Can Donald Trump Avoid a War with Iran? History Tells Us To Worry.Breaking News
tags: Iran, Trump
Dr. Lawrence J. Korb is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and served as assistant secretary of defense from 1981 through 1985.
Even though the current situation with Iran is the most dangerous threat facing the United States at this time, in his State of the Union Address on February 5, 2020, President Trump made only two conflicting references to it. In one part he seemed to offer an olive branch when he said, “The Iranian regime must abandon its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and needs to work for the good of its own people. Because of our powerful sanctions the Iranian economy is doing very poorly. We can help them make it a very good and short recovery. It can all go quickly – let’s see which way they choose. It is totally up to them.”
But the president also threatened them when he said that, “Last month, at my direction, the United States Military executed a flawless precision strike that killed (Iranian Major General) Soleimani and terminated his evil reign of terror forever. Our message to the terrorists is clear. You will never escape justice. If you attack our citizens, you will forfeit your life.” In essence, Trump conflated an official of a country, with whom we are not at war with, with non-state actors like al-Baghdadi and Qassim al-Rimi, whom the Trump administration has recently killed.
In a lunch with television anchors the day of his speech, the President said that earlier this year war with Iran was closer than you think. But if Trump wants to avoid a war with Iran that some in his administration apparently desire but something he personally does not seem to want, he needs to reflect on history.
Students of history know that certain factions in a nation often use an unanticipated incident to get their government leaders to adopt a policy that they have been unsuccessfully advocating for some time. For example, many leaders in Germany used the unexpected assassination of the Austria-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in 1914 to get their leaders to start a war with France and Russia, which they believed would be over quickly, and allow Germany to dominate Europe. Similarly, many hawks in the Johnson administration used the Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which North Vietnamese ships allegedly attacked an American ship in 1964, to convince the president, who was campaigning against the war, to launch bombing attacks against North Vietnam, which they believed would quickly prevent it from conquering South Vietnam and eventually spreading Communism throughout Southeast Asia.