Wag The Dog?

Is Trump preparing to take us into war with Iran? 

The New Yorker recently reminded us that the U.S. has a less-than-glorious history of provoking war:

The United States has a long history of provoking, instigating, or launching wars based on dubious, flimsy, or manufactured threats. In 1986, the Reagan Administration plotted to use U.S. military maneuvers off Libya’s coast to provoke Muammar Qaddafi into a showdown. The planning for Operation Prairie Fire, which deployed three aircraft carriers and thirty other warships, was months in the making. Before the Navy’s arrival, U.S. warplanes conducted missions skirting Libyan shore and air defenses—“poking them in the ribs” to “keep them on edge,” a U.S. military source told the Los Angeles Times that year.

We are still paying the price (fiscally and morally) for our invasion of Iraq–a decision sold to the American public on the basis of misinformation, bad intelligence and outright lies. As the article reminds us, we are still living with the repercussions sixteen years and more than four thousand American deaths later.

Those of us who are older will recall that the Vietnam War was authorized by two purported (and subsequently disputed) attacks on U.S. warships in the Gulf of Tonkin. Those “attacks” prompted Congress to give President Johnson  “all necessary measures” to prevent “further aggression.” Fifty-seven thousand Americans and as many as a million Vietnamese died.

Those weren’t the only examples in the article–not even close.

Americans were promised that the war against Iraq would be “easy”–the Iraqis would “greet us as liberators,” and democracy would flower in the Middle East. (Too bad the GOP has so little interest in reintroducing democracy to the U.S.) Those predictions, needless to say, were inaccurate–which explains why chills ran down my spine when I heard similar rhetoric from the usual suspects who can’t hide their eagerness to invade Iran.

The State Department has issued a “Do Not Travel” advisory for Americans going to Iraq; it also ordered nonessential personnel out, and warned of a “high risk for violence and kidnapping.”

This action comes after the United States indicated that Iran was behind attacks on four oil tankers just outside the Persian Gulf. Iran has denied those accusations, but as tensions in the region increase, Republicans are lining up to spread the message that war with Iranwould be easy,  and that it’s time foreveryone to get behind Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton declared that the United States could win a war in Iran with just “Two strikes: the first strike and a last strike.” This is completely at odds with the evaluation of military strategists. There is little doubt about the ability of the U.S. military to overcome that of Iran in the field, but the military of Iran is much more capable than that of Iraq, where the “easy” victory has been followed by well over a decade of low-grade warfare, bombings, and terror attacks.

Tensions with Iran were dramatically heightened when Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear treaty. The withdrawal was opposed by the other signatories to that treaty, and numerous monitoring agencies confirmed–contrary to Trump’s assertions– that Iran was in full compliance with its terms.

It’s a fairly safe bet that Trump is lying about the attacks on our oil tankers.

The New York Times reports that a British military official—who also happens to be the deputy commander of the coalition fighting ISIS—has stated that he sees “no increased risk from Iran or allied militias,” but the U.S. has fired back to say there are “identified credible threats” that generated the State Department warnings. That’s not to say that European officials and coalition members aren’t seeing aggressive moves in the Middle East. It’s just that those moves have “originated not in Tehran, but in Washington.”

Bottom line: Trump is perfectly capable of starting a war if he thinks a war will help him win re-election.

If he moves in that direction, every single sane American needs to take to the streets. We need to mount demonstrations so massive they will make the Women’s Marches look like lightly attended tea parties.

Trump has done enormous–hopefully, not yet irreparable– damage to this country. He has given aid and comfort to neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremicists; trashed America’s image across the globe, and significantly deepened the country’s tribal divisions.

We cannot sit by and allow him to initiate a conflict that–idiots like Tom Cotton to the contrary– would be anything but “easy to win” and that might well trigger World War III–just because he wants to “wag the dog.”

Enough is enough.

37 thoughts on “Wag The Dog?

  1. There is some reason to believe that Iran and China now have hypersonic weapons that may be able to SINK our Aircraft Carriers. If that were to happen, our next move would be Nuclear weapons. This could get very bad very quickly. Congress must stand up to this horror NOW.

