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Will the current US administration go to war with Iran?

Will the current US administration go to war with Iran?

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Legendary Member
We will not go into war with Iran, we simply will impose crippling sanctions the way sanctions should've been had it not been for Obama's weakness and delusion.

If Iran will decide to go into war with us, then it will be on Iran to answer for it.

Iran going into war with the US? I don't think they're stupid; Actually, the Iranians are known for their clever pragmatism. They cope when feeling the heat.

No need for additional sanctions if Iran is complying with the Nuclear deal. Or, it would be a unilateral ineffective sanction from the U.S. part only; at a time where EU, Russia and China enjoy business contracts in Iran.

Sanctioned have worked and Iran is complying with the Nuclear deal. Now, if the purpose is to curb Iran's influence in the region; that's another issue. It should be tackled in different ways. Maybe, part of it, it is to bring Iran closer not further from US.

War is out of question for both sides.


Legendary Member
Iran going into war with the US? I don't think they're stupid; Actually, the Iranians are known for their clever pragmatism. They cope when feeling the heat.

No need for additional sanctions if Iran is complying with the Nuclear deal. Or, it would be a unilateral ineffective sanction from the U.S. part only; at a time where EU, Russia and China enjoy business contracts in Iran.

Sanctioned have worked and Iran is complying with the Nuclear deal. Now, if the purpose is to curb Iran's influence in the region; that's another issue. It should be tackled in different ways. Maybe, part of it, it is to bring Iran closer not further from US.

War is out of question for both sides.

Iran is not complying with nuclear deal.

Abou Sandal

Legendary Member
Orange Room Supporter
Iran going into war with the US? I don't think they're stupid; Actually, the Iranians are known for their clever pragmatism. They cope when feeling the heat.

No need for additional sanctions if Iran is complying with the Nuclear deal. Or, it would be a unilateral ineffective sanction from the U.S. part only; at a time where EU, Russia and China enjoy business contracts in Iran.

Sanctioned have worked and Iran is complying with the Nuclear deal. Now, if the purpose is to curb Iran's influence in the region; that's another issue. It should be tackled in different ways. Maybe, part of it, it is to bring Iran closer not further from US.

War is out of question for both sides.

Iran is not complying with nuclear deal.
Says who? Any official source?

Abou Sandal

Legendary Member
Orange Room Supporter
Says who? Any official source?

You need to follow news more closely - one does not need missile capable of carrying nuclear warhead if one does not intend to develop nuclear warhead.
Let's not go into technical assumptions in order to draw the conclusions that suit us.

You claimed that Iran IN YOUR OPINION is breaching the nuclear treaty.

Fine, just make sure to state that this is YOUR opinion, and NOT A FACT.


Legendary Member
First , the Russians and the Chinese won't allow that. It is way more damaging for Israel and the gulf states to push the US to attack Iran. The whole region will be destroyed.

Second , I think the US has North Korea as a priority.

War with Iran will never happen. They have to accept it as a regional power. Iraq will bring the US closer to Iran. The Iranians and the Americans are fighting the same enemy in Iraq and in Syria.


Legendary Member
Let's not go into technical assumptions in order to draw the conclusions that suit us.

You claimed that Iran IN YOUR OPINION is breaching the nuclear treaty.

Fine, just make sure to state that this is YOUR opinion, and NOT A FACT.

OK, if you prefer to see it this way, just do not be surprised later.

Abou Sandal

Legendary Member
Orange Room Supporter


Abou Sandal

Legendary Member
Orange Room Supporter
OK, if you prefer to see it this way, just do not be surprised later.

Oh I know the narrative that could be used...And I never get surprised by any lie coming out of the US administration and propagated by the MSM.

However on this one, the US administration would be doing a tactical error...Better for it to use another pretext if it really needs to go to war with Iran.

The Bidenator

Legendary Member
Orange Room Supporter
You cannot cut the fingers and keep the source. As long as the source can feed the fingers. The fingers will stay.

The only solution with Iran is negotiation. This issue can not be settled by war. In this one Israel is damn wrong on the strategy of defensive wars. Just like Hezbollah is wrong on the strategy of defensive war. Defensive war as a strategy assumes that one can live in isolation, pile arms and terrify one's neighbors by the pile on the one hand. Then sustain fear within one's own state so that the people continuously support armament under the pretext of survival and security. I do not know where this is going exactly. Does Israel really think it can orchestrate the balance of powers in the region?

Iran's issue is not an American issue. It is an Israeli issue.

Israel and the United States think that overthrowing regimes by foreign powers would eventually bring peace. I do not think so. This is because the people would always see this foreigner that attacked their sovereignty as an enemy and not a liberator.

The Iranian people themselves are fed up from their governing regime, people like Trump gives the Ayatollah regime legitimacy. It empowers such a regime.

