When autocratic leaders are having trouble on the domestic front, they often invent foreign threats to detract the electorate from their inability to cope with the real problems at home.
A classic example was Argentina dictator Juan Peron’s 1982 attack on the British-owned Falkland Islands when he was experiencing political and financial difficulties in Buenos Aires. Peron’s strategy backfired, I might add, and led to his eventual downfall.
Then should we be concerned about Trump’s preoccupation with the long-existing Iran situation or see it as a mere distraction from the impeachment proceedings?
To be sure, Iran has been fudging on its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Agreement negotiated by President Obama, but probably not any more today than in the past. We simply must maintain our vigilance, hold Iran’s feet to the fire and continue to impose sanctions when necessary. But as for being a nuclear threat in the Persian Gulf region, Iran is a Paper Tiger.
Although not officially recognized as a nuclear power, it is generally known that Israel has possessed up to 400 nuclear warheads and the rocketry to deliver them for decades. At any hint of untoward nuclear activity Israel could incinerate Iran’s military installations and cities within hours. And everyone knows this, certainly Iran’s leaders. They fully understand what they can get by with and what they can’t. In 2007 Israel did not hesitate to destroy Syria’s nuclear facilities with a direct attack and would not hesitate to attack Iran if they felt threatened. And in the case of Iran our own hands are anything but clean.
In 1953 CIA head Alan Dulles and his chief operative Kermit Roosevelt Jr., Teddy’s grandson, orchestrated with the British the overthrow of Iran’s democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. Mossadegh was actually pro-American, but we claimed he was communist-influenced, our standard excuse for interfering in foreign nations’ affairs in those days. We then installed the cruel, autocratic Reza Pallavi as Shah. When Pallavi was overthrown in an Islamic uprising in 1980 we backed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein with financing, military intelligence and arms in his unprovoked attack on Iran. This war resulted in more than 150,000 Iranian casualties, some of them by chemical weapons. And we wonder that the Iranians might not love or fully trust Americans today?
Obama’s 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with Iran needs to be renegotiated. But the treaty has provided a continuing dialog with Iran and authorizes sanctions in the case of violations.
Although President Trump opposes “endless wars,” his present policies toward Iran could lead to just that. For a century or more Great Britain exercised suzerainty over certain Middle Eastern nations through a balance of power strategy. They played off various political factions against one another so that an effective coalition could never build up to challenge British interests. But they followed one cardinal rule: they used money and air and naval power to control their colonial empire, but they rarely if ever committed British land forces in appreciable numbers; no “boots on the ground.” But judging from our decisions in the Persian Gulf area since 9/11, we have learned little from the British experience.
The Muslim Middle East (Afghanistan) was the final nail in the Soviet’s coffin, their Vietnam. Could Iran become our Vietnam II?