  2. Sheila,

    “If he moves in that direction, every single sane American needs to take to the streets. We need to mount demonstrations so massive they will make the Women’s Marches look like lightly attended tea parties.”

    Trump has moved enough already. “We already know where the puck is gonna be.” Women need to be the organizing force, but I hope by now, that they FINALLY understand that they can’t lead without a partnership with men.

    Anything less, will do more harm than good.

  3. The American farmer in our heartland has no fight to pick with Iran. The Iranian farmer in their heartland has no fight to pick with America. Neither wants to see their sons and daughters sacrificed for the retribution of a few in elite power. War mongers who have never seen the horror of the face of battle wage psuedo bravado in the halls of power but never on the battlefield. Their sons sent to a doctor to diagnose heel spur to shield them from the horror of their own fantasy. What Trump feels today will be different by the late morning star in tweet by 3 a.m. inspired by self inflicted nocturnal orgasm. For the warrior who pays the price with their lives in between insane regimes, there is no flip-flop. Assuming their remains can be identified much less returned to the homeland, inscription in stone means for them, it is finished … their lives and for what reason soon forgotten.

  4. If by now the American people have not had a problem with their government instigating world wide unrest in the economic sectors, their government kidnapping Hispanic children, locking those children in cages, losing those children in a system designed to make some Republican entrepreneur rich, eroding the rights of every woman in the country, destroying the federal park system by putting public lands up for bid, supporting every despot in the world, and dismissing the Constitution and the Rule of Law, they are not going to take to the streets just because some far off land and people gets bombed into the stone age. No, the American giant is not asleep; the American giant is dead.

  5. Norris,

    “War mongers who have never seen the horror of the face of battle wage psuedo bravado in the halls of power but never on the battlefield.”

    “What Trump feels today will be different by the late morning star in tweet by 3 a.m. inspired by self inflicted nocturnal orgasm.”

    George Bush started the Iraq War “without ever seeing the horror of the face of battle” Are you attempting to downplay the threat of Donald Trump leading us into a war? If so, I’m interested in hearing about your credentials to make such a statement.

  6. Theresa,

    Don’t be so pessimistic. That won’t get us anywhere. The American Giant is not dead. It just has been lulled into submission. It just needs to arise from its slumber, before some Middle East terrorist pulls off another Trade Center like attack because of that, either sociopath or psychopath or even worse, President of ours.

  7. Perhaps Tom Cotton would show his sincerity by enlisting in the Marines and volunteering for duty in the Iran conflict, if it comes to that. Hah! Fat chance!

  8. There is ABSOLUTELY no adequate “Free Space” to counter the MANIPULATIONS of Donald Trump. That’s why Professors Kennedy’s call to action is so important. MARCHING is probably the only vehicle that we have left. We have to create the “Free Space” ourselves. NPR or PBS isn’t going to do it, neither is Congress going to do it, so on and so on.

  9. if we had more people willing to speak out again, like during the vietnam era,we can stop this now. the fact,with the inception of such articles like the so called” patriot act,”and suppression of voices on the local radio, we sit and smile. instead of being informed,and having direction,we are pacified to believe anything. obviously,if we havent learned from iraq,we are not listening, or providing voice to others,to stop this before it started. congress should be in a 24 hour forum now,to stop this. the latest laundry lists handed to us about what is happening,should be pushed aside and a allout focus on boltons plan to again,kill.lets use the word KILL ,lets tell congress bolton wants the military to start another war.lets use the word MERCINARY to describe the military,in todays protection of corprate intrests.. lets use the word DISTROY,as our elected officials are now,doing to our democracy… KILL,MERCINARY,DISTROY,our new boardroom caviats to allow mcconnels mob to proceed,and damn the peoples voice…the real NEW WORLD ORDER!

  10. The American Pirates are launching a war against another ship?!?

    The Zionist division of MIC has instigated war on Iran YEARS ago. Do we now wait for the NYT to “discover it”? LOL

    What I see is Despotic Donald bungling the whole introduction to this war which will continue even after the first attack has been launched.