Today we live at a time when the radical right Jewish, Christian, Shi'a and Sunni are engaged in a sharp polarization of global opinion along conservative and confessional discourse of identity. We cannot separate this from Israel being a Jewish State, Iran being an Islamic Republic, and Saudi Arabia being an Islamic Kingdom. Now we have Trump speaking in the name of Protestant Christianity, and Le Pen would set the Catholics in place.

Orthodox Russia, is the only secular force at play, backed by China, and certainly Europe would join this camp after the phenomenon of Trump and the invasion of the Syrian refugees.

This picture tells that the US and Israel are at the side of the losers, since the people would support Russia and China and the value of secularism on the United States and Israel confessional mobilization into conflict.

There will not be direct conflict, but proxy wars are already happening. What do you think Syria is?

US and Israel are happily sitting on sidelines watching their enemies kill each other.

The war they need to launch is this.

Abou Sandal

Legendary Member
Orange Room Supporter
Trump’s Obsession With Generals Could Send Us Straight Into War With Iran
The president’s foreign policy picks have set the stage for an aggressive military-first administration.

By William D. Hartung

President Donald Trump introduces retired Marine Corps general James Mattis as secretary of defense during a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on December 6, 2016. (AP Photo / Gerry Broome)

In the splurge of “news,” media-bashing, and Bannonism that’s been Donald Trump’s domestic version of a shock-and-awe campaign, it’s easy to forget just how much of what the new president and his administration have done so far is simply an intensification of trends long underway. Those who already pine for the age of Obama—a president who was smart, well-read, and not a global embarrassment—need to acknowledge the ways in which, particularly in the military arena, Obama’s years helped set the stage for our current predicament.

As a start, Nobel Prize or not, President Obama sustained, and in some cases accelerated, the militarization of American foreign policy that has been steadily increasing for the past three decades. In significant parts of the world, the US military has become Washington’s first and often only tool—and the result has been disastrous wars, failing states, and spreading terror movements (as well as staggering arms sales) across the Greater Middle East and significant parts of Africa. Indicators of how militarily dependent Obama’s foreign policy became include the launching of a record number of drone strikes (10 times as many as in the Bush years), undeclared wars in at least six countries, the annual deployment of Special Operations forces to well over half of the countries on the planet, record arms sales to the Middle East, and a plethora of new Pentagon arms and training programs.

Nonetheless, from the New START treaty (which Trump has called “another bad deal,” as he does any deal the Obama administration concluded) to the Iran nuclear deal to the opening with Cuba, Obama had genuine successes of a sort that our present narcissist in chief, with his emphasis on looking “tough” or tweeting at the drop of a hat, is unlikely to achieve. In addition, Obama did try to build on the nuclear-arms-control agreements and institutions created over the previous five decades, while Trump seems intent on dismantling them.

Still, no one can doubt that our last president did not behave like a Nobel Peace Prize winner, not even in the nuclear arena where he oversaw the launching of a trillion-dollar “modernization” of the US nuclear arsenal (including the development of new weapons and new delivery systems). And one thing is already clear enough: President Trump will prove no non-interventionist. He is going to build on Obama’s militarization of foreign policy and most likely dramatically accelerate it.


It’s no secret that our new president loves generals. He’s certainly assembled the most military-heavy foreign-policy team in memory, if not in American history, including Gen. James Mattis (ret.) at the Pentagon; Gen. John Kelly (ret.) at Homeland Security; Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as national-security adviser (a replacement for Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who left that post after 24 days); and as chief of staff of the National Security Council, Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg (ret.).

In addition, CIA Director Mike Pompeo is a West Point graduate and former Cold War–era Army tank officer. Even White House adviser Steve Bannon has done military service of a sort. The military background of Trump’s ideologue-in-chief was emphasized by White House spokesman Sean Spicer in his defense of seating him on the National Security Council (NSC). Bannon’s near-brush with fame as a naval officer came when he piloted a destroyer in the Gulf of Oman trailing the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz that carried the helicopters used in the Carter administration’s botched 1980 attempt to rescue US hostages held by Iran’s revolutionary government. As it happened, Bannon’s ship was ordered back to Pearl Harbor before the raid was launched, so he learned of its failure from thousands of miles away.

When it comes to national-security posts of any sort, it’s clear that choosing a general is now Trump’s default mode. Three of the four candidates he considered for Flynn’s spot were current or retired generals. And that’s not even counting retired vice-admiral Robert Harward, who declined an offer to take Flynn’s post, in part evidently because he wasn’t prepared to battle Bannon over the staffing and running of the NSC. The only civilian considered for that role was one of the more bellicose guys in town, that ideologue, Iranophobe, former UN ambassador, and neocon extraordinaire John Bolton. The bad news: Trump was evidently impressed by Bolton, who may still get a slot alongside Bannon and his motley crew of extremists in the White House.

