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21 June 2019

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David Solomon

Colonel Lang,

I am not now nor have I ever been a fan of Trump. However, if he does not start a war, he will end (in my mind, at least) as a vast improvement over his immediate predecessors.

Harper

Yes, a grown up has the right to change a decision. Now, ball is in Khamenei court. Abe asked him to release some Iranian-American prisoners. If Khamenei wants to lower threshold of conflict, he can do this gesture without losing any face. Humanitarian action. Russia, China and the Europeans all want Iran to remain in JCPOA and Putin is worried about Iran acting irrationally. See what kind of other pressure comes down on Iranians. Asians all worried about the security of oil flows to Asia. Japan especially dependent on Middle East oil flows, even if they've moved out of Iranian purchases. US more able to go it alone with extensive domestic and other sources.

blue peacock

Col. Lang,

Khamenei should call Trump and setup a media spectacle of a summit in Switzerland. They can agree on the same deal as before but as long as the headline says "Iran agrees to not build nukes", Trump will be happy and Khamenei will be his new best pal. The same playbook as KJU where nothing tangible is likely to happen except that KJU has stopped nuke & missile tests that create media hysteria among the Never Trumpers.

IMO, the ball hasn't left Trump's court. How long is he going to tolerate the neocons in his inner circle who are likely to keep coming up with another casus belli? Can he find some distance from being Bibi's lapdog? How long is he going to allow his conflicted son-in-law to meddle in the Middle East?

Trump must calculate the potential of where escalation leads and what a full on war with Iran and its allies in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon means for his re-election campaign. Bernie is banging the table hard against any military action in Iran. The probability that 50,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania & Wisconsin changes sides the next election would be rather high in the event of an unpredictable full-scale war.

Christian J Chuba

I hope Khamenei takes any offer Trump makes for direct talks. Trump is heavily influenced by the last person he meets.

I get that Khamenei doesn't want to meet on the premise that the JCPOA is flawed and must be changed but if he can get an audience on the basis of airing mutual grievances in an unfiltered environment, it would be an opportunity. Currently, the only people Trump talks to are Neocon loons. They are innumerable but the FDD seems to be the center of gravity.

I must say that Clifford May does sport quite the impressive beard, who wouldn't think that he's an expert on anything he talks about http://www.vipfaq.com/nested/c/l/Clifford_May-1.jpg

robt willmann

In an interview with NBC News and Chuck Todd, Trump reiterates his position about a response being proportionate--

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/trump-says-he-did-not-given-final-approval-iran-strikes-n1020386

Widowson

I was shocked-- but not surprised-- to see visibly-pained CBS Pentagon flack David Martin on the boob tube this morning quoting an unnamed source that speculated that the reason Trump cancelled the bombing of Iran was that he got "cold-feet." Thank you, Vasili Arkhipov, for getting cold-feet, too! Madness, our nation is afflicted with madness.

b

The IRGC knuckle dragger in charge at Hormuz will get a medal or two, and a promotion.

The U.S. is waging a total economic war on Iran. It cuts off all its exports and imports. Iran is fighting back by all means. It has no other choice.

Iran now implements a "strategy of tension" that is designed to put "maximum pressure" on Trump.

The tanker attacks, the mortars on U.S. troops in Iraq, the Houthi strikes an Saudi desalination plants and the shoot down of that drone are all part of that Iranian strategy.

High Iranian officials, including its president, have multiple times announced: "If we can sell no sell oil than none of our neighbors in the gulf will be able to sell their oil." They mean that and they have the plans and means to achieve that.

These strikes will continue, and will become stronger. I most cases Iran will have plausible deniability. That is easy to create when CentCom and the White House are know to lie left and right as they do.

Trump has two choices.

He can pull back on the sanctions and other U.S. violations of JCPOA, or he can start a full war against Iran that will drown his presidency, put the world economy into a depression ($300/bl oil) and kill many U.S. soldiers.

It is Trump, not Iran, who killed JCPOA. It is Trump, not Iran, who will be blamed for that war.

Eric Newhill

Publicly, much chest thumping over how Iran has the cowardly Great Satan on the run like a beaten dog.

Privately, phone calls to China and Russia begging for assurances of support and attempted offers of negotiations with Trump complete with wildly unrealistic demands.

fredw

Do you have a comment on this version: "Iran was informed in advance by a third party of a proposal by US intelligence that Iran selects one or two or three empty locations for the US to bomb. This was intended to make everyone happy by saving face for all concerned. Iran refused to play along with this charade, which was ultimately designed to save face for Trump. Nonetheless, Iran was reassured by this offer that the US has no intention of going to war and is trying to find a way out of its quandary; Trump is looking for a way out."

If true, this puts the entire situation in a different light. Still really dangerous, but more nuanced.

https://ejmagnier.com/2019/06/21/iran-and-trump-on-the-edge-of-the-abyss/

Jack

Trump's tweet on why he rescinded his order to strike Iran doesn't make him look good. Did he only ask the question about body count after he gave the order to strike? Or, was this just a PR ploy with the details leaked to Pravda on the Hudson?

