Full-Scale War Avoided & Trump Goes Right Back to Warmongering

It is impossible for the U.S. and Iran to de-escalate as long as the U.S. is deliberately attacking Iran’s economy with the goal of igniting a civil war, writes Caitlin Johnstone.

President Donald Trump delivering remarks about Iran on Jan. 8. 

By Caitlin Johnstone

The United States and Iran entered into a direct military exchange for the first time with the drone assassination of General Qassem Soleimani last week and a retaliatory strike from Iran via surface-to-surface missiles upon two U.S. military bases on Wednesday.

As usual it was the less powerful nation that exercised restraint, with Iran skillfully targeting the bases’ military capabilities but taking measures to successfully avoid any casualties. The two nations de-escalated back down to their previous high level of dangerous hostilities with an understanding between them that neither side wants a full-scale war. Both sides played “chicken” and both sides swerved, and they know that about each other now.

So that was a relief. We were all forced to hold our breath and hope against hope that cooler heads would prevail after the senseless assassination of a sovereign nation’s top military official, and they did. A full-scale war that would have dwarfed Iraq and Vietnam in terms of death, destruction and destabilization was averted.

And then President Donald Trump immediately went right back to warmongering.

“As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime,” Trump said in his speech the morning after the Iranian missile strike. “These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.”

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It is unclear at this time what form these sanctions will take. If they are of the sort being leveled at Iran currently, they will further target Iranian civilians with the goal of making them even more miserable so that they rise up and overthrow their government. This deliberate attempt to foment civil war against Tehran is not speculation; it is a fact, admitted to by the Trump administration itself.

New York Times article from last year reports the following:

“Last week, Mr. Pompeo acknowledged to Michael J. Morrell, a former acting director of the C.I.A., that the administration’s strategy would not persuade Iranian leaders to change their behavior.

“’I think what can change is the people can change the government,’ he said on a podcast hosted by Mr. Morrell, in what appeared to be an endorsement of regime change.”

It is impossible for the U.S. and Iran to de-escalate from the military powderkeg situation they are in as long as the U.S. is deliberately attacking Iran’s economy with the goal of igniting a civil war in that country. The U.S. government intends to not just continue to escalate this direct assault, but to continue its increasingly intrusive military presence in the region, including the unwelcome occupation of Iraq.

And yet, bizarrely, Trump also claims to want to reach a new nuclear deal with Iran.

“The very defective JCPOA expires shortly anyway and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout,” Trump said. “Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism. The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China to recognize this reality. They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal, or JCPOA. And we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place. We must also make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential.”

This is not going to happen. The U.S. government has already burned Tehran on the JCPOA and it’s not going to enter into a new deal as long as the US continues to inflict aggressions upon it that the US itself wouldn’t tolerate from any other nation.  Iran is going to be much less willing to trust the U.S. government in a new deal now and will require much more assurance and accommodation than it did in the previous one; such a negotiation (assuming the Trump administration even really wants it) would be harder, not easier. This will remain true even after Trump leaves office.

The Trump administration also further inflamed tensions by inviting NATO to become further involved in the Middle East, which NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg agreed to.

“The President asked the secretary general for NATO to become more involved in the Middle East,” a NATO statement said. “They agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism.”

So, things are only continuing to heat up with Iran, and there is no reason to believe more eruptions like the direct military confrontation we just experienced won’t occur again, with the world perhaps getting a lot less lucky next time. Trump and his supporters are trying to claim the evasion of full-scale war as a victory for both peace and for America, but it is neither.

All of the defenses of Trump’s warmongering that you’ve been seeing are premised upon the unquestioned assumption that it is both reasonable and acceptable for the United States to maintain a military presence in the Middle East, even in nations whose governments don’t want them there like Iraq and Syria. If the US didn’t insist on maintaining an enormous military presence in this one area on the other side of the planet, there would be no debate about the need for America to “defend” itself by attacking the Iranian economy, assassinating government officials, and conducting airstrikes upon Iraqi militias. It would just be another country on the other side of the world, doing its own thing in its own way.

Most Americans haven’t thought very hard about this premise. They are fed some lines about the need to protect American “interests” and some unexplained need to defend Israel, and because those lines are spoken in an authoritative tone of voice most are content to leave it there. But if Americans actually laid out all the facts in front of them and thought deeply about what their government’s Middle Eastern military presence costs them and risks for them compared to what it actually gains them, it would be seen for the insane imperialist power agenda that it so clearly is.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Follow her work on Facebook, Twitter, or her website. She has a podcast and a new book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.” 

