Will the Trump Administration Attack Iran?

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by William D. Hartung

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.

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William Hartung

William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.

SHOW 12 COMMENTS

12 Comments

  1. “For the moment, it appears that the Trump administration strategy…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.”

    So it’s the trump adminstration strategy. Well, how about the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush II and Obama strategy. Trump ain’t doing nothing new..
    ,
    For the last forty years the US has been obsessing on Iran with a furious determination to “bring it to its knees..” If the results matched the screaming rhetoric and billions of dollars spent on the “Iran problem”, the Islamic Republic would have been obliterated, smashed crushed and US occupied by now.

    While the Americans have been war dancing for 40 years, the Iranians have created an efficient fortress security state which is also increasing in regional power.

    What did Nietzsche say? What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

  2. It has nothing to do with imbecilic, mammon-worshiping, puppet Trump, and everything to do with the death mongering corporate elites, drowning in the blood of the innocent, who want the multi-$Trillion North Dome methane field …and the Saudi/Qatar pipeline through Syria to Europe …and the coup in the Ukraine to end Russia’s methane monopoly.

    When bankers hear ‘$Millions’, they look at it… when they hear ‘$Billions’, they want it… when they hear ‘$Trillions’, they take it!

    There has to be a literal hell specifically designed for this satanic trash…. or else there is no God and you can burn your holy books…

  3. Who is Trump? Paraphrasing author James Perloff:

    Trump is also a Rothchild puppet. He was selected to bring war to the Middle East. The Rothschild bet on Trump is that he can deceive Americans for a third time (or was it the 124th time?) into war. Trump can deceive and get the Red-blooded, Bluepilled Middle America vote. These goyim are under the Lucifarian Zionist Spell.

    Hillary is incapable of selling another war. Her Libyan ISIS mercenary war was a success for Rothschild. Then Hillary’s ISIS mercenaries were picked up and flown to Syria where they failed miserably, thanks to freedom fighters from Iran and Russia. With the failure of Zionist ISIS, this next war will require USA military troops.

    Rothschild chose Trump through its agent Sheldon Adelson. Trump is to create another war for the Greater Israel Project. After that, Trump will be set up as the fall guy for the inevitable collapse of the US Petrodollar. He may even be assassinated.

    The next President of the US will be a Democrat Zionist with the ability to focus it’s New World Order Terror on the USAs domestic policies.

    That is the gist of it…

    Rothschild Trump, War, Dollar Collapse, End of Trump, Rothschild Democrat, Orwellian Domestic Programs.

  4. All the “defense spending” on aggression by the USA with its “ally”Israel will not defeat Iran, nor should it. Don’t even think of another terrible war, USA-you have caused far too many already.

  5. I see nothing else than an run up to war against Iran, and as you stated it, about the pre text raging up to the Iraqi war, is almost exactly like this one, against Iran.
    For years, the show have been the same, the bad/good cop play, where they constantly create new issues and propaganda against Iran to make an point where its by their reason, nobody elses apart from the minions/vassals like EU is justifyebale to create an consensuess to where they can impliment an skeem like the Libyan war, the R2P (respo to protect) the civilians in Iran, yeah, its bonkers we all know it but never underestemate the level of weaponised stupidity in the American people and in their so called MSM.

    Its dejavu all over again, nothing new what so ever, the difference is that Russia have chikened out, creeping infront of the tribe, and China uh…. words isnt wurth an pluged nikle, in all respect.
    And as we speak, Afganistan is where the run up is on the making, Norway was just in ISISrael and I know, this was not about Palestina, notboy cares about them at all, but the coming war against Iran, Syria is precisly where they want it, Balkanized, and Iraq, forget them, to corrupt and greedy to risk anything again, to forget them, witch leads us to this, everything is going the americans way, abolutelly everything.

    What comes, the next phase is civil unrest, kicked in motion as we speak, but various groups incl MEK and so on to the rest of the ISIS they rescued from Syria, to fight against Iran. Norway (not to brag, but I would rather have them than any wankee spec) have specs there to train them, been doing that in Jordan since the invasion of Syria began, and in Iraq and Aganistan since it started.

    So, this will be Libya 2.0 the steroid version.
    Where even Norwegian air force enthusiasticly burned citys to the ground and people inside, incl children, and the Norse whines about Iran.
    Compared to Iran, witch have not done anything the last 300 years, while the little whore Norway have bombed and killed people in 7 countrys, and have military in bloody Africa on top of it, and still the Norse whines about Iran.
    The Norwegians are an rotten people, corrupt to their core and lies about everything, the fact is, when the war comes Norwegians will be extatic, why, killing more, uh…. moslems.
    Or somethong like that, they are so brainwashed its riddicilous.

    Never think the NWO will stop anything, they will not, I am amazed about the naivte about the UssA Gov and Trump all thoe we hoped the Clockwork Orange was man enough to make peace with the world, He was not, another ballless creep, but an populare one, MAGA, and some millions slaughtered witch nobody cares about anyway, aka bizzenizze as usual.
    Nothing is new, I give you an hint, do the search your self.
    The cllaims about Non.intervining Intervetion scam, do you know it was 60 000 USarmy (among others)people inside Russia in the run up and thru the Russian revolution, and so on.
    Read about it, and see how the same scrap book is been used again, and again.
    They lie about everything.

    wake up, this time, its not something to ignore, this is the beginning of the end.

    peace

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