The Ignorance of Fighting Against Iran

US would need ‘one million soldiers’ to invade Iran, warns Brit admiral

US FORCES would need at least one million soldiers to defeat and occupy Iran in what could be another Iraq War-style quagmire, a top Brit admiral has warned.

US would win war against Iran in ‚two strikes‘ says Senator

Iran and the US have been at loggerheads in recent weeks as Washington dispatched warships and warplanes to the region citing “credible threats’” from Tehran.

Admiral Lord West – the former First Sea Lord of the Royal navy – gave a dire assessment of the potential conflict as tempers flare int he Middle East.

He told Daily Star Online the US would need at least one million troops to successfully pacify Iran, and a half-baked attack could throw the region further into chaos. 

The 50-year Royal Navy veteran warned “idiots” in both the US and Iran are dangerously hyping tensions. 

It comes amid disputed reports the US is dusting off Iraq War-era plans to deploy 120,000 troops to the region.

He urged the West to do more to come to the table with Iran or face the possibility of a “nuclear war in the Middle East”.

Iran is restarting its missile programme in response to US sanctions would started a new arms race with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the admiral warned. 

“You would need a million men”

Admiral Lord West

Admiral Lord West told Daily Star Online: “I think Donald Trump himself doesn’t want there to be a conflict – but there are powerful factions in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US who believe an attack would be a good thing. 

“This includes John Bolton. They think they would destroy the Iranian armed forces, there would be regime change, and all the garden would be rosy. 

“The only problem with that is – they would be completely wrong.”

He added: “They don’t want to invade Iran, they went there to be a nice fold over into a new regime. 

“And if you don’t get that, then you get this hostile regime causing mayhem in the region with terrorist proxies and missiles.

“Invading Iran, taking it over, and then coercing into becoming a different sort of country, you would need a million men. “

BREAKING POINT: Iran has accused the US of waging a ‚psychological war‘ on them (Pic: GETTY)

Admiral West – who was the last man to leave the sinking HMS Ardent during the Falklands War – described sabre rattling from both sides as “extremely dangerous”. 

US forces have sent aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and a group of B-52 bombers to the Middle East as they publicly cite an imminent danger posed by Iran.

British general Chris Ghika undermined the US warnings on Iran, saying there is “no increased threat” – as Washington evacuated “non-emergency” staff from its missions in Iraq. 

US Central Command however contradicted Major General Ghia – saying his comments “run counter to identified credible threats available to intelligence from the US and allies”. 

Tehran has reportedly moved missile boats in the Persian Gulf, and the US suspect the regime of being behind sabotage attacks on four oil tankers. 

Royal Navy hero Admiral West said while Iran is a “bloody nuisance” – US politicians are making a mistake in thinking it would a “quick war” like “lancing a boil”.

RING OF STEEL: USS Abraham Lincoln and her strike group have moved into the Middle East (Pic: GETTY)

SWOOP: B-52 Bombers have been deployed to Qatar by the US (Pic: GETTY)

WAR HAWKS: Donald Trump is being advised by Iran on John Bolton (Pic: GETTY)

He told Daily Star Online: “If the US and Britain couldn’t beat Iran in a straight bang-on-bang contest they we should all go home.

“But what we can’t do unless we go onto a war footing and having conscription is have a sufficient number of troops to go occupy the country.

“It is such dangerous loose talk, and its all well and good being ‘aren’t we clever, we can shoot down your planes and sink your ships’ – but you haven’t finishing winning the war.

“That what the real problem is and thats what these idiots who are saying lets go to war with Iran don’t understand.

“I don’t think they are clever enough to understand, they know nothing about wars.” 

NAVY HERO: Admiral Lord West was formerly the First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy (Pic: PA)

Iran: Tensions with US at a ‘dangerous point’ says expert

Admiral West compared a possible conflict to the Iraq War, and feared should the US attack the same failures would happen during “Phase IV”. 

“Phase IV” referred to the stabilisation of a nation after winning the initial engagements.

The invasion of Iraq lasted just over a month, followed by eight years of violence and turmoil.

“The US said they were handling it, but we all know they didn’t have a bloody clue what was happening. Iraq’s in a bloody mess” Admiral West said. 

He added Iranian-funded terrorist would continue to cause chaos in the Middle East.

And there would be the threat of more wide-ranging missile attacks unless all the regime’s secret bases can be knocked out in one swoop.

ON THE MARCH: USS Abraham Lincoln sails down the Suez Canal amid the threat from Iran (Pic: REUTERS)

Admiral West added however he considers Iran’s current regime a “bigger problem” than Iraq in 2003. 

He still however urged caution, adding an attack on Iran could also destabilise the global economy due to the risk to shipping in the Gulf. 

“Until you have destroyed all the Iranian swarm vessels, their mines, their submarines and their aircraft, no one is going to want to take a tanker through there,” he said.

