Buttigieg: The U.S. shares blame with Iran for that downed Ukrainian jet; Update: Jet is Trump's "collateral damage," says Speier

No, my dude, we do not. But this issue seems to be where the men are being separated from the boys within Team Anti-Trump. If you’re a Democrat or a hard-hard-hardcore Never Trumper then the opportunity to splash some of the blood from the crash onto Trump’s hands is irresistible. It’s not just the Iranian missile that killed those innocents, it was our provocation.

Whereas if you’re a Trump fan or a critic whose disdain for the president doesn’t quite color every inch of your politics, the response is: What are you talking about, man? How was the jet caught in “the middle” when only one side was shooting into the air?

Pete Buttigieg isn’t just a Democrat, he’s a would-be Democratic nominee for president, so he’s splashing around in the blood.

Lots of other examples of rhetoric like that are floating around today. Twitter pal “neontaster” has compiled a few in this thread, noting the prevalence of the term “crossfire” to describe what happened. It’s the first time I’ve heard of crossfire when the fire that night came entirely from one direction.


The idea behind “crossfire” (or the jet being “caught in the middle,” per Buttigieg) is that the U.S. supposedly initiated the chain of events that led to the jet being shot down by taking out Qassem Soleimani. But Soleimani’s targeting was a response to rocket attacks on American bases by Iranian proxies and the assault on the American embassy in Baghdad last last month. What should we have done to answer those provocations in order to avoid sharing the blame for innocents killed by Iran in their counter-response? Would any answer have been too much?

Would this count as crossfire too, asks neontaster?

The irony of the Iranian missile attack on Tuesday night is that not only wasn’t the U.S. shooting at the time, it declined to shoot back afterward. By targeting Soleimani and his retinue directly rather than ordering broader operations against Iranian proxies or Iranian forces, Trump limited the risk of wider conflict that would have involved actual crossfire. Blaming him for Iranian negligence in operating their own missile defense system is pure point-scoring.

Even Tom Nichols, normally a pretty hardcore anti-Trumper, can’t stomach it this time:

Right. Why was Tehran’s airport open on a night when they knew they were planning to fire missiles at American forces? The answer, seemingly, is that they didn’t want to forfeit the element of surprise by grounding flights ahead of an attack, never mind that there wasn’t much element of surprise regardless. But then, having assumed that risk, they somehow neglected to account for the presence of passenger flights overhead in operating their missile defense system. This wasn’t just a one-sided “crossfire,” it was an example of Iran not knowing how to use its own “gun.” Says Rich Lowry, “Is the new standard really that a president of the United States can’t defend against attacks on U.S. personnel by a terror regime because the regime might accidentally shoot down an airliner taking off from one of its own airports?”

Keep an eye on this resolution introduced by Ted Cruz, which would in part “commend” Trump for taking out Soleimani. Cruz knows how eager Democrats are to frame this past week as a reckless failure of leadership instead of what it appears to be for the moment, a great success. He’s going to dare the “crossfire” contingent in the Democratic caucus to cast a disapproving vote.

Here’s video of the missile strike on the jet.

Update: Democrats are really working hard to one-up each other on how far they’ll go to blame Trump for this.

Again: What sort of U.S. response to the rocket attacks and embassy assault would have been sufficiently “un-provocative” to Speier that the U.S. wouldn’t be on the hook morally for Iran’s clusterfark with the jet? Is there anything?