The mask is off: Trump is seeking war with Iran

Trita Parsi writes: Something extraordinary has happened in Washington. President Donald Trump has made it clear, in no uncertain terms and with no effort to disguise his duplicity, that he will claim that Tehran is cheating on the nuclear deal by October—the facts be damned. In short, the fix is in. Trump will refuse to accept that Iran is in compliance and thereby set the stage for a military confrontation. His advisors have even been kind enough to explain how they will go about this. Rarely has a sinister plan to destroy an arms control agreement and pave the way for war been so openly telegraphed.

The unmasking of Trump’s plans to sabotage the nuclear deal began two weeks ago when he reluctantly had to certify that Iran indeed was in compliance. Both the US intelligence as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency had confirmed Tehran’s fair play. But Trump threw a tantrum in the Oval Office and berated his national security team for not having found a way to claim Iran was cheating. According to Foreign Policy, the adults in the room—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster—eventually calmed Trump down but only on the condition that they double down on finding a way for the president to blow up the deal by October.

Prior to the revelation of Trump’s Iran certification meltdown, most analysts and diplomats believed that Trump’s rhetoric on Iran was just that—empty talk. His bark was worse than his bite, as demonstrated when he certified Iran’s compliance back in April and when he renewed sanctions waivers in May. The distance between his rhetoric and actual policy was tangible. Rhetorically, Trump officials described Iran as the root of all problems in the Middle East and as the greatest state sponsor of terror. Trump even suggested he might quit the deal. [Continue reading…]

Note the carefully worded headline — seeking war — which should not be taken to mean Trump is intent on starting a war. The specter of war would surely be sufficient for his purposes.

But what are Trump’s purposes?

For Trump to be deeply vexed by the terms of the Iran deal, he’d have to know what those terms are and I doubt he’s even read the deal, let alone subjected it to critical analysis.

It seems much more likely that the only reason Trump has given the Iran deal any consideration whatsoever has nothing to do with geopolitics and everything to do with Barack Obama.

As unpredictable as Trump is, in this respect he has been absolutely consistent: in his determination to undo everything that has been dubbed Obama’s legacy.

He’s torn up the Paris climate accord; having failed to replace Obamacare he’s now intent on destroying it; and this leaves as unfinished business, the Iran deal.

For however long Trump remains in office he will regard his term as successful if it is seen as having erased Obama’s impact on history. In this way, Trump will have left his mark — with the sophistication of a dog.

The Trump doctrine is very simple since it can be reduced to two words: Donald Trump.

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4 thoughts on “The mask is off: Trump is seeking war with Iran

  1. Dieter Heymann

    It probably is not as simple as presented here. A claim that Iran is not in compliance of JCPOA followed by a US military attack of any kind would undoubtedly be called a war crime and be taken up as such by the UN Security council. According to the agreement Iran has the right to bring Trump’s accusation to the Joint Commission for arbitration. If Trump withdraws from the JCPOA and attacks while the Joint Commission is deliberating that too would establish a war crime and every UN member would be obliged to come to the defense of Iran.
    If Trump quits that will not terminate the JCPOA. As far as I understand only the UN Security Council can terminate JCPOA.
    The region from Israel to Vietnam is the Southern Tier of States for Russia and China. It is unthinkable that both will allow a military attack on Iran to go unpunished.

  2. Dieter Heymann

    PS. Even if Trump demands a spot-inspection Iran does not have to automatically obey but can refuse and bring the issue for arbitration to the Joint Commission. How many defeats can Trump take from that Commission?

  3. hquain

    This article is particularly valuable in that it shows how Trump and his group of enabling “adults” are laying the groundwork for the next level of uproar — which needn’t be full-scale military conflict.

    The standard conception is that Trump is purely reactive and incapable of planning. Yet, as the Mueller investigation looms, and as domestic failures mount, he will need more & more to keep his head above water. At this point, a plausible interpretation is that he’s marshalling his forces and trying to weaken the potential counterforces (in his usual strident, flailing, delusional way) for what he sees as a rapidly-approaching battle for survival.

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