The New York Times reports that a British military official—who also happens to be the deputy commander of the coalition fighting ISIS—has stated that he sees “no increased risk from Iran or allied militias,” but the U.S. has fired back to say there are “identified credible threats” that generated the State Department warnings. That’s not to say that European officials and coalition members aren’t seeing aggressive moves in the Middle East. It’s just that those moves have “originated not in Tehran, but in Washington.”
There is an increasing fear that Trump, spurred on by national security adviser John Bolton, thinks that a conflict with Iran could give him a Gulf War-style popularity boost going into 2020. Republicans aren’t making that theory look any weaker by not just manufacturing a case for war, but arguing—already—that it’s time to have Trump’s back in this not-yet-conflict.
On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio issued a series of tweets that started with a claim that the “U.S won’t start a war with Iran, but it will win one that Iran starts.” Rubio continued through a set of statements claiming that “Iran’s proxy forces” in Yemen and Iraq “plan to attack Americans with the intent of inflicting mass casualties,” and that Iran has “spent years” building the ability to attack America through these proxy forces. He provided no evidence for this extraordinary claim.
Rubio then jumped to a new level of odd in spinning a pre-propaganda statement warning that “internal political divisions” in the United States, and the legacy of the Iraq War, will lead “a substantial percentage of Americans” to blame Trump for any war. Because, he says, Iran will use social media to spread this message. Sure, says Rubio, some people might argue that Trump’s pulling out of the treaty without justification might have started this whole series of actions, but just ignore that. Instead, it’s time to show Iran that we are “united.”
Shorter Rubio: If a war starts, it’s not our fault. And even if it is our fault, why are we arguing about whose fault it is anyway? Just support it.
The facts are that Donald Trump has profoundly destabilized not just the Middle East, but the entire world, by showing that America cannot be trusted to abide by the international agreements that it has signed. Pulling out of that treaty not only sparked a potential conflict, but it also all but guaranteed that the United States would go into any such conflict alone.
Any war in Iran should be expected to be an order of magnitude worse than the experience in Iraq—both in the immediate execution and in the aftermath. And no one will be cheering on the United States or providing troops and assistance.
Except, of course, for Saudi Arabia, which is ecstatic about the possibility of Trump taking out its major rival. It appears that someone in the region really has learned about using proxy forces to inflict mass casualties.
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