Another early indicator of the military drift of future administration actions is the marginalizationof Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the State Department, which appears to be completely out of the policy-making loop at the moment. It is understaffed, underutilized, slated to have its funding slashed by as much as 30 percent to 40 percent, and rarely even asked to provide Trump with basic knowledge about the countries and leaders he’s dealing with. (As a result, White House statements have, on several occasions, misspelled the names of foreign heads of state, and the president mistakenly addressed the Japanese Prime Minister as “Shinzo,” his first name, not “Abe.”) The State Department isn’t even giving regular press briefings, a practice routinely followed in prior administrations. Tillerson’s main job so far has been traveling the planet to reassure foreign leaders that the new president isn’t as crazy as he seems to be.

Although Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry were far more involved in the crafting of foreign policy than Tillerson is likely to be, the State Department has long been the junior partner to its ever-better-resourced counterpart. The Pentagon’s budget is currently 12 times largerthan the State Department’s (and that’s before the impending Trump military build-up even begins). As then–Secretary of Defense Robert Gates once noted, there are more personnel in a single aircraft-carrier task force than there are trained diplomats in the US Foreign Service.

Given the way President Trump has outfitted his administration with generals, the already militarized nature of foreign policy is only likely to become more so. As former White House budget official and defense expert Gordon Adams has pointed out, his military-dominated foreign-policy team should be cause for serious concern. Policy-by-general is sure to create a skewed view of policy-making, since everything is likely to be viewed initially through a military lens by men trained in war, not diplomacy or peace.

For the military-industrial complex, however, many of Trump’s national-security picks are the best of news. They’re “twofers,” having worked in both the militaryandthe arms industry. Defense Secretary Mattis, for instance, joined the administration from the board of General Dynamics, which gets about $10 billion in Pentagon contracts annually and makes tanks and ballistic-missile submarines, among many other weapons systems. Trump’s pick for secretary of the Air Force, former New Mexico Representative Heather Wilson, is an Air Force veteran who went to work as alobbyist for Lockheed Martin’s nuclear weapons unit when she left Congress. Deputy National Security adviser Keith Kellogg has worked for a series of defense contractors, including Cubic and CACI. (You may remember CACI as one of the private companies that supplied interrogatorsimplicated in the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal during the US occupation of Iraq.) This practice is rife with the potential for conflicts of interest, as such officials are in a position to make decisions that could benefit their former employers to the tune of billions of dollars.


While rule by generals and weapons company officials may be problematic, an even more disturbing development is the tendency of President Trump to rely on a small circle of White House advisers led by white-nationalist Steve Bannon in crafting basic decisions, often with minimal input from relevant cabinet officers and in-house experts. A case in point is Trump’s disastrous rollout of his Muslim ban. Homeland Security head John Kelly asserts that he was consulted, but Bannon disregarded his advice to exclude green card holders from the initial ban. Kelly later issued a waiverfor them.

Mattis was evidently only informed about the contents of the executive order at the last minute. Among the issues he later raised: The ban was so expansively drawn that it could exclude Iraqi translators who had worked alongside American troops in Iraq from entering the United States. Now that the courts have blocked the original plan, the Trump team is working on a new Muslim ban likely to be almost as bad as the original. And the fingerprints of Bannon and his anti-immigrant sidekick Stephen Miller will be all over it.

Numerous commentators have welcomed the appointments of Mattis and McMaster, hoping that they will be the experienced “adults in the room” who will help keep Bannon and company in check. Former Obama Pentagon official Derek Chollet, a member of Foreign Policy magazine’s “shadow cabinet,” put it this way: “Other than the dark figures in the White House cabal, Trump’s national security team is led by nonideological, level-headed policy technocrats from the military or industry.” President (and also General) Dwight D. Eisenhower, who introduced the term “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address to the nation, is probably rolling over in his grave at the thought that a government packed with ex-military men and former arms industry officials is in many quarters considered the best anyone could hope for under the Trump regime.

Let’s think for a moment about what such a “best case” scenario might look like. Imagine that, in the battle for Trump’s brain, Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly wrest control of it from Bannon and his minions when it comes to foreign-policy decision-making. The assumption here is that the generals have a far saner perspective than an extreme ideologue (and Islamophobe), among other things because they’ve seen war up close and personal and so presumably better understand what’s at stake. But we shouldn’t forget that Mattis and McMaster were at the center of one of the most disastrous and unsuccessful wars in American history, the invasion, occupation, and insurgency in Iraq—and it appears that they may not have learned what would seem to be the logical lessons from that failure.

In fact, as late as 2011, overseeing Washington’s wars in the Greater Middle East as the head of Central Command (CENTCOM), Mattis actually proposed a radical escalation, an expansion of the conflict via a direct strike inside Iran. The Obama administration would, in fact, remove him as CENTCOM commander five months early in part because the president disapproved of his proposalto launch missile strikes to take out either an Iranian power plant or an oil refinery in retaliation for the killings of US soldiers by Iranian-backed militias. In August 2010, shortly after taking control of Central Command, Mattis was asked by President Obamawhat he thought were the top three threats in his area of responsibility, which stretched from Egypt to the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan and included the active war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. His classic (and chilling) response, according to a “senior U.S. official” who witnessed it: “Number one: Iran. Number two: Iran. Number three: Iran.” He will now have a major hand in shaping Washington’s Iran policy.

