Welcome to the inaugural edition of Politics In Review! I’m Joey Chowen, a volunteer writer with the UVU Review; here we will cover national news and politics every Wednesday.
For the first edition of Politics in Review, the latest in the world of politics, from the recent tensions with Iran to the Senate impeachment trial. As well as the 2020 Presidential Race as Democrats will soon begin voting for their nominee to represent them in the November general election.
If you started seeing references and jokes about World War 3 with Iran trending online in the past few weeks and are out of the loop, look no further than here for answers.
On January 3rd, President Trump ordered an airstrike on Qassem Soleimani, a general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC. The IRGC is a paramilitary group in Iran whose role is to promote the national security interests of the state, in particular, that of the theocratic regime. The organization answers directly to the Supreme Leader. The specific sub-branch Soleimani ran, the Quds Force, was responsible for clandestine operations and operations abroad.
So why did Trump order the strike?
The United States government has opposed both the IRGC and Soleimani for decades, as they have used violence to promote Iranian interests in the Middle East. Hundreds of U.S. troops and civilians have been killed as a result. On New Year’s, the U.S. reinforced their embassy in Iraq with additional troops when protests broke out outside and set fire to parts of the compound. A pro-Iranian militia backed the protests, and the U.S. suspected Soleimani to be assisting them. The U.S. then killed Soleimani in Iraq, alleging that the strike prevented future attacks and “saved American lives.”
Outrage from Iran quickly followed, leading to a retaliatory missile strike on January 8th. Iran shot over a dozen missiles at two U.S. bases in Iraq, causing minimal damage and no deaths. Fears of World War 3 was at its peak then, although President Trump ultimately decided to de-escalate the situation, saying he would pursue economic sanctions against Iran.
For now, the situation between the two countries has cooled militarily. Unfortunately, damage struck those who weren’t involved. During the retaliatory strikes, Iran’s air defenses mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian Airliner, leading to the tragic deaths of all 176 on board.
What happens now remains to be seen.
On December 18th, the Democrat-led House of Representatives voted to impeach (or charge) President Trump on two counts, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Senate, led by Republicans, will hold a trial and vote on acquitting Trump or removing him from office.
How did we get here?
It all relates to an ongoing scandal regarding Ukraine. President Trump is accused of illegally withholding military aid to the country unless it announced investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a leading challenger against Trump in the 2020 Presidential race.
Let’s look at the background and context.
In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed the province of Crimea. It has also supplied weapons and troops to insurgents in neighboring provinces, attempting to weaken Ukraine and boost Russia’s influence over the country. Ukraine is in need, and The United States has worked with allies to help Ukraine by sending military aid, including weapons and equipment. Once the aid is passed by Congress, it legally must be sent.
Last summer, the Trump Administration put the aid on hold, citing concerns with corruption in Ukraine. Throughout the impeachment inquiry in the fall, Democrats disputed both the legality of withholding aid and the stated justification for withholding the aid. They say President Trump has made clear he wants Joe Biden and his son Hunter investigated for alleged corrupt business ties in the country. Republicans have called the Democrat investigation a political coup.
Under the impression that President Trump was abusing his office for political gain and refusing to allow staff to comply with congressional subpoenas, the House then voted on the two articles, and Trump was charged.
On to the Senate.
The Senate trial begins proceedings today, and more coverage can be expected in next week’s article as the proceedings go on. The widespread consensus is that Republicans will back the President, and Trump will be acquitted on both charges.
Like with Iran, what will happen remains unknown.
Assuming President Trump survives the trial, he will run against the Democrat nominee on November 3rd in the Presidential election. So far, much of the speculation on the race revolves around the Democrat’s nominating process, or primary, which lasts from February to the National Convention in July. During that time, each state and territory will hold a primary for Democrat voters to choose which candidate they want to represent the party in the November election. Iowa kicks off the voting on Monday, February 3rd. (Utah votes on March 3rd.)
There are 12 major candidates in the race, and a list of them can be found here.
Here is a look at the national polling from 538, a statistical news outlet.
From polls so far the top of the race appears to focus on 4 people, Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist, former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, known for her economic knowledge and academic background, and former Mayor of South Bend Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, who has a military background and would be the youngest and first gay President if elected.
Last Tuesday, these candidates, plus Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and climate activist and billionaire Tom Steyer, qualified for and held a debate at Drake University in Iowa. A recap of the debate can be found here.
Right now, the contrast at the center of the race is between the progressive and more left-wing of the party, represented by Sanders and Warren, and the more moderate-centrist wing of the party, led by Biden and Buttigieg.
Expect more coverage as Iowa gets closer, and the voting gets underway.
That concludes the first edition of our Politics column here at the UVU Review. Is there a political issue you want to be discussed on the column? Feel free to reach out to me on twitter @JoeyChowen or at [email protected], or comment below. See you next week!