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.