As for McMaster, a warrior-strategist widely respected in military circles, his biggest potential flaw is that he may be overconfident about the value of military force in addressing Middle Eastern conflicts. Although his 1997 book Dereliction of Duty opens with a searing indictment of the costs and consequences of the failed US intervention in Vietnam, he may draw a different set of lessons from his experiences in the Middle East and Iraq in particular. McMaster cut his teeth in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, a quick and devastating defeat of Saddam Hussein’s overmatched military, a force notably short on morale and fighting spirit. Along with General David Petraeus, McMaster was also a key player in crafting the much-overrated 2007 “surge” in Iraq, a short-term tactical victory that did nothing to address the underlying political and sectarian tensions still driving the conflict there. Military analyst Andrew Bacevich has aptly described it as “the surge to nowhere.”

Boosters of the surge in Iraq frequently refer to it as if it were partial redemption for the disastrous decision to invade in the first place. At a staggering cost in money and Iraqi and American lives, that invasion and occupation opened the way for a sectarian conflict that would lead to the rise of ISIS. It cannot be redeemed. And the suggestion that things would have turned out better if only President Obama had kept significant numbers of US troops there longer—overriding both the willof the Iraqi parliament and a status of forces agreement negotiated with Iraq’s leaders by the Bush administration—is a pipe dream.

Logically, the American experience in Iraq should make both Mattis and McMaster wary of once again using military force in the region. Both of them, however, seem to be “go big or go home” thinkers who are likely to push for surge-like actions in the war against ISIS and possibly in the Afghan war as well.

The true test of whether there will be any “adults” in the room may come if Trump and Bannon push for military action against Iran, an option to which Mattis has been open—as a long history of statements and proposals urging exactly that course of action indicates. Such a war would, of course, be better sold to Congress, the public, and the media by the generals.

Ultimately, another Middle Eastern war planned and initiated by generals is unlikely to be any more successful than one launched by the ideologues. As Ali Vaez, an Iran expert at the International Crisis Group, noted after then–National Security Adviser Flynn declared that the administration was putting Iran “on notice”: “In an attempt to look strong, the administration could stumble into a war that would make the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts look like a walk in the park.”

Trump’s generals should know better, but there’s no reason to believe that they will, especially given Mattis’s history of hawkish proposals and statements about “the Iranian threat.” Even if he and McMaster do prove to be the adults in the room, as we all know, adults, too, can make disastrous miscalculations. So we may want to hold off on the sighs of relief that greeted both of their appointments. Washington could go to war in Iran (and surge in both Iraq and Afghanistan), regardless of who’s in charge.

Trump’s Obsession With Generals Could Send Us Straight Into War With Iran | The Nation

Abou Sandal

Legendary Member
Orange Room Supporter
Iran successfully test-fires Hormuz-2 ballistic missile
Thu Mar 9, 2017 4:6PM

A top Iranian commander says the Islamic Republic has successfully test-fired Hormuz-2 ballistic missile.

Iran "fired Hormuz-2 this week and the missile successfully destroyed a target at a distance of 250 kilometers,” commander of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said Thursday.

Hormuz-2 is a naval strike ballistic missile that can hit mobile targets at sea with high precision. It has a range of almost 300 kilometers.

The missile is very similar to anti-ship Khalij-e-Fars (Persian Gulf) ballistic missile in appearance.

On Monday, Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan warned that Iran’s defensive military power would catch the enemies off guard in the event of an aggression against the Islamic Republic.

The warning came one day after Iran successfully tested the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system, which the Islamic Republic has purchased from Russia.

Following the test, Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, the commander of Iran’s Khatam al-Anbiya Air Defense Base, said the country was designing and manufacturing an indigenous version of the S-300 system, called Bavar-373.

Iran maintains that its military power poses no threat to other countries and that its military doctrine is based on deterrence only.

PressTV-Iran successfully test-fires Hormuz-2 ballistic missile

Mighty Goat

Legendary Member
Orange Room Supporter
Does this mean the Trump administration would continue the policy of proxy wars or would it negotiate with Iran to stabilize the region?

CENTCOM commander calls Iran greatest threat to the region
By: Shawn Snow, March 13, 2017 (Photo Credit: Behrouz Mehri/AFP via Getty Images)
Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, called out Iran as one of the greatest threats to the region during a recent appearance on Capitol Hill.

“We are dealing ... with the range of malign activities perpetrated by Iran and its proxies operating in the region,” Votel told members of the Senate Armed Services committee March 9 in his opening remarks. “It is my view that Iran poses the greatest long-term threat to stability for this part of the world.”

