Is War With Iran on the Horizon?

Despite growing Trump administration tensions with Venezuela and even with North Korea, Iran is the likeliest spot for Washington’s next shooting war, says Bob Dreyfuss for TomDispatch.

The Trump Administration is Reckless Enough to Turn the Cold War With Iran Into a Hot One

By Bob Dreyfuss
TomDispatch.com

Here’s the foreign policy question of questions in 2019: Are President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, all severely weakened at home and with few allies abroad, reckless enough to set off a war with Iran?

Could military actions designed to be limited — say, a heightening of the Israeli bombing of Iranian forces inside Syria, or possible U.S. cross-border attacks from Iraq, or a clash between American and Iranian naval ships in the Persian Gulf — trigger a wider war?

Worryingly, the answers are: yes and yes. Even though Western Europe has lined up in opposition to any future conflict with Iran, even though Russia and China would rail against it, even though most Washington foreign policy experts would be horrified by the outbreak of such a war, it could happen.

Despite growing Trump administration tensions with Venezuela and even with North Korea, Iran is the likeliest spot for Washington’s next shooting war. Years of politically charged anti-Iranian vituperation might blow up in the faces of President Trump and his two most hawkish aides, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, setting off a conflict with potentially catastrophic implications.

Such a war could quickly spread across much of the Middle East, not just to Saudi Arabia and Israel, the region’s two major anti-Iranian powers, but Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and the various Persian Gulf states. It might indeed be, as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested last year (unconsciously echoing Iran’s former enemy, Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein) the “mother of all wars.”

Rouhani: “Mother of all wars.” (Kremlin photo)

With Bolton and Pompeo, both well-known Iranophobes, in the driver’s seat, few restraints remain on President Trump when it comes to that country. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, President Trump’s former favorite generals who had urged caution, are no longer around. And though the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution last month calling for the United States to return to the nuclear agreement that President Obama signed, there are still a significant number of congressional Democrats who believe that Iran is a major threat to U.S. interests in the region.

During the Obama years, it was de rigueur for Democrats to support the president’s conclusion that Iran was a prime state sponsor of terrorism and should be treated accordingly. And the congressional Democrats now leading the party on foreign policy — Eliot Engel, who currently chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Bob Menendez and Ben Cardin, the two ranking Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — were opponents of the 2015 nuclear accord (though all three now claim to have changed their minds).

Deadly Flashpoints for a Future War

On the roller coaster ride that is Donald Trump’s foreign policy, it’s hard to discern what’s real and what isn’t, what’s rhetoric and what’s not. When it comes to Iran, it’s reasonable to assume that Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo aren’t planning an updated version of the unilateral invasion of Iraq that President George W. Bush launched in the spring of 2003.

Yet by openly calling for the toppling of the government in Tehran, by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement and reimposing onerous sanctions to cripple that country’s economy, by encouraging Iranians to rise up in revolt, by overtly supporting various exile groups (and perhaps covertly even terrorists), and by joining with Israel and Saudi Arabia in an informal anti-Iranian alliance, the three of them are clearly attempting to force the collapse of the Iranian regime, which just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

There are three potential flashpoints where limited skirmishes, were they to break out, could quickly escalate into a major shooting war.

Netanyahu: Boasts about striking Iranian targets. (Kremlin photo)

The first is in Syria and Lebanon. Iran is deeply involved in defending Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (who only recently returned from a visit to Tehran) and closely allied with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite political party with a potent paramilitary arm. Weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu openly boasted that his country’s air force had successfully taken out Iranian targets in Syria. In fact, little noticed here, dozens of such strikes have taken place for more than a year, with mounting Iranian casualties.

Until now, the Iranian leadership has avoided a direct response that would heighten the confrontation with Israel, just as it has avoided unleashing Hezbollah, a well-armed, battle-tested proxy force.  That could, however, change if the hardliners in Iran decided to retaliate. Should this simmering conflict explode, does anyone doubt that President Trump would soon join the fray on Israel’s side or that congressional Democrats would quickly succumb to the administration’s calls to back the Jewish state?

Next, consider Iraq as a possible flashpoint for conflict. In February, a blustery Trump told CBS’s Face the Nation that he intends to keep U.S. forces in Iraq “because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is the real problem.” His comments did not exactly go over well with the Iraqi political class, since many of that country’s parties and militias are backed by Iran.

Trump’s declaration followed a Wall Street Journal report late last year that Bolton had asked the Pentagon — over the opposition of various generals and then-Secretary of Defense Mattis — to prepare options for “retaliatory strikes” against Iran. This roughly coincided with a couple of small rocket attacks against Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and the airport in Basra, Iraq’s Persian Gulf port city, neither of which caused any casualties.  

Writing in Foreign Affairs, however, Pompeo blamed Iran for the attacks, which he called “life-threatening,” adding, “Iran did not stop these attacks, which were carried out by proxies it has supported with funding, training, and weapons.” No “retaliatory strikes” were launched, but plans do undoubtedly now exist for them and it’s not hard to imagine Bolton and Pompeo persuading Trump to go ahead and use them — with incalculable consequences.