This article was re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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27 comments for “Full-Scale War Avoided & Trump Goes Right Back to Warmongering

  1. jmg
    January 11, 2020 at 11:58

    Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, January 8, 2020

    “A sad day. Preliminary conclusions of internal investigation by Armed Forces: Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster. Our profound regrets, apologies and condolences to our people, to the families of all victims, and to other affected nations.”
    — Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran

    “Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane and death of 176 innocent people. Investigations continue to identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake.
    “The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.”
    — Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

    Iran Air Flight 655, July 3, 1988

    “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”
    — George H. W. Bush, Vice President of the United States

  2. January 11, 2020 at 10:59

    Where’s the duct tape when you really need it?

  3. Robert Emmett
    January 11, 2020 at 08:48

    As the rationales for this murder started falling apart, which militaristic “statesmen” and “strategic thinkers” call a kerfuffle, it struck me that the usual suspects of think- tankery were going to have to crank out messages pronto to patch-up the enfeebled narrative. But of course the global nuclear threat is mainly positioned by mainstream press & punditry as a kind of tantalizing understory to the brinkmanship that they so evidently adore. Behemoth plunders and blunders right along, grasping for those full spectrum stars (that may only exist on generals’ uniforms). Yes, and what a fine spectacle of human dominance for new generations to rehash & admire. By the way, what do you think the correct term is for an indefinite number of warmongers gathered together? A pox. A pox o’ warmongers.

    false narrative

    Clunk goes the thunk as the think tank churns out goo.
    Hurry it up, our story’s come a cropper.
    It’s up to you to crank up this whopper
    and stand it up all good & proper.

    Yeah, we played sneak thief in sore loser shoes.
    Lost face in a funhouse ruse.
    But let’s keep straight who’s paid their dues.
    He ran us ragged those years ago
    but still fair game, ‘cause we say so
    now’s the time to crank it hard.
    Like trying to stir a bucket of lard
    as we get hoist with our own petard.

    Here’s what to say: didn’t that bitch hit!
    That’s what you call droppin’ a dime.
    When we’re the law unto ourselves
    we can do that anytime.
    Control the heights with satellites.
    Whatchu gonna do, push it to the edge?
    Go right ahead ‘cause that bet don’t hedge.
    So, here’s a list you’re cleared to attack
    but do NOT forget to use some tact.
    That djinni we let out, we ain’t Putin back.

    And now the gist of our intentions:
    there better not be any dishonorable mentions.
    Just use our phrase, our indispensable glaze
    of old songs sung for glory.
    Jesus, do we have to explain why?
    Just write what we say, don’t even try
    to figure it out for yourselves.
    And if a nagging conscience
    should ever cause you worry
    don’t just bury the lead
    but the whole damn story.

  4. Rob Roy
    January 10, 2020 at 23:04

    …or they are still waiting…

  5. elmerfudzie
    January 10, 2020 at 21:02

    Eight years ago I attempted to show readers in comments in CONSORTIUMNEWS that Iran’s Intel would conger up a “blow back” scheme that would rival authors of The Hammurabi Code (eye for a eye, tooth for a tooth) For example; The USS Vincennes downed an Iranian commercial airliner, it became the reason for retaliation and the raison d’ etat for turning the Lockerbie crash into an example of state preservation for Iran. Their Intel representatives probably told the US government that the only real compensation for, and to preserve the dignity of the Iranian people, was to permit sleeper cells to down a western commercial flight over water…terror for terror, you know. The bomb aboard flight 103 went off a bit too soon and didn’t quite plunge into the Irish Sea but did in fact, bring closure on that particular matter. Our side must have calculated that an active CIA participation would steer Iranian vengeance away from a plane crash into mid-Manhattan, so both sides probably worked together. Why? in return, our Intel got rid of some out of control CIA agents who happened to aboard flight 103 and involved with heroin smuggling, the surface areas adjacent to Lockerbie were littered with heroin. Further, we can all now assume that Gaddafi was just the proverbial fall guy and had no hand in the Lockerbie tragedy.

    The point I’m making here is this; we (here in the west) have been at war with Iran since the Shah’s overthrow. Ali Khamenei will exact an equal weight in U.S. blood and treasure to fully compensate Iranian anger for Soleimani’s death. Iran’s IRGC commander, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said, quote: “Soleimani’s revenge will not end by launching four missiles or targeting a [US] base or even by killing Trump; I mean none of these have the same value as the blood of this martyr,” End Quote. So, be advised anyone who believes in that Trump euphonious statement “all is well”, that it will be met by Persian fury of old, a reminder to our readers that is was Persians (now mostly within the state of Iran) who were the originators of human crucifixion as a devise to ensure justice! The resolution of this entire matter will therefor be a slow, painful and eventually fatal outcome.

