Well, there’s never a dull moment. Assorted news organizations and critics of President Trump immediately escalated their outreach and broached the idea that World War III was now a possibility following the death of Iran Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani in a precision U.S. airstrike in Baghdad.
Among the headlines which followed the event: “Is the U.S. headed for World War III?” (McClatchy News); “Five places World War III could start in 2020” (The National Interest); “For a Post-9/11 generation, war isn’t new but fears of another one are” (The New York Times); “People are debating whether it’s OK to joke about World War 3” (The Independent).
Multiple news organizations reported that the hashtags #WWIII, #WW3 and #WorldWarThree led the national Twitter trends for a considerable amount of time as thousands weighed in following the airstrike; #WWIII alone closed in on 2 million tweets within hours.
Talk of a third world war, however, has been percolating in the press for months. News organizations have explored different scenarios for an ultimate conflict, and the resulting political fallout for Mr. Trump and U.S. allies.
“World War III: How likely is it U.S. will fight in Iran, North Korea, Syria, Ukraine or Venezuela?” asked Newsweek in mid-June 2019. “Will Americans let Trump start World War III?” asked Salon in late September. “When World War III happens, it will start in one of these five places,” noted The National Interest in October.
The prospect of war also played in political campaigns, notably that of fervently anti-war socialist Sen. Bernard Sanders, also a Democratic presidential contender.
“The Pentagon is killing us,” proclaimed ice cream maven Ben Cohen — cofounder of Ben & Jerry’s — in a fundraising pitch for the presidential hopeful.
“I’m here to talk about the insane military-industrial complex that is fueling endless wars across the globe and preventing us from addressing real challenges at home like student debt, the climate crisis, and health care. We need to build Our Revolution groups across the nation that can help hold members of Congress accountable to us and not to the military industrial complex,” Mr. Cohen said.
ACTIVISTS JOIN THE FRAY
President Trump’s actions in Iran also served as a rallying call for interest groups.
” General [Qassem] Soleimani’s assassination was conducted unlawfully, without congressional approval and it has made additional, wider-scale violence more likely — putting American troops, Iraqi and Iranian civilians, and many others in harm’s way. MoveOn members are mobilizing to demand that the Trump administration do all it can to de-escalate tensions with Iran, and that Congress assert its powers to prevent further harm to our national interests,” says Rahna Epting, executive director of MoveOn.org, the progressive activist group.
Not everyone was against Mr. Trump, however.
The Faith and Freedom Coalition has launched a national petition asking the public to “Stand with President Trump.” The conservative group hopes to garner a million signatures. The Tea Party Patriots, a longstanding grassroots group which boosts 3 million members — is also in the president’s corner.
“For more than two decades, Qassem Soleimani was a terrorist who directed the murders of hundreds of American citizens. I will shed no tears over his death. President Trump’s decision to launch a targeted attack against him sends a message to those who would do Americans ill — kill Americans no more, or be prepared to pay the price,” advised Jenny Beth Martin, honorary chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action.
STEFANIK TAKES A STAND
One New York Republican, meanwhile, is peeved at The Washington Post for initially referring to Qassem Soleimani as “Iran’s most revered military leader.”
Rep. Elise Stefanik — whose candor at the Democratic impeachment hearings created much hubbub — is now calling for The Post to retract its statement.
“I represent Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain Division, the most deployed unit in the U.S. Army since 9/11. And those troops have risked their lives and were targeted by Soleimani and his Quds forces,” the lawmaker told Fox News.
“This is a terrorist who has exported through proxies, whether it’s Hezbollah, Hamas, and has sewn discord in the Middle East, in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. He should not be revered and The Washington Post, should apologize and should retract that statement,” Ms. Stefanik advised. “We should be praising U.S. troops and our intelligence community. This was a success. This was the right decision made by the right commander in chief.”
A coalition of progressive activists associated with such groups as Remove Trump, Indivisible Guide, the Women’s March, Progressive Democrats of America, We Will Not Be Silent, Rise and Resist, March For Truth, By the People, DemCast USA, the Resistance Company and Democracy For America now report they will stage daily protests outside the Senate.
They have titled their ongoing action “Swarm the Senate,” and will demand that President Trump be removed from office. Things get underway Monday.
“Trump’s dangerous actions make this a fight for our very survival,” declares Rachel Carmona, CEO of the Women’s March, who advises the coalition’s activities will include recitations of the Constitution’s impeachment clause, plus “non-violent” silent processions, and Senate office visits.
DEFYING THE ODDS
“No Safe Spaces” — the documentary that exposes attacks on free speech on college campuses and elsewhere — did some solid business at the box office in 2019, earning a respectable $1.1 million. The film starring comedian Adam Carolla and culture maven Dennis Prager is now the No. 1 political documentary in America — and No. 11 overall for all documentaries released theatrically in 2019.
And a funny thing happened before it could end its run in theaters: The fans demanded it come back and the filmmakers and distributors responded; the film took in an additional $80,000 on 70 screens this past weekend.
Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes also has good news: “No Safe Spaces” is now the highest fan-rated film of 2019 across all genres with a 99% positive rating from fans. Even the blockbuster “Frozen II” only rates a 92%.
POLL DU JOUR
• 36% of Americans are paying “a lot” of attention to the 2020 election; 39% of Republicans, 28% of independents, 44% of Democrats agree.
• 28% of Americans are paying “some” attention to the election; 31% of Republicans, 27% of independents and 26% of Democrats agree.
• 23% of Americans are paying “only a little” attention; 22% of Republicans, 23% of independents and 24% of Democrats agree.
• 13% of Americans are paying no attention “at all”; 8% of Republicans, 22% of independents and 6% of Democrats agree.
Source: AN ECONOMIST/YOUGOV poll of 1,500 U.S. ADULTS conducted DEC. 28-31.
• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin
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