Finally, there’s the Persian Gulf itself. Ever since the George W. Bush years, the U.S. Navy has worried about possible clashes with Iran’s naval forces in those waters and there have been a number of high-profile incidents. The Obama administration tried (but failed) to establish a hotline of sorts that would have linked U.S. and Iranian naval commanders and so make it easier to defuse any such incident, an initiative championed by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen, a longtime opponent of war with Iran.

Under Trump, however, all bets are off. Last year, he requested that Mattis prepare plans to blow up Iran’s “fast boats,” small gunboats in the Gulf, reportedly asking, “Why don’t we sink them?” He’s already reinforced the U.S. naval presence there, getting Iran’s attention. Not surprisingly, the Iranian leadership has responded in kind. Earlier this year, President Hassan Rouhani announced that his country had developed submarines capable of launching cruise missiles against naval targets.  The Iranians also began a series of Persian Gulf war games and, in late February, test fired one of those sub-launched missiles.

An Iranian submarine launched missile.

Add in one more thing: in an eerie replay of a key argument George Bush and Dick Cheney used for going to war with Iraq in 2003, in mid-February the right-wing media outlet Washington Times ran an “exclusive” report with this headline: “Iran-Al Qaeda Alliance may provide legal rationale for U.S. military strikes.”

Back in 2002, the Office of Special Plans at Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, under the supervision of neoconservatives Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, spent months trying to prove that al-Qaeda and Iraq were in league. The Washington Times piece, citing Trump administration sources, made a similar claim — that Iran is now aiding and abetting al-Qaeda with a “clandestine sanctuary to funnel fighters, money, and weapons across the Middle East.” 

It added that the administration is seeking to use this information to establish “a potential legal justification for military strikes against Iran or its proxies.” Needless to say, few are the terrorism experts or Iran specialists who would agree that Iran has anything like an active relationship with al-Qaeda.

Will the Hardliners Triumph in Iran as in Washington?

The Trump administration is, in fact, experiencing increasing difficulty finding allies ready to join a new Coalition of the Willing to confront Iran. The only two charter members so far, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are, however, enthusiastic indeed. Last month, Prime Minister Netanyahu was heard remarking that Israel and its Arab allies want war with Iran.

At a less-than-successful mid-February summit meeting Washington organized in Warsaw, Poland, to recruit world leaders for a future crusade against Iran, Netanyahu was heard to say in Hebrew: “This is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.” (He later insisted that the correct translation should have been “combating Iran,” but the damage had already been done.)

That Warsaw summit was explicitly designed to build an anti-Iranian coalition, but many of America’s allies, staunchly opposing Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear accord, would have nothing to do with it. In an effort to mollify the Europeans in particular, the United States and Poland awkwardly renamed it: “The Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East.”

The name change, however, fooled no one. As a result, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo were embarrassed by a series of no-shows: the French, the Germans, and the European Union, among others, flatly declined to send ministerial-level representatives, letting their ambassadors in Warsaw stand in for them.  The many Arab nations not in thrall to Saudi Arabia similarly sent only low-level delegations. Turkey and Russia boycotted altogether, convening a summit of their own in which Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Iran’s Rouhani.

Never the smoothest diplomat, Pence condemned, insulted, and vilified the Europeans for refusing to go along with Washington’s wrecking-ball approach. He began his speech to the conference by saying: “The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.” He then launched a direct attack on Europe’s efforts to preserve that accord by seeking a way around the sanctions Washington had re-imposed: “Sadly, some of our leading European partners… have led the effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions. We call it an effort to break American sanctions against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.”

That blast at the European allies should certainly have brought to mind Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s disparaging comments in early 2003 about Germany and France, in particular, being leaders of the “old Europe.” Few allies then backed Washington’s invasion plans, which, of course, didn’t prevent war. Europe’s reluctance now isn’t likely to prove much of a deterrent either.

But Pence is right that the Europeans have taken steps to salvage the Iran nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In particular, they’ve created a “special purpose vehicle” known as INSTEX (Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges) designed “to support legitimate trade with Iran,” according to a statement from the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Great Britain. It’s potentially a big deal and, as Pence noted, explicitly designed to circumvent the sanctions Washington imposed on Iran after Trump’s break with the JCPOA.

INSTEX has a political purpose, too. The American withdrawal from the JCPOA was a body blow to President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and other centrists in Tehran who had taken credit for, and pride in, the deal between Iran and the six world powers (the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China) that signed the agreement. That deal had been welcomed in Iran in part because it seemed to ensure that country’s ability to expand its trade to the rest of the world, including its oil exports, free of sanctions.

Pence: No diplomat. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Even before Trump abandoned the deal, however, Iran was already finding U.S. pressure overwhelming and, for the average Iranian, things hadn’t improved in any significant way. Worse yet, in the past year the economy had taken a nosedive, the currency had plungedinflation was running rampant, and strikes and street demonstrations had broken out, challenging the government and its clerical leadership. Chants of “Death to the Dictator!” — not heard since the Green Movement’s revolt against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection in 2009 — once again resounded in street demonstrations.

At the end of February, it seemed as if Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo had scored a dangerous victory when Zarif, Iran’s well-known, Western-oriented foreign minister, announced his resignation. Moderates who supported the JCPOA, including Rouhani and Zarif, have been under attack from the country’s hardliners since Trump’s pullout.  As a result, Zarif’s decision was widely assumed to be a worrisome sign that those hardliners had claimed their first victim.