    • OlyaPola
      January 14, 2020 at 10:34

      “Ali Khamenei will exact an equal weight in U.S. blood and treasure to fully compensate Iranian anger for Soleimani’s death. ”

      Belief of emulation is a function of projection; an illustration of do you think your opponent is as stupid as you areism answered as yes- and of useful foolery.

      Useful foolery continues has utility as in “Misreading Victory: US After the Cold War”.

  6. Donald A Thomson
    January 10, 2020 at 16:51

    Why the nonsense that the Democrats are less fond of wars of aggression than the Republicans? Hillary Clinton promised an open US war of aggression against Syria if she was elected and 52% of US electors voted for it. She has also called for a US war of aggression against Iran for years and publicly gloated about the US war of aggression against Libya under Obama.

    Apart from Carter, Trump is the most peaceable US President since the Second World War. US citizens seem incapable of seeing themselves or their politicians as they really are.

    Why the US nonsense that the US hatred of Iran started with the overthrow of the Shah in 1979? The CIA publicly claimed credit at an open Congressional intelligence committee hearing for overthrowing democracy in Iran in 1953 and creating the Shah’s dictatorship. That was real US hatred in action. I already know the standard response by a US writer: it was a mistake. No, it wasn’t. It was evil done on purpose. There’s nothing exceptional about the US or the people who live there. They have a neo-nazi dream of world domination and behave exactly like every other power seeking to rule others.

    • Rob Roy
      January 10, 2020 at 21:36

      D.A. Thompson,
      Well said and exactly right. Why do “news” people in MSM talk about 1979 and, oh, horrors, the taking of 52 hostages. I always wondered what took the Iranians so long to attempt to correct that wrong forced upon them by this rotten country in 1953.
      It hardly matters how people view these forever wars…the five big military corporations making the “defense” weaponry are winning every day. The Americans may be losing the wars, but the billionaires who profit most are making a killing as they are winning. As for Hillary, yes, we would be in the throes of murdering Iranians which would have started nearly the day she took office. Then it would have been on to Russia and everywhere else that war-monger wanted to bomb. Hegemony would be the end goal of her admin. Trump has never really wanted war, but he seems perfectly capable of escalating sanctions on all countries the US can’t control. The people around him want war and I hope he can hold out against them. Anytime that idiot does something right, the Dems and Repubs go crazy…as they did with him approaching North Korea, having Russian government officials in his office, and asking, “why can’t we be friends,” referring to Russia and China. Odd how all our presidents have held talks with all the communist leaders, but god forbid, should anyone talk to President Putin, a socialist capitalist! Can’t have that!

    • Deniz
      January 11, 2020 at 09:48

      Because Trump crossed a line and put us a path to WWIIII, which would make anything that Clinton and Obama look like a minor skirmish in comparison. If Iran responds, by attacking Israel, there is a good chance that nuclear weapons will be used. The worldview that you espouse, which incidentally I used to subscribe to, became ancient history last week. We are now in a state where lunacy prevail and the forces of peace are too weak to stop what is currently being set in motion. Dont forget our glorious leaders of the past got 10s of millions of Europeans killed over their petty land disputes last century.

    • Realist
      January 11, 2020 at 16:10

      You are right about the consequences of the detachment from reality by American voters who are inclined to focus on their own narrow day-to-day interests (financially harrowing for many) and basically leave running of the country to a cabal of political insiders who have convinced themselves that they have a fiat to run the entire planet. Those insiders don’t bother to utilise the mechanisms specified in the constitution to democratically make policy and peacefully interact with other nations on the planet. It’s mostly done in secret and is made possible only through massive payoffs, graft and corruption plus the application of armed violence when they think necessary. The almighty dollar run off printing presses in great numbers each day buys everything by anybody.

      Those who long ago seized control in America are truly Nazis just as much as Hitler’s minions were. However, I don’t think the average American sees that reality for himself when HE looks in a mirror. Most still try to do the right thing, though they are propagandized mightily by the controllers as to what the definition of “right” (or “moral”) actually is. Some truly believe that hating Muslims, Russians, Chinese and basically anyone doing better than themselves is justified and divinely ordained, but they are not the majority, and they are not thinking straight but rather under some hypnotic suggestion by the propagandists. “Just regular folks” in America are as clueless, hapless and powerless as were the “good Germans” of WWII and the citizens of Stalin’s Soviet Union. They need better leadership to tell them truths rather than lies and to govern in their best interests rather than solely for the benefit of the top fraction of the 1%. Considering the seize and reach of the entrenched Deep State presently in power, I am skeptical as to whether that is even possible in the near term (within the next few generations).

