to be the absolute anathema to all of their designs over the region. In fact, it was precisely the prestige and influence of Suleimani that was needed by both the Iraqis and Saudis to make any such talks meaningful and substantive. The insane levels of contempt demonstrated toward Iran by this neo-con faction is not without any merit, I suppose. It is not Iran’s human rights abuses or theocratic rule that bothers them. What irks hawkish planners in DC is Iran’s independence and assertion of its own sovereignty since 1979, not playing the game like they should be like the surrounding quisling client regimes of the American empire.

Nevertheless, the devil here is most certainly in the details – because the details reveal plenty. So Gen. Suleimani, who for all effective purposes was considered to be the second highest/most respected government official in Iran, was assassinated by a drone attack by the US in a so-called ‘partner country’ (Iraq) at the Baghdad airport, along with a senior Iraqi commander as well. Let us be clear: these are not paramilitary or militia leaders subject to an American targeted assassination program. These are senior government officials.

In an interview with one of the world’s most highly respected scholars of international law, and a world-renowned public intellectual for peace and justice, Richard Falk notes that no matter how incredibly dangerous moments sometimes reached during the Cold War, it was utterly unimaginable that the US (or the USSR) would directly, themselves, assassinate a senior serving government official of the other nation. Proxy wars would be fought between the two from Afghanistan to Southern Africa, but such a flagrant act, if done by the US to the USSR, for example, would probably have precipitated a nuclear response. That is how unthinkable it was to do such a blatantly unlawful act of, basically, international terrorism directed toward government officials.

To my knowledge, such were the tactics of the anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th century who had their own justifiable reasons for targeting certain oppressive rulers, czars, and state torturers. But of course, with regard to states and their behavior, we have something called the United Nations as well numerous treaties and conventions of which the US is a signatory – but is now catching up with Israel in casually and routinely violating both international and US domestic law on at least a weekly basis. In fact, it’s become so evident that the US has degenerated into a lawless, rogue state that even the normally docile Congress is finally saying wait a minute, the President will need our authorization before he undertakes such an illegal international assassination again, and may even have the courage to play its constitutional role in declaring war first before allowing the executive branch to execute it.

And so what makes this whole dangerous psycho-drama even more interesting is the Iranian response to this unprecedented dastardly act against a government servant revered in his country and beyond – at the very least for fighting off salafi jihadis trying to infiltrate every country in the region. Tehran said it would respond, it informed Baghdad about what it would do, and then did it.

Iranian ballistic missiles targeted  Western-based military bases in Iraq to make three points:

a) we don’t have to target the bases right on our border, our missiles can go way further than that;

b) let’s see how great those missile defense systems of the Americans are, which were unable to intercept a single one of the ballistic missiles even though the Pentagon admits that it knew this was being planned; and

c) unlike arrogant hegemonic powers who could care less about ‘collateral damage,’ our assault was a symbolic one to just send a message, not to harm or injure a soul.

Can anyone recall when is the last time a country harmed or bombed in some capacity by the US had the will power to respond in this way outside of the context of full-scale war? Twenty-four Pakistani soldiers were killed in the Salala massacre, Pakistan being a so-called ‘non-NATO ally’ – and the US even refused to issue an apology, causing the US ambassador to Pakistan to, in principle, resign. Pakistan is a country of 220 million with nuclear weapons and a military that dwarfs Iran’s. But we could not even imagine even ‘returning the favor’ – even symbolically. Our constant mantra is that ‘we’ll be bombed to the stone age’ for any independence and self-respect we demonstrate.

For DC think tankers, chicken hawks, and their stooges across the Global South, the fact that the longest war in US history against one of the poorest countries in the world could not even be won, forget about the mess created in the Middle East with American actions only leading to the strengthening of new players on the bloc, such as Iran, Russia, and China – the fact that Iran had the audacity to retaliate like this should all speak for itself.

Rather, even more significant is President Trump’s speech the next day after the Iranian ballistic missile attacks. After blabbering for around seven minutes about how Iran is so horrible and that the US has big and tall weapons, during the last 1-2 minutes, he goes on to say that the US and Iran have a lot in common in fighting ISIS, should cooperate on various fronts, and that the US desires peace. If Trump goes, we will certainly miss these schizophrenic comedy acts!

It was clear that the dominant factions of the Deep State and their Wall Street friends conveyed the message loud and clear: Pompeo, please move to the side, and we will take over now. And now Trump will listen to them and tell Pompeo to take a break and go play some golf. The dominant factions of the Deep State realize that the neocon games of setting fire to the Middle East, and especially unleashing full Iranian and Iranian-backed force throughout the region, not to mention its utter and unshakeable control over the Strait of Hormuz, will wreck the global economy within a matter of days.

The second chance given to the neo-cons to try to pull off a ‘re-mapping’ of the Middle East has failed. The American empire is slipping and fading away, slowly and gradually but surely. If you give the war hawks a third chance, that decline won’t be so gradual. The American Deep State, with any of the sensible generals and politicos within it, have to make a decision whether their imperial landing (ending) will be a soft one or a hard one.


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Junaid S. Ahmad is Professor of Islam and Decolonial Thought and Director the Center for Global Studies, UMT, Lahore, Pakistan, and is the Secretary-General of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).

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Articles by: Junaid S. Ahmad

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