  11. As a combat infantryman (draftee type) who was sent to Vietnam, I can safely say both political parties have engaged in aggressive military action since Vietnam. If you see this war posturing a disease unique to the Republican Party – You are a partisan hypocrite. You can still view and hear, Hillary Clinton cackling about the death of Qaddafi in Libya – We came, We saw, He Died – cackle, cackle. Now four factions are fighting in Libya. What an evil witch. President “Hope and Change” had his surges and overt and covert attempts to over throw Assad in Syria.

    We have the disgusting displays by the Pentagon Warrior Cult. Every sporting event has to begin with the National Anthem, some if they big enough have “fly overs” and marching bands.

    We have not won a war since 1945, unless you want to count Grenada and Panama. Our “Fourth Estate” – the press- and our elected officials will not admit this fact for fear of being labeled as Anti-American or Traitors.

  12. In 2005, he (Tom Cotton) enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he rose to the rank of First Lieutenant. Cotton’s military background includes service in Afghanistan and deployment to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom; he is a Bronze Star recipient. Wikipedia
    The Senator should know better. Evidently he learned nothing. “Fill the streets in protest?” I don’t see that happening.

  13. What we need is Paul Revere? We need him to come back, maybe to lead the PARADE.

    From “PAUL REVERE (Won’t You Ride For Us Again?)” Words by Joe Goodwin, Music by Halsey Mohr:

    With your lantern, Paul Re-vere,
    You rode miles a-round,
    “One if by land,”
    “Two If by sea,”
    Spread-ing a-larm thru every town
    You warned us then of dan-ger that was near,
    So we need an-oth-er warn-ing, Paul Re-vere:
    Paul Re-vere, Paul Re-vere,
    Won’t you ride for us a-gain?
    Won’t you ride thru each ham-let, vil-lage and farm?
    Ride, Paul Re-vere, and spead the a- larm;
    Paul Re-vere, Paul Re-vere
    You are a mem-ry we all hold dear.
    Tho’you’ve rest-ed for a–ges on His-to-ry’s pa- -ges,
    Ride for us now, Paul Re-vere. Paul Revere.

    I found this old sheet music, about twenty years ago, in a small used book store in NY. It was written in 1918 to inspire our troops in W.W. I.

  14. My biggest fear of the Trump presidency is his willingness to start a war to cover his criminal activities and hopefully get re-elected. His re-election is now not certain even though his re-election money is massive.

  15. Theresa; thank you, we cannot avoid the realities of our lives in this country today. Americans have become an endangered species; we are not safe from the current Trump “government instigating world wide unrest in the economic sectors, their government kidnapping Hispanic children, locking those children in cages, losing those children in a system designed to make some Republican entrepreneur rich, eroding the rights of every woman in the country, destroying the federal park system by putting public lands up for bid, supporting every despot in the world, and dismissing the Constitution and the Rule of Law, they are not going to take to the streets just because some far off land and people gets bombed into the stone age.”

    The war mongers wouldn’t hesitate finding a way to avoid war if THEIR LIVES depended on it or if they would lose money by starting a war.

  16. Todd,

    “The Zionist division of MIC has instigated war on Iran YEARS ago. Do we now wait for the NYT to “discover it”? LOL”

    I never realized before now that George Bush was a Zionist.

  17. Wayne; don’t forget it was Tom Cotton who authored the letter, signed by other Republicans of like mind, telling the Iran government not to trust President Obama or this country to maintain our part of the Iran Pact. Was his action the first open step supporting a sworn enemy and Trump is merely strengthening that support?

  18. I started to review in my mind our history of wars we didn’t need and I got back to Polk and “Manifest Destiny”. Then I remembered the “Monroe Doctrine”, which didn’t actually take us into a war, but certainly set our course through history. Of course we slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Native Americans to get to be the great nation we are today. It seems that there is a part of the American spirit that must have war.

    More recently, that is, within the memory of many of us who read this blog, we were gifted with the brothers Dulles, John Foster, Secretary of State, and Allen, CIA Director. These gentlemen perfected the art of the covert overthrow. We could use them today for Venezuela as we seem to be too ham-handed to do it right these days. (NB this is sarcasm for those who would chastise me for saying such a thing.)

