Rahm Emanuel, up until recently the mayor of Chicago and before that a top advisor to the president in the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama White Houses and still earlier a volunteer in the Israeli Army, famously once commented that a good crisis should never be allowed to go to waste. He meant, of course, that a crisis can be exploited to provide cover for other shenanigans involving politicians. It was an observation that was particularly true when one was working for a sexual predator like Bill, who once attacked a “terrorist” pharmaceutical factory in Sudan to divert attention away from the breaking Monica Lewinski scandal.
To be sure, the United States government is focusing its attention on the coronavirus while also using the cover afforded to heighten the pressure on “enemies” near and far. As the coronavirus continues to spread, the Trump White House and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have increased the ferocity of their sabre rattling, apparently in part to deter Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela. Ironically, of course, none of the countries being intimidated are actually threatening the United States, but we Americans have long since learned that perceptions are more important than facts when it comes to the current occupant of the oval office and his two predecessors.
The latest bit of mendacity coming out of the White House was a presidential tweet targeting the usual punching bag, Iran. Based on an incident that occurred two weeks ago, Trump threatened “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.” Iran’s flying gunboats are clearly a formidable force but it is certainly reassuring to note that naval anti-aircraft fire has been directed to deal with them. The U.S. Navy ships in question are, one might also observe, in a body of water generally referred to as the Persian Gulf, where they are carrying out maneuvers right off of the Iranian coast. Meanwhile, Iranian flying gunboats have not yet been observed off of New Jersey, but they are probably waiting to be transported to the Eastern Seaboard by those huge trans-oceanic gliders that once upon a time were allegedly being constructed by Saddam Hussein.