Can Trump Still Avoid War with Iran?

By Patrick Buchanan

President Donald Trump does not want war with Iran. America does not want war with Iran. Even the Senate Republicans are advising against military action in response to that attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

“All of us (should) get together and exchange ideas, respectfully, and come to a consensus — and that should be bipartisan,” says Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch of Idaho.

When Lindsey Graham said the White House had shown “weakness” and urged retaliatory strikes for what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls Iran’s “act of war,” the president backhanded his golfing buddy:

“It’s very easy to attack, but if you ask Lindsey … ask him how did going into the Middle East … work out. And how did Iraq work out?”

Still, if neither America nor Iran wants war, what has brought us to the brink?

Answer: The policy imposed by Trump, Pompeo and John Bolton after our unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Our course was fixed by the policy we chose to pursue.


Imposing on Iran the most severe sanctions ever by one modern nation on another, short of war, the U.S., through "maximum pressure," sought to break the Iranian regime and bend it to America's will.

Submit to U.S. demands, we told Tehran, or watch your economy crumble and collapse and your people rise up in revolt and overthrow your regime.

Among the 12 demands issued by Pompeo:

End all enrichment of uranium or processing of plutonium. Halt all testing of ballistic missiles. Cut off Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Disarm and demobilize Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq. Terminate support for the Houthi rebels resisting Saudi intervention in Yemen.

The demands Pompeo made were those that victorious nations impose upon the defeated or defenseless. Pompeo's problem: Iran was neither.

Hezbollah is dominant in Lebanon. Along with Russia and Hezbollah, Iran and its militias enabled Bashar Assad to emerge victorious in an eight-year Syrian civil war. And the scores of thousands of Iranian-trained and -allied Shiite militia fighters in the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq outnumber the 5,200 U.S. troops there 20 times over.

Hence Tehran's defiant answer to Pompeo's 12 demands:

We will not capitulate, and if your sanctions prevent our oil from reaching our traditional buyers, we will prevent the oil of your Sunni allies from getting out of the Persian Gulf.

Hence, this summer, we saw tankers sabotaged and seized in the Gulf, insurance rates for tanker traffic surge, Iran shoot-down a $130 million U.S. Predator drone, and, a week ago, an attack on Saudi oil production facilities that cut Riyadh's exports in half.

This has been followed by an Iranian warning that a Saudi attack on Iran means war, and a U.S. attack will be met with a counterattack. We don't want war, the Iranians are saying, but if the alternative is to choke to death under U.S. sanctions, we will use our weapons to fight yours.

America might emerge victorious in such a war, but the cost could be calamitous, imperiling that fifth of the world's oil that traverses the Strait of Hormuz, and causing a global recession.

Yet even if there is no U.S. or Saudi military response to Saturday's attack, what is to prevent Iran from ordering a second strike that shuts down more Arab Gulf oil production?

Iran has shown the ability to do that, and, apparently, neither we nor the Saudis have the defenses to prevent such an attack.

A more fundamental question arises: If the United States was not attacked, why is it our duty to respond militarily to an attack on Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is not a member of NATO. It is not a treaty ally. The Middle East Security Alliance or "Arab NATO" chatted up a year ago to contain Iran — of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states — was stillborn. We are under no obligation to fight the Saudis' war.

Nor is Saudi Arabia a natural American ally.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman runs an Islamic autocracy.

He inserted himself into first position in the line of succession to the throne of his father, who's in failing health. He locked up his brother princes at the Riyadh Ritz Carlton to shake them down for billions of dollars.

He summoned the prime minister of Lebanon to the kingdom, where the crown prince forced him to resign in humiliation. He has ostracized Qatar from Arab Gulf councils. He has been accused of complicity in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

With his U.S.-built and bought air force, the Crown Prince has made a hell on earth of Yemen to crush the Houthis rebels who hold the capital.

The question President Trump confronts today:

How does he get his country back off the limb he climbed out on while listening to the Republican neocons and hawks he defeated in 2016, but who have had an inordinate influence over his foreign policy?

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8 thoughts on “Can Trump Still Avoid War with Iran?”

  1. Neither Trump nor the American people want war with any Nation. That being said if we ever have to go to war please let us us the full force of the American military and let it not be like Viet Nam where we only dabbled in war so says this Nam Vet.

  2. As a Country with the Government we have had since at least World War 2, there has been too much politics going on with to many people making money off the wars. There needs to come a time that this country needs to do what we need to do to eliminate the threat and be done with it. I understand we have bankers and world leaders who step in controlling our Congress with money to make sure we only go so far to make them all money, while killing off our population for as long as they can, because no one can stand up to these people and say we will not put up with what is going on. We are tired of putting our country in constant danger, we are tired of sending our troops to endless wars that were not meant to end the problem. We are tired of sending our troops to die so others can profit off their deaths.

  3. Iran is going to war with America? There is no Logic on this at all. It is the last thing Iran wishes. They might roar like a lion to save face, but they know that a war against the U.S. would be the end of the Mulla Regime and a disaster for the people of Iran. Sanctions did the job, their economy is suffering, and the oil they export is not enough to make their people lives comfortable. The money goes to the Military and for Nuclear weapons productions.

    I am glad that President Trump isn’t listening those clowns around him who may call themselves Advisers. Most of them are looking forward for an impeachment of the President so that they can go back the old Washington DC Club rules. Democrats have still their deep state agents in every branch of the Trump Administration! In my opinion He should not reveal what he has in his mind beyond the most loyal followers in the Oval Office. He should avoid Lindsey at all coast!

    I think President should do nothing hasty about Iran and North Korea until He secures the 2020 Elections and stays in the Oval Office. The odds of losing the 2020 Elections are minimum, so far he is still the most eligible candidate for the Presidency. The most important issue for him and the rest of the Republican Party Members, to capture the CONGRESS back and keep the majority in the Senate. Without a Republican Congress He will have the same problems that he is having at the present time! Having majority in both houses is a MUST.

    I would not trust Saudis, keeping our troops there is necessary but President should know that Arabs by nature, change their loyalties in a New York second.
    Syria should not be our problem; Bashar has no country, he is just a puppet of Russians and Iranians. He knows that without both He will be eliminated. Unfortunately, advisers around him forgetting the most dangerous players in the Northern Syria; the PKK/YPG! They are powerful and they change sides fast. Only few years ago Bashar killed thousand of their people, and today they have joined forces with him! America is an enemy now. As soon as Kurds declare their future republic of Kurdistan in Northern Syria, they will annex the Northern Iraq and it’s Oil Fields. I am sure that the present violence in Iraq is one of their acts to destabilize Iraq.

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