The New York Times reports that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan met last Thursday with a group of Trump’s national security aides, on the orders of top adviser and psychopathic Iran war hawk John Bolton, to present a plan that called for 120,000 troops to be sent to the Middle East. Why, you ask? Well, just in the off chance that the nation of Iran should:
“attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, administration officials said.”
Hmmm. Your next question is probably a simple one: Is there a reason to believe that any of this might happen, and that sending the troops—roughly the same number as we originally sent to Iraq in 2003, mind you—seems like a good idea?
Here’s some relevant text from the Times piece providing what amounts to the only justification for the proposal:
two of the American national security officials said Mr. Trump’s announced drawdown in December of American forces in Syria, and the diminished naval presence in the region, appear to have emboldened some leaders in Tehran and convinced the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that the United States has no appetite for a fight with Iran.
Several oil tankers were reportedly attacked or sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates over the weekend, raising fears that shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf could become flash points…Several officials cautioned, however, that there is not yet any definitive evidence linking Iran or its proxies to the reported attacks.
The Iranian government has not threatened violence recently, but last week, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would walk away from parts of the 2015 nuclear deal it reached with world powers.
The high-level review of the Pentagon’s plans was presented during a meeting about broader Iran policy. It was held days after what the Trump administration described, without evidence, as new intelligence indicating that Iran was mobilizing proxy groups in Iraq and Syria to attack American forces.
So, to summarize Iran’s crimes:
1. Iranian leaders are “emboldened,” which we know because…
2. There was some “sabotage” of oil tankers that we can’t link to them, and…
3. They haven’t threatened any violence, but…
4. They might walk away from parts of a nuclear deal that their biggest adversary, the United States, abandoned a year ago, and…
5. There’s some unverified intelligence from a country that routinely gets Middle East intelligence wrong about proxy conflicts in other countries.
Sure, that sounds like enough to start a war!
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with European foreign ministers from France, Great Britain, and Germany, and they all “urged restraint,” with British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt dropping the obvious quote:
“We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended really on either side.”
Hunt is right that putting 120,000 troops in the Middle East risks a provocation that leads to war, but of course he’s wrong that it’s either an “accident” or “unintended really on either side.” That’s the entire reason Bolton and Pompeo want our troops over there—they know that war has its own militaristic and economic momentum, and if they stoke the flames with a deployment of that size, a Gulf of Tonkin-style “provocation” of some kind is inevitable, even if you have to fudge it a little. It’s mission creep, but on purpose.
Even the plan itself is a kind of opening salvo—if you get the action started, even if it’s just an idea, it makes the eventual outcome more likely. And there’s no outcome Bolton wants more, and has wanted for a very long time, than war with Iran.