“The impact of the global economy would be huge.”

Urging more talks he called for the US to end “draconian sanctions” that might push Iran toward restarting their nuclear programme. 

FEARS: Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has urged his people to stay strong amid threats (Pic: EPA)

And Admiral West aded should a conflict erupt between the US and Iran, Britain will inevitably be roped into the war. 

Britain will so how have to be ready to defend ourselves and we will be dragged into it.

“Our forces are so folded in with the Americans, and the Iranians will assume we are involved,” he said.

“Britain will have to be ready to defend itself.”

Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned Trump is being “pushed towards war” by people around him.

And the US President has said he wants to avoid conflict, saying “I hope note” when asked if the US are going to war with Iran.

Missile Targeted at US Embassy

Saudis Issue a Warning

A top minister addresses Iran

(Newser) – Saudi Arabia does not want war but will not hesitate to defend itself against Iran, a top Saudi diplomat said Sunday, after the kingdom’s energy sector was targeted this past week amid heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf, the AP reports. On Sunday night, a rocket was fired into the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone, landing less than a mile from the US Embassy, further stoking tensions. No casualties were reported in the apparent attack. Adel al-Jubeir, the minister of state for foreign affairs, spoke a week after four oil tankers—two of them Saudi—were targeted in an alleged act of sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and days after Iran-allied Yemeni rebels claimed a drone attack on a Saudi oil pipeline.

„The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want war in the region and does not strive for that … but at the same time, if the other side chooses war, the kingdom will fight this with all force and determination and it will defend itself, its citizens and its interests,“ al-Jubeir told reporters. A senior Iranian military commander was similarly quoted as saying his country is not looking for war. Fears of armed conflict were already running high after the White House ordered warships and bombers to the region earlier this month to counter an alleged, unexplained threat from Iran. The US also has ordered nonessential staff out of its diplomatic posts in Iraq. But President Donald Trump appears to have softened his tone in recent days, saying he expects Iran to seek negotiations with his administration.

The Iran horn quadruples production of enriched uranium

Reports: Iran quadruples production of enriched uranium

(Newser) – Iran quadrupled its uranium-enrichment production capacity amid tensions with the US over Tehran’s atomic program, nuclear officials said Monday, just after President Trump and Iran’s foreign minister traded threats and taunts on Twitter. Iranian officials made a point to stress that the uranium would be enriched only to the 3.67% limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, making it usable for a power plant but far below what’s needed for an atomic weapon, the AP reports. But by increasing production, Iran soon will go beyond the stockpile limitations set by the accord. Tehran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to come up with new terms for the deal, or it will enrich closer to weapons-grade levels in a Middle East already on edge. The Trump administration has deployed bombers and an aircraft carrier to the region over still-unspecified threats from Iran.

Already this month, officials in the United Arab Emirates alleged that four oil tankers were damaged in a sabotage attack; Yemeni rebels allied with Iran launched a drone attack on an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia; and US diplomats relayed a warning that commercial airlines could be misidentified by Iran and attacked, something dismissed by Tehran. A rocket landed Sunday near the US Embassy in the Green Zone of Iraq’s capital of Baghdad, days after nonessential US staff were ordered to evacuate from diplomatic posts in the country. The Iranian enrichment announcement came after local journalists traveled to Natanz in central Iran, the country’s underground enrichment facility. There, an unidentified nuclear scientist gave a statement with a surgical cap and a mask covering most of his face. The state-run IRNA news agency later quoted Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as acknowledging that capacity had been quadrupled.

The Coming War with Iran

IRGC commander: Iran is on the brink of an ‘all-out clash with the enemy’

The Iranian leadership continues to prepare for further economic, political and military tensions with the United States, while the United States continues to build up its military forces in the Persian Gulf region.

The USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group is already in the area, and the crippling U.S. sanctions will continue. In Iran, the top echelon of the regime headed by Supreme Leader Khamenei is preparing public opinion for an ongoing confrontation with the United States—the “Great Satan”—and particularly for the anticipated economic hardship, framing it as part of what the regime calls the “struggle economy.” In reality, the economy keeps deteriorating rapidly, with growing shortages and skyrocketing prices of consumer goods.

In the regional arena as well, tensions are mounting. On May 14, 2019, the Yemeni Houthis—who are under Iran’s influence in Yemen—used seven GPS-guided unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to attack the Aramco East-West pipeline’s pumping stations in Saudi territory in the Dawadmi and Afif regions.

Saudi facilities hit. Source: Houthi-controlled al-Masirah TV.

A United Nations report submitted to the U.N. Security Council in January 2018 found compelling evidence that Houthi-made “Qatef” drones had an almost identical construction and capabilities as the Iranian “Ababil” UAV.

