Following the recent twin explosions on commercial ships twenty-five miles off the coast of Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, without evidence, blamed Iran and promised U.S. military actions as “deterrence.” The press, as usual, reported these events as part of the “escalating tensions” between the U.S. and Iran as if they occurred in an historical vacuum.
Neo-con warmongers inside and outside the Trump regime — from the neo-cons and their Likudnik think tanks, to the Sunni sheikdoms who wish to smite the kafirah and undermine Iran’s influence, to the usual suspects among the United States’ military-industrial war profiteers — all know that with Trump in the White House they have a rare opportunity to push the United States into war with Iran.
Throwing away trillions of tax dollars and potentially millions of human lives in another forever war that’s guaranteed to create intractable crises in the future appears to be the folly that awaits us. The next president is probably not going to be stupid enough to use military violence against Iran – So the warmongers want their war now!
Bibi Netanyahu wants it. Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants it. The United Arab Emirates want it. Sheldon Adelson’s “Foundation for the Defense of Democracies” wants it. Jared Kushner wants it. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo can’t wait for it. And National Security Advisor John Bolton wants it so badly he can taste it in his mustache.
They all want Trump to start a war with Iran.
Anyone paying attention to what the Trump regime has done to Iran since coming to power in January 2017 should be able to see the true culprits behind the latest “tensions.”
Soon after his inauguration Trump reneged on the multilateral Iran nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which took years to negotiate and included as signatories Iran, the U.S., Russia, China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, and was the most consequential diplomatic achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency.
Lauded internationally as a framework for future nuclear non-proliferation agreements with so-called breakout nuclear powers, Trump called the JCPOA a “disaster” and tore up the agreement even while French President Emmanuel Macron was all but on his hands and knees begging for him not to do it.
The JCPOA signatories, including the United States’ closest allies, were so outraged that Trump would pull the U.S. out of the deal that they’ve been seeking ways to work with Iran and continue the terms of the agreement without the U.S.
But Trump didn’t stop there.
Despite Iran’s continued compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement (according to the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency) the Trump regime imposed wave after wave of harsh economic sanctions against Iran, thereby throwing away the carrots and applying only the sticks. It’s a “diplomatic strategy” that’s neither diplomatic nor strategic.
The Trump regime also for the first time officially labeled a part of Iran’s government, the Revolutionary Guards Corps, a “terrorist” organization, which led to other penalties and a new round of sanctions targeting directly the Iranian government. Trump then went for Iran’s jugular by forbidding oil sales to a number of U.S. allies and ending the policy of oil purchase waivers.
By strangling Iran’s economic lifeline the U.S.-imposed restrictions are squeezing that country dry and deliberately creating an intolerable status quo in hopes of eliciting Iranian countermeasures that can then be blamed on “Iranian aggression.”
Hidden inside the most recent defense appropriations bill was funding for the “Iran Action Group,” which is charged with spearheading the State Department’s campaign of sabotage and pressure against Iran. The “Iran Action Group” looks a lot like the “Office of Special Plans” under George W. Bush, which cooked up phony “intelligence” and pumped Congress and the American people with propaganda about the “threat” of Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction.”
The neo-con warmonger, Douglas Feith, ran Bush’s “Office of Special Plans”; today his son, David, works directly under the “Iran Action Group’s” director, Brian Hook. I guess for some people war in the Middle East is a family business. (Max Blumenthal, The Management of Savagery, 2019, p. 303)
Most Americans don’t know that in 1953 the Central Intelligence Agency played a pivotal role in overthrowing the democratically-elected government of Mohammed Mossedegh in Iran and installing the dictatorial monarch, Shah Reza Pahlavi, who ruled Iran for twenty-five years.
Nor do they know that the CIA financed and trained the Shah’s murderous state secret police, SAVAK, which imprisoned, tortured, or killed thousands of the Shah’s political opponents, including journalists, educators, and charity organizers.
Most Americans probably also don’t know that beginning in September 1980 the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein of Iraq in a war his government started with Iran that lasted eight years and ended up killing about a million Iranians.
Today, largely the same cast of characters who gave us the Iraq War (2003-2009) that killed at least 500,000 Iraqis and left 4,600 dead American military personnel are now poised to give us an even bigger catastrophe in Iran.
In 2004, when the U.S. military demolished the governing institutions in Iraq it eliminated one of Iran’s main Sunni Arab rivals and created a scenario where the political strength of the Shia majority in Iraq (including many Iranian-backed organizations and militias) could emerge with greater political clout than they ever had historically. Therefore, even on the U.S. policy elites’ own “strategic” terms the Iraq War was a total failure. It strengthened Iran.
Iran today has huge leverage over the government in Baghdad it never could’ve had if the U.S. didn’t destroy the Sunni government there during the Bush years, which makes all the bluster we hear today about the Iranian “threat” even more galling.
We’ll continue to see the mainstream press enumerating the many “aggressive acts” coming from Iran without putting them in the context of the Big Squeeze the U.S. is currently imposing on that country. When we hear talk of “deterring Iran” or “maintaining stability” in the Persian Gulf, what we’re really hearing are calls for another horrific failed war by the same voices that gave us the last one.
These same neo-con zealots loved the Iraq War, the NATO overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and worked diligently to provoke the U.S. into attacking Syria to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
Now they have their sights on Iran.
The history of the United States’ recent imperial wars shows that the same hubris that brought on the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq has never gone away. But this history also shows that sometimes the U.S. has to learn the hard way that it cannot impose its will on the world through military violence.
The Vietnam War should’ve taught us not only that there are limits to U.S. military power, but also that the people under the U.S. bombs will fight back. The Iraq War should’ve taught us a similar lesson. Remember all those car bombs and improvised explosive devices in Iraq? Like the tunnels in Vietnam they didn’t build themselves. Despite all the death and destruction the U.S. never really had control over Vietnam, or Afghanistan, or Iraq.
The only thing the U.S. has over the countries it chooses to target is the ability to blow up stuff from the air.
But the goal of blowing up stuff from the air might be just good enough.
As it stands today, U.S. policy toward Iran appears to be aimed at nothing more than sparking a conflict to create another failed state that’s forever digging itself out of rubble, plagued by civil and religious strife, and kept permanently weakened so it cannot threaten Israel, Saudi Arabia, or U.S. “interests.”
Using some more “unprovoked attacks” on commercial ships in the Persian Gulf as a pretext, Bolton and Pompeo and Adelson and Bibi and Prince Salman might be able to convince Trump that he can accomplish something simply by firing cruise missiles at the over 2,300 targets in Iran already on his list. (Trump might also be able to carve out some “bipartisan” cover for his war with some cowardly Democrats feeling compelled to join him under the guise of “protecting Israel.”) But if Trump follows their advice my guess is there will be a short lull followed by some very big surprises coming from the Iranians that will once again reveal the folly of these never-ending U.S. wars of aggression. Maybe this time around the American people will learn something.