    January 10, 2020 at 14:54

    ” The United States , not Iran , poses the greatest threat to world peace . ” Chomsky

  8. Steve Naidamast
    January 10, 2020 at 14:29

    “And then President Donald Trump immediately went right back to warmongering.”

    And why would expect anything different from this mental midget who is supp0rted mostly by the intellectual dregs of American society.

    Even though I enjoy Ms. Johnson’s pieces, why do we need another article to explain to rational thinking Americans who read Consortium News that the inmates are finally running the asylum?

  9. January 10, 2020 at 12:36

    Can’t believe a word from Trump, Pompeo lies constantly, wish other nations sanction US. Misleaders all mafiosi types. How do people fall for this?

    • DP
      January 10, 2020 at 16:29

      Report Card of US foreign policy (non partisan)

      US stated foreign policy: “Advance my interests in other regions” which btw I know little about and have no business in.

      Domestic justification: American exceptionalism, export of democracy and justice, fight against international terrorism, humanism, helping Israeli allies.

      Means: war, lies, extrajudicial killings, violation of international laws, gross interference in elections, coup d’etat, legalized torture, legalized blackmail, legalized bribery, covert operations, legal creativity and cliffhanging, ally other countries by force.

      Outcome to date: tens of millions of US haters in the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, and counting. Record military spending to GDP.

  10. January 10, 2020 at 11:09

    To give Iran relief one of two things has to happen. (1) It has to develope a nuclear weapon. (2) In lieu of that it has to be put under the nuclear unbrella of either or both Russia and China.

    On top of that Russiam China and the EU need to back Iran financially to make certain that it does not become a failed state.

  11. Sally Snyder
    January 10, 2020 at 11:06

    Here is an interesting article that explains how governments have changed the rules so that they can justify killing anyone who they believe may at some point in time have the potential to be involved in a terrorist plot:

    See: the Bethlehem Doctrine by Craig Murray

    See: viableopposition.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-bethlehem-doctrine-and-new.html

    This rather Orwellian move gives governments the justification that they to kill any of us just because they feel that we might pose a threat and that is a very, very scary prospect. It is very reminiscent of the movie Minority Report where crimes of the future are punished in the present.

  12. January 10, 2020 at 10:42

    The narrative is weak around the plane crash in Iran. Talking points fromTrudeau seemfocusedonsecurity fromDaesh- no mention about Iraq wanting us out of country and no questions raised. The issue of raised potential for attacks due to US action was not raised. It is on lockdown. No families of victims were present-none allowed to speak although others were on platform repeating war policy remaining in place. No questions about role of families affected. No speculation allowed or discussion of potential consequences.

  13. Jacquelynn Booth
    January 10, 2020 at 10:24

    I thought for a short time, after the President’s brief post-assassination and post-bombing speech, that Mr Trump was taking charge of foreign policy, wresting it from the hands of Pompeo, Kushner, and the like. I was wrong; the neocon inmates run the foreign policy/military intervention asylum!
    How does one impeach President Pompeo? How does one fight a War of Independence from Israel?
    Respectfully submitted …

    • michael
      January 11, 2020 at 07:05

      It was clear from the testimony of Ukrainian Americans during the Impeachment that there is a “consensus” foreign policy (built by Saudi-funded and Israeli-staffed think tanks, “Ambassador” Bolton being typical) and that no President is allowed to interfere with “the adults in the room” (otherwise we could not have produced the Afghanistan Papers). These Establishment neolibs/neocons will not allow withdrawal of troops either.
      Trump’s shout-out to NATO was a good thing. Trump was clearly played by “his own” Intelligence Agencies, and Israel and Saudi Arabia in this assassination, almost provoking WWIII (fortunately Iran backed down, the true “adult in the room”.) Iran doesn’t trust the US, obviously, but Trump wants to renegotiate all major deals. Bringing in the EU powers and probably China and Russia (don’t tell the Democrats, they will freak!) will ensure Iran gets equitable treatment, and hopefully some lessening of National “Emergency”sanctions (ongoing since Carter in 1979, strengthened by Clinton in 1995, soon to be increased again by Trump).