On May 12, 2019, Saudi, Norwegian and UAE oil tankers were sabotaged near the shore of the Fujairah emirate in the Gulf of Oman.

In both cases, Iran signaled that amid the tightening sanctions and deepening economic crisis it is capable of pinpoint strikes on sensitive oil infrastructure in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, as well as in the heart of the Saudi oil industry.

Middle East oil facilities vulnerable to Iranian attack: No. 1 is the East-West Saudi pipeline. In the inset, No. 7, is a map of the Habshan-Fujeirah pipeline that bypasses the Strait of Hormuz.

The attack on the Aramco oil infrastructure highlights the persistent threat of Houthi unmanned weapon systems targeting vital onshore and offshore Saudi and Saudi-affiliated sites.

The targeted pipeline was built during the Iran-Iraq war as an alternative for Saudi Arabia should the Strait of Hormuz be blocked. The oil terminal at the port of Fujairah where Saudi tankers were sabotaged is another such alternative.

The message sent to the UAE and/or Saudi Arabia by these attacks was thus that “we know where your vulnerabilities are.”

Thus, the attacks near the port of Fujairah and in Saudi territory are symbolic. The Emirates serve as an outlet for an oil pipeline that bypasses the Strait of Hormuz and originates in Habshan in Abu Dhabi. As for the drone attack, it marks the first time that the Houthis—aided in their use of missiles and drones by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Lebanese Hezbollah—have hit a target nearly 500 miles from the Yemeni border (assuming the drones were not launched from Saudi territory).

Significantly, after the latest incident the Tasnim News Agency, which is affiliated with the IRGC, published a cartoon that glorifies the Houthis defeating Saudi Arabia.3 In the cartoon: a traditional Houthi dagger (jambiya) with a hilt in the form of a drone breaks the Saudi sword.

“The armed forces of Yemen carried out an operation deep in Saudi territory.” Source: Tasnim News Agency.

The Houthis have attacked Saudi Arabia and the UAE with drones and missiles in the past. In July 2018, a drone exploded at Abu Dhabi airport causing minor damage and sending a strong message to the UAE, which plays a dominant role in the southern parts of Yemen. In January 2019, a senior intelligence chief and senior officials were killed at the al-Anad air force base just outside Aden by a weaponized drone that exploded above them as they attended a military parade.

Given the recent incidents in Fujairah and Saudi Arabia, if the United States or one of its regional allies reveals clear intelligence that Iran was behind the attack on the Saudi tankers, it could lead to the deployment of military escorts for commercial vessels in the region. That, in turn, could augment the frictions with the Iranian naval presence and provoke a further escalation, to the point of limited hostilities between Iran and the United States.

The most dangerous situation the Islamic Revolution has ever known

Meanwhile, the IRGC’s new commander, Hossein Salami, said on May 15, 2019: “Today, our enemies, by applying the maximum pressure strategy and using all their capacities, are trying to break the steadfastness of the Iranian nation, but they will fail.” He added that Iran’s enemies are unaware that the resilience, determination and honor of the nation form its protective shield.

Salami, who is known for his scathing remarks about the United States and Israel, called the current situation the most dangerous and sensitive one that the Iranian Islamic Revolution has ever known and said Iran was at the brink of an all-out confrontation with the enemy. He claimed, however, that Iran’s enemies had exhausted all their resources and, despite their steadfast demeanor, were falling apart internally and on the way to being vanquished by Iran.

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami likewise declared: “Iran stands at the peak of defense-military preparedness to counter any threat or act of aggression,” and that it would defeat the U.S.-Israeli alliance. Hatami emphasized the fact that last year, despite the difficult conditions it is facing, Iran did not neglect military development, buttressing its power of deterrence.

“Negotiations Are like a Poison”

Meanwhile, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, met with senior officials and again rejected any possibility of negotiating with the United States. “As long as the United States is what it is now,” he said, “negotiating is but poison, and with this current administration that poison is twice [as lethal].”

In a wide-ranging survey of the difficult history of Iran’s relations with the “Great Satan,” he asserted that “the U.S. leaders serve the interests of the Zionist regime more than any other country.” Khamenei also elaborated on the United States’ domestic difficulties, which, he said, were leading it to externalize its problems and look for enemies.

Fars News cartoon implies that the “war-mongering” Zionist regime is behind the attack in Fujairah. Source: Fars News.

“Negotiations,” Khamenei said, “entail exchanges, give and take, but all that interests the United States is power. They say, come, let’s discuss your defensive capabilities and the reasons that you are developing missiles of certain [long] ranges; reduce the range of the missiles so that if we hit you, you won’t be able to hit back. Come, let’s discuss your strategic influence in the region, which means ‘Give it up.’”

