Tag Archive | "US: War With Iran"

Analysis: There Is Little Hope that Europe Will Stand in the Way of a US War with Iran


The United States will go to war with Iran if nothing is done to prevent it. This is the assumption that the world’s geopolitical actors have worked off for the better part of two decades, and there has been precious little evidence to the contrary.

In the early 2000s, once it became clear that the War on Terror was, for all intents and purposes, a war without end, Iran loomed in the background of the nightmares that engulfed Afghanistan and Iraq and persist to this day. The fact that this original member of the ‘Axis of Evil’ escaped the heyday of post-9/11 imperial adventurism has stuck in the craw of the United States’ sulking, unrepentant neoconservatives ever since.

The near-incalculable consequences of a potential American military intervention against this defiant, well-resourced, well-defended nation did not bother the late John McCain – a serial loser of both wars and elections – who pulled off the difficult trick of warmongering and insulting the Beach Boys simultaneously in a 2008 call for action. Once again, the monstrous dream was deferred, but would not be denied.

The possibility has endured for so long that complacent observers could almost be forgiven for failing to treat recent developments with sufficient seriousness. That Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton seeks a war of regime change with Iran is not revelatory; it can be filed alongside breaking news concerning the colour of the sky and the wetness of water. Yet the past two weeks give every indication of being the culmination of a bloodthirsty project many years in the making.

As of yesterday [May 15], the US state department ordered the departure of all “non-emergency employees” from Iraq, while Germany and the Netherlands suspended their assistance programs to the Iraq military. The previous day, the US military announced that the threat level for the Middle East had been raised, in response to usefully non-specific ‘intelligence’ concerns over Iran. US air and naval forces – including warships and bombers – have been dispatched to the region, following as-yet-unsubstantiated allegations of sabotage against oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and a drone attack by Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels.

If the escalation appears rapid – not to mention finely orchestrated – that is because the groundwork has been laid for some time, and particularly since Bolton – a moustache with a maniac hanging off it – became Trump’s point man on foreign policy in April 2018. Within a month of taking up his new appointment, Bolton easily guided Trump into withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal which had by most accounts successfully stalled any ambitions had towards an independent nuclear program. Irritatingly for Bolton and all others who once dreamed of a New American Century, the absence of even the possibility of Iranian weapons of mass destruction removed the pretext for military intervention that had been so handy in the case of Iraq.

Since Trump – always happy to abandon legacies of the Obama administration without examining the fine print – ended the Iran deal over the objections of almost the entire world barring Israel, the US has pursued a campaign of sanctions – a cheap and brutally efficient means of warfare – combined with increasingly provocative military manoeuvres.

Speaking to CommonSpace, foreign policy writer Robert Somynne commented: “The recent escalation can be seen as a battle within the White House administration between different national security interests. The push from outside forces such as Saudi Arabia and Israel has led to the emboldening of John Bolton and his cadre. Trump and his defence team would rather send a signal of support to regional Sunni allies by strangling Iran’s population and economy. His instincts are still more anti-intervention than the mainstream American hawk; the question is whether Iranians who have been facing sanctions and war-like conditions feel as if they have nothing to lose. In the backdrop of the fight is the talk of a small summer war between Hezbollah and Israel in Lebanon.”

The nature and intent of the escalation became soberingly clear with Bolton’s statement last week, which – in addition to reiterating the United States’ standing policy that it will respond to any alleged attack by Iranian forces, or indeed anyone else who can halfway-convincingly be portrayed as Iran’s proxies – added that it would send “a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime than any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

In other words, should a skirmish occur with the Israeli military or – just a thought –a couple of Saudi oil tankers are trifled with, then Freedonia’s going to war.

Amidst all this, a superficial point of distinction between the present crisis and the drums of war beaten in the early 2000s is a lack of Western consensus. Europe was virtually united in its support for the Iran nuclear deal, and has little appetite for military involvement in further Middle East conflict.

Meanwhile, the UK Government – regardless of the ever-farcical ‘special relationship’ – is still bruised and wary after the failure of its attempts to sell the necessity of intervention in Syria to both parliament and the British public. Though there is no limit to her capacity for self-sabotage, Theresa May likely has little inclination to back a far grander and bloodier endeavour in Iran, particularly when a British general has just announced that – contrary to always trustworthy US intelligence sources – there is no “increased threat” in the region.

Nevertheless, an expectation that Europe or the UK will throw up serious roadblocks to the dark designs of Bolton and the other would-be architects of Iranian regime change has little basis in reality. While war with Iraq was once the defining crisis of the age, turning even the likes of Jacques Chirac into opponents of US intervention, Angela Merkel is today more concerned with building a Western consensus in opposition to Chinese and Russian aspirations, and the EU as a whole has done little to effectively frustrate – or even rhetorically oppose – the US drive to war with Iran.

“The UK and EU have failed categorically to put pressure or stop the US from violating the interests of the international agreement, the JCPOA,” says Somynne. “We have disinisragenuous actors like France and the UK who claim a united Europe position but are in security deals with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. European policy is adrift like flotsam.”

Amidst all this, dissent does exist within the American body politic. Opposition to any war with Iran has already been voiced by the Democratic congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard and her fellow 2020 contender Sen Bernie Sanders, who has warned that conflict with Iran would commit the US to a war “for decade after decade, which will cost us thousands of lives for our troops, as well as God knows what happens in terms of how many people die in the region.”