The commander’s remarks echo the sentiments of other high ranking officials within the Trump administration, most notably Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

“The Iranian regime, in my mind, is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East,” Mattis said during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., almost a year ago.

Iran and its proxy agents like Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia terror organization trained and funded by Iran, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, have been operating in regions of weak governance throughout the Middle East, occupying a power vacuum in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.

Last fall, Houthi rebels fired sophisticated Iranian supplied anti-ship missiles at a U.S. destroyer of the coast of Yemen, provoking a U.S. retaliatory cruise missile strike at radar installations on the Yemeni coast controlled by the Iranian-backed rebel group, according to a report in the New York Times.

Navy Times
U.S. ship targeted in 3rd cruise missile attack off Yemen

The recent provocations highlight Iran’s bellicose attitudes towards Washington and the new Trump administration.

Early this March, Iranian fast boats harassed the USNS Invincible, a U.S. surveillance ship operating in the Persian Gulf, on two separate occasions.

Navy Times
Iranian fast boats move close to U.S. ship in Strait of Hormuz

“I believe Iran seeks to be the regional hegemon, to be the most influential country in the region,” Votel said.

The incident with the Invincible in the Gulf came on the heels of reports that Iran had violated a U.N. Security Council resolution by testing medium-range ballistic missiles, including a test firing of its newly acquired, Russian supplied S-300 air defense system.

“No other nation operates the way they do in the Arabian Gulf; nobody does that in the Arabian Gulf,” Votel said, responding to questions from Nebraska Sen. Debra Fischer regarding Iran’s maritime behavior. “They need to be held accountable for that, and they need to be exposed for those types of unprofessional unsafe and abnormal activities.”
CENTCOM commander calls Iran greatest threat to the region

Mighty Goat

Legendary Member
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MARCH 12, 2017 20:18

Netanyahu’s prioritization of the Iranian threat as the geopolitical map shifts is a living example of the radical change in Jews’ standing in the world.

Iranian clerics watch the firing of a Shahab-3 missile during a war game in a desert near the city of Qom. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Russian President Vladimir Putin was right when he respectfully told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop living in the past.

Putin’s comments were made in response to an attempt by Netanyahu, during a one-day visit in Moscow, to tie present-day tensions between Tehran and Israel to the events of Purim.

The story told in the Megila took place “in the fifth century BC,” noted Putin. “We now live in a different world. Let us talk about that now.”

Indeed, the world is a very different place today. Unlike in the time of Mordechai and Esther, when Jews lacked political sovereignty and military might, and they had to rely on the largesse of the nations of the world and on quixotic leaders such as Ahasuerus.

But while the prime minister might have failed to convince Putin of the relevance of ancient Persian history to contemporary events, he was right to prioritize the Iranian threat to Israel.

That is important, as the international community – and in particular the US, Russia, Turkey and Arab states – work toward an arrangement for Syria that will put an end to the civil war there.

Israel and Russia have cooperated in the past to advance their respective interests. The sharing of intelligence and open communication between the two countries have prevented incidents like Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane on its border with Syria in November 2015.

According to foreign media reports, Russian warplanes have operated over the Golan Heights against forces opposing the Assad regime, and Israel has carried out air strikes within Syria to prevent Iran and Hezbollah from smuggling arms to Lebanon.

Continued cooperation with Moscow is important as a means of curtailing Tehran’s influence in Syria.

That was Netanyahu’s message to Putin during their meeting in Moscow on Thursday. The concern in Jerusalem is that the Russian-backed Assad regime’s victory over ISIS-affiliated forces will pave the way for Iran, Assad’s other ally, to fill the vacuum created by ISIS’s departure to gain a lasting foothold in Syria. An Iranian front on Israel’s northern border – and not just via its Hezbollah proxy – would be a strategic nightmare for the Jewish state.

And there is a good chance Netanyahu found Putin to be attentive to Israel’s concerns. While it has coordinated extensively with Iran as part of the campaign to protect its interests in Syria, Russia likely does not relish seeing Iran build up military forces and infrastructure and even a naval base in Syria. Russian cooperation with Iran during the civil war does not preclude cooperation with Israel in preventing Tehran from remaining a dominant force in Syria.

The prime minister’s push to shift international focus to Iran is also important now as the Trump administration formulates its policy for the region. Last Monday, Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump spoke by phone “at length” about the “dangers emanating from Iran and Iranian aggression in the region and the need to work together to deal with these threats,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

On the same day, Netanyahu said that 80% of Israel’s “fundamental security problems” stem from Iran, speaking during a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, which the Islamic Republic orchestrated.

As noted by The Jerusalem Post’s diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon, the prime minister’s renewed efforts to put the Iranian threat on top of the US’s agenda came after Trump’s inauguration, which ushered in an administration with an instinctively more hard-line approach to Iran than that of the Obama administration.

Netanyahu believes that there is a unique opportunity now to enlist US support, and to a lesser degree British and Australian support, for ensuring that Iranian violations of the nuclear deal are punished. He also hopes to curtail Iran’s conventional capabilities, which are not addressed in the nuclear deal.