There was even unfounded speculation that, without Zarif, who had worked tirelessly with the Europeans to preserve what was left of the nuclear pact, Iran itself might abandon the accord and resume its nuclear program. And there’s no question that the actions and statements of Bolton, Pompeo, and crew have undermined Iran’s moderates, while emboldening its hardliners, who are making I-told-you-so arguments to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader.

Despite the internal pressure on Zarif, however, his resignation proved short-lived indeed: Rouhani rejected it, and there was an upsurge of support for him in Iran’s parliament. Even General Qassem Soleimani, a major figure in that country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the commander of the Quds Force, backed him.

As it happens, the Quds Force, an arm of the IRGC, is responsible for Iran’s paramilitary and foreign intelligence operations throughout the region, but especially in Iraq and Syria. That role has allowed Soleimani to assume responsibility for much of Iran’s foreign policy in the region, making him a formidable rival to Zarif — a tension that undoubtedly contributed to his brief resignation and it isn’t likely to dissipate anytime soon.

According to analysts and commentators, it appears to have been a ploy by Zarif (and perhaps Rouhani, too) to win a vote of political confidence and it appears to have strengthened their hand for the time being.

Still, the Zarif resignation crisis threw into stark relief the deep tensions within Iranian politics and raised a key question: As the Trump administration accelerates its efforts to seek a confrontation, will they find an echo among Iranian hardliners who’d like nothing more than a face-off with the United States?

Maybe that’s exactly what Bolton and Pompeo want.  If so, prepare yourself: another American war unlikely to work out the way anyone in Washington dreams is on the horizon.

Copyright 2019 Bob Dreyfuss

Bob Dreyfuss, an investigative journalist and TomDispatch regular, is the founder of TheDreyfussReport.com. He is a contributing editor at The Nationand he has written for Rolling StoneMother JonesThe American Prospect, The New Republicand many other magazines. He is the author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.

 

 

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64 comments for “Is War With Iran on the Horizon?

  1. Deb O'Nair
    March 12, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    What’s going on in Venezuela could well be linked to a future war with Iran. If military action were taken against Iran then the Straits of Hormuz would be closed to 70% of M.E. oil exports. What better to take up the slack than have US oil companies pumping Venezuelan oil?

    • JoAnn Witt
      March 14, 2019 at 10:09 pm

      No, Venezuela should be finding other markets as soon as possible.

  2. Tom Welsh
    March 12, 2019 at 6:34 am

    Mr Pence – as his photographs suggest – would have found himself quite at home among the German Nazi leadership in the 1930s.

    However, he would not have survived for long in that dangerous environment due to his obvious stupidity.

  3. Tom Welsh
    March 12, 2019 at 6:27 am

    “Iran did not stop these attacks, which were carried out by proxies it has supported with funding, training, and weapons”.

    By that standard, the US government bears full responsibility for all the harm done by ISIS, Al Qaeda, and all the rest of terrorist alphabet soup in Syria. At least half a million deaths, the partial destruction of the national infrastructure, and – of course – the looting of 50 tons of gold, masses of oil, and much of the nation’s cultural heritage.

    • Denis Reynolds
      March 13, 2019 at 5:33 pm

      Pure Fake News aiming at causing anxiety and over-speculation to naive readers……

  4. Tom Welsh
    March 12, 2019 at 6:23 am

    ‘Pompeo blamed Iran for the attacks, which he called “life-threatening”…’

    Yes. Threatening the lives of Americans is impermissible, and must be prevented by all means.

    While actually murdering hundreds or thousands of Palestinians, Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans or Venezuelans is perfectly OK .

    Noam Chomsky nailed this state of mind:

    “Evidently, a crucial case is omitted, which is far more depraved than massacring civilians intentionally. Namely, knowing that you are massacring them but not doing so intentionally because you don’t regard them as worthy of concern. That is, you don’t even care enough about them to intend to kill them. Thus when I walk down the street, if I stop to think about it I know I’ll probably kill lots of ants, but I don’t intend to kill them, because in my mind they do not even rise to the level where it matters. There are many such examples. To take one of the very minor ones, when Clinton bombed the al-Shifa pharmaceutical facility in Sudan, he and the other perpetrators surely knew that the bombing would kill civilians (tens of thousands, apparently). But Clinton and associates did not intend to kill them, because by the standards of Western liberal humanitarian racism, they are no more significant than ants. Same in the case of tens of millions of others.

    “I’ve written about this repeatedly, for example, in 9/11. And I’ve been intrigued to see how reviewers and commentators (Sam Harris, to pick one egregious example) simply cannot even see the comments, let alone comprehend them. Since it’s all pretty obvious, it reveals, again, the remarkable successes of indoctrination under freedom, and the moral depravity and corruption of the dominant intellectual culture”.

    https://zcomm.org/zblogs/samantha-power-bush-and-terrorism-by-noam-chomsky/

    • Raymond Comeau
      March 12, 2019 at 2:47 pm

      The people who are in charge of the USA Government would kill their own mother, father and family and friends to carry out their quest for world Domination through USA Imperialism. These warmongers are lower in life that the ants of which you speak.

