The 2020 October Surprise — a U.S. effort to provoke conflict with Iran to boost Donald Trump’s re-election chances — is already starting.
Last night, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. is reimposing U.N. sanctions on Iran and said that the 2015 Iran deal is over. In several bellicose tweets, Pompeo added, “We will not hesitate to enforce our sanctions.”
Pompeo is lying. The U. N., including U. S. allies Britain, France and Germany, said a day before that American sanctions will have no legal effect, and that the Iran deal remains in force.
Trita Parsi, the distinguished Iran expert, had predicted Pompeo’s move days ago. He warned that the U.S. will claim that the “confrontation with Iran” is “both defensive and lawful.” Parsi got even more specific. He said that the U.S. could try and unilaterally enforce those “non-existent U.N. sanctions.” He warned,
Enforcement would entail U.S. warships attacking and confiscating Iranian cargo ships in international waters — as well as non-Iranian vessels suspected of carrying Iranian goods.
Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisers are no doubt celebrating Pompeo’s aggressive and illegal action. Israel has for more than a decade tried to instigate a U.S. attack on Iran. The New York Times report on Pompeo’s move leaves out the Israel angle entirely.
But Iran’s ruthless theocrats have not stayed in power for 4 decades by stumbling into obvious traps. Another Times article shows how Iran is continuing to ignore Trump’s provocations. “Iran’s supreme leader has blocked any large, direct retaliation to the United States. . . ,” the paper says. It adds,
Iranian leaders, according to allied intelligence, have concluded that restraint is the best way to prevent Mr. Trump’s re-election.
Donald Trump has another reason to push for conflict with Iran, a motivation that is not mentioned in the mainstream press accounts. Sheldon Adelson, the pro-Israel gambling billionaire, has been one of Trump’s biggest donors — and Adelson has called for a nuclear strike on Iran. The Trump campaign has grossly mismanaged its funding and is low on money; and Adelson, who according to reports will pour as much as $50 million into the campaign in the last six weeks, can get right through to Trump on the phone.
A U.S. shooting conflict with Iran may sound far-fetched, even in a year when anything can happen. But back in January, Trump ordered the assassination of the Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, and the American foreign policy elite and the mainstream press went along with barely a whimper. Donald Trump surely remembers.