    The lesson we didn’t learn from Iraq, is that we can win a war anywhere in the Middle East in about two weeks, but we can never win the peace.

  19. Ray, et. al.,

    “My biggest fear of the Trump presidency is his willingness to start a war to cover his criminal activities and hopefully get re-elected. His re-election is now not certain even though his re-election money is massive.”

    This is most likely Trump’s long-game strategy. Hiring Bolton was the giveaway. Also, it might be valid that the Military-Industrial Complex is having bottom line issues and needs a boost to keep its stockholders happy. After all, we manufacture more weapons than any other country on Earth and, well, sales have been slow lately.

    For all the disgraceful politics that have gotten us into these idiotic wars of waste and death, this coming event may be the most heinous. As many have suggested and stated before, Trump WILL use nuclear weapons at some point. Our fears that prompted our “wars” were all false fears. So is this one coming.

    Marching is nice, but look for Trump’s Gestapo to attack the organizers and do just what Hermann Goering said tyrannical governments do: “Of course the people don’t want war. But if you tell them often enough that they’re being attacked, and that to resist the government’s actions is treasonous, they’ll come along.”

  20. Hopefully, when we march against the policies of Donald Trump, we will also carry posters displaying the heads of the Koch Brothers et al for all to see. Then we might START to get somewhere.

    Don’t forget, the real power still remains with the Protestant Establishment aka the oligarchy. Furthermore, let’s don’t forget about the Bush family. Donald Trump didn’t start this f——-g mess.

    Read “The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America” by my mentor at Penn,
    E. Digby Baltzell.

  21. Donald Trump has a single skill with which to manage the position that Putin gave him – brand management more commonly known as celebrity. It’s all that he knows, it’s all he can do. All of his actions have to be viewed through that filter.

    The Trump Brand is sold by continually enhancing the belief to acolytes that they need to shelter behind him because the world is such a scary place that only he can protect them. For that to work he needs to create a scary place out of their homes. A big part of that process is lying. Fortunately he is also skilled and uninhibited in that.

    There is a danger that his lack of any government experience will accidentally lead to a real war, but he doesn’t care as none of his family will be threatened by it.

    Democrats need to stay their course. Reveal his lies to those who will objectively evaluate them even though the revelation will have no impact on his acolytes. Help Democrats sort out their increasingly rich offering to replace Donald to those who care about the country. Prepare in all ways to make 2020 a showdown between good government and bad entertainment. Make the Democrat campaign as news worthy as the Trump circus.

    Trump Trump in 2020.

  22. Marches are highly effective. They can be effective even if the march never occurs. Back in the ’80s, I publically called for an organized march against the visit of Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli General who was implicated by Israeli Courts in the massacres inside the Palestinian refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon. In my estimation, his actions could be compared to those of Kurt Waldheim, former head of the United Nations, who was a bystander in Nazi atrocities and thus barred from entering the U.S.

    The Mayor of Dallas invited Sharon. As things progressed, with the march being debated both in the City Council Chambers and on TV, the Mayor finally relented and rescinded her invitation.

    Again, even if the MARCH never occurs, it will still provide at least a FREE SPACE to get our points across to the nation. It’s not the best way, but it, probably, is our only way.

  23. Marching against War – Give me a break. We marched against the War in Vietnam for years and nothing moved LBJ, Nixon or Congress. When the American body count started go up (Americans are the only bodies that count – sarcasm) and the boys came home in boxes the politicians started to feel the pressure, now that the silent majority began to feel the pain.

    We marched against Iraq War 2 brought to us by Bush the Younger, in fact there were marches all over Europe too. What good did that do??? Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton both backed up Bush the Younger and voted to go to War with Iraq.

    Bernie Sanders Warns War With Iran Would Be ‘Many Times’ Worse Than Iraq War

    Sanders voted against the war in Iraq, while 2020 rival Joe Biden voted for it. https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/bernie-sanders-warns-war-with-iran-would-be-many-times-worse-than-iraq-war-1.7245766

    All the elections since Bush the Younger’s invasion of Iraq, the Perma War in the Mid East has never been a campaign issue.

