The greatest strategic mistake by the United States in the opening decades of the 21st century has been to get stuck in unwinnable wars in the Middle East, a region with declining strategic importance relative to Asia.

At the time when a predecessor, George W. Bush, invaded Iraq, Donald Trump supported the war. Later, during the 2016 presidential campaign he pretended – loudly and without shame – that he had opposed the war. What would he do if he had a similar decision in front of him as president? We may well get to know sometime soon.

Trump unleashed his vitriol against Iran on July 22, threatening war in an all-caps screed on Twitter.

“To Iranian President Rouhani,” he said. “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”

Trump practices “honor politics.” Please take note that the cause of the Trump’s outburst wasn’t anything Iran had actually done vis-à-vis America, but rather words used by his Iranian counterpart Trump took as a “threat.”

Rouhani had issued a boilerplate statement in response to Trump’s previous provocations, declaring: “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.” Sniping back and forth is nothing unusual in U.S.-Iranian relations and certainly nothing for the American leader to get angry about. However, Trump seems to have chosen to believe Rouhani’s words were something the U.S. should “not stand for.”

Were Trump’s empty rhetoric the only thing on display, that would be worrisome enough for what it says about the mindset of the commander-in-chief of the largest military in the world. What is more concerning, however, is that Trump has been stoking the flames against Iran since he was elected, and his provocations have intensified of late.

On May 9, he made good on his pledge to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran. Now, he is warning other countries not to import Iranian oil, or else he will impose sanctions against them. Sanctioning a country that continues to comply with the nuclear deal – respected by all signatories except the United States – is an inherently provocative act.

Iran is already facing economic problems and unrest. Now, European companies, including France’s largest oil producer, Total, are reluctantly pulling out of Iran in order to avoid problems. Is it any wonder that Trump’s escalatory actions began shortly after neoconservative hardliner John Bolton became National Security Adviser in April?

Read full article: Column: Trump threatening war with Iran


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