Khamenei added, “Negotiations are like a poison as long as the United States behaves as it behaves, and given the current [Trump] administration—which is not decent and does not obey any law—the poison is especially strong, and as a result no noble and wise Iranian will negotiate over his advantages … Not one of our clever people is looking for negotiations.”

Khamenei repeated his assessment that a war between Iran and the United States is unlikely.

“This is not a matter of a military confrontation between the two countries since war is not in the offing … We do not want a war, and neither does the United States, which knows it does not stand to gain anything from a war. This is a struggle of aspirations and values, and Iranian willpower is strong because Iran puts its trust in Allah. The boastful and bullying enemy has no real strength.”

Referring to Washington’s calls for Iran to change its policy, Khamenei said that Iran’s behavior has indeed changed, and “the Iranian people now hate the United States more than ever, and it can no longer interfere in their affairs.”

The Supreme Leader’s forthright statements came in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer to negotiate with Iran and his provision to the Swiss of a phone number the Iranians can use to call him directly. Trump’s proposal earned him derisive cartoons in most of the Iranian media. In this Fars cartoon, Trump holds a “telephone carrier” and says, “I want the Iranians to call me, but John Kerry is telling them not to call.”

Source: Fars News.

ExxonMobil Prepares for a Terrorist Attack

ExxonMobil evacuates 30 engineers from Iraq, Basra Oil Company says

Company: No indicators of security threats

ExxonMobil evacuated about 30 foreign engineers from Basra, Iraq, as a „temporary precautionary measure,“ the government-owned Basra Oil Company said Saturday.

The staff members were evacuated to Dubai and there are „no indicators that companies operating the oil fields are facing any security threats,“ the Basra Oil Company said.

The move will not affect production, project development or planned maintenance in the West Qurna oil field, it added.

The statement did not give details on what prompted the evacuation of the 30 workers.

The oil field is jointly run by ExxonMobil and the Iraqi company, and employs 1,700 people including Iraqis and foreigners, the Basra Oil Company said.

ExxonMobil told CNN Business in an email „as a matter of practice, we don’t share specifics related to operational staffing at our facilities.“

„ExxonMobil has programs and measures in place to provide security to protect its people, operations and facilities. We are committed to ensuring the safety of our employees and contractors at all of our facilities around the world,“ spokesperson Julie L. King said.

Earlier this week, the US State Department ordered the departure of non-emergency US government employees from Iraq amid growing tensions between the United States and Iran, Iraq’s neighbor to the east. Tensions have soared between Washington and Tehran since Washington scrapped a landmark nuclear deal with Iran that briefly brought an end to its economic and diplomatic isolation.

The Trump administration reimposed stringent sanctions on Iran, including on its enormous oil industry.

Recently, the Trump administration has accused Tehran of threats against US troops and interests.

Iranian leaders have denied Iranian involvement in attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf and on a Saudi oil station, and they charged that Washington was unnecessarily escalating tensions with Tehran.

The Saudi Horn Becomes Involved in Iran (Daniel 7)

Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi state minister of foreign affairs, says the ball is in Iran’s court to determine its fate.

Saudi Arabia wants to avert war in the region but stands ready to respond with „all strength and determination“ after last week’s attacks on Saudi oil assets, a senior official said, adding that the ball was now in Iran’s court.

Iran Threatens to Attack Babylon the Great

Defiant Iran says it can ‚easily‘ hit U.S. ships, works to counter sanctions

Reuters

(Adds comments from senior Trump administration official, paragraphs 6-7)

* Short-range missiles can reach U.S. warships in Gulf -Iran

* U.S. cannot afford cost of a new war -Iran Guards

* Washington builds up military presence in Middle East

* Iran calls U.S. military moves psychological warfare

* U.S. says Iran threatens its troops and interests

* Tehran denies ever having nuclear bomb program

DUBAI, May 17 (Reuters) – Iran said on Friday it could „easily“ hit U.S. warships in the Gulf, the latest in days of saber rattling between Washington and Tehran, while its top diplomat worked to counter U.S. sanctions and salvage a nuclear deal denounced by President Donald Trump.

Tensions have risen in recent days, with concerns about a potential U.S.-Iran conflict. Earlier this week, the United States pulled some diplomatic staff from its embassy in Baghdad following weekend attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf.

Even our short-range missiles can easily reach (U.S.) warships in the Persian Gulf,“ Mohammad Saleh Jokar, the deputy for parliamentary affairs of the elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), was quoted by Fars news agency as saying.

„America cannot afford the costs of a new war, and the country is in a bad situation in terms of manpower and social conditions,“ he added.

Washington has increased economic sanctions and built up its military presence in the region, accusing Iran of threats to U.S. troops and interests. Tehran has described those steps as „psychological warfare“ and a „political game.“

In Washington, a senior administration official said the United States is „sitting by the phone“ but has heard no message yet from Iran that it is willing to accept Trump’s overtures for direct talks.