  24. Monotonous,

    “All the elections since Bush the Younger’s invasion of Iraq, the Perma War in the Mid East has never been a campaign issue.”

    You’re right, but this time it is not a campaign issue, it is a SURVIVAL ISSUE that crosses all party lines.

    You have to make it PERSONAL, not political.

  25. The first thing on the agenda is to create a PLURALISTIC FRONT. MLK had one. I viewed it first hand, as I was the host for two of his prestigious white attorneys, Harry Philo and Dean Rabb, during the week MLK was leading the demonstrations in Saint Augustine, which is about 20 miles south of Jacksonville. They were both successful, automobile litigation attorneys, even before Ralph Nader.

    This is doable.

  26. Cotten’s intellect and his patriotism are, on paper, of the highest order. The real question is how people of his quality close their minds to critical thinking, research and analysis in the face of an out and out move to provoke war for the promotion of one man’s interests (o.k., maybe Bolton makes two). Cotton is replacing his top-notch education with the “I-know-everything-for-I- are-a-conservative” mentality he learned at his mother’s knee in Arkansas. What lies at the core of a man’s corrupt thinking and his rotting soul if he is willing to commit trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives to promote the quixotic ambitions of a low life like Trump? It’s a flesh-eating disease that can only be cured by making him read the “Pentagon Papers” over and over until he understands the national price we all pay when presidents try to prove they are right when they are clearly wrong.

    Trump appears to be of two minds. On the one hand he hates being manipulated by Bolton. On the other, he understands how war might be just what he needs to get people’s minds off the Mueller Report and win the next election. This call is so close he may have to rely on Ivanka for her sage advice.

    In any case, besides millions of people in the streets, the only thing that can stop a war is the House of Representatives blocking all funding. Congressmen who vote against wars – phony as they may be – often lose their seats. It appears that Americans are driven to prove their moral superiority by killing lots of people who disagree with our views. Given that nobody agrees with Trump, that would place almost anyone on the planet in his bomb sights. An America where military decisions are made by the likes of by John Bolton is an abomination offensive to all decent people.

  27. The marches and demonstrations in the early and mid-’60s were not about partisan politics but FREEDOM. We’re back to those times in many ways.

    There isn’t going to be any SECURITY without FREEDOM in the times of Donald Trump. That’s for sure.

  28. Terry,

    Your analysis, with which I mostly agree, is actually an indictment of the American electorate. They will follow the last shiny object they see right off the edge of the cliff. It’s akin to the cell phone addiction we see everywhere. These pathetic behaviors are a symptom of the hyperconnected isolation that rules most peoples’ lives. If they aren’t getting or answering a text message of mostly bullshit, they feel their lives are empty.

    The Trump phenomenon is the culmination of the institutionalized ignorance first brought forth by Lewis Powell in his infamous 1971 “memo”, and expanded and codified by Koch brothers and Mercer money. The undoing of our democracy will be traced to these collective actions.

    Trump is just the hammer that will break the glass.

  29. This is a terrific blog; Sheila is magnificent. But now it is time for me to graduate and go out into the world, on my own, and attempt to counter Trump with the ETHICALFORUM.NETWORK.

  30. Very good piece, Sheila. According to the Times, Trump has stepped in, saying he doesn’t want war with Iran. But he certainly does want regime change, which means he will continue going along with severe sanctions and threats to both Iran and the parties to the nuclear deal. Continuing in that strategy may well lead to the war Trump supposedly doesn’t want–especially since Netanyahu and the Saudi crown prince are fully behind a “maximum pressure” strategy.

  31. Mel,

    Does the NYT or anyone else, including Trump, know what Trump wants? Self-glorification is the only goal he seems to pursue consistently. His many neuroses are involved in an internecine battle that leaves his mini-mind as jumbled as a bowl of spaghetti.

