The Donald Trump government, which scorned the truth and consciously rejected its allies, now faces a heavy burden of evidence and history as it heads towards a confrontation with Iran.
The White House is facing skepticism about its warnings and its grandiloquent speech about Iranian activity after two years of systematically building economic, diplomatic and, finally, military pressure on Tehran, which was destined to elicit a response from its enemy. The pyrotechnic focus of President Donald Trump’s presidency has consolidated its base, but alienated half of the country, a factor that would complicate his efforts to sell the Americans another war.
And Trump’s incessant struggle against the facts and the denial of the obvious truth can also mean that he has a credibility problem, even if he comes before the nation to talk about what he sees as a credible threat.
There are also suspicions among US allies. and Trump’s local critics about the motives of the key players in the White House team, the uncertainty about the president’s sometimes erratic instincts and the greater disdain for his shattering foreign policy.
Alarm bells are ringing among Trump’s critics because the rise in tensions seems to be largely orchestrated by national security adviser John Bolton.
Bolton is on the record before joining the government Trump calling for a regime change in Iran and the bombing of the US, and its new power is providing concern for US allies in the war with Iraq reminder.
Bolton was an aggressive member of the Bush administration who used now discredited intelligence about weapons of mass destruction and exaggerated the threat of Saddam Hussein that led the United States and its allies to a quagmire in the Middle East.
Trump denied on Wednesday that there was some disagreement within his administration about Iran’s policy and tried to show in a tweet that he was in control.
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He seemed to be referring in part to a story in The Washington Post that suggested the president was losing patience with Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over his aggressive approach to Iran, which he fears contradicts his reluctance to engage in major conflicts like the war in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the White House announced that Trump would meet Thursday with Ueli Maurer, president of Switzerland. Switzerland acts as a diplomatic representative of the United States with Iran in the absence of diplomatic relations, and the meeting may be a sign that Trump wants to boost dialogue with Tehran, however improbable this scenario may be.
Pompeo has been traveling frantically to and from Europe, hardening US rhetoric about Iran, although he insists that Washington is not trying to provoke the Islamic Republic to war.
In another sign of foreboding, the government on Wednesday withdrew non-emergency employees from its embassy in Iraq, warning of threats in a country where pro-Iran militias are operating.
US unnamed officials have said that Iran or Iranian-backed forces are suspected of carrying out “sabotage” attacks on ships from the United Arab Emirates, including two Saudi oil tankers and a Norwegian-flagged ship. So far they have not presented evidence of Iranian participation.
State Department officials said Tuesday that the threat to US interests in Iraq was similar to what had been seen at a previous moment of tension in 2011, including the possibility of barrel bombs, explosives targeting homes of Diplomats and rockets that point to diplomatic compounds involving groups of militiamen sponsored by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
In a region so consumed by conflict, conspiracy theories and power struggles in the Middle East, the fog of war is always thick. It could well be that Iran is deliberately testing the United States in response to the escalation of Washington and that the government is simply transmitting and not exaggerating the threats.
There is no argument between the United States and its allies that Iran is often a nefarious influence. But the question is how to deal with that.
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Divisions on the nature of the problem stormed an unusual demonstration of military transatlantic discord on Tuesday. The British general acting as deputy commander of the US-led military coalition against ISIS said there was “no greater threat” from Iran-supported forces in Iraq or Syria.
In an extraordinary statement issued hours later, a spokesman for the US Central Command said that the comments of Major General Chris Ghika “go against the credible threats identified available to the intelligence of the United States and its allies with respect to the backed forces for Iran in the region. “
The rebuke came a day after British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was concerned about a conflict between the United States and Iran “happening by accident” due to growing tensions.
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European foreign ministers did not offer a group meeting to Pompeo during his sudden visit to Brussels this week, perhaps out of fear that a photo shoot could be seen as an endorsement of the US approach.
And Spain decided to withdraw a frigate from a United States Navy that is now heading towards the Persian Gulf.
Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, a strong US foreign policy advocate, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that warnings of a growing threat from Iran to US forces were sincere.
“That British general and I can have a different interpretation of that threat or how severe that threat is,” he said. “But I can only say that in the Senate Intelligence Committee, we have seen in recent days an increase in reports of potential threats to US personnel and our allies in the Middle East, and we take it very seriously”.
The government will try to convince less supportive lawmakers after offering an informative meeting for the leaders of the “band of eight” Congress on Thursday.
The logical consequence of events
In many ways, the Trump government is now reaping what it has sown with a domestic approach that often challenges established facts and a foreign policy that has often gone out of its way to insult and degrade allies while elevating opponents. Americans
The European Union says it almost begged Trump not to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear agreement signed by the Obama administration, noting that US intelligence agencies evaluated Tehran’s compliance with the agreement.
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Growing tensions between Iran and the United States could be seen as a logical consequence of the events that emerged from Trump’s decision, which seemed to be more influenced by political than diplomatic motivations. The White House rightly argued that the international agreement did not stop what Washington considers a destabilizing regional activity, including missile launches and support for extremist groups.
But his supporters say he ended a decade in Iran’s nuclear program, the only way he can pose an existential threat to his enemies, in exchange for a lifting of sanctions.
If the agreement collapses completely and Iran decides to enrich the uranium to the level of weapons, Trump could face a decision on a risky military action that could cause shock waves around the world and provoke a large-scale war.
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The powerful influence of the Iraq war on politics in Europe cannot be underestimated and could tie the hands of any US ally leader if asked to join a coalition against Iran.
Trump’s unpopularity in Europe and his contempt for its leaders and priorities, including the nuclear agreement and the Paris climate agreement, are also an impediment to his subordinates when he tries to sell his Iran policy.
The Trump government has yet to provide any public evidence of its allegations of a growing threat in Iran. And the drip, drip, drip of accusations against Iran by anonymous officials in the media is a reminder of the war campaign against Iraq in the 2000s.
Democrats seek to exploit Iran’s fever
But the concern for Bolton’s influence on US policy is not limited to Europe. The power of the veteran foreign policy bureaucrat is becoming a political issue for Trump’s local opponents.
“John Bolton is telling you what to do. Bolton did the same with President George W. Bush and Iraq, “said Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton, who is running for the Democratic nomination.
“As someone sent four times to that wrong war, I have seen the costs of Bolton’s disastrous foreign policy in a way that never will, first hand, and in the face of the loss of thousands of American lives,” Moulton said in a statement.
One of the Democratic hopefuls at the helm of 2020, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, is also mobilizing now amid the growing fever of war.
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“A lesson we should have learned a long time ago is about the unintended consequences of the war. That’s what you think will happen, but the result is very, very different, “Sanders said, “We should have learned the lesson from Iraq and apparently, at least, John Bolton has not.”
The government says that its policy of massive economic pressure on Iran and a preventive military buildup is not an overt attempt at regime change, although officials would not object if the Iranians rise up against the clerical regime.
But it is a policy rooted in the belief that Washington has the power and knowledge to shape events in the Middle East, an idea that seems unlikely given the events over the past 15 years.
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