  5. Tom Welsh
    March 12, 2019 at 6:16 am

    “That could, however, change if the hardliners in Iran decided to retaliate”.

    It’s a measure of the extent to which Washington propaganda has brainwashed the world that Mr Dreyfuss can describe those who desire to retaliate against murderous attacks as “hardliners”.

    “Cet animal est tres mechant;
    Quand on l’attaque, il se defend”.

  6. Donald Duck
    March 12, 2019 at 3:33 am

    De Javu anyone?

    Before the war begins, the Athenians are unsure that their empire wasn’t a losing proposition from the start. Their envoys to the Ladedaemon Congress (I,3) actually suggest that their trouble came because they ruled by laws instead of force: this because, when you compel men by force, they think of you as a superior, but when you rule them by laws, they feel cheated by an equal. It’s not hard to imagine someone eventually making this argument about Afghanistan.

    Can democracies have empires? The question is raised again in Book III, after Mitylene rebels against Athens and is again conquered. Cleon’s speech, urging that the Mitylenians be dealt with harshly, makes a simple argument: (although, has there ever been a complex and nuanced argument for taking harsher measures?) If Athens has decided to rule, according to Cleon, she must be strict in her principles and deal severely with those who go against them. The penalty for rebellion must be death or every subject nation will rebel. However, Cleon once again poses the possibility that a democracy cannot maintain an empire, susceptible as it to what he calls the three dangers of an empire: pity, sentiment, and indulgence. Just try to imagine a popular democracy without them.

    At some point, it seems like the logic (if we can call it that) of empire and militarism take over the Athenians. Thucydides depicts the manic exuberance in the run-up to the Sicilian Expedition, justified partly by alliances but mostly by the idea that an imperial power should keep the machinery of conquest going, even though the strategic advantages of conquering Sicily in the midst of duking it out with the Peloponnesian League were absolutely nil:

    “And we cannot know the exact point at which out empire shall stop; we have reached a position in which we must not be content with retaining but must scheme to extend it, for if we cease to rule others, we are in danger of being ruled ourselves.”
    One starts to have a sinking feeling. Of course, we readers know that the invasion was a complete disaster for Athens, one that they never really recovered from. So why didn’t cooler heads prevail?

    In terms of modern equivalents to the Sicilian Expedition, it’s easy to find examples of great powers getting swept up in the excitement of we-just-can’t-lose military endeavors; but for me the most striking parallel is the run-up to the first World War, in which we read about Europeans holding huge parades and parties and fireworks, and generally acting like they were rushing off to a sporting event instead of to their own deaths. Thucydides does a nice, and darkly funny, job of showing how the same Athenians cheering on the invasion later screamed for the heads of whoever called for this catastrophe, evoking the thought that there might be fewer wars if those among us who were most enthusiastic about the possibility of war were expected to man the frontlines.
    In this atmosphere of all against all, factionalism tended to win out over nuance- a hard sell in the best of times.

    “The ancient simplicity into which honor so largely entered was laughed down and disappeared; and society was divided into camps in which no man trusted his fellow… In this contest the blunter wits were most successful. Apprehensive of their own deficiencies and of the cleverness of their antagonists, they feared to be worsted in debate and to be surprised by the combinations of their more versatile opponents, and so at once boldly had recourse to action: while their adversaries, arrogantly thinking that they should know in time, and that it was unnecessary to secure by action what policy afforded, often fell victims to their want of precaution”.
    In this sort of anti-culture, the worst men started to hold sway in Athens. Athenian NEO-CONS

    • vinnieoh
      March 12, 2019 at 9:48 am

      A quack of appreciation for that Donald. My monthly Funny Times arrived yesterday and Phil Proctor offered this quote from Lin Yutang: “When small men begin to cast long shadows, it means the sun is about to set.” I had to look him up; Chinese writer in the 20th century.

      The history you relayed was repeated when the Soviet Union collapsed. Humanity, with the US as protagonist, had an opportunity , an opening, to do something different, but instead chose to consolidate empire. We live with the utter collapse of representative democracy, enabling empire, or at least military adventurism. Cleon would recognize it.

      • Bart Hansen
        March 12, 2019 at 12:16 pm

        Thanks, Vinnie, I saved that great quote for later use. It does fit TupPence well.

    • Sam F
      March 12, 2019 at 11:31 am

      Yes, the “worst men” with “blunter wits” prevail under “factionalism” for tyrants of a tribe “swept up in the excitement” must create the foreign “them” threatening the faultless “us” tribe, so as to demand domestic power and accuse their opponents of disloyalty. This tribalism works very well without wars during football season, but the US tyrants and their MIC/zionist paymasters must have wars to stay in power.

      So we need a UN football league to hold year-round politicized contests, and extreme sports events to upstage tyrants in conflict regions while negotiations proceed. For that we must empower the UN to tax members and enforce embargoes against those that violate international law. But that requires restoration of democracy in the West, deposing the economic tyranny that controls our elections and mass media. Tune in next millennium.

