Outside of the realm of the never ending train of bombastic headlines generated by President Donald Trump’s behavior — and more specifically, tweets — the Trump administration could pose an actual threat to the lives of people in the U.S. and abroad in the case of something like feared war with Iran unfolding. This weekend on CBS, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the possibility and seemed unsettlingly wide open to military confrontation with the country, which has only gotten seemingly closer to reality via means like the recent U.S. announcement that the administration believed Iran to be responsible for attacks on two large tanker ships in the area.
After host Margaret Brennan asked whether saying they had all options on the table to respond to purported Iranian aggression included military defense, Pompeo emphatically shared:
‘Of course. The president will consider everything we need to do to make sure, right? Remember what the president said — we don’t want Iran to get a nuclear weapon. The previous administration put them on a pathway that virtually guaranteed they could get there. So we withdrew from the ridiculous [Iran nuclear deal] and we are moving towards a set of policies that will convince Iran to behave simply like a normal nation.’
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) June 16, 2019
Importantly, the nuclear deal that the Obama administration and numerous other countries around the world signed with Iran did not guarantee some kind of future Iranian nuclear threat, despite the Trump administration’s insistence to the contrary. They’ve pointed to deal elements like its “sunset” provisions, seemingly willfully unaware of the precedent of deals having limited time frames to allow for adaptation to the situation at hand.
Pompeo went so far this weekend that he seemed to cast possible future war with Iran in religious terms, unnecessarily calling Iran by a name including its general religious affiliation. He himself has previously called politics a “struggle” to continue on with until the religiously perceived end times, offering an unsettling at best context to his perception of the situation.
He said the military confrontation he had in mind was a defense of the globally crucial Strait of Hormuz where the tankers were attacked and not an invasion of or strike on Iran itself, but offered all the same:
‘The world needs to unite against this threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran.. President Trump has said very clearly he doesn’t want to go to war with Iran… We always have the authorization to defend American interests.’
That’s false; at least, it’s a lie in the way that he means it. What he’s claiming is that the administration doesn’t need to pursue any kind of Congressional authorization at all to confront Iran, which is a dangerous jump from the previous, already shaky but prevailing concept of extending authorizations of force against terrorists from the early 2000s to cover more recent overseas military confrontations.
In other words, they’re operating under the perception that they have a blanket authority to attack foreign powers when they run afoul of their believed boundaries of American interests. Even perceptions of unchecked authority should not be in the hands of someone who as president of the United States runs to social media to whine about and hurl insults at those who oppose him.
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