Over the past few weeks, the Donald Trump administration has been quietly ratcheting up the tensions and the pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran, seemingly going out of their way to find some excuse to provoke conflict with the boogeyman that has frustrated the neoconservative national security blob and opposed American hegemony for so many years.
The European Union and members of the American government are growing increasingly concerned at the belligerent behavior of the Trump administration, which recently moved B-52 bombers to the Middle East and on Sunday began conducting “deterrence sorties” against Iran.
The Trump team, led by notorious war criminal and pathological Iran hawk John Bolton, followed up on Monday by baselessly accusing Iran or the nebulous but omnipresent “Iranian proxies” of attacking four Saudi, UAE, and Norwegian ships in the Gulf, even though they did not have “any definitive evidence linking Iran or its proxies to the reported attacks,” which have not even been confirmed to have been explosions yet.
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This turn of events was made even more alarming by a late-breaking New York Times report that said Defense Secretary Partick Shanahan had presented Trump’s national security aides with Bolton-ordered revisions to the Iran response plan.
It calls for the deployment of 120,000 troops — about as many as were deployed in the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 — to the Middle East “should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, administration officials said.”
“The size of the force involved has shocked some who have been briefed on them. The 120,000 troops would approach the size of the American force that invaded Iraq in 2003.”
It is unclear how much Trump himself actually knows about these plans, since when he was asked about Iran this morning he responded with “we’ll see what happens with Iran. If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake,” one of the president’s favorite ways to say “I have no idea what I’m talking about.”
Considering how badly the Trump administration botched their recent attempted coup in Venezuela, which consisted of declaring opposition leader Juan Guaido the legitimate president and then complaining loudly when the military failed to support an obvious puppet leader, it’s hard to know what to feel about these recent developments.
Is this all a meaningless show of posturing from President Trump, whose Syria missile strikes revealed a love for performative displays of military might that ultimately do nothing? Or is this a determined plot by a psychotic war criminal taking advantage of an idiot president to finally start the conflict he’s dreamt of for forty years?
Only time will tell, but the echoes of past American military provocations — like false flag boat attacks — and the similarities in rhetorical escalation that lead up to the start of the Iraq War should have all of us very, very worried. The restraining counsel of Gen. Mattis and Gen. McMaster is long gone.