A few months ago, I released my 5-part podcast series entitled “The History of Iran and the Next War.” This in-depth series explains the background of the modern nation of Iran along with the history of America’s tense relationship with the Islamic Republic since 1979. If you want to better understand what is happening right now between the US and Iran you need to download this podcast series. (The first episode is still available wherever you download your favorite podcasts. The rest of the series is available exclusively to my Patreon subscribers here.)
The culmination of the podcast series brought us to the conclusion that America and Iran are heading toward war with one another. This was an inevitable fact when I originally published the podcast series in June of 2018.
The inevitability of this war is not based upon an insurmountable enmity between Iran and the US. The two nations were allies for years and even today share many key geopolitical and strategic interests. The inevitability of war between the US and Iran is based upon the fact that all alternatives to war between the two nations are being removed. As disagreements and conflict increase between the US and Iran, there is quickly becoming no way forward except war!
This cold reality has become all the more threatening in recent weeks as President Trump and his advisors have made a series of consistent moves which increasingly isolate the US and Iran on a path to war.
This week marked the 1 year anniversary of President Trump withdrawing the US from the agreements with Iran that his predecessor secured. These agreements have been overplayed in the media regarding their impact and significance in and of themselves. President Trump was correct in asserting it was not a good deal. The one thing they did provide however was a diplomatic route for dealing with Iran, something that had been missing since the Iranian revolution 40 years ago. In Trump’s estimation, by withdrawing from the agreements the US could put greater pressure on Iran, then return to the bargaining table and secure an agreement more favorable to the US.
In line with this strategy, in the last month the US has increased pressure on Iran. Many of these moves and policy decisions are being pushed by National Security Advisor, John Bolton. Bolton was one of the architects of the US-Iraq War. He continues in his refusal to accept this was a geopolitical blunder. He is an aggressive war hawk when it comes to Iran. Many fear he is pushing America into another Middle East war with Iran. Events of the last month suggest this is exactly what is taking place.
Recent Timeline of the Drumbeat to US War with Iran
In April the Trump administration declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization. This unprecedented step put Iran’s politics, military, and economy in the crosshairs of US war policy.
Iran responded in kind in the last week declaring all United States military in the region a foreign terrorist organization. Various representatives of the US administration have explained no actor in the Middle East is more responsible for the region’s instability and chaos as Iran, thereby justification this foreign terrorist organization classification. This dubious statement conveniently ignores the instability brought to the region by way of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Later in the month of April Trump doubled down on sanctions against Iran. Waivers which had previously been extended to various importers of Iranian oil were brought to an end. This means countries around the world who buy Iranian oil will be punished by the US.
Normally sanctions have little effect on changing real-world situations except for hurting the weakest in the targeted nation’s society. (See Cuba, Sudan, and Venezuela as examples of this.) The sanctions on Iran have been fast and thorough, however. It was reported last week that inflation in Iran has crossed the 50% mark. These economic strains are not solely related to US sanctions, but it cannot be argued that they are ineffective.
But the effects of the sanctions are not working out as planned.
As I detailed in part five of my podcast series on US-Iranian tensions and history, when the US takes these hard lines against Iran it is counterproductive. Historically we have seen the hardliners ban together and the nation rally around them in Iran as they have a convenient target to blame the nation’s woes on – i.e the Great Satan. Meanwhile, moderates who are all too willing to negotiate with the US are isolated and removed from the political processes – their views becoming wildly unpopular throughout the nation.
Then this past weekend John Bolton announced the US was deploying an aircraft carrier and bomber forces to the Middle East based upon reports of Iran preparing to attack US forces in the region.
In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force. The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces. National Security Advisor John Bolton
Also over the weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit to Iraq, supposedly to shore up US alliances there in the event of war with Iran.
Later reports revealed that the intelligence suggesting Iran was about to attack US troops in the Middle East came from Israel – not exactly an objective actor in the region when it comes to Iran, although their intelligence is frequently credible. Beyond that, the so-called deployment announced by John Bolton had been planned for more than a month. The manner in which Bolton made his announcement of a Middle East deployment has been proven at best highly misleading and at worst deliberately provocative toward war with Iran.
Among the great ironies in this unfolding drama is that President Trump’s personal views regarding American foreign policy are at great odds with the views of his National Security Advisor John Bolton. Trump is not an interventionist. He has pushed to extract the US from foreign entanglements, frequently at the expense of US and global interests. Bolton’s push in the last month suggest he may be working to pressure Iran into firing the first shots so that the President has no choice but to go to war with Iran.
Keep an eye on this unfolding story in the coming weeks and days. Download the podcast series to learn the background and also check out my guide to Understanding Modern Iran which can be read for free here.