Trump threatening war with Iran

By Mitchell Blatt
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, August 5, 2018
Adjust font size:

U.S. President Donald Trump [Photo/Xinhua]

The greatest strategic mistake by the United States in the opening decades of the 21st century has been to get stuck in unwinnable wars in the Middle East, a region with declining strategic importance relative to Asia. 

At the time when a predecessor, George W. Bush, invaded Iraq, Donald Trump supported the war. Later, during the 2016 presidential campaign he pretended – loudly and without shame – that he had opposed the war. What would he do if he had a similar decision in front of him as president? We may well get to know sometime soon.

Trump unleashed his vitriol against Iran on July 22, threatening war in an all-caps screed on Twitter. 


Trump practices "honor politics." Please take note that the cause of the Trump's outburst  wasn't anything Iran had actually done vis-à-vis America, but rather words used by his Iranian counterpart Trump took as a "threat." 

Rouhani had issued a boilerplate statement in response to Trump's previous provocations, declaring: "Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars." Sniping back and forth is nothing unusual in U.S.-Iranian relations and certainly nothing for the American leader to get angry about. However, Trump seems to have chosen to believe Rouhani's words were something the U.S. should "not stand for."

Were Trump's empty rhetoric the only thing on display, that would be worrisome enough for what it says about the mindset of the commander-in-chief of the largest military in the world. What is more concerning, however, is that Trump has been stoking the flames against Iran since he was elected, and his provocations have intensified of late.

On May 9, he made good on his pledge to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran. Now, he is warning other countries not to import Iranian oil, or else he will impose sanctions against them. Sanctioning a country that continues to comply with the nuclear deal – respected by all signatories except the United States – is an inherently provocative act. 

Iran is already facing economic problems and unrest. Now, European companies, including France's largest oil producer, Total, are reluctantly pulling out of Iran in order to avoid problems. Is it any wonder that Trump's escalatory actions began shortly after neoconservative hardliner John Bolton became National Security Adviser in April? 

A few weeks after Bolton took his post, he gave a speech to the MEK, a controversial anti-government group of exiles, in which he declared…"before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran!" []

Unsurprisingly, Trump's threat of sanctions has caused the price of oil to skyrocket. Since October 2017, when Trump first announced he was decertifying the Iranian nuclear deal, global crude prices have risen from US$50 to $69 a barrel as of July 29. 

Some analysts estimate that anywhere from 170,000 to a million fewer barrels of Iranian oil will be on the market due to Trump's sanctions, decreasing total supply. The effects are being felt in the United States, too. Gasoline prices have risen by 11 percent since the start of the year. 

The losses of European companies could be China's gains. If Total doesn't get a waiver from the U.S. administration, the 30 percent stake it has in a joint oil field venture with Chinese company CNPC will go to the latter.

America's leading airplane manufacturer and provider of over 140,000 national jobs, has announced it is canceling a $20 billion deal with Iran Air.

So, the U.S. and its remaining allies are getting hurt; however, what does the U.S. get out of increased conflict with Iran? Iran is not actually threatening America. (Words only damage Trump's ego, nothing else). Iran's actions in Syria, supporting the existing government, are no more provocative than what Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region are doing. Israel can handle itself against Iran, too, should a conflict ever come about.

The real reason Trump has ratcheted up tensions is that neoconservatives in American politics have long held grudges against Iran. Bolton was a young man when Iranian students took American embassy workers hostage after the revolution in 1979 and held them for 444 days. He served under Ronald Reagan, whom conservatives (misleadingly) credit for getting the hostages released. 

The hostage crisis still carries such a weight in American politics that, in 2014, when Iran appointed as its ambassador to the UN a diplomat who had been involved in the event, the U.S. Congress voted to deny him a visa.

George W. Bush's vice president Dick Cheney tried to get him to bomb Iran during his second presidential term. Even Bush had enough wisdom to resist that idea. Now, Bolton and Trump might be able to finish the job.

Mitchell Blatt is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from