The Persian Gulf Standoff

They say we’ve been down this road before.  The “last time” creakily hinged upon a hysterically hyped WMD threat from Iraq that overwhelmingly forced the W. Bush regime and its bipartisan cheerleaders to preemptively invade Iraq in order to eliminate the imminent threat that Saddam Hussein’s non-existent WMD posed to the “Freedom-loving” world.  Such was the logic then.

That time has long since passed, yet U.S. troops are still in Iraq, as in Afghanistan, and also Syria today.  The current enemy du jour, Iran, is now said to pose the most “imminent” of threats  With this “threat” in mind, vigilantes at the State Department and Pentagon decided to assassinate Iran’s top military commander, General Qassem Soleimani, as he was leaving the Baghdad airport.  Ironically, Soleimani had just arrived in Iraq on a diplomatic mission at the invitation of the outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi.  By all accounts, the framing of Soleimani’s death-by-drone has been bizarre.

Initial reports immediately emphasized the role of President Trump in signing the order to kill Soleimani.  Indeed, the assassination of a foreign leader is no small thing; therefore, it is imperative to have the highest level of political cover, and the Pentagon understands this precept:  after all, it would not look good for our democracy if it looked like the Pentagon had just gone “rogue” in Iraq.  Much better to pin the responsibility for this extra-judicial killing on the impeached-one himself, just in case an international criminal court comes calling…

As it turns out, Soleimani had been in the cross-hairs of not only the Pentagon, but also the Saudis and Israelis, for quite some time.  Naturally, Trump’s “America First!” team consulted on the killing with their Saudi and Israeli counterparts first, while in the same breath failing to notify Congress — not to mention the Iraqis themselves, on whose territory the assassin drone struck.  One wonders if such details demonstrate undue foreign influence in American decision-making?

Beyond the gangster-style slaying of Soleimani, it is unclear that the assassination was not specifically intended to provoke a shooting war with Iran. Unfortunately, the last century has shown that when a U.S. President declares that he’s averse to the prospect of war, then this is a sign that war is almost certainly the next step on the “de-escalator” of possible belligerence.  So far, the Iranian response has been entirely formal, however ballistic its missile strikes on two U.S. military bases in Iraq.  In the meantime, the Mexican standoff in the Persian Gulf has resumed, if not exactly status quo ante.

The axis of the problem remains the longstanding American economic and military besiegement of Iran.  Despite alt-righteous statements by the Bible-trumping team of Pompeo and Pence, the United States of America remains the primary aggressor — or guarantor of aggression, in the cases of Saudi Arabia and Israel — in the Persian Gulf.  The indisputability of this geo-political fact is proven by the illegal invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq in 2003, which was “justified” by verifiably fraudulent claims.  Even the New York Times, our best known propaganda organ of record, later apologized for running spooky stories of ghostly Iraqi WMD on its front pages in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.  Some “curveball,” NYT!  So much is known and conveniently forgotten.

In effect, decades of standoff in the Gulf have turned Iran into a garrison state surrounded by an increasingly gangster state, the United States.  Recent Trump taunts about bombing Iranian cultural sites only serve to reinforce a siege mentality in Iran, while simultaneously upping the imminence of the actual threat that America poses to Iran.  Put another way:  “Look out, Persepolis — here comes the American Taliban!”

However, amid all of the hype and hysteria, the hit-job on General Soleimani may also suggest that the zealots-in-suits in Washington are starting to crack under their own holier-than-thou “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, which is not cracking quickly enough.  There are signs that the Pentagon’s post-9/11 blank check to commit acts of undeclared war in the Middle East is finally beginning to bounce.

Since 9/11, the Death Star’s budget has more than doubled, without a shred of threat to warrant it.  Meanwhile, U.S. debt has quadrupled during the same span.  The numbers keep adding up, and up, and up.  The Sky used to be a limit, but now the “imminently threatened” accountants of Empire have added a “Space Force” to transcend all possible spending limits.  In Space, of course, the numbers simply run off — off into Infinity…

Nevertheless, the Pentagonists are still stuck on Earth, and their wars are only working to bankrupt America further.  Besides the sheer numbers pointing to another financial crisis, the Washington Post’s “Afghanistan Papers” have added a barrage of incriminating words.  Whatever short term boost — a “Quickenloan,” as it were — that an actual shooting war with Iran would provide to the Pentagon’s cause (ginning up the jingos, lots of Flag-waving, etc…), the reality remains that America is suffering from post-9/11 war fatigue, and an attack on Iran will not cure this disorder.

Twittering visions of World War 3 may have been blinkingly premature in the wake of the drone strike on Qassem Soleimani, but perhaps not by much.  We’ve been down this road before, as the ghost of Franz Ferdinand — or is it Gavrilo Princip? — appears to hover over the Persian Gulf standoff.

Todd Smith lives, writes, and observes the Brave New World Order in St. Louis. He can be reached at Read other articles by Todd.

<p class="postmeta">This article was posted on Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 at 6:23pm and is filed under <a href="" rel="category tag">Donald Trump</a>, <a href="" rel="category tag">Iran</a>, <a href="" rel="category tag">Iraq</a>, <a href="" rel="category tag">Israel</a>, <a href="" rel="category tag">Middle East</a>, <a href="" rel="category tag">Qasem Soleimani</a>, <a href="" rel="category tag">Saudi Arabia</a>, <a href="" rel="category tag">United States</a>.

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