Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Will The Trump Administration Attack Iran?

 

Lobelog

In a move that set off alarm bells among those concerned about the potential consequences of the harsh turn in U.S.-Iranian relations, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported  last week that unnamed “senior officials” of the Australian government were suggesting that the Trump administration was crafting a plan to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities as early as August. Australian officials, including Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, denied knowledge of any such plan, and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis described  the report as “fiction at best,” adding “I am confident that it is not something that’s being considered right now.”

The denials regarding a plan to attack Iran within weeks are likely true, given the thin evidence they are based on. Nevertheless, what is the most likely U.S. policy towards Iran in the wake of President Trump’s tweet  that if Iran’s leaders threaten the United States they will “suffer consequences the likes of which few in history have ever suffered before?” Is this just another outburst of Trumpian hyperbole or a prelude to possible military action down the road?

This is Donald Trump after all, and this week’s word is that the president is willing to speak to Iran’s leaders “without preconditions.” But this is a non-starter unless his administration reverses its violation of the nuclear deal so painstakingly negotiated by the Obama administration and U.S. allies and stops the threatening rhetoric that Trump can’t seem to restrain himself from engaging in.

It’s no secret that President Trump and his inner circle have no love for the Iranian regime. Before joining the administration, current Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton took to the pages of The New York Times to advocate  bombing Iran. And in late 2017, Bolton told  an audience at an event organized by the Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK)—which spent years on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations and has been described as a “cult-like dissident group ” with virtually no following inside Iran—that “the declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran.” He further suggested that the overthrow should occur before the regime’s fortieth anniversary in power, which falls in February 2019. Statements like these prompted Trita Parsi of the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) to assert  that “the appointment of Bolton is essentially a declaration of war on Iran.”

On July 22, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, another long-time hawk on Iran, spoke  to a handpicked audience of Iranian-Americans at the Reagan Library in an effort to whip up support for the administration’s propaganda campaign against the government of Iran. Towards the end of his remarks, Pompeo praised Ronald Reagan’s call “to help others gain their freedom”—a goal Reagan pursued by providing military support to anti-government rebels in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Angola, and beyond. Although purportedly aimed at exposing corruption and human rights abuses in Iran, the not-so-subtle underlying message of Pompeo’s speech was that the Trump administration is more than willing to support regime change in Iran.

This week’s announcement of President Trump’s support  for an “Arab NATO” including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, and Egypt is another shot across the bow of Iran. An alliance of this sort has been a fervent hope of the Saudi regime for some time, and it risks escalating conflict in the region. What will happen, for example, if the Saudis try to blow up an incident involving Houthi rebels in Yemen—who receive some backing from Iran but have their own agenda and are far from  Iranian “puppets”—into a rationale to launch an attack against Iran, attempting to drag the Trump administration into a dangerous and unnecessary war? Which Donald Trump will respond: the one who railed against regime change policies in Iraq and Libya while running for president or the one who has bent over backward to please his “very good friends ” in Saudi Arabia?

For the moment, it appears that the Trump administration strategy—if such a term can be applied to a government headed by Donald Trump—is to step up economic pressure and propaganda against Iran, while reaching out to internal opponents of the regime and perhaps providing covert support at some point, if it is not doing so already. Even short of direct military action, this approach is both incoherent and dangerous. Squeezing Iran’s economy is likely to raise gas prices in the United States, and the Trump administration’s trade war against the very countries it needs to help isolate Iran economically does not offer great hopes for success on that front. But when economic pressure and indirect action don’t have the desired effect, what comes next?

War with Iran may not be imminent, but neither was war with Iraq in late 2001. But less than a year and a half later, under pressure from anti-Iraq hawks in and outside of government, including John Bolton, the Bush administration launched its ill-fated invasion, with a rash of negative consequences that persist to this day. Congress and the public need to push back vigorously against any notion of taking military action against Iran and press for actual diplomacy, not rhetorical maneuvering. The time to speak out is before a war begins, not afterward.

 

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Zalmay Khalilzad is Donald Trump’s special representative to the Afghan peace process, having previously served as ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq under George W. Bush.


Robert Joseph played a key role in manipulating U.S. intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq and today is a lobbyist for the MEK.


Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one of the Senate’s more vocal hawks, and one of the prime vacillators among Republicans between objecting to and supporting Donald Trump.


Elliott Abrams, the Trump administration’s special envoy to Venezuela, is a neoconservative with a long record of hawkish positions and actions, including lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair.


Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump second secretary of state, has driven a hawkish foreign policy in Iran and Latin America.


Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is known for his hawkish views on foreign policy and close ties to prominent neoconservatives.


Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s first U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is known for her lock-step support for Israel and is widely considered to be a future presidential candidate.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

François Nicoullaud, the former French ambassador to Iran, discusses the ups and downs of Iran-France relations and the new US sanctions.


Effective alliances require that powerful states shoulder a far larger share of the alliance maintenance costs than other states, a premise that Donald Trump rejects.


The new imbroglio over the INF treaty does not mean a revival of the old Cold War practice of nuclear deterrence. However, it does reveal the inability of the West and Russia to find a way to deal with the latter’s inevitable return to the ranks of major powers, a need that was obvious even at the time the USSR collapsed.


As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump appeared to recognize the obvious problem of the revolving door. But as the appointment of Patrick Shanahan, who spent 30 years at Boeing, as the Trump administration’s acting secretary of defense reveals, little has changed. America is indeed great again, if you happen to be one of those lucky enough to be moving back and forth between plum jobs in the Pentagon and the weapons industry.


Domestic troubles, declining popularity, and a decidedly hawkish anti-Iran foreign policy team may combine to make the perfect storm that pushes Donald Trump to pull the United States into a new war in the Middle East.


The same calculus that brought Iran and world powers to make a deal and has led remaining JCPOA signatories to preserve it without the U.S. still holds: the alternatives to this agreement – a race between sanctions and centrifuges that could culminate in Iran obtaining the bomb or being bombed – would be much worse.


With Bolton and Pompeo by his side and Mattis departed, Trump may well go with his gut and attack Iran militarily. He’ll be encouraged in this delusion by Israel and Saudi Arabia. He’ll of course be looking for some way to distract the media and the American public. And he won’t care about the consequences.


RightWeb
share