A major war in the Middle East would be catastrophic, yet that is the direction we are heading. With President Trump withdrawing from the nuclear accord with Iran, we are left with a frightening scenario. Upon the end of the deal, Iran might fast-track a nuclear weapons program, which would give the Trump administration what they really want: a reason to attack Iran. That would set in motion a quick war led by the United States and Israel. Iran would lose the war, but untold thousands, if not millions, would die and leave the Middle East a smoldering, unstable mess. Is that what we really want?
National Security Advisor Michael Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Trump have made it clear what they want. "The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs' regime in Tehran," Bolton said last year. "The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself." It should be noted that Bolton was a staunch advocate of the disastrous American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
American policy, Bolton wrote in January, "should be ending Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution before its fortieth anniversary (next February). Recognizing a new Iranian regime in 2019 would reverse the shame of once seeing our diplomats held hostage for four hundred and forty-four days. The former hostages can cut the ribbon to open the new U.S. Embassy in Tehran."
Our new Secretary of State, too, is solidly on record as hostile to Iran. Pompeo served in the military before being elected to Congress in 2011, where he was known as an outspoken hawk and a supporter of pre-emptive war against Iran. In 2016, Pompeo circulated a letter written by 190 retired generals, admirals and other military officers calling the accord "dangerous" and likely to lead to war. "Congress must act to change Iranian behavior," he said, "and, ultimately, the Iranian regime."
President Trump, of course, has long wanted the deal scrapped. During the election campaign, he declared it "the worst deal ever negotiated." He told an AIPAC convention in 2016:"I have been in business a long time. I know deal-making. And let me tell you, this deal is catastrophic for America, for Israel and for the whole of the Middle East." A year earlier, Trump said, "They [the Iranians] have so out-negotiated our people, because our people are babies.They have no idea what they're doing. They will find out that if I win, we're not babies. There's no more being babies anymore."
I'm sure it's not lost on President Trump that an invasion of Iran would distract from his numerous scandals, and might even bump up his popularity. It's a recipe for disaster, and there may not be enough cooler heads left to slow down this out-of-control train wreck.