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From Consortium News
An Iraq-War redux is now in full play, with leading roles played by some of the same protagonists President Donald Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, for example, who says he still thinks attacking Iraq was a good idea. Co-starring is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The New York Times on Tuesday played its accustomed role in stoking the fires, front-paging a report that, at Bolton's request, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has come up with an updated plan to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East, should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons. The Times headline writer, at least, thought it appropriate to point to echoes from the past: "White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran, in Echoes of Iraq War."
By midday, Trump had denied the Times report, branding it "fake news." Keep them guessing, seems to be the name of the game.
Following the Iraq playbook, Bolton and Pompeo are conjuring up dubious intelligence from Israel to "justify" attacking this time Iran. (For belligerent Bolton, this was entirely predictable.) All this is clear.
What is not clear, to Americans and foreigners alike, is why Trump would allow Bolton and Pompeo to use the same specious charges terrorism and nuclear weapons to provoke war with a country that poses just as much strategic threat to the U.S. as Iraq did that is to say, none. The corporate media, with a two-decade memory-loss and a distinct pro-Israel bias, offers little help toward understanding.
Before discussing the main, but unspoken-in-polite-circles, impulse behind the present step-up in threats to Iran, let's clear some underbrush addressing the two limping-but-still-preferred, ostensible rationales, neither of which can bear close scrutiny:
No. 1: It isn't because Iran is the world's leading sponsor of terrorism. We of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity shot down that canard a year and a half ago. In a Memorandum for President Trump, we said:
"The depiction of Iran as 'the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism' is not supported by the facts. While Iran is guilty of having used terrorism as a national policy tool in the past, the Iran of 2017 is not the Iran of 1981. In the early days of the Islamic Republic, Iranian operatives routinely carried out car bombings, kidnappings and assassinations of dissidents and of American citizens. That has not been the case for many years."
No. 2: It isn't because Iran is building a nuclear weapon. A November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate concluded unanimously that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003 and had not resumed any such work. That judgment has been re-affirmed by the Intelligence Community annually since then.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, imposed strict, new, verifiable restrictions on Iranian nuclear-related activities and was agreed to in July 2015 by Iran, the U.S., Russia, China, France, the U.K., Germany and the European Union.
Even the Trump administration has acknowledged that Iran has been abiding by the agreement's provisions. Nevertheless, President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal on May 8, 2018, four weeks after John Bolton became his national security adviser.
"We Prefer No Outcome"
Fair Warning : What follows may come as a shock to those malnourished on the drivel in mainstream media: The "WHY," quite simply, is Israel. It is impossible to understand U.S. Middle East policy without realizing the overwhelming influence of Israel on it and on opinion makers. (A personal experience drove home how strong the public appetite is for the straight story, after I gave a half-hour video interview to independent videographer Regis Tremblay three years ago. He titled it "The Inside Scoop on the Middle East & Israel," put it on YouTube and it got an unusually high number of views.)