  7. March 11, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    I believe the war criminals want:
    “More War…”

    More war is needed to keep armies trained and employed
    More wars are needed so that countries can be destroyed
    More killing, bombing, destruction and death
    More of this is needed until the victims have nothing left

    More profits will ensue to the corporate cannibals
    More loot to feed their greed which is “admirable”
    More weapons produced and more missiles as well
    More action and propaganda to create bloody hell

    More medals for generals and other ranks too
    More flags waving and more war “work” to do
    More taxes for the masses as they pay and pay
    More bloody tax dollars are being blasted away

    More refugees trying to escape from the carnage
    More wounded and maimed needing to be bandaged
    More body bags for those killed in horrendous action
    More “experts” and “think tanks” to express “satisfaction”

    More parades for “leaders” to preen on the world stage
    More adulation, more hypocrisy, after their bloody rampage
    More terrorists created from the countries that were bombed
    More mayhem, murder, killing and death as they respond

    More violence begets violence that is for sure
    More chaos and misery are the “fruits” of war
    More atrocities, more carnage and more blood and gore
    More deadlier weapons, finally used, until the earth is no more…
    [more info at link below]
    https://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2017/08/more-war.html

  8. March 11, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Israel is sure trying, and very hard.

    They do have an obedient servant in the Oval Office.

    Beyond obedient actually, grovelling.

    Nothing like getting the mother country to do your filthy work.

    As in Iraq.

    As in Syria.

  9. DH Fabian
    March 11, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    War is what America does. Do reasons even matter anymore? Of course we will blame Israel/Russia for whatever our government chooses to do. This has become standard practice. The question is, weill the US survive another American war, financially or otherwise, whether in the Mideast or Venezuela?

    • Ray
      March 12, 2019 at 6:21 am

      Of course reasons matter.

      Or would you simply prefer to hand over the writing of history to Google and Wikipedia?

      Wake up Sleeper.

      Agree though…..war is what America does…..glass car parks it will be turned into as well.

  10. March 11, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    The question is raised as to who would win the war. Who wins in any war? Certainly not the people who fight and die, societies that are ripped apart, human suffering, ruined lives. Safe to say the winners are those who are still alive and those who profit from wars. Nobody else. Since World War II we can’t even to get anyone to raise the white flag and say I surrender.

    It’s hard to fathom the Poles. Few instances where they attacked anyone but always the victim of the countries who do attack. Napoleon marched through it, the Swedes did, the German and the Russians. Why they just don’t claim there neutrality with the hope they will be left alone is hard to fathom. Here they are joining in the drumbeating for war with Iran and the baiting of Russia. What will happen to Poland if war breaks out with Russia, win or lose? Nothing good.

    As to Pence and Iran, the man worries me. His slavish devotion to Israel and Netanyahu determination to have us do his dirty work is a bad combination. Trump is bad enough, but the anti-Trump virus is so strong that he probably couldn’t start because he might get the credit for starting it.

  11. March 11, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    I didn’t read this article past the first sentence about Trump, Netty and MBS where they are described as “severely weakened at home and with few allies abroad, reckless enough to set off a war with Iran?” The guy has no clue. All three of those may have had some temporary setbacks, but that comes with the territory, it’s normal. Trump is maintaining the support he started with and may well win re-election. Netty has been indicted, but it’s been long known that he is a criminal, which so far hasn’t hampered him and is not likely to hamper him now. And MBS just survived a political coup against him, in which he was supposed to be dethroned through an elaborately planned and even more elaborately staged murder of the unfortunate Khashoggi, which involved collusion between three nations, yet he is still in power, and because he survived this, they are not likely going to try again, which makes him stronger than before. All three of these players are known for complete and utter recklessness, so it’s most likely that they will. Iran is Israel’s No. 1 target, and the US is a totally supine proxy to Israel. As the troika played out this scenario before, MBS will like do his share by providing financial assistance and jihadi mercenary fighters. I doubt that they will succeed, and I predict it will bring down all three. The eastern alliance, led by Russia, China, Pakistan and a number of other nations will defend Iran and prevail. Russia stopped the war against Assad. Venezuela has successfully survived the first wave of attack and demonstrated to the entire world the criminality of the US attackers. Russia and China will not allow the US to destroy Venezuela. The world has awakened and will put a stop to the famous New World Order.

    • Immortal Cyrus
      March 12, 2019 at 10:49 am

      I have been a fan of Geo-Politics for many years now, and based on what I see happening in a Geo-Political arena, US will NOT attack Iran. And you seem to also be very familiar with the current Geo-Political situation as well. Indeed the Asian Eastern Block, as you mentioned, have already let these pathetic neocons be aware of what the consequences will be. And US will not take the Zionist Israeli bate for this. Most comments here are very intellectual, but they do not seem to understand or include the Geo-Political factors.

  12. nmb
    March 11, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    Former Pentagon official confirms: Trump prepares for war with Iran
    http://bit.ly/2RpIIix

  13. March 11, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    Nothing like obliterating your enemies to create more enemies. Will we be satisfied if Iran resembles present day Iraq? Probably not.

  14. F. G. Sanford
    March 11, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Chicken Kiev would be gone, and China would take back Taiwan.
    Those Iranian Guards could play all of their cards,
    And close down the Gulf of Oman!

    Bolton and Pence would be shocked. The oil supply would be blocked.
    Pompeo could pass some available gas,
    He appears to be thoroughly stocked!

