Speaking to reporters on Monday, Trump said he’s “hearing little stories about Iran”—apparently referring to U.S. intelligence officials’ unsubstantiated claim that Iran was behind the alleged tanker attacks. Iran has denied any involvement.
“If they do anything, they will suffer greatly,” Trump said. “We’ll see what happens with Iran.”
The president’s threat came just hours before the New York Times reported late Monday that the president last week reviewed a plan to send 120,000 U.S. ground troops to the Middle East in the event that Iran launches an “attack” on American forces or moves to develop a nuclear weapon.
The military plan was reportedly crafted by Bolton, who last week used the routine deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier and bomber task force to threaten Iran with “relentless force” if it attacks U.S. forces. Bolton did not cite any evidence indicating Iran was planning such an attack.
Observers warned that the Trump administration’s actions have moved the two nations dangerously close to an all-out military conflict, which analysts have warned could be even more devastating than the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
“John Bolton is trying to provoke the Iranians to do something so that he can get the war with Iran that he’s been looking for, for more than 20 years,” Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said Tuesday in an interview on The Real News.
“He’s, of course, presenting it as an effort to scare and deter the Iranians,” Parsi said. “I don’t think that has worked at all, but it has created a scenario in which everyone is now very worried that some form of an accidental war at a minimum is very likely because you have too many U.S. forces and Iranian forces into too small of an area.”
“And then you have John Bolton in the White House, who has a track record of lying, cheating, and fabricating evidence in order to start wars,” Parsi added, referring to Bolton’s role in the invasion of Iraq.
Progressive members of Congress joined the chorus of voices speaking out against the Trump administration’s march to war with Iran.
“The one thing we learned from the last time we sent 120,000 American troops to the Middle East is don’t send 120,000 American troops to the Middle East,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) wrote on Twitter.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 presidential candidate, warned that a war with Iran “would be an unmitigated disaster.”
“We must stop Trump and his national security advisor, John Bolton—someone who likes endless wars,” Sanders tweeted.
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