Will the Donald Stay on the War Path?
President Barack Obama was sadly at war for all eight years of his two administrations. While he “got us out of Iraq,” we still have 5,000 U.S. soldiers and advisers there currently as we assist in the retaking of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which has been in Islamic State control since June 2014. While Obama limited our troop counts in Afghanistan, he increased the number of troops first with a sizable surge, ultimately unable to fully remove the American military in this so-called, “good war,” that President Trump now has to deal with. While the Left is in an uproar over Trump’s immigration “ban” from seven countries that has now been overturned, the liberal mainstream media did not freak out when President Obama bombed five of those seven countries: Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.
While Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer shed a tear for a few hundred that were unfortunately held up as airports, calling Trump’s orders wrong and “un-American,” where were his tears for the 62 Syrian troops killed and 100-plus wounded when the Obama administration “accidentally bombed” them in 2016?
Or what about that time in October 2015, when the U.S. attacked a Doctors Without Borders-operated hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, an act the Pentagon maintains was “not a war crime.” According to a government report, the hospital was located approximately 400 meters from the intended target, a Taliban-controlled site. The military claimed to be disciplining those involved with this tragic “accident,” but the punishment will come nowhere close to absolving the crime. 42 people died, many were wounded, and a hospital in a deadly part of the world was lit up and destroyed by the U.S. military. Americans are far too obsessed about what is going on within our own borders. It’s a big wide world out there.
But Obama supporters declare that of that was necessary to do to bring about peace. Peace through an extended drone war (ten times more than George W. Bush) and indiscriminate bombing without any kind of Congressional approval? Gotta love our Nobel Prize-winning president. Just look how much better off each of those countries are now after successive American bombing campaigns? How tranquil the world is after Obama’s eight years of incoherent foreign policy. Will Donald Trump be able to restrain recent executives’ propensity to take us to war or bomb countries at will? Or will he perhaps beat the drums of war and initiate an invasion of another country in the Middle East?
The Islamic Republic of Iran, perhaps? Bush got us into Iraq…
While the majority of America appears to be distracted by civil unrest over identity politics, Trump’s divisive immigration order, and Elizabeth Warren being “silenced” in the Senate, Melissa Dykes of The Daily Sheeple warned us that an unprecedented push for war is underway and has been through multiple administrations -- no matter which party has control of the presidency. A plan begun under George W. Bush after 9/11, continued under Obama, and now kicked up a notch by President Trump has been an unstoppable chain of events.
What are the five signs we are going to war? Well, for one, interestingly, Trump’s now overturned travel ban included seven countries and of these seven countries, all but one, Lebanon as opposed to Yemen, were included in a post-9/11 report regarding which countries the U.S. should invade in the name of the War on Terror. General Wesley Clark identified the countries “to be taken out” and expounded on them in a 2007 interview.
Second, Trump sending National Security Adviser Michael Flynn out to “put Iran on notice” before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was officially confirmed by the Senate, was very confusing and was not what we needed to normalize relations with the mullahs of Iran. A narrative is now being spun to gear us up for war. Iran tested missiles that are supposedly not nuclear vessels, despite what other accusers believe. The Houthis attacked a Saudi ship off Yemen, not an American ship, as Trump spokesman Sean Spicer originally stated.
Iranians are now shouting, “Death to America!” in the streets of Tehran.
The nuclear accord struck with Iran at the end of the Obama administration was apparently verbatim from a 2009 Brookings Institution document, titled, “Which Path to Persia?” that outlines how we will go to war with Iran. This report found Tehran’s support of terrorist groups, its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and its efforts to overturn the regional status quo as the primary reasons for concern regarding Iran’s Shia Muslim-inspired rise since its 1979 revolution. But the report also detailed how a deal will be struck that looks good (“a sweetheart deal”) for Iran and puts a stop to their nuclear weapons program for a time. Then, the U.S. and others will make the case that Iran is in breach of that deal, therefore, giving the Trump administration the reason it needs to order an invasion of the country or military action in the name of national security. Trump is now putting additional sanctions on Iran, moves our Russian friends called, “unproductive.”
A similarly unproductive move was sending Trump’s new U.N. ambassador, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, to condemn Russia’s recent aggressive actions in Ukraine and elsewhere in her first big moment on the world’s stage. The American public needs to pay closer attention to Trump’s foreign policy moves. We cannot continue to be distracted by day-to-day domestic politics and divisive rhetoric while the Trump administration takes steps to make the world a more dangerous place.
The Islamic Republic vs. The Donald
Will President Trump be able to untangle us from unwinnable wars such as Afghanistan? Or will we become further involved in the Middle East and entangled in the affairs of other countries in the reinstallation of the aggressive post-9/11 mindset both at home and abroad? Unfortunately, the initial signs for a sensical foreign policy are not all that promising.
Last Friday, February 3rd, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Iran, which it said were just “initial steps,” vowing to no longer turn a “blind eye” to Iran's hostile actions. The sanctions are on 25 individuals and entities in the aftermath of Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles, a move some see as a violation of the the nuclear arms agreement when they fired ballistic missiles in a test near Tehran, the capital.
