Imagine repeating the worst strategic error of this century to the magnitude of four
Let’s say you’ve spent the last few years following an agreement that you made with the United States and its allies that prevents you from attaining a nuclear weapon. Your proof of this is repeated verification, per the agreement, by the International Atomic Energy Agency. And your reward for this is that Donald Trump has broken the agreement and demanded that crushing sanctions be re-implemented on your country.
Now let’s say you’re a rogue nuclear power that has been testing your hydrogen weapons while also working on the capability to strike North America with intercontinental ballistic missiles. Meanwhile you’ve also been taunting and threatening the United States and its allies. Your reward for this? The first meeting with the president of the United States in the history of your country, the wettest dream of your father and grandfather.
The lesson of all this is pretty obvious: You better have a nuclear weapon.
And this appears to be a lesson the Trump Administration is determined to teach Iran when it effectively breaks the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) better known as the “Iran Deal” later this week.
Diplomacy with North Korea is good, but the stakes of the meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are extraordinarily perilous, as Colin Kahl and Vipin Narang explain:
So while Trump believes that Kim is coming to him out of weakness, Kim almost certainly believes he initiated his successful “charm offensive” out of strength. Trump thinks he can walk away with Kim’s nuclear weapons, while Kim thinks he can walk away having been accepted as a de facto nuclear power by the president of the United States. Only one can be right.
Trump’s desperation for a deal will only rise when the consequences of breaking the Iran deal become obvious.
Of course, Iran may restart its nuclear program right away, but that’s not the biggest immediate risk. U.S strategic interests in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and with the global community will immediately face new unnecessary perils. Of course, instability and mounting military pressure is what you’d want to happen if you and your allies in the region want war with Iran and regime change.
And now, if the twin hirings of anti-Islamic uberhawks Mike Pompeo and John Bolton weren’t obvious enough clues, we know that regime change in Iran is Trump’s goal because Trump’s lawyer (?) just told us that.
The president’s lawyer also just happens to be a long-time employee of the MEP, an exiled militant Iranian group once classified as a terrorist group by the U.S. government that’s about as popular in today’s Iran “as salmonella.”
Anyone who thinks about this for a second can see that this is the Iraq War repeated as farce.
The fantasies of exiled outsiders fueled by the war lust of a Republican administration determined to ignore the best global intelligence have already led to the worst strategic decision and many of the worst humanitarian disasters of this century. And another rich kid with no foreign policy experience who avoided war when he could have served is determined to make a nearly identical mistake in the Middle East.
The only differences? Iran is four times larger, far richer, and even more geographically perilous to secure. And we actually debated getting into a war with Iraq.
Besides that, the fantasies are just as bizarre as they were in 2002 when we were promised that the war would be brief, it would pay for itself, and we’d be greeted as liberators.
Yes, Iran is led by vile hypocrites who waste precious resources on terror and authoritarian chauvinism. The regime is rightly facing protests and unrest that will almost certainly be quelled and not aided by bombs from the sky.
An unnecessary war that will be this disastrous and deadly has to be sold under the guise of peace — mostly because the blood hunger that actually fuels it is too disgusting to discuss, especially when we’ve already seen the prequel.
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, told his former bosses that this coming war for regime change is the “only way to peace in the Middle East. It’s more important than an Israeli-Palestinian deal.”
Sounds nice, right? Until you get to the next sentence.
“Iran used to be an ally of not only the United States, but of Israel,” he said.” That could happen again.”
He’s referring to the regime of the Shah of Iran, which the CIA helped install in 1953 only to see it overthrown by a popular revolution that led to the current regime in 1979. This “relationship” with the Shah is widely seen as the cornerstone of a failed U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that has led to generations that despise Western attempts at shadow colonialism.
Neo-cons imagined Iraq as a democracy that would be a beacon to the region. The bloodshed that followed the Arab Spring appears to have disabused even them of this fantasy. But the new fantasy is even more preposterous: a return to U.S.-sponsored-or-abetted feudalism in Iran, similar to what we see in Saudi Arabia. You’re welcome, Iran.
If you loved the Iraq War but didn’t like the noble pretensions and wish it had been four times larger, you’re going to love what comes next.