    Those Granit ship missiles would fly. There’d be all kinds of stuff in the sky.
    Pence would praise God until bombs hit Riyadh,
    Ayatollah you- don’t even try!

    The stock market might even crash. Poor Bolton could lose his mustache.
    New missiles in Cuba could threaten Aruba,
    Those Russians could make a big splash!

    A tanker could sink in the Med. All of those fish would be dead.
    From the French Riviera to sandy Sahara,
    The Red Sea might even turn red!

    The price would take off at the pump. The dollar would be in a slump.
    Macron will demure, he’ll invoke haut couture,
    Only Poland will stick up for Trump!

    Merkel would caution restraint. Lindsey Graham might talk tough but he’d faint.
    Poroshenko would sweat hearing Putin say “Nyet”,
    Great Britain’s response would be quaint.

    Bibi would welcome the plight. He would boast but pretend he’s polite.
    When push comes to shove, he won’t land a glove,
    He’d rather watch you and him fight!

    These neocons don’t want debate. Their last chance could quickly deflate.
    They’ll risk over-reach before calls to impeach,
    Because war on nine fronts…would Make America Great!

    • Sam F
      March 11, 2019 at 5:41 pm

      Good stuff indeed, FG! The rhymes and rhythm are not strained, the meaning survives, and the humor makes it delightful.

    • March 12, 2019 at 4:13 am

      F.G. Sanford’

      The bit about Poland was funny
      The crack about Pompeo a real honey
      Nice to know in these crazy times
      There is something that still rhymes

      Thank you, again

  15. mike k
    March 11, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    If anyone thinks the warmongers in charge of the US government will not provoke war with Iran, they are indulging in wishful thinking. The US is losing on every front, and is desperate to assert itself through war. The dying Empire will insist on it’s futile last hurrah, and thus put the world at risk for Nuclear Armageddon.

    • Proud Kaffir
      March 11, 2019 at 5:58 pm

      The US is the only economy that is doing well. So, how do you say its losing?

      • a.z
        March 12, 2019 at 8:48 am

        us deficit with china is at its peak. the economy is slowing down. even the warmth of burning the furniture isnt cutting it(tax cuts) so…. yeah keep going with ur hurrah

    • TS
      March 12, 2019 at 3:23 pm

      > Nuclear Armageddon.

      But after Armageddon comes the Rapture, and the Return of Christ, so what’s to worry?

      – Vice-President Pence
      (next in line of succession if some gang of idiot Democrats succeeds in bringing down the Trump Tower)

  16. March 11, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    Well anyone who actually knows ANYTHING about the Muslim schism should know that Al Qaeda is Sunni and the Persian Nation of Iran is vast majority Shiite. Saudi Arabia is the greatest terrorist threat in the world today. They created and spread Wahhabist Islam and founded Al Qaeda and ISIS. They developed the Taliban too, and still spread this toxic cancerous cult worldwide.

    Nearly every assassin of 9/11 were Saudis. THEY SUCK and are backstabbing a-holes, whereas the Persian Shiites should (as they were prior to our nefarious Economic Hitjob on them that led to the Islamic Revolution) be our putative allies….

    • Nathan Mulcahy
      March 11, 2019 at 5:58 pm

      Neocons’ only logic is to bomb, attack, plunder and destroy whoever they want. Saddam and wahhabism were like oil and water, and yet one of the faux reason given for the war against Iraq was his supposed support of Al Qaeda. Similarly, it were the Saudis who were in the 911 hijacked planes, but a US court has penalized Iran with.

      You cannot argue with the neocons with logic, neither can you trust them with anything they promise (see Iran deal). Sadly, USA is inhabited by too many sheeple, who don’t know and don’t care

  17. I don't buy it
    March 11, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    The tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran has always been useful to suppress dissent at home and consolidate power in both countries and Iran is also extremely useful for US and Israeli propaganda, it is so useful that I am not going to believe that they will really want to change the situation. The real target of all this warmongering is the public at home, not the regime abroad.

    • Sam F
      March 11, 2019 at 5:54 pm

      Yes, the Mideast conflicts endlessly stirred by the US/Israel serve the need of their tyrants for a foreign enemy, to pose as protectors, accuse their moral superiors of disloyalty, and rake in the bribes from the zionist/MIC alliances. The lowest characters rise to the top in the western former democracies corrupted by unregulated market economies.

  18. Jeff Harrison
    March 11, 2019 at 10:36 am

    On the one hand, I’m not impressed with Dreyfuss having read him often at The Nation. On the other hand, with Pompous and Revoltin’ Bolton calling the shots and a president who asks ‘why don’t we just sink their fast boats?’ we may be headed that way. The answer for our cheeto-in-chief is (1) these boats are hard to hit and (2) in war games, using expected Iranian tactics, the Iranians won the battle in the Persian gulf.

    However comma I expect that Dreyfuss is right. But we won’t stumble into a war. We’ll walk right in with our eyes wide open fully expecting to prevail. Somebody needs to notify the deep state that invading another country is not the same as invading another country to rescue it from other invaders. They will, however, probably believe their own propaganda that the Iranian government is a regime run by religious dictators. It’s not. As Will Rodgers said, if you teach a dog or person a lesson in meanness, don’t be surprised if they learn it. The Iranians learned the lesson we taught them.