“The Trump Administration will no longer tolerate Iran’s provocations that threaten our interests,” National Security Advisor Michael Flynn said. It did not take long for Mr. Trump to start to a chart a drastically different course from his predecessor. “The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over,” Flynn reiterated.
Not spewing “alternative facts,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the missile test did not violate the Obama-spearheaded nuclear agreement with a handful of allies. “It's not a direct violation ... I think there is no question that it violates the spirit of that,” Spicer said in an interview with MSNBC. However, he did not forget to mention that the nuclear agreement was a “sweetheart deal” for Iran.
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency defended the the missile program, stating that it is “the undeniable and inalienable right of our nation under international law and the UN charter. Any foreign interference in this regard is a violation of international law.”
Regardless, Trump would ratchet up the rhetoric on the 3rd of February, tweeting out that “Iran is playing with fire,” warning leaders in Tehran that he won’t be as “kind” as Obama. Seemingly approaching foreign policy as yet another hardball business transaction, Mr. Trump later tweeted out later that day: “Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse,” but the U.S. “gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion.” Is Trump in over his head? Or is he just the kind of man we need to bring order back to a chaotic world? Still far too early to tell.
Iran is far from shaking in its boots though. A top aide to Iran’s supreme leader recently blamed the “inexperienced” Trump administration for apparent U.S. threats and vowed his country would continue its ballistic missile tests. Iran says they did not breach the six-nation nuclear deal. The White House says Iran acted “in defiance” of a separate U.N. security council agreement on missile testing, however.
The Islamic Republic likely has nothing to fear from the Trump administration. And they are making that known. “This is not the first time that an inexperienced person has threatened Iran,” said Ali Akbar Velayati, an Iranian politician and academic, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and current head of Center for Strategic Research. “Iran is the strongest power in the region and has a lot of political, economic and military power ... America should be careful about making empty threats to Iran.” Was it an empty threat? Perhaps an opening salvo? As long as the Donald doesn’t draw any red lines, he should be okay.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif reiterated the missile testing’s separation from the nuclear accords during a recent press conference, when he said, “The missiles aren't part of the nuclear accords,” reported by Reuters. “Iran will never use missiles produced in Iran to attack any other country.” But every country has its breaking point. And most will do whatever it takes to defend itself.
Iran does not seem to be taking Trump’s increasingly hostile rhetoric too seriously, because just one day after the U.S. imposed its restrictions on 25 Iranian individuals and entities, Iran carried out more missile tests during a military exercise on Saturday, February 4th.
Iran successfully tested land-to-land missiles and radar systems during drills in the northern province of Semnan, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim agency, referencing a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division.
“We are working day and night to protect Iran’s security,” said Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace unit. If that wasn’t direct enough, he added, “If we see smallest misstep from the enemies, our roaring missiles will fall on their heads.” That does not quite sound like the missiles are for self-defense only. Or is this more empty rhetoric like the Iranians accused the Trump administration or spouting? This is becoming the tensest time between our two nations since the 1979 hostage crisis.
President Trump has continued to talk tough despite Iran’s actions. He vowed that “nothing is off the table,” in terms of dealing with Iran. This should always be the case no matter what when dealing with a rogue and potentially nuclear armed country. The media will no doubt characterize that common sense phrase to mean Trump aims to take us to war with Iran. But that is far from clear at the moment.
Iran Flexing Its Muscles and The Real Story About Yemen
Iran appears to be flexing its muscles with its cache of missiles and highly effective radar systems in showcasing itself as an impenetrable country, one that would be difficult to invade. Despite the heated rhetoric from both sides, Reuters is reporting that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was not considering raising the number of U.S. forces in the Middle East to address Iran’s “misbehavior,” though he did warn that the world would not ignore Iran’s activities.
The U.S. and others believe Iran could be testing ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear payload. However, the Iranians have repeatedly denied this.
While the U.S. claims to not be increasing its military presence in the Middle East after Iran’s ballistic missile tests, it has sent a destroyer off the coast of Yemen to protect the waterways from the Houthi rebels, who are said to be aligned with Iran, according to U.S. officials speaking to Reuters. The USS Cole arrived off southwestern Yemen earlier this month. This same ship was attacked in 2000 by al-Qaeda when bombers rammed a boat full of explosives into the side of the ship, in the Yemeni port of Aden, killing 17 U.S. sailors.
This could very well not be related to the heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. It is likely a sign that the U.S. is increasing its support of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government against the possibly Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Officials claim the decision to move the USS Cole was made before the recent comments by the Iranian and American political leaders. The once-hit destroyer is yet again venturing into dangerous waters. At the end of January, armed Houthis attacked a Saudi warship of the western Yemeni coast, killing two crew members.
But are we being spun about Iran’s true intentions to gear us up for war? Maybe one that has been quietly in the making for decades without anyone knowing?
The Houthis, who are allied with forces loyal to former Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh, deny carrying out any war crimes over the last two years of deadly conflict. They claim they are defending the country and its civilians from Saudi-led foreign aggression.
Iran’s support of the Houthi rebels has been grossly overstated and overestimated.
