Are you in the mood for another war? I would imagine not. So it’s been puzzling, trying to figure out why we found ourselves ready to launch a massive military strike on Iran last week, only to have Donald Trump of all people change his mind and call it off. Thank you Donald. But when Trump appears to be the voice of reason in this administration, we’re all in trouble, because it’s tethered to an attention span 240 diddles long. We may not be so lucky next time the jingoes get horny.
Other than for show, there is no reason to attack Iran. It is not the most dangerous regime in the Middle East. Not by any calculation. That title goes to Saudi Arabia, the country that’s been pounding Yemen back to the stone age, with American weaponry, threatening its neighbors, including Bahrain and Qatar, and financing the Taliban and ISIS—not directly of course, but the laundromats of Saudi sheikh’s finances are as oily as their bank accounts.
Remember that Clinton memo from 2009, when she was Secretary of State? “More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” she wrote that December. Ten years later, Saudi Arabia’s hands are no less bloody.
Saudi Arabia, not Iran, sends out goons to other countries to assassinate and dismember journalists, or kidnap dissidents who manage to flee the country, beat them, drug them and and imprison them. Saudi Arabia, not Iran, remains the title holder in originating terrorism and destabilizing the Middle East. But Saudi Arabia is supposedly an American ally. It has a lot of oil, so much of it needed to ensure that we keep cooking the planet, and it’s been deceiving American presidents since FDR. Now it’s pushing this country toward war with Iran, and too many people in Trump’s administration are eager to be Saudi Arabia’s lackeys. Trump and his son in law are too, but those two want to make money. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton just want to do what John McCain once stupidly laughed off: Bomb.
Even assuming that the attacks on oil tankers last week were the work of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, those attacks were nothing more than the sort of skirmishes American soldiers live with on the front lines in Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq to this day. (One columnist compared it to having one’s car vandalized: “You’re right to be angry. You’re right, even, to seek compensation for the crime and expense of making repairs. But would you seek the death penalty for the perpetrators? No. Of course you wouldn’t. Not if you have any sense of moral proportion.”)
That’s assuming the attacks were the work of Iranians, a big assumption when our own military masks its lies in claims of uncertainty on whether its drones are violating Iranian space or not (as if GPS was some rare, rogue gimmick). Iran sees those violations as acts of war. It has a right to. Imagine if an Iranian drone were to fly in proximity of Flagler Beach. No doubt in some America-firsters’ books the American coast is owed more respect than Iran’s Persian Gulf coast. But not in Irans’, and not in any books of international law. If Saudi Arabia knows how to use goons in foreign embassies, it certainly knows how to use false-flag saboteurs in its backyards. Because that’s what’s in play here: a Middle East battle to the death, more at Saudi Arabia’s instigation than Iran’s, between Islam’s two most fanatical, nihilistic poles: Saudi Arabian Wahhabism and Iranian Khomeinism, one a perversion of Sunni Islam, the other a perversion of Shiite Islam. Everything else is proxy nonsense. It’s got everything to do with theocratic supremacy over the Middle East, nothing to do with American or Western interests. That’s the war Trump wants to fight?
This week Trump talked of obliterating Iran and imagined out loud that if there were to be a war, it would be very short. He’s sounding exactly like the jingoes in George W. Bush’s administration in 2002, Bush among them, who claimed attacking Iraq would be easy and over with in a matter of weeks, would cost just $60 billion, and would be paid for by Iraqi oil. A decade later, Iran is mostly in charge of Iraq, and war costs are over $2 trillion.
There are hundreds of reasons why attacking Iran makes no sense. Here are a couple. Iran is not Iraq. It’s not a poor country. It’s not a weak country. It’s one-sixth the size of the United States, with one quarter its population. It can be bombed from the air, but all that will achieve is turn a young Iranian population that’s been rebelling against its regime back to supporting it fanatically yet again–as it did after the United States turned down Iranian help in the Afghan war of 2001, as it did after the United States illegally invaded Iraq in 2003, as it is doping, to some extent, after Trump shredded what had been an imperfect but fairly good nuclear deal with Iran.
