By Brandon Turbeville
Only minutes after being sworn in to office, President Donald Trump announced that his administration will develop a “state of the art” missile defense system to protect Americans against attacks from North Korea and Iran.
The announcement was posted minutes after the inauguration on the White House website. The announcement did not provide details as to how the new weapons “defense system” would be different from the systems already being developed, their cost, or how and when they would be deployed.
While ensuring that Americans are protected from any and all threats is the legitimate duty of a President, protections against non-existent threats are questionable at best and provocations are incredibly worrisome. Remember, both Bush and Obama’s “missile defense system,” allegedly designed to protect Americans from Iranian missile attacks were actually designed to surround Russia and act as an elimination of the ability to retaliate. These missile systems have long been a concern for Russia and a source of tension in U.S. – Russian relations.
While the North Korean missile defense system is more logically justified and possibly even warranted, considering the American interests and presence in South Korea, the Iranian defense shield is aimed at a non-existent threat. The Iranians have not shown any desire to act aggressively toward the United States and have actually led the fight against international terrorism along with Russia and Syria. The Iranians do not have a nuclear weapon nor do they even have the capability to produce one.
Trump’s rhetoric regarding Iran on the campaign trail was hawkish to say the least. He has been highly critical of the Iran-nuclear deal (which Iran should never have had to sign to begin with) and suggested that he would “re-negotiate” a better deal. Trump’s close connections with Israel are also highly concerning, particularly when the issue involves foreign policy in the Middle East.
After playing softball with Obama’s war policies for eight years, the Huffington Post has saw fit to post an article by Ryan Costello of the National Iranian American Council, entitled “Could Trump Stumble Into An Iran War?” Indeed, it is quite telling that, after eight years of supporting war, imperialism, and the march toward a third world war under the Obama administration, much of the “leftist” press (Huffington Post, Salon, etc.) have suddenly launched into editorials panicking over the possibility of war with Iran only hours into a Trump Presidency. Regardless, in this article, Costello questions the wisdom of “renegotiating” the Iran deal and the possibility for a Trump administration to provide us with yet another military conflict. Costello writes,
Trump could stay true to his anti-interventionist rhetoric from the campaign and simply police the accord. Several individuals who appear to have the President’s ear on national security matters – including incoming Defense Secretary James Mattis and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker – have warned against withdrawing from the nuclear accord, which is positive. They appear to recognize that killing the deal outright would risk freeing Iran’s nuclear program from international constraints and monitoring, distance us from our allies and leave few options short of warfare to resolve concerns of an Iranian nuclear weapon.
Of course, Trump’s anti-interventionist rhetoric on the campaign trail did not extend to support for the nuclear accord with Iran. He railed against it as a bad deal, including at a Tea Party rally outside the U.S. Capitol during the Congressional review period for the nuclear accord in September 2015. While Trump at times indicated that he would not scrap it, but rather renegotiate it (a premise not supported by the other negotiating parties), his animus toward Iran has also extended outside the nuclear sphere. His promises to sink Iranian ships that frequently harry U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf would risk sparking a war with Iran even without revisiting the nuclear accord.
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Ultimately, Costello seemed more hopeful, apparently suggesting that the war decision could go either way. Tony Cartalucci of Land Destroyer Report, however, is much less optimistic. In his article, “Syria’s War Was Only Ever The Beginning,” he writes,
Look Who’s in Office, Just in Time for War with Iran…
President-elect Donald Trump has surrounded himself with not only pro-Israeli hardliners like David Friedman, but also a circle who have – for years – advocated war with Iran including Breitbart News’ Stephen Bannon and retired US Marine Corps General James Mattis.
A similar circle of policymakers would undoubtedly have accompanied 2016 US presidential candidate and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton into office as well had she won the election – her time as US Secretary of State being consumed with the destruction of Libya and Syria, prerequisites for this very conflict.
In essence, Washington is positioning itself for a wider confrontation with Iran just as its proxy war in Syria appears to have run its full course – and it would have begun positioning itself for this coming war regardless of who won the 2016 US presidential election.
In all likelihood, US policymakers envisioned Syria falling much faster and for a lesser cost. With Russia basing a significant military presence in the nation, and with Syria’s military distilled down to a highly effective, experienced fighting force, and with Iranian and Hezbollah forces having gained experience fighting a regional conflict, moving the conflict into Iran will be no easy task.
It is perhaps because of this, that President-elect Trump has been presented as a potential “ally” of Russia, and accusations of Russia “hacking” American elections are being used to chill the alternative media under the guise of combating “fake news.” With the alternative media muzzled, would it be difficult for US policymakers to once again engineer a large provocation – as Brookings’ “Which Path to Persia?” report recommended – to justify expanding Syria’s conflict and America’s involvement in it, into Iranian territory?
It should also be noted that systematically – throughout the Syrian conflict – Israel has attacked Hezbollah infrastructure throughout Lebanon and Syria. Israeli policymakers are likely attempting to maintain a buffer zone between themselves and those who would retaliate in the wake of US-backed Israeli attack on Iran – just as Brookings proposed in 2009.
Cartalucci writes also about the long-established plan to destroy Iran written about by the Brookings Institution and revealed by General Wesley Clark after having discussed the agenda with neocons and individuals in the Pentagon in 1991 and again in 2001. Clearly, the ruling establishment in the West has Iran on the chopping block for destabilization. The question is whether or not Trump will go along with it.
At this point, because there is a typical lack of specifics to Trump’s new plan, we will have to wait and see what it entails. If the plan is merely legitimate self-defense and security for the American people, then yes, America First. If, however, such a missile defense system is more of a danger by existing than not, then we call for cooler heads to prevail and for such a system to be abandoned. Indeed, what threat actually exists from Iran?
We hope that Trump abandons his hawkish policy towards Iran. Indeed, we are calling for greater cooperation with Iran as well as with Russia and Syria in the name of peace and development.
If the new defense plan is merely a continuation of an imperialist policy now aiming its sights on Iran, then we must immediately begin to fight this new policy. At this point, only time will tell.
Brandon Turbeville –