This article by Elijah Magnier gives a purported Iranian version, where Trump wanted to fire at some useless target determined by Iran and they rejected that proposal.

https://ejmagnier.com/2019/06/21/iran-and-trump-on-the-edge-of-the-abyss

It would make no sense for Trump to initiate armed hostilities with Iran which would surely escalate into a wider Middle East conflagration with unpredictable outcomes in the short term. Unless of course he wants to doom his re-election. In any case this manufactured crisis doesn't look good for him as Iran comes across as having not blinked. He better reign in Pompeo and Bolton and get his son-in-law out of the ME game and keep a wary distance from Bibi and MbS. They are all malign influences for his MAGA sales pitch.

The notion that the Shiite mullahs can't be trusted with nukes but the Likudniks can is farcical. The previous deal that he walked away from would possibly be the best he could get anyway. Khamenei must have learned the Rocketman lesson. Only nukes can save his theocracy from the US beholden to Bibi and MbS.

fredw

The only actual information to be had from anything Trump says is the subject matter - what is on his mind. "In an exclusive interview with NBC's Chuck Todd for "Meet the Press," Trump was asked if planes were in the air and the president responded, "No, but they would have been pretty soon, and things would have happened to a point where you would not turn back, you could not turn back."

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/trump-says-he-did-not-given-final-approval-iran-strikes-n1020386

The Beaver

EXCLUSIVE: In an exclusive interview with Chuck Todd, President Donald Trump says he hadn’t given final approval to Iran strikes, no planes were in the air,.

https://twitter.com/MeetThePress/status/1142112546696118274

eakens

Iran seemed to have warned that it could have taken the P8 with "35 crew" out but spared it. Is 35 the max capacity, or were there really exactly 35 people aboard that plane? If the latter, that may be a message in and of itself.

turcopolier

b

Your usual deeply bigoted anti-Americanism.

eakens

This is delusional thinking. The Iranians realized a long time ago not to rely on other countries for assistance. Every Iranian knows not to trust Russians from history. China might be the only hope, not for support, but to convince that this war is as much about them.

frankie p

Exactly! There's one striking characteristic of the "resistance" leaders, including Khamenei, Syrian President Assad, and Hezbollah's Nasrallah, and that is that they are reliable: they do what they say they are going to do. They have integrity, that quality so clearly absent from all US and Western European leaders, all beholden to their Ziodonors to assure reelection. The Iranians will NOT contact Trump to arrange a meeting. The Iranians will NOT meet with Trump because the JCPOA is flawed. The Iranians will NOT meet with Trump after a brief suspension in sanctions to ask for permanent sanctions relief. The Iranians WILL meet with Trump when he lifts most or all of the sanctions in good faith and rejoins the JCPOA. Is it just a coincidence that the two ships attacked last week were carrying petrochemicals, just days after Trump and the US placed sanctions on the largest Iranian petrochemical producer? What is it about "If we cannot ship oil/petrochemicals, nobody can." that people don't understand?

Additionally, any standoff missile attack or "March of the B52s" will be met with immediate regional attacks on US (Saudi and Israeli) assets, military personnel and civilians that will destabilize the entire region and destroy the global economy. Not the best scenario for a reelection bid, is it? I'm with b. There is no knuckle dragger at Hormuz, only competent officers carrying out their orders.

Frankie P

VietnamVet

Colonel,

The NYT report that Donald Trump ordered the attack and then pulled back is in Jimmy Carter’s “been there done that” territory. Although a New Yorker and he never had to sit in a gasoline line, Donald Trump, personally and legally, cannot be a one term President. He is a political savant. He gets that he cannot be an LBJ or a Harry Truman with the Albatross of an unwinnable war hung around his neck. My assumption is that someone in the chain of command after the surveillance drone was shot down triggered a preplanned strike package that was stopped once it got to the President for approval. Once again global media moguls strike back at the nationalist President with Fake News. But, I am afraid the chosen true believers on his staff do not believe nor care that Iran has prepared a massive disproportionate non-nuclear response that will destroy the global economy. John Bolton and Mike Pompeo have other agendas than the President’s re-election and what is in the USA’s national interests. We are not out of the woods.

ex-PFC Chuck

Do we know for sure Trump is the one who initially ordered the strike? Or did someone down the line interpret the rules of engagement (do I presume correctly that some such would be in place at the present time?) to allow him or her to order it?

frankie p

Could you explain how the concept that economic sanctions are a belligerent act of war is anti-American? This is a historical concept that you, as a teacher and student of military history, are well aware of. The Iranians are using the means that they have available to respond to these acts of war. They are not equipped to confront the US military directly, so they are using tactics to place pressure on the US in other areas, primarily by threatening the global economy by plausibly deniable acts against shipping in the Persian Gulf. This is a masterstroke right out of the pages of Sun Tze's Art of War.