Iran itself can’t be much damaged from the air, and not even hawks in their wildest toy-soldier fantasies would imagine a ground attack: it would be no Marathon, with every Persian a Xerxes. But it can trigger the sort of backlash we’ve been dealing with in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan for almost two decades: it can add yet another front in a war of attrition where the only thing drained is lives and dollars and whatever’s left of American credibility (the moral high ground having sunk in the muck of the Euphrates and the continuing atrocity of Guantanamo years ago).
And it could unleash Hezbollah’s guerillas against Israel. Their indifference to human life among their own resembling that of North Vietnam during that immoral war, Hezbollah managed to fight Israel to a stalemate in two wars, when they were much weaker and less well armed. They’d manage again. Stalemate in the Middle East means victory for whoever is battling the mighty United States. Time, terrain, even locals: it’s all on their side. Ask the Taliban. As for Israel’s fear of Iranian nukes: come back and argue it when the Middle East nuclear-warhead ratio isn’t 100-to-zero in Israel’s favor, not counting the American nuclear umbrella.
This country was ruined by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it lost long ago. Let’s not tempt a third loss against a country whose history outlasts ours by about 6,000 years, all because Saudi Arabia is trying to pimp the United States into fighting its religious war. Let’s pass on this one.
Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him @PierreTristam. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.
Tomorrow Trump will be saying, I fell in love with leaders of Iran! Isreal is ready to sacrafice every last American soldier in its effort destroy Iran.
Instead of sending expensive drones into Iran we should send Donald Trump personally over to sexually assault the ghost of the Ayatollah Khomeini, pay $130k in hush money and be done with it.
Trump playbook 101:
1) Act tough
2) Back down
3) Claim victory
4) Rinse and Repeat
Hey Iran!…..it’s all Trump..I have nothing to do with this! I’m just trying to provide for my family….you can have him. There should be a rule where a president can only do a thing if he can spell it.
Ann Marie Marszalek says
Pierre Tristan, I for one voted for President Trump and I will again in 2020. I thank God everyday that I live in a country where my freedoms are not questioned. Many of my family members were in the military serving from World War II until today. If our president decides we must fight so be it. You see sir I was raised with morning prayer, the Pledge of Allegience with hand over heart. I would fight to my death for God and my country. I have studied our nation’s history for years, the reason why our wars were fought. Do I agree with each one (NO) I do not. As for Hillary Clinton after Bengazi I have lost all respect for her. I was raised to respect the President of the United States no matter if I like him or not. God Bless President Trump and God Bless the USA.
“Thank you Donald.“
Don’t you mean, “Thank you Mr. President.”?
No amount of trying to pretend otherwise will change the fact he’s your president.
Pierre Tristam says
He calls me enemy of the people and I’m supposed to call him my president? I don’t think so.
Michael Cocchiola says
The Trump administration has promoted an “unholy” alliance with Saudia Arabia for no purpose other than the easy flow of easy oil and money. We know this. What we don’t know is the extent of the financial grip that Saudia Arabia has on the Trump empire. Then there is Trump’s infatuation with authoritarian governments as a model for future America.
Iran’s easy. The new neocons who have taken control of our foreign policy (led by Pompeo/Bolton) have long sought hegemony over the Middle East to promote “international order” with American might the enforcer.
It is impossible to figure out where things are going. Best friends with North Korea but the sanctions still stand.
Then MR Trump hated to have 150 victims.
The difference between Iran and Saudi Arabia is that we have obedient friends and allies in one but not both.
Keep on speaking your mind, Pierre. Honest journalists are rare.
@ I’m with you Michael Cocchiola – but:
Michael said, “…Iran’s easy. The new neocons who have taken control of our foreign policy (led by Pompeo/Bolton) have long sought hegemony over the Middle East to promote “international order” with American might the enforcer.”
We ought not forget how the last Republican idiot dear leader (and all the slobs working on a war with Iran now) led our country into Iraq. 
Different day, same old stuff: People’s Mujahedin of Iran 
Different day, same old fools: “…Despite its history and negligible influence among Iranians, the MEK happens to have the support of many U.S. officials, including Trump advisers John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom have appeared as paid speakers at the group’s events…” 
Let’s ask a Republican about all this: 
Trump slams Bush for ‘worst single mistake’ in U.S. history 
Resident rump is leading a team that “he alone” has created, that makes the Keystone Cops look like a group of super heroes.
