Trump has taken over the Persian Gulf, and by that I don’t mean militarily, but in Trump’s attack method of choice, dominating the media. His 2019 hit list gets longer and longer; his Mexican border wall, then Venezuela, where that issue was broadened to include Cuba and Nicaragua as “threats” to the US, a laughable concept, if it were not so pitiful.
The cherry on top was the leaked Pompeo chat with US Jewish leaders, where he admitted that the US overestimated the Venezuelan opposition’s loyalty to their cause, telling them that most were focused on their own financial and political advancement. One small group has been charged by Colombia for embezzling millions of dollars from US funds designated to support Venezuelan refugees there.
Then we had Trump’s pullout notice from Syria that quickly began evaporating before our eyes week after week. Our Syrian sources see a buildup of US coalition power that looks like another offensive attempt to Balkanize Syria, politically, economically, and yes militarily.
Next came the Palestinian “Deal of the Century”, which is fizzling out as I type. The crazies in Washington actually felt that the Palestinians would give up their land for an IOU based on the good credit of the US and Mideast States. Does the White House think we have all forgotten who broke the JCPOA?
That brings me to the current subject matter of today’s title, US credibility, or its lack thereof, including the sudden and embarrassing resignation of Acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan, with claims of a son cracking his mother’s head with a bat, and a marital dispute that has become the subject of an FBI investigation.
Enter Mark Esper as Shannan’s replacement
The new Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper made a big splash in the news with some statements during his flight to the NATO defense ministerial meeting in Brussels last week.
The bomb that he dropped on the press was, “What we’re trying to do, what we want to do is to close the door to conflict and open the door to diplomacy.”…
“This is not Iran versus the United States. This is the Iran certainly versus the region, and arguably the broader global environment. So we need to all work together and get on a diplomatic path and reach a new better agreement than what we had before.”
On its face, these statements tend to indicate a shift in the US approach. Let us take a closer look at the odds of that being true or not.
Esper’s comments are not really new, as Trump wants to negotiate with Iran but only by holding the US military as a gun to its head. Anyone who knows anything about contemporary Iran knows that is not a path to peace.
Iran has already stated figuratively, “How can you negotiate a new deal with someone who has broken the last one? What assurances could one have that the new deal would not also be broken?”
Enter the new US Muslim coalition
And then while we have the US singing this sweet peace song, it is openly trying to form a Muslim coalition to rein in Iran from its “malign activities”. Some of these countries have overthrown a democratically elected government, like Egypt, and several are involved in the destruction of poor Yemen.
The new coalition is nothing more than the old Sunni coalition that has been against the Shia coalition for a long time. They are active in supporting opposite sides in the Libyan civil war; and they spent $160 billion trying to carve up Syria using state-run proxy terror. Most of the world would describe this as a malign activity.
Was the US drone shoot down bait for a NATO Naval deployment?
Esper’s diplomatic path comments came soon after the recent drone shoot down fiasco, where the US first denied it was shot down, then claimed it was shot down over international waters, and then failed to provide any proof that it was. Iran on the other hand has provided the UN with its tracking data. So I would ask you, which party is acting diplomatically in this incident, the US or Iran?
And to pour salt in the wound, we have this bizarre story of Trump quickly ordering a counterstrike against Iranian air defenses, and then deciding to cancel in at the last minute.
Trump, as always, made a big news splash with his ramblings about canceling an air strike on Iran’s air defenses. He then changed tone again, stating Iran’s firing was a mistake, maybe by some overzealous Republican Guard commander exceeding his authority. Could someone have told him that the drone was inside Iranian territory and was warned off several times as Iran stated, before being fired upon?
Dear Mr. President, I can assure you that no one in the Iranian Republican Guard is going to shoot down an America drone challenging Iranian air space by mistake. It would definitely be on purpose and after following all the warning protocols. The whole event, including the tanker bombings before it, I believe is all classic strategic psyops, theatrics for media manipulation to support deploying more Western military forces to the Persian Gulf region.
What does it take to be a potential adversary?
On his flight to Brussels Mr. Esper had also described Russia as a “strategic competitor” and “potential adversary”. Russia is certainly a military equipment competitor and now an energy export competitor, but only because the US has become an exporter. Russia has always been deemed a threat whenever that suited US policy at the time.
But where the rubber really meets the road is US military forward deployment versus Russia’s. Who is the biggest threat with its foreign military-base footprint? I would suggest that Russia would have to have at least half the number of overseas bases that the US has, which would be about 375, but it has only a handful.
You cannot be a strategic threat without a huge overseas basing network and all the logistics and transportation assets ready to move large forces quickly, and in a sustained manner. Only the US has this capacity. We all know who the threat is.
The NATO minister’s conference in Brussels is over, and Esper called for a NATO 30-ship deployment to the Persian Gulf to defend it from, guess who?…Iran. Can you believe this? It went over like a lead balloon.
When do sanctions become an act of war?
The US has launched the economic version of a first strike on Iran by stating its goal of wanting to destroy its economy with the intention of crashing its oil exports to zero.
Iran has responded that, if such an attack were pursued, then no one would export oil from the Gulf, so the economic pain would be shared. This purely defensive deterrent is spun as Iran being a threat to the region, when it is the US and Trump that have created this brinkmanship situation, simply to force Iran to renegotiate a new JCPOA to Mr. Trump and Bolton’s liking. It does not take a genius to read the tea leaves here.
The NATO ministers did not jump on the Esper NATO armada plan to create another tripwire to start a shooting war in the Persian Gulf. Trump and Esper can claim all they want about wanting a diplomatic path, but it’s doubtful they will get that by holding a gun to Iran’s head.
A major blow up in the Persian Gulf would have economic consequences that we have not seen in a long time. Who would the world blame? Who has been the aggressor, the deal breaker, the “do it my way or suffer the consequences” threatener?
Jim W. Dean, managing editor for Veterans Today, producer/host of Heritage TV Atlanta, specially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.