  19. Anarcissie
    March 11, 2019 at 10:15 am

    The article is talk about talk. A serious military operation takes months to prepare, both politically and materially. That is not happening. Therefore, the frothing of mad dogs like Bolton and Pompeo is for domestic consumption. In any event, invasions of either Iran or Venezuela would almost certainly lead to wider wars on very difficult terrain. What the mad dogs want are coups, in other words, foreigners doing all the hard work. They’re probably not going to get them, because in both cases the leaders have broad popular support at home. One might want to note as well that Trump presently has a good shot at winning reelection, whereas if he starts yet another hopeless. purposeless war like the previous 6 or 7, he’s going to doom his changes.

  20. vinnieoh
    March 11, 2019 at 8:44 am

    Make no mistake: the US covets Venezuela, and will press that issue until “success” is achieved. Consider how quickly, after taking their eye off the ball so to speak during W’s administration, DC has steered South America back to its rightward, US oriented drift. However, that does not mean that this author’s conclusion is incorrect about Iran.

    I do think however that most analysts get it wrong on how the US, Israel, and especially Saudi Arabia are likely to go about this. Sometime within the last year Trump could be heard whining about how with a all the money and effort poured into Afghanistan, the US has nothing to show for it and this “prize” is likely to fall within the control of the Chinese in their pan-continental building out.

    Well, there is a “solution” which there are some worrisome rumblings about. There have been statements and proposals that southeast Iran is distant from Tehran’s ability to control that region, it is vulnerable. Also, Iran and India are busy building a port there to greatly improve India’s access to Iranian oil, as well as other trade. This is a non-starter for SA and the US. I believe what SA is most opposed to is Iran becoming economically healthy and whole, and is the reason they would most like to see the JCPOA shredded completely.

    Our war-mongers are, if nothing else, devious, and an attack on Iran would not take the form of what W did to Iraq. That will not fly again, here or anywhere. I do believe though that they would invade and occupy SE Iran and then declare a free and independent state, maybe call it something like the “Baluchistan Free State of Iran.” This is most likely to satisfy SA’s rapaciousness, and would divert Iranian efforts away from Syria and Lebanon. This region, under US control, could then be used as a corridor for transporting Afghanistan’s raw materials to US allied interests. It would not be necessary to take down the Islamic Revolutionary government of Iran.

    SA has been very active in the Pakistan state of Balochistan, setting up Sunni (Salafist and Wahhabi) madrassas and inciting violence against Shias and Iranian loyalists, and also carrying out attacks cross-border in Iran. This scenario would most satisfy Saudi desires. Now, Saudi Arabia couldn’t wipe its own ass operationally, without US support, and Israel does not have a ground force that could occupy stolen territory, but the US does, with the help, once again of Saudi/Sunni jihadists.

    All the US neocons (and they are myriad and deep into both wings of the duopoly) must be eradicated, because the philosophy by which they live will never be eradicated from their character. It is not just Trump, I believe, that chafes at walking away from the money pit of Afghanistan. This scenario would lessen Israel’s predicament in the Levant, satisfy Saudi Arabia’s desire to keep Iran crippled economically, and strengthen the US effort to thwart China as long as possible in joining Asia to Europe, and possibly give to Trump a “victory” wrt Afghanistan that has eluded two previous administrations.

    This is completely and entirely my own speculation. Do not try to discern the future through the lens of the recent past. The neocons are devious, arrogant, and reckless. This play would not surprise me.

    • March 11, 2019 at 4:55 pm

      Interesting!

    • Sam F
      March 11, 2019 at 6:42 pm

      Yes, no aggression by neocons would be surprising. You might ask Juan Cole about the Baluchistan SA jihadi gambit. Iran would certainly defend that region heavily and is probably prepared. I suspect that SA would lose to Iran and the neocons would count that as a loss. Perhaps that is why the US is dumping weapons on SA. But SA relies upon mercenaries and jihadis whom it fears, and has nothing to gain by aggression, so its present loony MBS will likely cause a disaster for SA.

  21. Joe Tedesky
    March 11, 2019 at 7:32 am

    My first thought is of the unfortunate civilians and the over deployed soldiers who will suffer up front the initial effects of this war with Iran. My second thought is, does the USA know what it’s doing?

    • Joe Tedesky
      March 11, 2019 at 8:14 am

      Possibly if time permits Pompeo and Bolton might read this Rand report to President Trump.

      https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-03-09/us-gets-its-ass-handed-it-world-war-iii-simulation-rand

    • Joe Tedesky
      March 11, 2019 at 10:05 am

      Chris Hedges gives a great overview of our Israeli ally here.

      https://www.truthdig.com/articles/israels-stranglehold-on-american-politics/

      Imagine if the Russians had clout in DC and they rattled the establishment cage over anti-Russian rhetoric. Imagine any other nation having this much clout in the USA and, you would then realize the power of AIPAC. Make no mistake about the racist Israeli government that has a special place in Washington as, it has the support of the crazed Rightwing Christians who support it. Start listening to the Jewish Voices for Peace as there you will find the sympathies of the American Jew.