Iranian mullahs’ threats to “wipe Israel off the map” might be reminiscent of the genocidal machinations of the historical Haman. But much has changed in two millennia.

Today Jewish sovereignty empowers the Jews to take control of their fate. Jews are no longer dependent on the grace of host countries like ancient Persia for their well-being.

They can bring to bear international diplomacy and the leveraging of military might. Netanyahu’s prioritization of the Iranian threat as the geopolitical map shifts is a living example of the radical change in Jews’ standing in the world.[/article]

Abou Sandal

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The Dangerous Reality of an Iran War
A new war in the Persian Gulf could start accidentally—and would take a toll on U.S. forces.

The USS McCampbell and aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Persian Gulf. (Wikimedia Commons)

BEIRUT—After weeks of saber-rattling over Iran as the “number one terrorist state” in the world, the Trump administration appears to have quietly dialed down the rhetoric a notch.

Here in the Middle East, however, where every peep and creak out of Washington is scrutinized to death, interested parties haven’t stopped speculating about a U.S. confrontation with Iran. Fifty days into his term, Trump’s foreign-policy course remains an enigma. He swears “all options” remain on the table with Iran—but do they?

There are already some early actions that hint at Trump’s policy directions—and limitations—in the Middle East. In three key military theaters where U.S. forces are currently engaged, some important corners have been turned:

  • In northern Syria, America’s Kurdish allies just voluntarily relinquished territory to the Syrian army and Russian forces in order to avoid a direct confrontation with another U.S. ally and NATO member, Turkey. Washington has rejected a Turkish role in the liberation of Raqqa, knowing that Ankara will not tolerate the ISIS capital falling into Kurdish hands either. It’s becoming increasingly likely that the winning formula will see the city and its environs ceded to an authority friendly to the Syrian government, under a Russian umbrella.
  • In northern Iraq, the fight to regain Mosul has accelerated, with Iraqi forces liberating half of western Mosul in just twenty days. Under command of the central Baghdad government, these fighters consist heavily of Shia militias, many of whom have received training and equipment from Iranian forces.
  • In Yemen, where alarming western headlines warn of U.S. military blunders and overkill, the media is missing a bigger story. The U.S. bombing blitz is actually—not hypothetically, as once was the case—hitting Al Qaeda terrorists, working alongside UAE forces to target Islamist militias who everybody knows are de facto Saudi allies on the ground. Just last week, the UAE reportedly upped the ante by demanding the Saudis abandon their puppet president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi—ostensibly the “legitimate” Yemeni authority the western-backed Saudi coalition was fighting to reinstate.
In a few short weeks, Trump has taken an axe to Obama-style dawdling in Mideast hotspots—whether by taking direct action or by no longer impeding the actions of others.

What’s notable is that all of these developments, at face value, serve Iran’s interests in the region and undermine those of U.S. allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

But don’t be fooled. This is merely Trump’s opening salvo. He has larger, unknown ambitions, and these recent moves do not necessarily remove Iran from his sights.

The Islamic Republic, its allies, and its detractors will remain part of Trump’s larger geopolitical game. He can use them to engage or punish more vital targets like Russia and China, two major powers that have carved out strategic relationships with Tehran. Iran will also be a useful tool to provoke or cajole traditional U.S. allies like Israel, Turkey, and various Arab monarchies into taking positions favored by Trump.

Already, several threatening U.S. stances have been employed—their ultimate aims unknown—with Iran at their center. There are whispers of a Saudi-led “Arab NATO” that could partner with Israel to target Iran. And calls for Damascus and Moscow to eject Iran from Syria are being heard from various western and western-allied Mideast capitals.

The Waterways: An “Accidental” Confrontation

Despite the Iran-as-bogeyman narrative, it is unlikely that Trump will launch any direct military attacks against Iran. This is a president who has voiced contempt for the $6 trillion wasted on Mideast wars and interventions. More confrontation in the region will be costly, and is likely to draw him into clashes with major powers with which he’d prefer to do business.

Although he insists “all options” remain on the table with Iran, Trump’s choices are actually fairly limited. Sanctions never worked and the Iran nuclear deal has ensured that other global players needn’t participate in future ones. Under pressure from allies, he has backtracked on his threats to scuttle the nuclear agreement, which he now seems to understand would needlessly isolate the U.S., not Iran. Subversive activities—such as color revolution plots, propaganda, or cyberwarfare—have proven futile given Iran’s historic vigilance on and within its borders. Conventional war would require a substantial Iranian provocation and isn’t likely to be sanctioned by the UN Security Council.

But there is one theater in which a U.S.-Iran confrontation could easily spark: the various waterways around the Islamic Republic and its neighborhood.

