This front page Washington Post story about the siege by pro-Iran militias of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, now ended, is an attempt to score points against President Trump. The subtitle of the story (paper edition) is “Trump warns Iran but shows little appetite for deeper involvement.”
Trump responded to the siege by deploying troops to the region. A president with an “appetite” for a “deeper involvement” than that would be a warmonger.
Would the Washington Post have characterized the same response by President Obama the same way? I don’t think so. The Post would have praised Obama for using a forceful but restrained approach. (Not that Obama would have responded as effectively. He probably would have told the militias to “cut it out.”)
In the very first paragraph of the Post’s article, Anne Gearan, Philip Rucker, and Josh Dawsey intone that the attack on the embassy “appeared to put Trump’s hope for diplomacy with Tehran further out of reach.” I don’t believe there’s much serious hope of U.S. “diplomacy with Tehran” any time soon, nor is such diplomacy to be hoped for. However, there’s no reason to believe that this episode has any bearing on the prospects for negotiations with Iran.
Trump’s Iran strategy consists of putting maximum pressure on the regime to change its ways (or face an insurrection). If anything, the attack on the embassy is a sign that Trump has been effective in applying pressure. The Baghdad gambit can be viewed as a reaction by Iran to the heat it’s feeling due in significant part to Trump’s policies.
If Iran continues to suffer economically and to be stymied in some of its regional ambitions, perhaps the mullahs will want to negotiate with the Trump administration. I very much doubt that they will, but if they don’t, it won’t have anything to do with the events that took place in Baghdad this week.
The Post’s coverage of the attack on the embassy in Baghdad is biased and misleading in another respect, as well. The paper’s other lead story on the subject treats the siege of the embassy as evidence that Iran is “ascendant” in Iraq. Yet, neither this story nor the one discussed above mentions the fact that Iranian diplomatic outposts in Iraq have been attacked, and indeed torched, by locals.
If the attack on the U.S. compound by pro-Iranian forces is evidence that Iran is “ascendant,” then the attack by anti-Iranian forces on Iranian facilities is evidence to the contrary. Yet, the Post, hides this evidence from its readers.
If we didn’t know better, we might think that the Post is rooting for Iran in its showdown with the U.S. and its leader, President Trump.