Saber Rattling Or Prelude To War

This is becoming par for the course, but last week was another where it was impossible to single out one story as the biggest political story of the week. However, I have decided to write about the possibility of America going to war, primarily concentrating on Iran as our opponent. Let’s explore.

Despite President Trump’s rhetoric to the contrary, the situation with North Korea is growing more dangerous. (Is there any discernible  difference between the Trump administration’s rhetoric and flat-out lies?) Although I don’t expect us to get into a shooting war with China the escalating trade war will kill Americans if it continues on its present course. Venezuela remains a failure punctuated with a question mark as far as America is concerned. Most harmful to America to date is Russia’s cyberwar against our democracy, but like climate change the Trump administration is in denial. All that taken into consideration, the most immediate threat is a shooting war with Iran.

Much of what we know is snippets of information gleaned from news reports of apparently related events. It appears the hawks in the White House led by National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are trying to convince Trump to get into a shooting war with Iran. From incomplete reports they are apparently using intelligence information – some of which is two years old – to present the president with what they portray as an imminent threat to American interests in the region. If you believe in history repeating itself this resembles the run-up to the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq during the George W. Bush administration. In both cases we have an unqualified and non-cerebral president who relied too heavily on advisors with a not so well hidden agenda.

America appears to be poking a caged animal in this instance. A little over a year ago we unilaterally broke the Iran Nuclear Deal. Iran was found to be in compliance even by American monitors. In the process we put several allies in a difficult situation since we expected them to discontinue trade with Iran. Remember Iran and all the other signatories were in compliance with the deal. Initially we gave most of our allies a free pass on imposing economic sanctions on Iran but recently we pulled that concession back. We effectively dictated that our allies choose between trade with the US or Iran. Market size made that close to a no-brainer but it is difficult to keep friends when you act like a bully toward them. Nonetheless we hurt Iran’s economy.

Then we moved a carrier task force complete with bombers into the region ahead of schedule. That increased the chances of a military encounter going awry. Just ask yourself how you would react to the Russians moving a carrier task force off the coast of Virginia or the Chinese moving one of the coast of California.

Then there were two super-secret meetings held at the most secure facilities available in Washington involving very senior people who abruptly changed their travel plans. Somehow the fact that the meeting occurred “leaked”. They looked like war planning sessions. Immediately in their aftermath word again “leaked” of a 120,000 troop force being readied for deployment to Iran. The next day Trump denied the deployment plans but in the process said if he was sending troops there would be, “A hell of a lot more.” Talk about throwing gasoline on a fire. (I hope the “leaks” were a combination of saber rattling and the floating of an idea that is now scuttled.)

The mixed messages continued with the announcement that the State Department was removing all nonessential personnel from neighboring Iraq. That is a move consistent with war plans. In this case I hope it was just more saber rattling.

Many of the countries in the Middle East are basically creations of the Western powers, mostly in the aftermath of World War I. The region was largely carved up to accommodate western oil interests with little or no regard for the denizens or their history. For the most part Iran is the exception. It is a “real country”; basically ancient Persia. It is geographically a relatively large country and a regional military power. Invading it would not be a simple task. It would take considerable time and troop strength. The cooperation and participation of allies would be preferable if not necessary. With the Trump administration’s track record of alienating and insulting our traditional allies (and co-signatories of the Iran Nuclear Deal) their help is questionable.

Assuming regime change is one of the goals of the mission that presents another basic problem. Toppling the current regime and having a power vacuum is a recipe for disaster. There doesn’t appear to be a group waiting in the wings capable of running Iran if the US will simply grease the skids for them. In any move like this you have to ask: If we are initially successful what happens next. It doesn’t appear the Trump administration has asked that question and if they did they don’t have a good answer.

Led by Trump, Bolton and Pompeo, this is the crew that just failed miserably at a coup attempt in Venezuela. We don’t like to admit it but America has successfully backed coups in South and Central America for decades. I’m not sure this administration could run a one car parade. Do we really expect them to invade, occupy and successfully run Iran?

As you can tell from the above paragraphs there are a lot of things I am worried about; I guess I should consider myself fortunate that my liver being eaten by space pirates isn’t one of them. Ted Cruz – what a waste of an Ivy League education.

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