Both countries have plenty of naval and shipping vessels in close daily proximity to each other. Tensions are high, rhetoric remains inflamed, and Iran’s foes in the Persian Gulf and Washington are in a great position to trigger an event, then fan its flames.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, a committed Iran hawk, almost did so several weeks ago when he considered letting U.S. forces board an Iranian ship in Arabian Sea international waters, according to a passing mention of the incident in the New York Times. But the Intercept understood the import of the close encounter and led with the headline: “Trump’s ‘moderate’ defense secretary has already brought us to the brink of war.”

War is indeed a distinct possibility if the U.S. makes an aggressive move. Iran is no banana republic. It has endured an eight-year war with Iraq, which was encouraged, financed, and armed by great powers and regional states alike. The Islamic Republic performed a remarkable claw-back from the assault and went on to amass conventional and asymmetrical capabilities to deter future attacks.

So when Trump saw fit to slap sanctions on Iran after a January 29 ballistic missile test, Iranians made sure to fire off more, just a day after sanctions were announced. And the Iranian responses keep coming, a reminder that any military confrontation with Iran will be highly unpredictable. The Islamic Republic makes sure to remind us of its overt and hidden capabilities through regular public missile tests, advanced air defense demonstrations and war game exercises, such as the just-concluded Velayat 95 drills in the Strait of Hormuz, Sea of Oman, and Indian Ocean.

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran have increased, so have the number of gulfs, straits, seas and oceans in which the two nations’ navies and commercial vessels now operate. The Pentagon insists its naval presence in so many far-flung west Asian waterways is vital to thwart terrorism and piracy. But this is Iran’s backyard, and the Islamic Republic needs little justification to police regional waterways against these very same kinds of threats—and to protect its own territorial and maritime borders.

During a November visit to Tehran, I asked Dr. Sadollah Zarei, director of the think tank the Andisheh Sazan Noor Institute and a MENA expert close to the IRGC, about this. “U.S. actions give us a behavior precedent in our naval reach,” he said. The U.S. naval presence in Iran’s neighboring waters “gives us even more right to be active in the Persian Gulf, in the Gulf of Aden, and other waters.” As a result, Zarei explained, “we are now in the Gulf of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.”

Is Zarei worried about an adversary state brandishing its vast military firepower within spitting distance? He cracks a smile and explains calmly: “When the U.S. is there, Iran’s focus and discipline is better. They’re useful that way. It brings us together, creates support for our security forces, our army, our borders.”

On the other side of the fence, Washington continues to feed this Iranian discipline and cohesion by elevating recent “incidents” in the waterways—mostly unrelated to Iran—into national media hysterics about Iran.

Investigative reporter Gareth Porter has worked to untangle fact from fiction over U.S. accusations that Iran is shipping arms to Yemen’s Houthi rebels through some of these waterways. In short, Porter has shown that most of the Pentagon’s claims appear to be demonstrably false. And because of Wikileaks’ 2010 State Department cables cache, we now know that—in private at least—U.S. officials are also skeptical of their own public charges.

The Unpredictability of a Waterways War

In January 2016, two U.S. navy command boats entered Iranian territorial waters—it’s unclear if knowingly or unwittingly—and were apprehended by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Americans watched as Iranian television broadcasted the capture of 10 U.S. navy sailors on bended knees, hands behind their heads. The Islamic Republic followed maritime regulations and international law in their actions, and released the officers shortly thereafter. But the incident brought home, in technicolor, the unpredictability of waterways operations against this wily U.S. adversary.

For decades, the Pentagon has run war games against Iran to test its assumptions and hone its responses. But an acquaintance who has participated in such CENTCOM exercises told me last year that “the U.S. military rarely beats Iran in asymmetrical war games unless it cheats or rigs it.”

Shocked, I was prompted to dig deeper and discovered the “Millennium Challenge,” a 2002 U.S. armed forces war game in the Persian Gulf between the U.S. (blue team) and an unnamed Mideast adversary (red team), believed to be Iran.

According to retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper, who led the Red’s asymmetrical response—and resigned because rules were changed mid-play to constrict his team’s maneuvers—Reds bypassed Blue’s sophisticated electronic surveillance system using motorcycle messengers sent to the frontline and World War II-style signaling methods, and then destroyed 16 U.S. warships and a significant chunk of its naval fleet—all on the second day of the three-week exercise.

In an article entitled “War Games Rigged?” published on the Navy, Marine and Army Times websites (which appears to have been removed and is reposted here), Van Riper slammed the $250 million war game: “It was in actuality an exercise that was almost entirely scripted to ensure a Blue ‘win.’”

Van Riper explains: “We were directed… to move air defenses so that the army and marine units could successfully land. We were simply directed to turn [air defense systems] off or move them… So it was scripted to be whatever the control group wanted it to be.”

Rather than learning from the exercise, the U.S. military seemed more interested in confirming existing doctrine and maintaining the facade of invincibility. These are dangerous attitudes that, in real-life combat scenarios, can lead commanders to misjudge capabilities and make foolhardy advances. And Iran knows this well.