Trump has painted himself into a corner. He can offer sanctions relief if he wants to negotiate, or he can attack, and we can hope that the US military learned some of the lessons taught by Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper in the Millennium Challenge 2002.

Artemesia

At the risk of ---
I think b is on to something.

The neocons are playing out provocations until Congress is forced to vote on War just before election.
The provocations will continue -- Israel's Rational Institute & expert game theorists have done this so many times they're just going through the motions.
Iranians have watched that game play out before and, perhaps, know how to handle provocations in a disruptive manner.


Did you listen to Foreign Affairs subcommittee questioning State Department undersecretary Brian Hook?
https://www.c-span.org/video/?461811-1/house-foreign-affairs-subcommittee-hearing-iran-policy
Hook repeated, emphasized & repeated again that "finance is the basis of war," and US / Trump strategy is to "not to bankrupt Iran," but to "deny Iran access to financial ability to fund Hezbollah, Hamas, and other of the #1 state sponsor of terror's proxies."

The congressmen questioning Hook nodded sagely.

None of them so much as hinted at the fact that the USA is so deep in debt it can never pay its way out.

Nor was any congressman sage enough, or moral enough, or consistent enough, to question:
-- International policy pundits & think tankers opine that the greatest guarantee of peace is economic stability. US is deliberately seeking to destabilize Iran economically. To what end?
--One of the expectations of the JCPOA was that with sanctions lifted, Iran would enter into the mainstream economy, trading with states throughout the world. This normalization of commerce would constrain Iran from taking actions that would jeopardize its trade relationships. Why does Trump & the zioncons not wish Iran's commercial normalization to take place? Is it because Israel cannot stand the competition?
-- by what right USA violates UN Charter demands that internal affairs of a member state must not be interfered with. Congressmen crowned themselves with laurel as they proclaimed that "the people of Iran are not our enemy; it is the government; we act on behalf of the Iranian people, especially Iranian women."
When I visited Iran in 2008, "Iranian women" spoke with us and asked if we could please provide several days' warning before bombing Iran so that they could shelter their children. Iranian women are some of the toughest you'll meet.
-- what casus belli legitimizes aggression against Iran? Does the USA no longer subscribe to Just War theory? Several years ago I heard Notre Dame's Mary Ellen O'Connell discuss Just War theory with respect to Iran -- https://elibrary.law.psu.edu/jlia/vol2/iss2/6/. US claims to uphold "universal values" ring hollow if such basic steps in framing policy are ignored.

The Twisted Genius

The IRGC knuckle dragger at Hormuz wisely and prudently targeted the unmanned drone and not the manned P8 aircraft. Since it was the Iranians who recovered the wreckage, it will be hard for the US to maintain the drone was well outside Iranian airspace. No, this action was appropriate in the face of our policy of maximum pressure to starve out the Iranian people and force a regime change.

I applaud Trump's decision not to engage in a shooting war. The way he got to that decision was messy, but the final decision was right. Those calling him weak for not engaging in a war of choice are craven fools. Chief among those is Bolton. Trump should throw his ass and his mustache out of the WH before the sun goes down. Trump brought this situation upon himself with his pulling out of the JCPOA and initiating his "war" of maximum pressure. It is he who can deflate this crisis, not Kamenei.

Artemesia

PS -- C Span ramped up an orgy of war hysteria over Trump's threat, then stand-down over Iran's shoot-down of an un-manned drone.
The public was, as usual, confined to a narrow frame of reference and range of responses: "Trump was a coward," vs. "Trump was wise."
Congressmen who were interviewed emphasized that "no American was killed."

No one mentioned that Lyndon Johnson called back flights sent to rescue crewmen on the USS Liberty when Israel attacked the ship, strafed the wounded and those in life boats.

Barbara Ann

b

How blame is apportioned will matter little to Iran if it miscalculates one iota. Yes it cannot sit idle until it is strangled by economic sanctions. But neither can it escalate beyond the destruction of civil and military hardware alone. One dead American is all the neocons need. A counter strike would then be inevitable and the uncontrollable escalation they are counting on the likely result.

Col. Lang has described here the catastrophic consequences for America's enemies when they have doubted its resolve. And the sure route to galvanizing that resolve is for Iran to escalate into targeting US forces.

The only way this ends without a war which would be catastrophic for both sides is if Trump realizes the reality of the situation he is in and ditches the neocons right now. Iran has got its message across and must now desist to allow Trump breathing room to de-escalate. Let us pray that Suleimani and the Iranian leadership are men enough to understand that holding the moral high ground confers no advantage in warfare.

Harlan Easley

A thirty minute interlude that's all this is in my opinion.

Robert C

Wait a minute.
Obama blew it with Libya

However,
-he reached a good deal with Iran
-he didn’t bomb Syria when the crossed his “red line” and managed to make it look like the R controlled Senate made the decision .
-He didn’t kiss Bibi’s ring.

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