After 40 years of mutual mistrust and failed efforts to achieve a lasting détente, regime change advocates, AIPAC and neoconservatives may finally get what they want: a U.S. war with Iran.
Currently Iran is one of the most educated nations in the Middle East, where 60% percent of college students are women, of whom 68% receive science degrees (compare this with the abysmal numbers of U.S. college women in STEM fields). But Iran’s education system, infrastructure and living conditions would suffer for decades from a U.S. war.
Under the Pentagon’s updated "Nitro Zeus" war plan, U.S. cyberattacks will disable power grids, Iranian cities and military facilities. As part of the war plan, the American military will deploy 120,000 troops to the Middle East and the U.S. Airforce has already begun running so-called Iran deterrence missions in the Middle East, with B-52H Stratofortress bombers and F15C Eagles tactical fighters. Additionally, Patriot missile battery, amphibious transport dock and aircraft carrier strike group have been deployed to the region.
As retired Army Colonel Douglas MacGregor says, with a such a large deployment of U.S. military in close proximity to the Iranian Navy, there is the hope that something will probably go "wrong". Those seek an Iran conflict are what Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif refers to as the "B Team," consisting of John Bolton, Benyamin Netanyahu, Mohammed bin Salman and de facto ruler of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed.
The latest push for war with Iran comes on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA. It initiated from U.S. government claims that Iranian-backed militias were given the green light to attack U.S. interests in the Middle East. This claim was declared patently false by Major General Chris Ghika, head of the Operation Inherent Resolve force created to defeat ISIS. As retired U.S. Colonel MacGregor asserts, the U.S.’s crying wolf over a purported new Iranian threat is a "manufactured crisis" and that Iran would "like very much to avoid any conflict with us under any and all circumstances."
A year ago, Mike Pompeo made 12 demands to Iran at the Heritage Foundation, with little effort to hide the U.S.’s penchant for world dictatorship. They included ending nuclear enrichment, which was severely limited under the JCPOA, ending support of Hizbollah, Houthi militias and Hamas, respecting the sovereignty of Iraq, although the U.S. has approximately 5,200 troops in the country, and ceasing alleged Iranian support for the Taliban and al Qaeda, despite Iran’s historic animosity towards both groups. Pat Buchanan succinctly writes, such demands calls to mind "Caesar dictating [terms] to some defeated tribe in Gaul."
Iran has been a long time enemy of United States and much this has been mutual. The U.S. has famously long-been referred to as the "Great Satan" and the U.S. has claimed that Iran is one of the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism since the 1979 Revolution.
From the U.S.’s hegemonic perspective, the main problem with Iran is that the 1979 Revolution did not respect American sovereign rights to dictate Iran’s future, through its support of the last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The U.S. had overthrown elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 to ensure American sovereign rights over Iran. When the shah was deposed in 1979, the Carter administration was not pleased. To this end, it supported Iraq’s invasion of Iran, which took approximately 1 million Iranian lives during the 1980s, and the U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in 1988, killing 290 civilians. Although the U.S. expressed "deep regret" for this action, it never apologized and granted the naval commander who ordered the attack, Captain Will Rogers, the Legion of Merit award. Certainly, a peculiar expression "regret".
The Iranian government, for their part, can be blamed for not forcing the hostage-takers of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran to release 52 American hostages for 444 days, back in 1979-1981. However, according to Iranian diplomat Seyed Houssein Mousavian (p. 62-65), who has been in or close to top members of the Iranian government from 1979 onward, documents found in the American embassy pointed to CIA’s successful efforts in establishing covert ties with some members of the new Iranian government. Furthermore, President Jimmie Carter froze billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian assets in the U.S.
The CIA documents found in the American embassy had, justifiably, caused Iranians to believe that the U.S. was trying to topple the revolution. The frozen assets were, in effect, a way of saying, because our client – the shah – was overthrown, your money is now the property of the United States. According to Mousavian, prior to the discovery of CIA documents in the US embassy, Ayatollah Khomeini had been planning to release the U.S. hostages. But the hostage takers’ discovery changed that, and the Iranian asset freeze solidified the Ayatollah’s resolve to not release the American hostages for 444 days, on the day of Reagan’s inauguration.
More recently, the so-called world’s greatest sponsor of terror nearly went to war with the Taliban in 1998, mobilizing 200,000 to the Afghan border after Iranian diplomats were killed by the militant group in Mazar-e-Shariff. A few years later, Iran assisted the U.S. in ousting the Taliban and fighting al Qaeda. In the past few years, the newly labeled "terrorist" group, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and associated Iraqi Shia militias collaborated with U.S. forces in driving ISIS from Iraq. An odd sort of terror sponsor, indeed, that assists in American counterterror efforts.
Yet Iran is a competitor for regional influence with the U.S. client state Saudi Arabia. Opposing Saudi’s use of famine as a weapon of war in Yemen, Iran has supported, though hardly militarily, the Houthis. It also is one of the remaining Middle East nations that vitriolically opposes Israel’s dehumanization of Palestinians and the 50-plus year occupation of Palestinian land. Israel and Saudi Arabia are U.S. allies and major purchasers of American weapons, so each may do as they like. But to oppose U.S. client states is terrorism – never mind Iran’s fight against and terrorist attack at the hands of ISIS, or its historic cooperation with the U.S. against the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Clearly, the Trump administration is not new in its anti-Iran stance. The Carter administration indoctrinated anti-Iranianism and it has been fueled by each administration since, with occasional cooperation, but more often with outright hostility.
Yet this administration’s special matching of hawks bent on regime change like Mike Pompeo and John Bolton with a politically inexperienced "deal-maker" like Trump, who applies maximize pressure in hope of achieving full subordination, has pushed the U.S. to the brink of war with Iran. Unlike the U.S.’s more limited involvement on behalf of Iraq in the 1980s, U.S. belligerence towards Iran today may well result in a full-fledged war that would leave Iran in tatters, and which the U.S. would not win.
Peter Crowley is an independent writer and scholar with a M.S. in Conflict Resolution, Global Studies from Northeastern University. He works as Content Specialist/Production Coordinator for a prominent library science company.