Mr. Trump is Planning to Attack Iran
The warning signs have been accumulating, and I am now convinced the Mr. Trump is planning to attack Iran as a desperate ploy to win the election.
Here’s the sequence of events as I interpret it:
May 2018: Mr. Trump pulls out of the JCPOA deal with Iran, by which economic sanctions on Iran were suspended while Iran stopped its development of nuclear weapons.
June 2018: Mr. Trump tries to convince other nations to join US sanctions against Iran. They refuse. The Trump Administration later declares that any company anywhere in the world doing business with Iran will be denied access to US financial services and markets. This shuts down European business with Iran, but does little to hamper Russia, China, and a number of other countries in their continuing business with Iran. America’s allies fume that their companies are losing sales to America’s opponents. Mr. Trump doesn’t care.
January 2019: Mr. Trump’s program of ‘maximum economic pressure’ is hurting Iran but not enough to force it to surrender to Mr. Trump’s demands. Iran remains defiant. Mr. Trump grows frustrated that he is unable to accomplish anything against Iran. In the one matter that Mr. Trump truly cares about, the need to be re-elected in 2020, Mr. Trump realizes that he will likely lose, and, in conjunction with his advisors, devises a scheme to launch a war against Iran in order to bolster electoral support. After all, Americans stand behind the President during a war, right?
February 2019: Mr. Trump’s vaunted meeting with Kim Jong Un in Hanoi is a failure; he is rebuffed by Mr. Kim on all points. More frustration. World leaders have learned that Mr. Trump’s threats are usually hollow.
May 2019: Mr. Trump sends a carrier group to the Persian Gulf with no apparent purpose other than to intimidate Iran. In a further sign of crumbling support, Spain pulls its frigate out of the US carrier group in the Persian Gulf. Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Bolton make ominous public threats against Iran; they’re the ‘bad cops’. Mr. Trump loudly pronounces his opposition to war with Iran; he is the ‘good cop’, the ‘man of peace’. This is intended to convince the public that, when he later goes to war, he did so with the greatest reluctance.
June 2019: With the covert encouragement of the Trump Administration, either Israel or Saudi Arabia attack several oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, probably through client groups. The Trump Administration immediately accuses Iran of the attacks, a preposterous accusation, because Iran gains nothing from such attacks. It shows video of Iranian forces removing a limpet mine from a tanker, and perversely claims that, since they were removing mines, they must have planted them in the first place. Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Bolton again issue bloodthirsty statements; Mr. Trump again plays the dove.
The US sends a drone into Iranian airspace; Iran shoots it down; the US claims that the drone was in international airspace. Amid talk of retaliatory airstrikes, Mr. Trump polishes his halo by declaring that it was probably just a mistake by the Iranians, nothing to get excited about. He later contradicts this assertion by claiming that retaliatory airstrikes were indeed set in motion, but the saintly Mr. Trump canceled them just ten minutes before their launch. Here’s the relevant section of his tweets:
….On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.
The inconsistencies inadvertently reveal Mr. Trump’s plan. If he earlier declared that the shooting down of the drone was probably a mistake, why did he authorize the retaliatory strike in the first place?
The second inconsistency was his concern for how many Iranians would die. This is completely inconsistent with the past behavior of this President. Here is a man who has threatened nuclear war against both North Korea and Iran, and now he’s worried about how many Iranian military personnel would die from US airstrikes?
But the clincher for me was the single word ‘proportionate’. That is not a common word; most people would use ‘proportional’; ‘proportionate’ is military jargon that is far outside Mr. Trump’s vocabulary. He got that word from his advisors. It doesn’t represent his own thinking; it’s part of a larger scheme to make him appear to be a man of peace before he unleashes the dogs of war.
I therefore conclude that Mr. Trump is planning to attack Iran as a desperate ploy to win the election. His primary concern will be the timing. Mr. Bush won the first Persian Gulf War in 1990 but lost the election two years later; Mr. Trump’s war must be close enough to the election to assure his victory.
My guess is that he’ll drag out the provocations through the rest of 2019 and launch major operations only in 2020. We’ll see more false flag operations framing Iran as an aggressor. We may see a few retaliatory airstrikes, but they’ll be minor in size; Mr. Trump will want to demonstrate restraint before going whole hog.
What’s frightening is that it won’t work. If Americans will stand behind their government in wartime, Iranians will stand even more firmly behind their government when subjected to American aggression. Iran will grow ever more defiant. It has already violated one of the terms of the JCPOA agreement in retaliation and it will surely accelerate its development of nuclear weapons in response to American attacks. Other nations will step up their own trade with Iran, further weakening the effectiveness of American sanctions.
Faced with ever-worsening failure, Mr. Trump will resort to desperate measures. As I explained in another story, Mr. Trump is already demonstrating cognitive decline in response to the growing stress imposed by the many investigations into his criminal activities. The failure of his Iran policy will only add to the pressure on his psyche. I fear that we’ll see this man crack up on the job.