„We think they should de-escalate and come to negotiations,“ the official, who declined to be identified, told a small group of reporters.

Trump has urged Iran’s leadership to hold talks over its nuclear program and regional influence amid rising tensions between the two countries that has fanned fears of armed conflict after the United States deployed an aircraft carrier group to the region.

Iranian army chief Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi vowed: „If the enemy miscalculates and commits a strategic error, it will receive a response which will make it regret (its action),“ the semi-official news agency Mehr reported.

Senior lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh called on Twitter for an Iran-U.S. „red desk“ to help prevent a war.

„Top authorities in Iran and America have rejected a war, but third parties are in a hurry to destroy a large part of the world. A red desk should be set up in Iraq or Qatar with officials from the two sides … to manage tensions,“ said Falahatpisheh, head of parliament’s national security committee.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said this week Tehran would not negotiate another nuclear deal after Washington last year quit a 2015 international pact that put curbs on Iran’s potential pathway to build a nuclear bomb in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

Trump believes the economic pressure will force Tehran to accept tougher restrictions on its nuclear and missile programs and on its support for proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. He has said publicly he wants to pursue diplomacy after withdrawing from the deal and moving to cut all Iranian oil exports.

‚SUPPORTIVE STATEMENTS‘ NOT ENOUGH

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on a visit to Japan and China, said the international community and remaining signatories of the nuclear deal should act to save the accord as „supportive statements“ are not enough.

Last week, Iran notified the five remaining signatories that it would reduce some commitments under the accord. Tehran has asked the other signatories, including Germany, Britain and France, to help protect its economy from U.S. sanctions.

„Safeguarding the (nuclear accord) is possible through practical measures, and not only through supportive statements,“ Zarif was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

„If the international community feels that this (nuclear) accord is a valuable achievement, then it should take practical steps just like Iran does,“ Zarif said on Iranian state television. „The meaning of practical steps is fully clear: Iran’s economic relations should be normalized.“

Iran’s economy is expected to shrink for the second year running and inflation could reach 40 percent, an International Monetary Fund senior official said last month, as the country copes with the impact of tighter U.S. sanctions.

The curbs under the nuclear deal were aimed at extending the time Iran would need to produce a nuclear bomb, if it chose to, to a year from roughly 2-3 months. I

The United States and the U.N. nuclear watchdog believe Iran had a nuclear weapons program that it abandoned. Tehran denies ever having had one. (Reporting by Dubai newsroom and Steve Holland in Washington Writing by William Maclean Editing by Frances Kerry and Grant McCool)

Trump is Being Suckered by John Bolton

Iran: Trump says he doesn’t want war, but is John Bolton pushing a conflict?


WASHINGTON – „Is John Bolton the most dangerous man in the world?“

That headline leaped from the pages of a British newspaper on Thursday, which declared the U.S. „is closer to war with Iran than it has been since the Bush years, or perhaps ever.“ And, the opinion writer added, Trump’s national security adviser „is largely to blame.“

That view – that Bolton is driving Trump into a perilous military confrontation with America’s principal foe in the Middle East – is ricocheting across the globe, from Tehran to Washington.

But national security experts inside and outside the White House say Bolton’s role has been exaggerated – and his influence with the president has been overstated, particularly when it comes to the prospect of a costly war with Iran.

For starters, Trump has made it clear he doesn’t like the idea and is generally averse to foreign military entanglements.

Asked on Thursday if his administration is marching toward war with Iran, Trump offered a three-word response: „I hope not.“

A hard-line message to Iran

Bolton is simply playing his part in a geopolitical dance designed to send a hard-line message to the Iranian regime, said Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based foreign policy research institute that supports strong pressure on Iran.

„Bolton in many ways is from central casting if you were looking for a consummate hawk,“ said Dubowitz, who has advised the Trump administration and previous presidents on Iran policy. „It’s all useful from the psyops perspective.“

Dubowitz said the White House has deliberately trumpeted its decision to send B-52 bombers and other military forces to Iran, purposefully said that move was in response to threats from Iran and intentionally used Bolton as a key messenger.

„I think it’s actually a well-orchestrated campaign that has a public relations piece, a military positioning piece, (and) obviously the economic financial piece“ of escalating sanctions, Dubowitz said. Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are the perfect „bad cops,“ he said, to make Iran – and the rest of the world – nervous about Trump’s intentions.

„Trump can go from fire and fury to writing love letters, so he has a certain amount of diplomatic flexibility,“ he said. One minute he can be as bellicose as Bolton, and the next he can shout, „‚Hey, hi there. Do you want to talk.'“

That’s what Trump seemed to be doing on Thursday, when he met with the president of the Swiss government, which is known for its role in mediating potential conflicts between Iran and the U.S.