The Cost of Primacy

Why are U.S. armed forces in the Persian Gulf anyway? Princeton University’s Roger Stern calculates that between 1976 and 2010, Washington has spent an eye-popping $8 trillion protecting the oil flow in the Persian Gulf. As of 2010, the U.S. only received 10 percent of those oil shipments. The largest recipients were Japan (20 percent), followed by China, India, and South Korea.

Trump should take note: if access to oil was the real goal of U.S. presence in the Gulf, Washington could have achieved it at a fraction of the cost by building pipelines to bypass that waterway.

Instead, mission creep has overtaken U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf, establishing a policy trajectory few American presidents have dared to challenge. Of the eight littoral states of the Persian Gulf, Iran has the longest coast on the waterway, almost double the length of its other seven neighbors combined.

As Washington hawks continue to insist that Iran cannot be allowed to challenge U.S. hegemony in the Persian Gulf, they should first ponder the potential consequences of another avoidable war—before a catastrophe humbles them into silence.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Mideast geopolitics, based in Beirut.
The Dangerous Reality of an Iran War | The American Conservative

Abou Sandal

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Published on
Thursday, April 20, 2017

Common Dreams

Trump Administration Putting US Back on Path to War With Iran, Warn Experts
The United States and Iran may soon be 'sliding dangerously back to a path toward war,' says one expert

Nika Knight, staff writer

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made incendiary statements against Iran during a Washington, D.C., press conference Wednesday. (Photo: Getty)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ratcheted up tensions with Iran on Wednesday, provoking strong warnings from foreign experts who say that the Trump administration may be putting the U.S. on the path toward war with Iran.

In a press conference in Washington, D.C., Tillerson accused Tehran of "alarming and ongoing provocations" and comparing the country to North Korea before calling the landmark 2015 nuclear deal a failure.

"This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face from North Korea. The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran," Tillerson said during a Thursday press conference.

"There is little room to interpret this statement as anything less than a proclamation of the Trump administration's intent to scrap the nuclear deal and reset the United States on a path to war."
—National Iranian American Council

Foreign policy experts were dismayed by the Trump administration's ongoing aggression toward Iran. They also pointed out that Tillerson's bombastic statements contradicted his own report to House Speaker Paul Ryan a day earlier, in which Tillerson confirmed that Iran was abiding by the terms of the deal.

"Today Secretary Tillerson and the Trump administration placed the security of the American people and the world at grave risk," said the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) in response.

"Public statements lambasting the nuclear deal with Iran as a 'failed approach' and comparing the country with North Korea are reckless and blatantly false," the group added. "It is nothing less than unnerving for the Secretary of State to ignore the advice of nearly all security experts, foreign and domestic, on the efficacy of the nuclear deal."

"The administration has now said it will conduct a 90-day review of whether lifting sanctions—as required by the nuclear deal—will be in line with American national security interests," wrote NIAC president Trita Parsi in an op-ed Thursday for the New York Times. "But that timeline is not long enough to save the deal and stop the United States and Iran from sliding dangerously back to a path toward war."

Added Ellie Geranmayeh of the European Council on Foreign Relations, writing for Foreign Affairs: "[Trump] should remember that a more aggressive approach would carry serious risks—not least placing Tehran and Washington on a path toward confrontation that would further inflame the conflicts of one of the world’s most volatile regions."

Parsi further observed:

If the United States reneges on its obligations under the deal, Iran is likely to follow suit and start expanding its nuclear activities—regardless of who wins the presidential elections. As Iran gets closer to possessing a nuclear weapon, the United States will once again inch closer to war. That was precisely the situation in 2012 and 2013: Faced with the realization that the United States' sanctions policy was more likely to lead to war than to Iran's capitulation, President Barack Obama decided to double down on finding a diplomatic solution through secret talks held in Oman. This time around, the American president won't have a diplomatic exit ramp.

"Such incendiary rhetoric serves no purpose other than to undermine a nuclear deal that is working, and that by Tillerson's own admission Iran is in compliance with," NIAC argued. "Secretary Tillerson followed these remarks by saying that the Trump administration will not 'pass the buck' of a nuclear Iran to the next administration. There is little room to interpret this statement as anything less than a proclamation of the Trump administration's intent to scrap the nuclear deal and reset the United States on a path to war."

The response from Iran to Tillerson's harsh statements has been one of frustration. "Worn-out U.S. accusations can't mask its admission of Iran's compliance w/ JCPOA [the nuclear deal], obligating U.S. to change course & fulfill its own commitments," tweeted Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, according to the Guardian.

"During the [nuclear deal] negotiations," recalled Parsi in the Times, "Zarif told me numerous times that he was frustrated that Washington didn’t recognize that the nuclear deal could be a base rather than the ceiling for American-Iranian relations. It could create the possibility of America losing an enemy in the Middle East. When was the last time that happened?"