Is War with Iran on the Horizon?

Trump, Pompeo, and Bolton
President Donald Trump speaking while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton look on

The Trump administration seems bent on regime change and war with Iran. Using harsh, hyperbolic and often absurd rhetoric, the Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo trio continue to tighten sanctions, deploy additional military forces, and threaten
war. They have learned nothing from past US military blunders—not  to mention war crimes—in Vietnam, Central America, Grenada, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Their aggressive behavior toward Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua suggests a distraction from the administration’s incompetence and unfulfilled promises. But prospects of an assault on Iran are especially worrisome.

Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 international agreement on controls over Iran’s nuclear program – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – was the first indication of a plan to destabilize Iran. Then came new and tougher sanctions. They are hurting the Iranian people – leading to the currency’s decline in value, the loss of investments, and the inability to import an array of goods, notably medications to treat chronic diseases and cancers – but they will not bring down the Iranian regime.

Then came the Warsaw “summit” in February, meant to close ranks against Iran; attendees included US Vice-President Pence, Israel’s Netanyahu, and Sunni Arab officials. As the gathering took place, a terrorist attack killed 29 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in southeastern Iran. Trump then announced plans to send an additional 1,500 soldiers “for protection in the Middle East”, whatever that means. All Americans should be concerned about the possibility of an attack on Iran and yet another costly, lengthy, and immoral military quagmire.

Why is the US so obsessed with Iran? The Islamic Republic of Iran is hardly the most democratic or women-friendly regime in the world, but it is far from the worst. Here are some facts (as opposed to the Trump Administration’s fake news):

– Iran has never launched an attack against any country, whereas the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia have. Iraq under Saddam Hussein attacked Iran, with American’s blessing.

– The 9/11 attacks on U.S. soil were carried out predominantly by Saudi citizens – and not a single Iranian. Iranians held a candlelight vigil to honor the American dead, 60,000 spectators at a World Cup qualifying match in Tehran stood for a minute of silence to commemorate the dead, and the Khatami government condemned the terrorist act and offered to help defeat al-Qaeda, all of which was ignored by the Bush administration. Instead, Iran was labeled as part of a putative “axis of evil”.

– For nearly four decades, America’s friend Saudi Arabia has exported a virulent form of Wahhabi Islam that has inspired terrorists throughout the world. Iran may be harsh on its dissident citizens, but it is not responsible for the global spread of Islamist terrorism.

– For years, Iran’s military spending has been a fraction of that of Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf countries. In 2015, Iran’s military spending constituted just 2.3% of GDP, compared with Saudi Arabia’s 13.5%. In the war on Yemen, the US is the largest supplier of weaponry, used by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to attack Yemeni homes, hospitals, schools, and water supplies, and to create the world’s worse humanitarian crisis.

The truth is with their destabilization campaigns against Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and now Iran, it is actually the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE that have been sources of instability and terrorism in the Middle East. The American people must not allow this to continue but must call on their elected representatives to urge mediation, negotiations, and a return to diplomacy. A peaceful and sane foreign policy, and not reckless militarism, will make America safer, stronger, and a more legitimate world power.

-Val Moghadam, a professor of International Affairs and Sociology at Northeastern University, is a Board member of Mass. Peace Action and National Peace Action.