Reason Roundup

Iran's Foreign Minister: 'We Do Not Seek Escalation or War'

Plus: member of Congress say #NoWarWithIran, a Ukrainian plane crashed in Tehran, and more...

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"All is well!" declared President Donald Trump on Tuesday night, after a barrage of Iranian missiles hit two U.S.-manned military bases in Iraq. Though some prominent Republicans immediately began banging the war drums last night, others fell in line with the president, asserting that the attack⁠—in retaliation for America's murder of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani⁠—was not that big of a deal and certainly not a sign that killing Soleimani was a bad plan.

Some downplayed the attack on bases in Ain al-Asad and Irbil, Iraq, on the grounds that no lives (American or Iraqi) were lost. Journalists and pundits have been running with that, too, suggesting that Iran hitting obvious and nearby targets that the U.S. had already cleared was a way to give the appearance of escalating while actually de-escalating.

Others say that's ridiculously naive and this is just the start of Iran's revenge.

It is soothing to think of the attack last night as the end of this frightening episode. Could Iran's no-casualty attack last night really be an attempt at de-escalation? Or was it only the beginning of the country's payback for Soleimani's death?

Iranian leaders have indicated both.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, said that last night's attack was but "a slap in the face" and "not sufficient. What is important is ending the corrupting presence of America in the region."

And here's a senior adviser to Iran's president:

But Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said "We do not seek escalation or war."

Zarif told reporters in Tehran this morning that the attack highlighted how Iran was "not the United States" and did not want war. "It is up to the United States to now come to its senses and stop its adventurism in this region," he said.

President Trump is expected to speak today at 11 a.m.

Shortly after the missile attack, a Boeing 737-800 passenger plane leaving the Tehran airport crashed, killing all 176 people onboard, and initially, many suspected the Ukraine International Airlines crash was related to hostilities between Iran and the U.S.

"At first I thought [the Americans] have hit here with missiles and went in the basement as a shelter," one man who lives near where the plane crashed told the Associated Press.

Iranian authorities, however, said the plane suffered from a mechanical issue. Ukrainian officials said an investigation will be conducted.

According to the Ukrainian foreign minister, those killed in the crash included mostly Iranian and Canadian passengers and no Americans. He said those on board included 82 people from Iran, 63 from Canada, 11 from Ukraine, 10 from Sweden, four from Afghanistan, three from Germany, and three from the U.K.

"The plane had been delayed from taking off from Imam Khomeini International Airport by almost an hour," AP reports. "It took off to the west, but never made it above 8,000 feet in the air, according to data from the flight-tracking website FlightRadar24."


FREE MINDS

Some anti-war responses from members of Congress:

And some reminders for President Trump:


FREE MARKETS

The Trump administration announced last week that flavored vaping products with pre-filled cartridges are to be banned, while exempting flavored nicotine liquids that customers can load into tanks themselves. The former are much more popular, and include all flavored vape pods from the market-dominant Juul. Here's Kat Timpf at National Review on the stupidity and frustrations of the new vaping restrictions:

Yes: I myself vape, and that's part of the reason why this news upsets me. What's more, as a vaper who has tried "open tank" systems—which the administration exempts from the ban—I find absolutely no solace in this fact, as I know from experience how fiddling with these sorts of systems often inevitably results in your hands and furniture and purses and life getting completely soaked with nicotine liquid.

My personal use, however, is far from the only reason that I am upset about this ban. In fact, the main reason I'm opposed to it is that it may, quite frankly, kill people.

See, President Trump insists that the purpose behind the ban is to "protect our families," but the truth is, anyone who is informed on the facts of the issue would understand how it will only have a negative impact. In case you yourself aren't informed, here are some of those facts.

More here.


QUICK HITS

  • Last night, Pentagon officials were reportedly hard to reach when the attack started because they had been sent home in anticipation of bad weather in D.C. that never amounted to more than some non-sticking snowfall.
  • A little good news for a change:

(Sorry, sorry.)

  • OK for real on the good news this time:

  • And on to the bad and bizarre: Paul Petersen, Phoenix-area county assessor (an elected office), resigned yesterday "months after being charged with running a human smuggling operation that paid pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to give up their babies in the United States."
  • Joe Biden "sometimes gets himself in trouble with flat declarations and evolving versions of the same story." The Washington Post checks out Biden's recent claims about Bin Laden.
  • The Methodist Church might be breaking up over same-sex marriage:

  • The Goldwater Institute is suing over Arizona's alleged mishandling of its school choice program: