Yes, Trump has made the future all the more unpredictable. But, hey, at least WWIII isn’t as likely as it would’ve been under Hillary…
Recently, you may’ve heard, Trump authorized a raid in Yemen. During the raid, a Navy SEAL and more than a dozen civilians were killed, including an 8-year-old. The child, it turns out, was the daughter of Anwar-Awlaki — the American citizen who was targeted and killed by a U.S. drone strike.
The raid was conceived by the Obama administration, but authorized by Trump. So, yes, he’s responsible. (We await the outrage from the Right. Tick, tock.)
Moreover, every action Trump has made since he stepped foot into the White House indicates he’s going to keep the war drums beating.
It might’ve been foolish, then, to think we may have dodged a bullet when Hillary — who seemed pretty hot for WWIII — didn’t make it into office.
To be fair, Hillary has advocated for almost every war during the past two decades.
She supported arming the “moderate rebels” in Syria, who, come to find out, were beheading kids (by mistake, of course) and parading Syrians around in cages for use as human shields.
She supported regime change in Ukraine. She cheered on the surge in Afghanistan. She openly supported Bill’s decision to bomb Serbia in the ‘90s.
She voted for the 2003 invasion on Iraq. She was one of the most ardent supporters of the NATO intervention in Libya, which toppled Gaddafi and turned Libya into a hotbed of radicalism.
After the rebels in Libya tortured and executed Gaddafi, you might recall, Hillary gloated on national TV: “We came, we saw, he died.”
But, alas, we can already see that Trump, it seems, is also no friend to peace. And, as a colleague pointed out last week, he’s folding to the very Deep State he railed against during his campaign.
As our colleague wrote via email:
In just over a week, he’s given us more rules, more restrictions on trade and movement, and the threat of more taxes (in the form of trade tariffs and punishing border taxes)…
He’s threatened to spend billions on go-nowhere projects like that stupid wall. And he’s hired lackeys that want to start wars, curtail civil liberties, and worse.
His real jobs plan? Looks like it might be a ground war with China.
If those aren’t all Deep State ideas, what are they?
Furthermore, the conflict with Iran is rapidly widening. With the help of a quick video produced by the Daily Sheeple team, here are five quick-and-dirty signs a war with Iran could be in the cards…
[One] Trump’s travel ban may have more to do with a long-term war strategy than terrorism.
If it were truly about terrorism, one might think Saudi Arabia would be included on his list…
(Because, you know, that whole “9/11” thing.)
But take a quick look at this map.
About ten days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?” He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.” So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?” He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.” He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.
So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”
That’s seven countries: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and then Iran.
Lebanon, you might recall, went through a regime change in 2005 after former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in a car bombing. Replace Lebanon with Yemen, then, and there’s Trump’s travel ban, seventeen years later.
And as for the rest of the signs…
[Two] After Trump instituted the travel ban, Iran ditched the dollar.
[Three] Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who has been described as a “rabid anti-Iran warmonger,” immediately put Iran “on notice.”
[Four] History is beginning to repeat itself.
According to Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Iran attacked a U.S. Navy vessel, thus justifying conflict. Which isn’t really true. The truth is a small group of Houthi rebels attacked a Saudi naval vessel.
The Houthis claimed it was a missile. The Saudis said it was a suicide boat. (We’ll dig deeper into the details of this incident in a moment.)
This, of course, is how American wars start. In the infamous 1964 “Gulf of Tonkin incident,” as it is often referred to, the White House and the Pentagon accused North Vietnamese forces of attacking two Navy destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin off Vietnam on August 4. President Lyndon Johnson used the attacks to coax Congress into approving a resolution, known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, that authorized military action in Vietnam. As the New York Times noted a few years ago, the “attack never happened.”
And way back in February 1898, a U.S. warship, the Maine, was moored in Havana’s harbor when a huge explosion blew it apart, killing most of its crew. The explosion was blamed on Spain, and led to a rallying cry particularly in U.S. newspapers of “Remember the Maine!” In April of that year, the United States declared war on Spain, even though there was no proof of Spanish responsibility for the explosion, and much reason to doubt it. As the Washington Post reported, an official Navy inquiry concluded in the 1970s that “a mine or torpedo could not have been responsible for the blast. The likely cause was a coal bunker fire that ignited the ship’s magazine.”
For perspective, we have this little gem from the Brookings Institute, published in 2009, which is essentially a strategy guide for provoking a war with Iran.
From the report on page 150:
A policy determined to overthrow the government of Iran might very well include plans for a full-scale invasion as a contingency for extreme circumstances. Certainly, if various forms of covert and overt support simply failed to produce the desired effect, a president determined to produce regime change in Iran might consider an invasion as the only other way to achieve that end.
Moreover, the United States would have to expect Iran to fight back against American regime change operations, as it has in the past. Although the Iranians typically have been careful to avoid crossing American red lines, they certainly could miscalculate, and it is entirely possible that their retaliation for U.S. regime change activities would appear to Americans as having crossed just such a threshold.
For example, if Iran retaliated with a major terrorist attack that killed large numbers of people or a terrorist attack involving WMDs — especially on U.S. soil — Washington might decide that an invasion was the only way to deal with such a dangerous Iranian regime.
Indeed, for this same reason, efforts to promote regime change in Iran might be intended by the U.S. government as deliberate provocations to try to goad the Iranians into an excessive response that might then justify an American invasion.
The paper also brings up a deal with Iran…
…any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer — one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.
Potentially something to keep in mind.
[Five] Finally, Trump’s recent sanctions on Iran.
The Trump administration, to sum it up, is needlessly provoking war with Iran. And, clearly, this certainly doesn’t bode well for peace.
To elaborate on the growing conflict with, we invite journalist Christian Evans to help us dig into the details.
Barely two weeks after Trump’s inauguration, his administration is already laying the groundwork for what could become a dangerous military confrontation with Iran.
On Monday, Houthi fighters struck a Saudi naval vessel off the coast of Yemen (the Houthis claim it was a missile; the Saudis claim it was a suicide boat). Two sailors were killed. A video of the incident was taken.
On Tuesday, a Fox News article claimed, citing unnamed U.S. defense officials, that the real target of the attack was an American ship. Their evidence was a Houthi slogan, used commonly, which includes in part, “death to America”, that was shouted after the attack. This is either very amateur analysis or a deliberate effort to frame the attack as an Iranian attack against the United States.
The Houthis are a Shiite rebel group who have fought against the Yemeni government for over a decade. In 2014, the Houthis allied with the ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, their former enemy, and in early 2015, seized the Yemeni capital of Sana’a. Following this event, Saudi Arabia launched a military intervention backed by other Gulf Arab states and the U.S., initiating the present civil war in Yemen. The war has killed thousands of civilians, internally displaced millions and threatens millions with famine in the region’s poorest country.
The Houthis, while receiving some support from Iran, are an independent group that has operated for years and pursue their own domestic political agenda. Their ties to Iran are frequently exaggerated in U.S. media, and it is common for them to be labeled as “Iranian proxies”, especially when it serves the narrative of those who wish to label Iran as a sponsor of terrorism and accuse it of destabilizing the region.
The reality is that Iran has limited influence on the actions of the Houthis. In 2014, Iran discouraged them from taking over Sana’a, but they did it anyway.
On Wednesday, in response to a ballistic missile test by Iran on Sunday, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn announced from the White House briefing room that the administration was “officially putting Iran on notice”, making the administration policy on Iran clear.
Finally, on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer falsely accused Iran of attacking “our vessel” off of Yemen. Although he accepted a correction from Major Garrett from CBS News that it was actually a Saudi vessel, the whole incident was brushed off as a small error, even though the difference between attacking a Saudi and an American vessel is huge, and his claim that Iran was responsible was left unchecked.
One dangerous falsehood, that Houthis targeted an American vessel, quickly turned into the charge that Iran targeted an American vessel, just within a day. This would be a clear act of war.
This kind of dangerous rhetoric and outright lies from the new administration needlessly harm already tedious relations with Iran, which thanks to the nuclear deal in 2015, improved slightly and likely allowed for the quick release of U.S. sailors that were captured in Iranian waters a little over a year ago.
It is worth noting that Iran’s missile test did not violate the terms of the nuclear deal, as some Iran hawks have claimed. Nor does it violate any UN resolution, as all legally binding resolutions against Iranian missile tests were voided by the JCPOA accord.
Iran has complied with the deal, and there is no threat that Iran will attempt to develop nuclear weapons under the strict terms of the agreement. The purpose of all this seems, at the very least, to be to push Iran into abandoning its end of the deal so that the U.S. can claim once again how untrustworthy Iran is and scrap the deal.
On Friday, the Trump administration announced new sanctions against individuals and entities connected to Iran’s missile program.
It is easy to see how these provocations could lead to a military confrontation. Such a confrontation would serve no American interest, and could destabilize one of the few stable countries in that region. All of this is a gift to Iranian hardliners, who seek to gain the most from any confrontation with the U.S.
The Trump administration is yet again proving it is reckless in its dealings with other nations, and it is only a matter of time before they spark a new conflict.
[Ed. note: The following article was originally published by the author on Medium.]