Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, is already running for president in 2024. To that end, he is trying to provoke Iran into a conflict in the days and weeks to come.
The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Nimitz just steamed through the Straits of Hormuz and into the Persian Gulf, the first American capital ship there in nearly a year. The Trump administration has already illegally imposed harsh sanctions against Iran, and reserves the right to board Iranian (or other) vessels to enforce them. Iran has pledged restraint, but the chief of Iran’s navy warned on Monday that his sailors have orders to fight back if the U.S. harasses Iranian civil or military vessels.
Even with Iranian caution, the risk of an accident is rising dangerously.
Pompeo wants an October Surprise to boost Donald Trump’s dwindling re-election chances. He remembers that when the U.S. assassinated Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in early January the killing got tacit support from even normally anti-Trump mainstream media and the foreign policy establishment. Pompeo obviously wants Trump to win so he can continue his bellicose policies in a second term, thus positioning himself well for 2024. He also knows that Israel has tried for more than a decade to instigate a U.S. conflict with Iran. Pompeo’s evangelical views no doubt make him sympathetic to Israel in any case, but he’s also aware that pro-Israel mega-donor Sheldon Adelson could give his candidacy a huge financial boost in the Republican primaries.
While U.S. voters and reporters are (understandably) distracted by domestic political issues, the pro-war-with-Iran propaganda apparatus is shifting into a higher gear. An unidentified American “high official” leaked the dishonest allegation that “Iran may have enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by the end of the year. . .” The invaluable Juan Cole exposed this lie at some length, but reputable media outlets like Reuters and the British Independent had already published it.
Another element in the disinformation campaign is the alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the U.S. ambassador to South Africa. The authorities there rapidly discounted it as false, but not before Politico had irresponsibly published it and Trump himself had warned in a tweet that that the US would retaliate with “1,000 times greater” force.
What’s more, the ill-named Foundation for the Defense of Democracies — a Washington D.C. “think tank” that the pro-Israel lobby set up as a front — continues its steady drumbeat of propaganda calling for U.S. aggression against Iran. You won’t see the FDD much on MSNBC or CNN, but their views are a regular feature on Fox News.
Back to Mike Pompeo. The American military was rightly criticized for letting Trump manipulate uniformed generals back on June 1, when they were conned into accompanying the president on his infamous photo op walk across Lafayette Park to brandish the Bible in front of a church. But Pompeo and Trump are now using our men and women in uniform in the Persian gulf in a far more sinister way. The two are risking conflict with another country not to defend America’s national interests, but only to advance their own electoral prospects.