  14. Donald Duck
    January 10, 2020 at 04:17

    The US crusade against independent states in Europe, the middle-east and Latin America will of course continue, it cannot be otherwise. But the push-back against this project for an American slave empire has already begun. Russia and its allies initiated the opposition to this American strategy blocking the expansionist thrust of the US and its allies first of all in Georgia, and then the Ukraine with the secession of the Crimea and the heavy defeats of the Ukrainian army in Ilovaisk and Debaltsevo in 2015. NATO was not going to be allowed to bring either Georgia or Ukraine into the its alliance. Secondly, Russia halted the ISIS/US offensive in Syria and the Syrian forces have forced the American/Saudi funded foreign legion of ISIS head choppers to retreat to the Idlib province where they are gradually being worn down.

    The US imperial juggernaut has been stopped in its tracks. States around the world see their autonomy and sovereignty as being increasingly threatened by the American project. This being the case a counter-hegemonic alliance is beginning to form. This also could not be otherwise. At the core of this struggle has been Russia, or more correctly the Russia/China alliance. It is argued that:

    ”Profound shifts are taking place, reshaping the international system … the first Cold War was a regional confrontation with global implications, whilst the present confrontation is a global process with regional implications. New ways of managing between what are emerging as two clearly delineated blocs are required, otherwise there is a real danger of an accidental slide into war. No new world order has been formed, but the reshaping of the international system offers opportunities to resolve to resolve the unfinished agenda of 1989.” (Richard Sakwa – Russia Against the Rest)

  15. Darius
    January 10, 2020 at 01:15

    Americans lose their shit over Iran because of the hostage crisis of 40 years ago. It all goes back to that. That’s why Trump and Pompeo can indulge in this utterly insane and juvenile acting out and the New York Times, CNN, and everyone else is like, “What? nothing strange there.”

    Iran can do nothing about it but outlast these fools or wait for Bernie to be elected.

    • rosemerry
      January 10, 2020 at 13:42

      Notice they think history started in 1979, forgot 1953 where they overthrew the elected leader and installed the Shah and SAVAK police for 25 years, then helped Saddam Hussein fight Iran from 1980 to 1988,killing over a million Iranians, then shot down an Iranian plane containing 290 civilians who of course all died. Selecting figures of a few US military casualties in Iraq and blaming Soleimani is crazy.

      “Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism.” As usual, Trump fantasies. Neither is true.

    • Rob Roy
      January 10, 2020 at 21:44

      Read Mr. Thompson’s comment above. Taking the hostages was justified. Iran wanted their stolen (1953) country back.

  16. Deniz
    January 10, 2020 at 00:20

    There was a crack in the narrative this week as the world saw Iranians a proud and dignified people suffering under US aggression. The rats are doing damage control to get Americans back on script and into their carefully constructed reality – We need to spend trillions to protect the American people and Israel from Iranian terrorists.

  17. GMCasey
    January 9, 2020 at 22:41

    On July 3rd, 1988 America shot down an Iranian plane over the Straight of Hormuz, killing all 290 passengers. Although it was in Iranian airspace, it was identified as a fighter jet.An Airus A380 left Iran for Dubai. An American ship, the Vincennes fired 2 surface to air missiles at the Airbus at 10:54 a.m.
    The US said that the plane was descending and headed toward the Vincennes, and the Vincennes shot the plane down killing all 290 passengers.Another Navy ship, near by did not see what the Vincennes. In 1996, America paid $61.8 million to the families.

    I am wondering if America or Israel did a replay of Flight 655—- of – so many years ago, and if either of them shot down another passenger plane–again.

    It did not make sense to me that Iran did this as it appeared that Iran shot its missiles at the military targets and then ended. It appears that the time of Iran’s firing was far earlier than the attack on Ukraine’s plane. However, international law says that the black box is under the care of the land where the event happened. I am asking this because the morning papers headlined w with words that Iran attacked the plane—–however, WHY would they do it when they had previously finished their mission, and very sadly, I find it hard to believe many journalists in America today. Many headlines read , ” Iran attacks—-but the copy read that many feel that Iran did this. It would seem that the black box might reveal more than accusations—which many in America specialize in today. It is very sad to hear that America has Freedom of the Press, when it is so difficult to find it in action.

    • January 10, 2020 at 13:44

      @ GMCasey: I agree that the most likely explanation of the Ukrainian plane’s destruction if it was shot down was a false flag operation. My guess would be that it was instigated by Israel via the MEK.

    • Skip Edwards
      January 10, 2020 at 14:00

      Without the spending of the MIC, military-‘intelligence’-complex, the real US economy would be in a death spiral toward ruin. $21 trillion, mostly military-‘intelligence’ spending, of our tax dollars is missing and unaccounted for (most likely in the off shore bank accounts of the 2,000 or so billionaires of the world). We are, seemingly willingly, being fleeced daily not only of our money but also of any dignity that still exists among us by a cartel of government and wealthy so-called elites. Shameful, it is; on us.

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