Sanders has said that he is “working hard” to remind Trump that it is the US Congress, not the president, who decides whether or not to go to war. Bolton – perhaps based on prior experience with Congress – does not appear particularly worried.

The United States will go to war with Iran if nothing is done to prevent it. The question is: what can be done?

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Who Will Stop Trump From Tweeting Us into War With Iran?


The president hopes we’ll break our Russia tunnel vision and set sights on Iran. We should.

Supporters of the Iran nuclear accord rally outside the White House on Oct. 12, 2017.

Supporters of the Iran nuclear accord rally outside the White House on Oct. 12, 2017. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

Donald Trump may be taking us to war on Iran and those who should be trying to stop him—from Congress to the grassroots—are too obsessed with Russia to even pay attention.

Trump is well aware that a war with Iran could be a good diversion from his domestic and Russia travails, and could even help Republicans in the November elections. In 2012, when President Obama was down in the polls, Trump tweeted: “Looks like he’ll have to start a war or major conflict to win. Don’t put it past him!” So we certainly shouldn’t put it past Donald Trump.

On July 22, just after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had wrapped up a speech in which he compared Iran’s leaders to the Mafia, Trump sent out this threatening tweet, in all caps, to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”

Trump’s Twitter tirade was in response to comments by Rouhani warning that a U.S. war with Iran would be the “mother of all wars” and that Trump should not “play with the lion’s tail.” Also a factor were Rouhani’s earlier comments implying that if U.S. sanctions stopped Iran from exporting oil, Iran could close down the Strait of Hormuz, a slender waterway at the mouth of the Gulf through which twenty percent of the world’s oil is shipped.

Trump’s explosive tweet was reminiscent of the “fire and fury” comments he directed toward Kim Jong-un before he started negotiating with the North Korean leader, but it’s unlikely that this twitterstorm will be the prelude to talks with Iran.

The Korean talks took place with the support of South Korea, and in the absence of any significant U.S. opposition lobby. With Iran, both Saudi Arabia and Israel have been trying to suck the United States into their decades-old feud with Iran. Both opposedthe Iran nuclear deal, and Israel has been advocating for the U.S. military to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities (even though Israel has several hundred nuclear weapons of its own and Iran has none.)

Saudi Arabia insists that Iran is spreading terrorism throughout the region, even though the Saudis have spent billions spreading their intolerant version of Islam, Wahhabism. And let us not forget the terror of the Saudi bombing of Yemen that has caused the world’s greatest humanitarian catastrophe.

United States lobby groups from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies have also been stoking the conflict with Iran. So has the dissident group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). The MEK, a cult-like group that has killed Iranians and Americans alike and was on the U.S. terrorist list until 2012, is hated inside Iran for having sided with Saddam Hussein when he invaded Iran in 1980.

In recent years, the MEK has spent lavishly (with what is rumored to be Saudi money) to acquire political support from liberals like Howard Dean to conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom were key speakers at the group’s May gathering in Paris. But the MEK’s most influential cheerleader is John Bolton, who has spoken at their meetings eight times, for which he was well compensated. Bolton considers the MEK a legitimate opposition movement even though they have absolutely no base of support inside Iran.

Trump delighted this dangerous melange of Iran opponents by withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on May 8, despite Iran’s compliance with its side of the bargain, as continuously certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In defiance of the deal’s five co-sponsors—Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia—the Trump Administration unilaterally restored sanctions, which will go into effect in two waves during August and November. The devastating sanctions not only prohibit U.S. companies from doing business in Iran, but will also punish foreign companies and banks.

Despite efforts by European governments to shield their companies, the companies themselves—from oil giant Total to airplane manufacturer Airbus—do not want to take the risk and are already pulling the plug on trade deals they had negotiated with Iran. The value of the Iranian rial has plummeted this year by forty percent. With the economy reeling from sanctions and the threat of war, along with mismanagement and corruption, Iranians have taken to the streets in protest.

The administration’s goal now is to cut off the Islamic Republic’s ability to export oil, its prime source of revenue and foreign exchange. These particularly crippling sanctions will go into effect on November 4.

What it comes down to is that the Trump Administration believes its policy of choking Tehran economically and supporting internal dissent can topple the government.

“We are now very realistic in being able to see an end of the regime in Iran,” Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani shouted triumphantly to cheers at the June 2018 gathering in Paris of the MEK’s political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. “The collapse of the Islamic Republic of Iran is around the corner.”

But an overthrow of the regime, with no entity ready to take over, would not only lead to chaos internally but could quickly spread throughout the region. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its allies, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, are ready to attack both Israel and U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and on the myriad of military bases surrounding Iran. The Iranian government has already threatened to block oil shipments, a move that could rock the entire global economy.

Many Iranians desperately want to change their government, but not with U.S. intervention. They look around the region in horror, seeing how U.S. militarism has contributed to massive chaos, misery, and death in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Palestine. They believe their best option is internal reform.

A group of prominent Iranian-Americans urged Secretary Pompeo in an open letter to lift the administration’s Muslim travel ban, stick to the Iran nuclear deal and provide economic relief to the Iranian people. “Those measures, more than anything,” they wrote, “will provide the Iranian people with the breathing space to do what only they can do—push Iran towards democracy through a gradual process that achieves the benefits of freedom and liberty without turning Iran into another Iraq or Syria.”

Before all hell breaks loose with the Trump wrecking crew taking us into a cataclysmic conflict with Iran, Congress and the American public better get their heads out of the Russiagate sand and rush to stop them.

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