Wagging the Dog – Iran and the 2020 Election

(NOTE: I submitted this to the Tampa Bay Times as an opinion piece on 5/16/2019. They didn’t publish it.)

While no one can predict the future, it looks like we’re about to go to war with Iran so Donald Trump will be re-elected. Of course, skepticism is warranted, but a close reading of history suggests this may be intentional.

In 1964, the USS Maddox engaged in an exchange of munitions with several North Vietnamese torpedo boats. This incident happened because the USS Maddox entered the territorial waters of North Vietnam at the direction of US leaders. In essence, we provoked the North Vietnamese into attacking us. After this incident, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that gave President Lyndon Johnson the authorization to use conventional military force in Southeast Asia. Basically, we tricked North Vietnam into a confrontation in order to drum up support for a war – the Vietnam War.

The recently claimed acts of sabotage on ships in the Persian Gulf that have been blamed on Iran sound eerily familiar to the claims of North Vietnamese aggression. I’m certainly not suggesting we should trust Iran over US intelligence agencies, but Iran is denying involvement and explicitly claiming that this is an effort to provoke them. Remember: Our political leaders have lied before in order to convince the American people to support wars in the Middle East.

Couple the above with the fact that incumbent Presidents do really well during wars (see here) and it now seems as though there is intentionality to what is happening. Whether or not this was devised by Donald Trump or his advisers is uncertain (I’d guess the later), but it appears to me as though we are headed to a direct confrontation with Iran and that we headed down this road as soon as we pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope Iran really is the aggressor and that the American public are not being manipulated into thinking a war with Iran is justified and that President Trump is the person to lead such a war. But history strongly suggests that we are being manipulated by an unpopular administration to enter a conflict with Iran. I doubt that the only motivation is to bolster Trump’s re-election, but that is a likely consequence if a war with Iran does begin.

We’re still fighting an unending war in Afghanistan, the same location that helped bankrupt the Soviet Union. We’re now threatening a war with Iran to what end? Will Iran be the boogie man that wins Trump re-election? I hope the American public and the American media are less gullible when the administration tries to manipulate us into a war this time.

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