And so it goes.
It’s too bad the H Bomb wasn’t around 6000 years ago. None of this would even be an issue with multiple craters nestled in the sand throughout the entire region.
I don’t believe anything coming out of Trump’s mouth. I think our military command rebuked his orders, and he’s concocted yet another lie to save face. Pompeo and Bolton know it now too, hence the sudden silence.
I agree with you mr Tristan %100.
US . should pick a fight with Saudi Arabia who support AlQuaida , ISIS. Killing innocent people in Yemen . Killing Khashoghi while he was alive cutting him in peace.
But unfortunately our president only concern for money , dosnt give a hoot , Saudis money has made Trump, Pompeo, Jared his son in law, Bolton who is only war hungry.
SAUDIS money has kept their eyes blind , ears deaf, and tongue tied.!!!!
I regret the day that I voted for Trump.
It’s easy for people who had it easy babble all day about what’s patriotic and right. All I see is lame excuses about how this country fought in rigged and corrupt wars such as Vietnam and Iraq. Instead of making excuses do something so our future children don’t end up living in a nuked America!!
Pierre Tristam says
Realist, one’s station in life or experiences aren’t distinctions that make opinions on patriotism or “what’s right” valid or not: the grocer, the teacher, the hack, the doctor or the patient on a last breath at hospice, simply by virtue of being human beings with rights equal to any else’s, have as much right to speak their opinion as, say, the pope or the national security adviser or general so and so. Or you, your comment being Exhibit A. And this country’s rather lurid fetish for anything in uniform aside, having fought or served in any uniform doesn’t make you of itself more (or less) virtuous than anyone else, or any more (or less) entitled to offer ideas on a given subject, assuming you bother putting a bit of thought in it (Exhibit A not being one such example). That said, and without getting into the irrelevance of personal histories (because you’d have to eat your words, on that score) I offered a thousand-odd words on the subject of precisely how not to end up in a nuked Middle East. I don’t see how you’ve offered anything more than nuking our right to try. But since you get to speak your mind on this site to a large audience as you might not most place else, you’re welcome to try again.
@Mausborn Says–Israel has never asked, nor has Israel ever received, boots on the ground support from the US. Israel fights its own battles. Israel also serves as the one democratic outpost in a region completely dominated by extremist Islamic countries that are only too happy to serve Russian and other Anti-Democratic, Anti-American interests.
The historical facts I stated above stands in direct contrast with the vast amounts of America blood that has been literally poured into the sands (and on the shores and in the mountains) of majority Muslim countries throughout the globe that draw the US and other free nations into their seemingly endless genocidal exercises (usually against each other, but they seem to have no problem threatening Americans and Jews a well as Christians or anybody else they deem to be their “non-believers du jour.”)
Pierre Tristam says
ASF is of course wrong on so many levels in her brief comment, as is usually the case when sacrosanct Israel is mentioned. But points for humor (“Israel fights its own battles.”) Factually, the US operates a military base in the Negev desert. That’s a minor point, there’s hardly much real estate left in the Middle East where the American military doesn’t operate. More to the point, American taxpayers have been bankrolling Israel’s military to the tune of $135 billion since 1948 (in un-adjusted dollars: the figure would be considerably higher in adjusted dollars). No nation this side of the Kuiper Belt comes close to such dependence. That’s just military aid. No question that Syria and Iran are in the Russian orbit but as for the other mass of Mideastern and North African tyrannies, almost all of them are American clients. If they’re engaged in “seemingly endless genocidal exercises,” in ASF’s hyperbolic description, they’re doing it with America’s blessing.
The true threat to the Middle east is Saudi Arabia…When Iran has all but taken control of Syria, is using the bulk of the freed up sanction money they have thus far received to upgrade their missile systems, captured and threatened to capture any ships they please of any countries they see fit, strengthened their terrorist proxies and proxy armies (like Hezbollah), supplied Hamas with fresh rockets, funded the digging of multiple fresh terror tunnels through Lebanon and installed and strengthened their military installations throughout the Middle East, with the Russians providing them cover? Don’t think so.