It is a sunny Saturday afternoon in the Raleigh area as I pen this article. About two or three times a year I write a piece that is speculation – this is one of those times. I can’t help it but I smell a rat; one with a very similar odor to another rat I and almost all of America missed in 2003. Let’s explore.
Last week two oil tankers sustained heavy damage in the Middle Eastern water adjacent to the Strait of Hormuz. One was a Japanese flagged vessel the other Norwegian flagged. Very quickly American authorities including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the attack on the Iranians. A few hours later, in the middle of the night, they produced a very grainy video as “proof”. Color me beyond skeptical and remembering the 2003 lead-up to the American invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Who can forget Colin Powell’s presentation at the UN with then-CIA Director George Tenet seated behind him offering supposed conclusive proof of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Trillion of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives later they still haven’t been discovered (except in some right wing mythology). Powell regrets his presentation to this day but people like John Bolton and Dick Cheney got the war they wanted which in turn helped win the 2004 election for the Republicans.
Today Bolton is back on the White House staff and Donald Trump is the only American president in at least recent history that makes George W. Bush look like a genius. While he will not admit it publically (and perhaps even to himself) Trump is in big trouble with a reelection coming in about 18 months. Bolton never met a war he didn’t like, Pompeo is a sycophant who will do whatever Trump asks him to and Trump has absolutely no morals or loyalty to the United States or its people. He would gladly sacrifice thousands of American lives if it meant he could extend his organized criminal enterprise for an additional four years.
When there is a crime of the level of blowing up tankers on the high seas the first question I ask is: who could benefit from the action in question? The first answer that came to my mind is Donald Trump. America is very politically polarized but like a feuding family, nothing unites a nation faster than an enemy from without. Dating back to the late 1970’s Iran has not been the most popular nation with Americans. Much of Trump’s base is united by their xenophobia. That makes Iran an easy target. A lot of anti-Trump voters might give a second thought to the “don’t change horses in the middle of the stream” argument. Doubt me? Again, just look back to the 2004 election and Cheney playing the fear card.
I am among those who do not feel Trump is a genius of any kind; very stable, extreme or what have you. If this incident were a covert American operation ordered by the president it would have been going on at approximately the same time Trump has his now infamous interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. What was the theoretical country Trump referred to in that interview? It was Norway. Why Norway? Was it because it was on his mind from a mission he just approved?
Trump has been extremely anti-Iran from his first day in office. It placates Bubba – who is a crucial part of his base – but I feel there is more. Iran is an oil exporting rival of Saudi Arabia (who is a financier of Trump’s and son-in-law Jared Kushner). Cutting off Iran’s oil revenues would boost Saudi Arabia’s oil revenues. In that same vein of thinking, if Iranian oil came off the market it would raise the overall price of oil benefitting not only the Saudis but the American fossil fuel and fracking interests who are pro-Trump.
I always seem to be behind on my reading and finally got to the May 6th issue of Bloomberg Businessweek this morning where I ran across a blurb that stopped me in my tracks. It stated that global military expenditures exceeded $1.82 trillion in 2018; the highest total since the Cold War ended. The top three spenders were (in order); the United States, China and Saudi Arabia. I remember my dad being against getting me a bow and arrows when I was a kid (growing up in the first ring of suburbs). His reasoning was that I wasn’t going to be happy with target practice and that my targets would “accelerate” until it reached the problem stage. Trump has already questioned why we have weapons if we are not going to use them.
Who am I to trust Mike Pompeo (who actually was first in his class at West Point) and Donald Trump (who falsely claims to have been first in his class at Penn) or my gut and memory? I could be wrong on all this but wouldn’t it be prudent to at least the pause button?
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