On Iran, Trump is a weapon of mass destruction
It is unimaginable to me that the world will escape a Trump presidency without stumbling into at least one catastrophic war, possibly two.
Of course, the nuclear impasse over North Korea has its horrific dangers, but there is another crucial target — Iran — that is increasingly in the crosshairs of America’s wild-eyed leadership.
We should keep our eye on it. Another war in the Middle East — particularly against Iran — is not only unwinnable, whatever “winning” in this type of a war actually means, but in ways the Trump crowd could never understand, it would have an explosive, domino effect on the Middle East and beyond.
In spite of this, it is happening again. In the same fabricated way that led to the disastrous 2003 American invasion of Iraq, fuelled by lies and ideology, the table is quietly being cleared by the Trump administration to mount an eventual military strike against Iran.
The U.S. government, prodded by Saudi Arabia and Israel, is beginning to build its “case” against Iran. It claims, falsely, that Iran’s support of the Al Qaeda terrorist group is a threat to U.S. national security. But Iran’s ties to Al Qaeda are actually limited at best.
In contrast, Saudi Arabian interests have been far more intertwined with Al Qaeda over the years. After all, let’s remember that 15 of the 19 9/11 attackers in 2001 were Saudi citizens.
Iran’s regime is certainly aggressive in defending its survival in the region but in no way is this a direct threat to American interests. Surrounding Iran are thousands of U.S. troops and several military bases at the ready. Iran is a nuisance to the U.S. — but little more.
However, in the same way the Republican administration of President George W. Bush became fixated on Iraq in the aftermath of 9/11, so is the Trump team obsessed with Iran.
The fabled “four-star generals” who surround Donald Trump in his cabinet and the White House all honed their battlefield skills in military operations against Iran-backed groups. They share a loathing of Iran. Defense Secretary James Mattis, once asked about the three most serious threats to U.S. security, replied: “Iran, Iran, Iran.”
History is truly repeating itself. But there is one important difference that makes this time around more unpredictable and dangerous.
His name is Donald Trump.
In a presidency that keeps rewriting the rule book, this past week will deserve a chapter of its own. Trump veered from one controversy to another, barely catching his breath.
Trump was reported to have told friends that the infamous Access Hollywood video, in which he boasts about sexually assaulting women, may not have been authentic — even though he has already admitted it was. He also has told friends he still believes that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
On Wednesday, he used his Twitter feed to pass on to his 43 million followers three unverified anti-Muslim videos from a British neo-Nazi hate group. Two days earlier, he used a derogatory nickname, during a ceremony honouring Navajo war heroes.
These events prompted both The New York Times and The Washington Post to publish competing accounts about whether the U.S. president is suffering from some sort of break with reality.
Even though the Russian investigation still hangs over him, a growing fear is that, for whatever reason, Trump is feeling emboldened. The proposed Republican tax plan, which overwhelmingly favours the rich, is expected to pass. And in Alabama, Roy Moore, the accused pedophile who is running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican, is now ahead in the polls.
There are also several signs that he will soon replace his embattled secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, with CIA chief Mike Pompeo. Tillerson, for all of his flaws, has acted as a restraint to Trump in several key issues, including Iran.
Pompeo, in contrast, is a hawk on Iran — arguing that it is an evil force in the world. Secretary of State Pompeo, when it happens, would certainly join Trump’s generals in wanting to take on Iran.
But as in 2002-’03, the first step is to get your propaganda in line. The Bush crowd tried that with Iraq, and pulled it off. The American media at the time largely fell for it.
In this replay of history, the demonization of Iran has only begun.
Tony Burman is former head of Al Jazeera English and CBC News. Reach him @TonyBurman or at .