The idea of war with Iran is starting to move beyond mere rhetoric. Congress recently conducted an all-night Armed Services Committee hearing related to Iran that ended at 7am. During the hearing, US Representative Ro Khanna introduced a resolution, barring any funding to an Iranian war. It is not yet clear whether this would pass Congress, but it seems unlikely to pass the Senate.
This Armed Services Committee hearing came after a closed door session of Congress in which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a prominent Iran hawk, believes the Trump Administration has the authorization to enter a conflict with Iran without Congressional approval. Considering how weak Congress was in opposing the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and coupled with the strong national security state apparatus currently in place, Trump’s Administration apparently believes it can attack Iran unilaterally via the executive, should Congress oppose it.
This brings us to President Trump. Thus far, his behavior, as I have noted in the first War Report, does not seem to indicate a particular desire to invade or attack Iran, outside fracturing diplomatic relations by violating the JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal). He seems (at this point) fortunately reluctant toward a war, but in the end, that may not matter much considering who he has appointed in his Administration.
The American Conservative’s Daniel Larison has been doing great reporting on the Iran issue lately and has recently wrote of National Security Advisor John Bolton (another Iran hawk):
“He is concentrating an extraordinary amount of power in his own hands at the expense of the quality of the policy process. Watching as he has been able to get his way on almost everything over the last year shows us the practical consequences of allowing an unelected, unconfirmed fanatic to run U.S. foreign policy according to his preferences.”
“Bolton limits information that reaches the president so that he can filter everything and put his spin on every new event. This allows Bolton to spoonfeed Trump his ideological agenda, and the famously incurious and ill-informed president probably has no idea that he is being kept in the dark that there are other policy options and views available that he might choose from.”
Here is what the strategy appears to be on behalf of the Iran hawks: apply maximum pressure on Iran in order to provoke them into attacking either US forces or others in the Persian Gulf region. The first War Report reported a carrier task force and bomber group being moved into the Gulf theater. There are now an additional 1,000 troops being moved to the Middle East for “defensive purposes”.
Such false flags have been used in the past as pretexts for the US to initiate war. The Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964 reportedly involved a North Vietnamese attack on US naval vessels. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident was the reason used for a formal US invasion of South Vietnam which would be termed the Vietnam War. Except that later, former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara admitted the attack never happened.
It’s a classic strategy: position your forces close to the enemy and wait for clashes-real, imagined, accidental, or intentional to occur. Then, use this clash as a pretext to launch a war.
A current map shows US military installations surrounding Iran.
There have already been reported attacks on Japanese and Norwegian oil tankers which are alleged to be the responsibility of Iran. Alleged is the key word here, as it appears most of the world is still evaluating the evidence. However, Secretary Pompeo recently proclaimed on Fox News that “There’s no doubt” it was Iran. Iran has denied involvement- it’s still too soon to conclusively know who is at fault. The Intercept’s Deconstructed podcast had a recent discussion on this, and it is worth a listen.
What is more important than who attacked the tankers is how the Trump Administration responds going forward.
The gears of war appear to be turning and Congress is increasingly becoming involved, whether or not the Administration deems their support necessary for starting a war with Iran. Despite such a conflict being entirely unnecessary and avoidable, the Iran hawks may have their war anyway.