  32. Thank you Sheila for a very thought provoking a piece,

    Once again Marv Kramer has, more or less, summed up my feelings on this burgeoning catastrophe where Don the Con has managed through his perpetual bellicosity put us close to being eyeball to eyeball with the Iranians and perhaps the Russians well putting the entire Middle East at risk up to and including Israel. As far back as when the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, fell in 1979, we have had contingency plans as we always do for armed conflict in the Persian Gulf primarily aimed at keeping the strategic waterways, primarily the Strait of Hormuz, the main bottleneck for tanker traffic, open while the Iranian navy likely attempts to close in the event of a shooting war in the Persian Gulf with us.

    Right now we have total incoherence in regard to what our aims in this region are and how we will attempt to gain them. We have a President that doesn’t have a clue in regard to what he is doing, advised by a National Security Adviser, John Bolton, who has been itching and trying to provoke a general war with Iran for nearly three decades which is now coupled with Trump’s political aims at bucking up his base and looking like a tough guy in order to do so. On top of all that, if that isn’t enough already, we will also likely have to deal with the Russians let been cozying up to the Iranian government and selling sophisticated weapons systems to them while holding true to their long held dream of having direct access to the Persian Gulf that goes back to the Czarist period of their history predating communism and the aims of the now moribund Soviet Union.

    While DOD and the JCS have contingency plans are all sorts of eventualities regarding armed conflict with Iran in the Persian Gulf given how much the Middle East is already a powder keg we can end up setting in motion, as we did in Iraq, what we’re trying to prevent – an armed conflict that could very easily involve all the nations of the Middle East from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean putting Israel at grave risk in the process. Israel would be a wild card in such a conflict because they will be forced to defend themselves from Hezbollah and any other Iranian proxies that will no doubt attack them if such a conflict ensues. That alone adds an even more dangerous component to all of this because it might threaten to undermine any of the loose groupings of like-minded Sunni states in the region that are all also very suspicious of Iranian aims with the added dimension of the centuries old Sunni-Shia antagonisms that underlie those suspicions.

    Add to that it very likely Russian intervention into such a conflict which could possibly checkmates our ill-conceived war of choice and cause a calamity that would extend far beyond the Middle East which would end up hammering the global economy and leave a world all overall in a much more dangerous place. If all of this would truly be the result of what began as an effort on the part of the Trump Administration to deflect public attention from all of Trump’s various overreaches and illegalities there should be hell to pay. Countless lives will be at risk both in that region of the world but also possibly here at home as a result of this utter foolishness and incompetence.

    Trump’s job number one is the safety and security of this country and its interests and that does not include getting us involved in unnecessary wars of choice by either overtly or unintentionally just to protect himself from what will likely end up being his impeachment as a result of high crimes and misdemeanors and to think that anyone would be of the mindset to conduct such operations to mitigate that particular situation is frightening in the extreme. God please help us all!!!!

  33. Tom,

    God is very busy right now helping the good people of Alabama figure out how to make women’s lives more miserable. While we understood He was a bit conservative, who knew He was a Roy Moore Republican?

  34. I see the same problem developing in Facebook posts by Bernie Bots; they appear to be locked into the 2016 time warp. They have forgotten or deny that once Bernie saw he would not get the nomination he asked his supporters repeatedly to put their vote and their support behind Hillary to prevent Trump’s election. Bernie again at the Democratic National Convention put his vote and his support behind Hillary. There is no reasoning with the Bernie Bots today any more than in 2016. This adds to my fears of his reelection in 2020 just as I feared him being elected in 2016; at that time Trump was appointed…will he be reelected or reappointed? It matters not; how will Bernie handle the situation if he again doesn’t get the nomination, will it matter to the Bernie Bots who are as single-minded about him as Trump’s White Nationalist supporters are with Citizens United behind them and the probability of McConnell maintaining his stronghold on the Senate?

    “Trump has done enormous–hopefully, not yet irreparable– damage to this country. He has given aid and comfort to neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremicists; trashed America’s image across the globe, and significantly deepened the country’s tribal divisions.”

    The internal problems with Bernie Bots is a serious division within the Democratic party; they have become a “tribe” and are again endangering the presidential election.

Comments are closed.