Yemen and Saudi Arabia blame Iran for supplying weapons to the Houthis, but Iran has vehemently denied this. U.N. experts claim they had identified over 2,000 weapons seized from boats off Yemen that “could be directly linked to Iranian manufacture of origin.”
The U.N. report also said Iran’s arming of the Houthis is far from a sure thing: “The panel has not seen sufficient evidence to confirm any direct large-scale supply of arms from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, although there are indicators that anti-tank guided weapons being supplied to the Houthi or Saleh forces are of Iranian manufacture,” the experts said. Simply because a weapon was made in one country does not prove that that country is supplying the arms. If anything, the arming of the Houthis is very minimal and nowhere near the air support and tactical support the Saudis and Americans are heaping on the Yemeni government forces in this brutal struggle for power.
Furthermore, it was the American-backed Saudi Arabia military that has carried out attacks in Yemen that “may amount to war crimes,” according to the U.N. The report investigated 10 strikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition between March and October of last year and found that “at least 292 civilians, including some 100 women and children” were killed. In addition, the report’s experts stated that “In eight of the 10 investigations, the panel found no evidence that the airstrikes had targeted legitimate military objectives.”
It is in fact “fake news” that the Houthis are Iranian proxies in Yemen. It’s a stretch.
“Alternative facts” to drive us to war. Sure, Iran is probably supporting the Houthis, but they are nowhere near in line with the Saudis’ support of the Yemeni government and the Houthis are far from an Iranian proxy.
This excerpt from Thomas Juneau writing in The Washington Post, dated May 2016, sums it up:
“Yet as I argue in a recent article in the May 2016 issue of International Affairs, the Chatham House journal, Tehran’s support for the Houthis is limited, and its influence in Yemen is marginal. It is simply inaccurate to claim that the Houthis are Iranian proxies.
Instead, the war in Yemen is driven by local grievances and competition for power among Yemeni actors. The Houthis and Saleh want to overturn the political order that emerged after the uprisings of 2011: Saleh wants to return to power, having lost the presidency in the wake of popular protests, while the Houthis want a greater say in national affairs. In other words, the Houthis want in, Saleh wants back in, and the Hadi bloc wants to keep them both out.”
Therefore, Iran’s miniscule support for the Houthi rebels with some small-scale weaponry is hardly enough to justify the onslaught they are facing from Saudi Arabia’s brutal coalition which includes the United States. The Obama administration provided weapons to Saudi Arabia in their offensive into Yemen. And a horrific Saudi airstrike on a funeral hall in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, in October 2016, that killed at least 140 mourners and wounded more than 500 others, could still implicate the U.S. in war crimes and could be prosecuted under international law, if that is such a thing.
The Houthis are well within their rights to fight back against what they see as invading forces. The U.S. cannot continue down this war path in Iran and Yemen. We cannot take another disastrous war in the Middle East. It’s just not worth it. Hopefully the Donald realizes that.
Darius Shahtahmasebi put it best in a recent Anti-Media piece on Iran when he wrote: “Iran has not attacked the United States, nor can it be said to have attacked any other country for decades, if not centuries. War should be a measure of last resort, not the first action an administration takes after a mere two weeks in office based off inaccurate and dishonest reporting.” Amen, brother! We need to make sure the truth comes out. Especially from far away places where the reality on the ground can be lost in translation.
But we’re talking about Iran here, not Yemen.
Iran moves ahead with its plans nonetheless. It launched yet another missile on Wednesday, the 8th from the same launch pad east of Tehran where it conducted a previous ballistic missile test last month, according to a Fox News source. The missile used in Wednesday's launch was a short-range Mersad surface-to-air missile, which hit impact 35 miles away, according to a U.S. official.
President Trump must resist the neoconservative-backed pressure to take us to war with Iran. They are not in violation of the nuclear accord we struck with them. They are not yet a national security threat to America in any way. They are a powerful actor in the region and must be taken seriously, but we must not view them as an enemy or a country that must be “taken down.” We must see them as an important country in a region ridden with terrorists thriving off of failed states.
Let’s make sure we don’t create more terrorists by invading Iran with American troops or by striking Tehran with American bombs. Please, Donald, our nation’s sanity depends on it.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
bradmasteroccal on March 03, 2019:
Time to update this article:)
Sanxuary on February 12, 2017:
Iran has always been a number one target for the Military Industrial complex. It was the target before Gulf two but the oil shortage rquired taking Iraq first and that got them in a mess. That mess has now made Iraq a Shia nighmare and has lead Saudi Araibia closer to war with Iran. We will end up in Iran at some point unless Iran changes politically. The most untold story I am getting creates another nightmare. The untold reason for the ban on the latest country was part two that has not taken place. Its the eventual declaration that the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. That is most of North Africa and it will create a new nightmare. To bring the rebellion across North Africa, America saw the Muslim Brotherhood as an indirect ally. Now that its over and moderate governmemts have not arrived we are having are doubts. The current adminstration would be siding with Isreal, Jordan and Isreal if they did this. The Muslim Brotherhood has many quetionable agendas and is more radical Islam to most.