„I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon,“ Trump tweeted on Wednesday in a pair of messages seen directed in part at Bolton. The president used social media to downplay reports of divisions within the administration over Iran.

„There is no infighting whatsoever,“ Trump said. „Different opinions are expressed and I make a decisive and final decision – it is a very simple process.“

Hawkish past concerns lawmakers

Lawmakers are not reassured.

This president has surrounded himself with people – Pompeo and Bolton in particular – who believe that getting tough on a military basis with Iran is in our best interest. I do not,“ said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the chamber’s No. 2 Democratic leader.

Durbin and other lawmakers said Bolton’s past statements on Iran, and his trumpeting of questionable intelligence in the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq war, are deeply concerning.

Before Bolton joined the Trump administration, he vocally advocated for regime change in Iran. He also played a key role in pushing for the U.S. invasion of Iraq during the George W. Bush administration, which relied on faulty intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s chemical and nuclear weapons program

Now with Iran, Durbin said the situation has become so tense and the rhetoric so hot, that even if Trump has no desire for war, he may stumble into it.

He noted, for example, that the Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran and at war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen, could launch an attack that inadvertently kills an American service member.

„I fear … we’re going to have a Gulf of Tonkin moment, where there is some American or serviceman who is going to be injured or killed and people are going to be calling for retribution,“ Durbin said.

But Bolton is only one of many advisers Trump speaks to about Iran and other foreign policy issues, said current and former officials. He hears a lot of different views, and often throws out ideas of his own – sometimes ideas he doesn’t really plan to pursue.

Throughout his presidency, Trump’s sounding boards have ranged from super hawks like Bolton to cautious types like former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. From anti-China tariff warriors like Peter Navarro to more market-oriented types like Larry Kudlow.

Trump tends to be against intervention

At some point – no one knows how or when – Trump suddenly makes a decision. He often announces things before informing unwitting staff members, sometimes by tweet and sometimes by statements to inquiring reporters.

„It’s not exactly chaos,“ said one former staff member. „But it’s not orderly.“ 

Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said Bolton and the president are on the same page.

„Working closely with President Trump’s national security team, Ambassador Bolton continues to coordinate the President’s guidance to protect American personnel and interests from Iranian threats abroad,“ he said.

Trump and his advisers chafe at claims that Bolton is some kind of „puppet master“ leading Trump into war. Having campaigned against „stupid wars“ in Iraq and Afghanistan, Trump is highly unlikely to order military action against Iran, administration officials said, despite the rising beat of war drums from Bolton and others. 

While giving free rein to his aides to express dissenting views, Trump is annoyed at Bolton for being so publicly bellicose toward Iran, fearing it increases the chances for accidental war. 

Talk of war with Iran is „way ahead of where things are“ within the administration, particularly with Trump, one official said. 

The exception would be if Iran attacks U.S. personnel in the Middle East, officials said – a development that may be more likely in part because of a Trump management style that is haphazard at best and chaotic at worst.

But Trump often sticks with his pre-existing views, and his default position in foreign policy tends to be against intervention. He has pushed to withdraw U.S troops from Afghanistan and Syria, over the objections of military advisers. Mattis resigned in part over Trump’s plan – later modified – to withdraw troops from Syria.

The flip side, officials say, is that Trump may be getting painted into a corner, and would have to respond if Iran does something to U.S. personnel.

For all his criticism of the George W. Bush administration’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Trump has as his national security adviser a major proponent of those interventions. 

Durbin said he fears he’s watching a replay of the debate for the Iraq war.

„The weapons of mass destruction turned out to be a fiction, and we were just stampeding into this invasion at that time,“ he aid. „I see it again, all over again.“ 

The Antichrist Tries to Control His Men

Iraq, fearing another US war, warns militias against provocation

In the past two weeks, the Trump administration has said, repeatedly and publicly, that Iran and Arab Shiite militias aligned with it were planning to strike US troops in the region, and that the threat had increased recently.

Written by Alissa J. Rubin

In the Trump administration’s recent bellicose talk about Iran, Iraqis hear eerie echoes of the months just before the US invasion of Iraq. Iraqi officials, wary of another war on their land, say they have warned armed groups tied to Iran to refrain from taking any action that could provoke US retaliation.

“The last two days there have been continuous meetings with all the groups to convey the Iraqi government’s message that if anyone does something, it is their responsibility, not Iraq’s,” said Sayed al-Jayashi, a senior member of Iraq’s National Security Council.

“The Iraqi government is responsible for protecting American interests in Iraq,” he added. “We will become the enemy of anyone who does something against American interests.”

In the past two weeks, the Trump administration has said, repeatedly and publicly, that Iran and Arab Shiite militias aligned with it were planning to strike US troops in the region, and that the threat had increased recently.