      • Skip Scott
        March 11, 2019 at 12:31 pm

        Thanks for the link Joe. Chris Hedges is a good man.

      • Malek al Kuffar
        March 11, 2019 at 2:05 pm

        Jewish Voice for Peace has virtually no support from US Jews, since it is a Hamas front. JVP’s propaganda is just simple-minded worship of extremist Islam. It’s full of clumsy lies. I can’t believe that someone as clever as Noam Chomsky belongs to it. I suppose he never bothers to read their output, because if he did he would realize what a bunch of idiots they are. JVP looks like a refuge for stupid and corrupt Jews.

        • March 11, 2019 at 4:56 pm

          I’ll believe Chomsky over you any day.

        • Allan Millard
          March 12, 2019 at 12:01 am

          I am not a Jew but I support Jewish Voices for Peace with a small monthly contribution. JVP occupies the moral high ground when it comes to justice for the Palestinians.

  22. a.z
    March 11, 2019 at 7:14 am

    Trump since being so successfully thriving even after three bankruptcy honestly thinks he can bluff his way to get capitulation from Iran but as his efforts in north Korea proved he will I’ve any positive results. Worse he will stumble onto a war with Iran with nutty the yahoo and Bolton egging him on without even wanting a war with war. He will walk away unscathed like he has but it will be costly for everybody else.

    • a.z
      March 11, 2019 at 7:16 am

      “Won’t have any positive results”

  23. john wilson
    March 11, 2019 at 6:09 am

    The notion that Western Europe would appose any Iran war once it started is fanciful to say the least. The Jewish lobby in the UK and in parliament is strong and and they would soon manufacture an excuse to get involved. A false flag chemical attack or something similar would happen giving the EU countries a reason to join the US. The dogs of war are ever present and always waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

    • March 11, 2019 at 8:16 am

      The UK is not Europe, it is and was always the fringe that played its own games against the continent, and soon will not even be a member of the EU. Even France despite its tendency to engage on foreign battlefields likely has no taste to support a war – not even moral support – with Iran. Germany also is quite opposed after their experience in Afghanistan that lead nowhere, neither will be Italy. The only poodle that will bark with the US is likely to be Poland.

      • March 11, 2019 at 11:30 am

        UK most often supports and participates in USA war crimes and invasions.

  24. Sam F
    March 11, 2019 at 5:51 am

    Most in the US know that this would be a long-extended war that the US would never “win,” as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and all other targets of the zionists. But with elections and mass media controlled by the dictatorship of the rich, what the people know does not matter, until democracy is restored.

    • john wilson
      March 11, 2019 at 6:11 am

      Did we ever really have any real democracy? Currently democracy is as rare as hen’s teeth.

      • Sam F
        March 11, 2019 at 6:50 pm

        It has always been arguable that the US never had democracy by some definition, but then democracy is always a sloppy business.

        While we did not initially have large economic concentrations, we did have economic power over individuals as slaves, employees without options, indentured servants, etc. But the press and elections were fairly free of centralized economic control until after the Civil War. We had the power to improve democracy in the US, and lost that power along with democracy, as oligarchy extended, and consolidated after WWII.

      • Bart Hansen
        March 12, 2019 at 12:28 pm

        Well, there is no right to vote in the constitution, and so the States are taking advantage of being in control of voting regulations.

  25. March 11, 2019 at 4:57 am

    Ain’t gonna happen. Iran will end up playing out like Korea has thus far. War with Iran means no viable modus vivendi with China and Russia. This runs counter to the kernel of Trump’s policy intentions – it’s exactly what he’s taking all the heat over. To completely undermine his own policy to fuck up Iran the way the Bushes and Clintons and Obama fucked up Iraq does not follow.

  26. KiwiAntz
    March 11, 2019 at 4:36 am

    The US wouldn’t dare attack Iran? They surely wouldn’t be that reckness or stupid, even under the disastrous Trump administration? Iran will never yield to US pressure & they would be no pushover, unlike Libya, Yemen & Iraq or for that matter, the failed Regime change mess in Syria! If the US choose to roll the Regime change dice again & attack Iran, they would get a quagmire & another humiliating Military defeat on their hands many times worst than the Wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan or Cuba’s Bay of Pigs? Those American Military disasters proved, without a doubt that Hard Power can never defeat Will Power? Or in other words, US Military’s overwhelming firepower & superiority couldn’t defeat a determined, united & committed Foe, such as the Vietcong, Taliban or Fidels Cuban Freedom fighters, who resisted & defeated America’s tyrannical Empire & won against overwhelming odds! Hard power & Firepower will never defeat Willpower! And America would risk WW3 & Nuclear War if they attacked Iran, a Russian ally & Russia will come to Iran’s aid just as they did in Syria to stop America in its tracks with overthrowing Assad & also with Putin intervening in the Ukraine to thwart the US Regime change, with Crimea being annexed & protected! The moral of the Story for the stupid US Empire is this? Don’t you dare attack Iran or Venezuela or anyone for that matter! Stay in your own backyard & within your own Borders & mind your own damn business!

  27. Tom
    March 11, 2019 at 2:36 am

    Israel is the greatest danger on the planet today and they control USA policies thanks to Russia gate.

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