15 May 2019   Leave a comment

There is considerable evidence that European states do not believe the US position that Iran is planning attacks against US forces in Iraq. Eldar Mamedov has written a blog post with a number of bits of evidence that demonstrate a profound lack of confidence in the US assessment:

“Not only are there profound differences between the EU and the United States on Iran, there is also a growing perception that U.S. policy is unpredictable. President Donald Trump seems to be counting on “maximum pressure” to get Iran to “call him,” while suggesting no off-ramp in case this call, as seems likely, doesn’t materialize. National Security Advisor John Bolton, meanwhile, consciously pushes for escalation with regime change (if not Iran´s disintegration) as the ultimate goal. And Pompeo seems to be echoing whatever Trump says but has a track record as an unreformed Iran hawk. Against this backdrop, Pompeo’s hastily organized trip to Brussels, which required cutting one day short his scheduled visit to Russia, creates an impression not of a Henry Kissinger-style shuttle diplomacy, but of a superpower cast adrift, with no direction, strategy, or skills to execute its foreign policy.”

William Wechsler, director of the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Programs, points out how previous episodes of overstating evidence have damaged the ability of the US to persuade its allies of the Iranian threat:

“However, not everyone is willing to assume Iranian responsibility and many of those are unlikely to accept the word of the governments in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and, alas, even the United States. It is critical, therefore, that the Trump administration publicly present a clear case for Iranian culpability that withstands the expected scrutiny—especially if this ends up being a precursor for US military action down the road. 

“Getting such a presentation wrong has longstanding negative implications for US national security policy. The Clinton administration’s counterterrorism efforts against Al Qaeda never recovered from the questions surrounding the CIA’s weak explanation of the intelligence used to target the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan in 1998. As a result, there was insufficient political support for additional military actions against Bin Laden until after 9/11. And the Bush administration’s campaign in Iraq never recovered from its overstatements regarding the intelligence linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda and to weapons of mass destruction. The United States has remained politically divided ever since on this issue, which has contributed to the serious mistakes made on US policy toward Iraq by the two administrations that followed.”

David Frum writes in The Atlantic about how he regrets believing the “weapons of mass destruction” argument justifying the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“The Iraq War of 2003 was undone by blithe assumptions, cultural ignorance, and careless planning. But compared with the accelerating drive to confront Iran, the Iraq War looks like a masterpiece of meticulous preparation.

“The project of a war with Iran is so crazy, it remains incredible that Donald Trump’s administration could truly be premeditating it. But on the off, off chance that it is, here’s a word of caution from a veteran of the George W. Bush administration: Don’t do it.”

It is unlikely that US President Trump would start a war with Iran on his own: he has shown no proclivity to back up his bellicose rhetoric with concrete military actions. But his National Security Adviser, John Bolton, has been arguing for the overthrow of the Iranian government for many years and his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has also been fiercely opposed to the Iranian regime. The Congress has yet to be involved in any of the decision-making on Iran and it needs to assert its constitutional prerogatives in the making of war.

Posted May 15, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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