In response, the administration dispatched an aircraft carrier, long-range bombers and an anti-missile battery to the Persian Gulf and updated plans for a war with Iran. On Wednesday, the State Department ordered a number of its “nonemergency” personnel in Iraq to leave the country.

The United States has not revealed any evidence supporting its assessment of an increased threat, though on Wednesday officials described what they said were photos of missiles being loaded onto Iranian boats. Allies of the United States have said that while Iran and its confederates may pose a danger, it is unclear whether there is a serious threat against American forces.

The claims have led many in the region to draw parallels to the Bush administration’s decision to go to war in 2003 based on false claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

There are about 30 militias in Iraq with at least 125,000 active-duty fighters and varying loyalties. Many worked in tandem with the Iraqi military in fighting the Islamic State, and all report to the prime minister’s office.

The concern in Iraq is focused on the handful of groups with strong ties to Iran. Several are close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and have members who trained in Iran.

“Unfortunately we have groups that want to be more Iranian than Iran itself,” said Salah al-Obaidi, the spokesman for the populist cleric and power-broker Muqtada al-Sadr. “We have concerns about the possibility that the government cannot control the pro-Iranian groups, and this will be a big problem in Iraq.”

He said the government needed to take a stronger stand against those groups.

“There is still no plan on the ground about what the government will do,” he said. “In the military, there has to be strict rules and if anyone breaks the rules or does anything outside the plan, they are punished, and the government has not done that.”

Iraq, he said, cannot “be the place where America and Iran settle their scores.”

The parallels to 2003 do not escape anyone, but then important US allies like Britain, Canada and Japan supported the Bush administration in going to war; now the Trump administration’s hostility to Iran is a far lonelier stance.

President Donald Trump has long called the Iraq War a mistake, and has said US forces should withdraw from the Middle East and other parts of the world. But his national security adviser, John Bolton, has advocated military strikes against Iran and regime change there. As a State Department official in 2003, he was seen as one of the more hawkish voices on Iraq.

On the streets of Baghdad, many Iraqis say that if there is an armed conflict between Iran or its proxies and the United States, it is more likely to take place in the Gulf rather than on Iraqi soil. Unlike the Iraq of 2003, Iraq today is a US ally.

“I am not afraid of a war between Iran and the United States,” said Ali Selim, 55, a barber who was drying his towels outdoors. “Then the American target was Iraq. This time it’s Iran,” he said, adding that the militias would not risk their own survival by provoking American retaliation because at the end of the day, they are Iraqis.

Others dismissed the increased tensions between the United States and Iran as empty saber-rattling.

“It’s just talk, just threats,” said Salim Abu Hassan, 48, a worker who had just delivered a shipment of baby scales to a medical supply store. He said he had fought in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and was in Baghdad when the United States attacked 16 years ago. “Iran and America are each one trying to shout louder than the other.”

Al-Jayashi, the Iraqi security council member, also said he believed that the Iranian government did not want war. But he said he worried about the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps acting on its own and possibly encouraging the armed groups it has fostered in the region to act on its behalf.

It can be difficult to discern Iran’s intentions since its elected leadership and government often sound reasonable, but the Revolutionary Guards and the Quds Force, whose leader Qasem Soleimani is in regular touch with Iraqi figures, take a far more antagonistic stance toward the United States.

However, al-Jayashi and other senior Iraqi officials said Iran’s only request to Iraq has been to prevent the United States from using its soil to launch an attack on Iranian territory.

A senior Iraqi official who asked not to be identified said that the Americans had no plans to do that. The official said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited Iraq last week, told Iraqi leaders that the United States respected Iraq’s sovereignty and that it would not launch attacks on Iran from Iraq.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Pompeo’s message to the Iraqis. Pompeo said that he had discussed the “importance of Iraq ensuring that it’s able to adequately protect Americans in their country.”

According to the official, Pompeo did not address whether the United States would launch an attack on Iraqi soil against an armed group that struck the United States, a scenario now under discussion at the Pentagon.

On Sunday, the United Arab Emirates reported that four oil tankers had been damaged in attacks off the Emirati coast. Two of them belonged to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and the UAE — longtime antagonists of Iran’s — as well as the United States, have refrained from making public accusations or revealing what they know about the incidents, but privately, their officials have made clear that their suspicions focus on Iran.

US officials said Monday that there was no definitive evidence linking Iran or its proxies to the attacks.

But the British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, warned this week of “the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended on either side.”

Such an escalation spilling into Iraq, which has been at war for most of the time since the U.S. invasion, is a horror many Iraqis wish to believe could not happen again.

“I remember the destruction and the looting and the burned and destroyed buildings,” said Emad Hassan, 45. “We thought they came only to liberate Iraq, but they occupied it.”

