Jan 5, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🚨 Bulletin: The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling on the government to expel U.S. troops in response to the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and the leader of an Iraqi militia on its soil.

  • Why it matters: The legal basis for the U.S. presence in Iraq is that it comes at Iraq's invitation, per Axios' Dave Lawler. This vote does not formally revoke that invitation, but is a step along that path.
  • A U.S. exit from Iraq could ultimately be one of the most consequential results of Soleimani's killing, because it would significantly hamper the fight against ISIS and achieve a major Iranian objective.

⚡ Breaking: The Islamist militant group Al-Shabab, a branch of al-Qaida, attacked a Kenyan airfield used by U.S. forces, with witnesses reporting gunfire and plumes of black smoke. The U.S. Africa Command said the attack was repelled. Details.

1 big thing: 52 targets
In the southwestern city of Ahvaz, Iran, mourners attend a funeral today for Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Photo: Morteza Jaberian/Mehr News Agency via AP

The U.S. and Iran traded stunningly specific threats, with President Trump tweeting last night: "[I]f Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have ... targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture."

  • An Iranian commander pointed to "35 U.S. targets in the region as well as Tel Aviv."

Why it matters: This rhetoric suggests the off-ramp from a hot conflict may be fading, with Trump's warning about cultural sites prompting Iranian officials to accuse the president of flouting international law and threatening war crimes.

  • "Through MILLENNIA of history, barbarians have come and ravaged our cities, razed our monuments and burnt our libraries," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif tweeted Sunday. "Where are they now? We're still here, & standing tall."

A 1954 Hague treaty makes targeting cultural sites a war crime, per AP. The UN Security Council also unanimously passed a resolution in 2017 condemning the destruction of heritage sites in response to attacks by the Islamic State.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed Trump's tweets on the Sunday shows, declining to disavow the threat but assuring that the U.S. would behave inside international laws.

Iran's plans: Hossein Dehghan, the military adviser to Iran's supreme leader, told CNN in Tehran today that his country's response to the airstrike "for sure will be military and against military sites."

  • Dehghan called Trump's tweets "ridiculous and absurd," saying the president "doesn't know international law. He doesn't recognize UN resolutions either. Basically he is a veritable gangster and a gambler."
  • Referring to the UN resolution condemning unlawful destruction of cultural heritage, Dehghan said that if Trump proceeded with his threat, "he should accept that he is a war criminal and must be tried in a relevant court."

🥊 WashPost columnist David Ignatius: "It's as though the Middle East has played a cruel joke on Trump. The president who wanted so badly to escape the region that he abandoned a low-cost, high-success mission in northeast Syria is now stumbling into a hugely expensive adventure against Iran."

2. America deploys

Paratroopers at Fort Bragg, N.C. — the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division — shipped out to Kuwait yesterday. Here's what it looked like:

Photo: Spc. Hubert Delany III/U.S. Army via AP
Photo: Spc. Justin Stafford/U.S. Army via AP

Above: Loading equipment on a Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport.

Below: A soldier waits to board.

Photo: Chris Seward/AP
3. Exclusive poll: Dem voters eye AOC, Oprah for 2024
Expand chart
Data: Online SurveyMonkey poll (Margin of error: ±2.5 percentage points). Chart: Axios Visuals

In a SurveyMonkey poll for Axios taking a very early look at a theoretical 2024 field, Pete Buttigieg tops a list of Democrats, with a slight advantage over Kamala Harris, Neal Rothschild writes.

  • Why it matters: A poll this early can only tell you so much. But what's striking is that none of the top seven Democratic candidates are straight white men — an indicator of growing diversity in the party.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the top choice who didn't run in the current race. She will turn 35 years old, the Constitution's minimum age to run for president, a month before the Nov. 5, 2024, election.

  • Speculation is building that she could run in 2024, taking the torch from Bernie Sanders as standard bearer for the party's progressive wing.

By the numbers: AOC is the top choice (30%) among voters 18-29, Harris leads among those 30-44 (30%), and Buttigieg leads all older age groups, increasing his advantage as voters get older.

  • Oprah is the number two choice for the youngest group of voters, while Amy Klobuchar is the second-most popular option for voters 65+.

Between the lines: A number of older candidates in the 2020 field weren't listed as options, but received write-in votes, including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg.

4. Pics du jour: Australia ablaze
Photo: Justin McManus/The Age/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Above: A father assures his children that fires are not headed toward their town of Mallacoota, Victoria, Australia, even though the sky had turned red.

Below: A father holds his daughter, Ella, in Mallacoota.

Photo: Justin McManus/The Age/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

The big picture: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended his leadership and his government's record on climate change, amid wildfires that have ravaged three states, cost 24 lives and destroyed 2,000 homes. (AP)

  • Up to 3,000 army reservists will be deployed to help communities hit by the fires. A third navy ship has been readied to evacuate coastal towns. (Reuters)
  • In New South Wales (capital: Sydney), 150 fires are burning. (Sydney Morning Herald)
Data: NASA's Fire Information for Resource Management System. Map: AP
5. No Super Bowl for Brady
Brady leaves field after the loss. Photo: Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

After the Patriots were eliminated from the playoffs last night with a 20-13 wild-card upset by the Titans, Dan Shaughnessy's front-page Boston Globe column is headlined, "It’s the end for the Patriots, and perhaps, for Tom Brady":

FOXBOROUGH — Is this how it ends?
We have visited this dark doorstep before . . . and been wrong before. A decade ago, the Patriots lost back-to-back home playoff games in successive seasons and it looked like the dynasty was over. Three Super Bowl championships later, the Patriots were still kicking butts ...
[But there's] a distinct possibility that [Tom] Brady — our football answer to Bill Russell, Ted Williams, and Bobby Orr — is all done as a Patriot. Boston’s 42-year-old football god is an unrestricted free agent come March and he could play elsewhere, or retire ... The last pass of the game — possibly the last pass ever thrown by Brady as a Patriot — resulted in a pick-6.

Brady, 42, told reporters after the game when asked about retirement: "I would say it's pretty unlikely, hopefully unlikely."

  • "I love playing football, I love playing for this team. I’ve loved playing for this team for two decades and winning a lot of games. I don’t know what it looks like moving forward."
6. 1 food thing
Photos: Leslie Grow/Golden Globe Awards via AP

A quirk of the Golden Globes Awards — airing tonight at 8 ET on NBC, from The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills — is that cutaways show the food on stars' tables.

  • The menu for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's 77th annual show will be meatless — 100% plant-based — to raise awareness about food consumption and waste, per AP.

A chilled golden beet soup (left photo above) will be followed by king oyster mushroom scallops on a bed of wild mushroom risotto, with roasted baby purple and green Brussels sprouts (right photo above).

Mike Allen

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