From Bush’s to Trump’s Nefarious Lies

President Trump speaks to the press on the White House South Lawn on Tuesday. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News)

Trump’s Iran policy is rooted in lies — the kind that got us into the Iraq War

Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration, is author of „The World as It Is.“

May 16 at 6:40 AM

The Iraq War showed us all what happens when exaggerations and lies are weaponized to justify an ideological push for war: In 2002 and 2003, a relentless series of ominous, overblown public statements and bogus intelligence reports were used to justify an invasion — part of a deliberate campaign to make an offensive military action look defensive: “Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation,” President George W. Bush said, “the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war.”

It wasn’t true. Yet Bush made the case that the United States had to attack before Hussein could use weapons of mass destruction that Iraq didn’t really have. Now a similar cycle of deception may be repeating itself with President Trump’s increasingly belligerent posture on Iran.

Trump’s Iran policy has long been rooted in falsehoods. In 2017, his administration refused to certify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the Iran nuclear deal — on the premise that Iran wasn’t complying with the terms. That wasn’t true. Earlier that year, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Iran’s compliance; the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reported to Congress that “Iran is adhering to its JCPOA obligations”; and the U.S. intelligence community presented no evidence justifying Trump’s decertification.

Trump’s subsequent decision to withdraw from the JCPOA was no surprise. For years, he had railed against it as the “worst deal ever negotiated” by tossing out a raft of easily debunked assertions: that Iran was given $150 billion under the terms of the deal, a claim The Washington Post’s Fact Checker rated with four Pinocchios; that Iran’s regime was verging on “total collapse” before the deal, implying that somehow the deal lent the regime new life. After pulling out, Trump has continued to dispute his own intelligence community’s assessment that Iran had been complying. Numbed to a president who lies so regularly that it’s become the background noise to our political culture, his reckless exit from a multilateral, U.N. Security Council-endorsed arms-control agreement that wasn’t being violated was treated as just another routine turn of events in Trump’s Washington.

Since then, Trump’s administration has made every effort to manufacture a crisis with Iran. To the dismay of our closest European allies, the administration has repeatedly imposed new sanctions; officially designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization; announced an “Iran Action Group” in the same week as the 65th anniversary of a U.S.-backed coup in Iran; threatened, via a tweeted-out video message from national security adviser John Bolton, that the Iranian regime wouldn’t “have many more anniversaries to enjoy”; and hinted that the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force against al-Qaeda and associated forces could be applied to war with Iran.

This month, the manufactured crisis was escalated. Bolton announced the deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region, referencing unspecified “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran that could lead to the use of “unrelenting force” by the United States. Days later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that any attacks from Iran or its proxies would be met with a “swift and decisive U.S. response.” The State Department has drawn down some of our personnel in nearby Baghdad, again citing unspecified threats from Iran.

Our allies have contradicted this view: Speaking at the Pentagon this week, a British major general stated, “There’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.”

The ideological agenda behind the administration’s rhetoric and policies is clear. Bolton, in particular, has long advocated regime change and called for war, writing an op-ed in 2015 for the New York Times titled, “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Israel and Saudi Arabia — with governments that have cultivated close ties with Trump — favor confrontation with Iran. Based on that history, it’s hard not to conclude that Trump’s administration has pursued a clear strategy: provoke Iran into doing something that gives a pretext for war. And as with Iraq, the administration has used exaggerations and unspecified intelligence reports to lay the predicate that an offensive war against Iran will be defensive. In that context, the closure of the U.S. Consulate in Basra and the Baghdad Embassy drawdown are ominous, removing targets that could feature in an Iranian response to a U.S. attack.

The remaining question involves Trump’s ultimate intentions. He campaigned pledging to end U.S. wars in the Middle East and as recently as his State of the Union address earlier this year, said, “Great nations do not fight endless wars.” But he also clearly revels in undoing the progress of President Barack Obama’s Iran deal and posing as a tough guy on the world stage. He could (and should) pivot back to diplomacy, as he’s attempted to do with North Korea, though his actions to date have only set back the starting point for serious diplomatic efforts. Instead, on his watch, our country has become isolated from our allies, and, unsurprisingly, Iran has signaled that it plans to restart elements of its nuclear program that were rolled back or halted under the JCPOA. Trump could still pull back from the brink, or he could follow the momentum of his own creation into a war that could be a deadly, costly disaster.

We don’t know what he’ll do. But we know Trump is averse to truth, addicted to lies, and that what he says about Iran should be treated with tremendous skepticism. The consequences of a war with Iran — a much larger, more determined and more sophisticated adversary than Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — should be urgently aired. And Congress, the branch of government empowered to declare war, should make clear that military action against Iran is not authorized.

It can be tempting, sometimes, to shrug off the false and misleading statements, more than 10,000 and counting, that Trump has habitually proffered while in office. But if we slide into another war based on a fundamentally dishonest premise, Trump’s lies could wind up producing painful and far-reaching consequences.