I write this because I think I can keep it short and because if I think I’m about to be profoundly helpless in a world of chaos, being able to look back and tell myself that I might have spotted the smoke before everyone else was on fire is probably the only thing that’ll make me feel a little bit better. But anyway, onto my point:
I think that the US president is about to go to war on Iran. I can’t really say why, how, or when for sure but I will speculate.
I wrote this some time ago and has decided to ignore it, but I just saw this report and it turns out I’m about to be right…
For 6 reasons:
It’s popular among most republicans, including establishment ones, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
It’s popular with his two main advisers: Pompeo and Bolton.
The withdrawal of the USA from the Iran deal and the appointment of the aforementioned advisors were steps that point in this general direction. Put another way, if your priors were neutral, those appointments should have shifted them towards a bellicose outcome.
It’s popular with the leaders of the two countries he appears to see as his two main allies: Israel and Saudi Arabia.
It’s a good way to deflect attention from the Russia scandal and the Mueller investigation.
It’s a good way to look strong when everyone is telling you you just looked like the weakest president in US history.
The midterm elections are approaching and he might think that getting into a war will help his chances.
(Extra reason “Why” for context, in case you are reading this in the future: he’s a morally bankrupt narcissistic megalomaniac with a fragile ego living in a bubble of sycophantic groupthink who is otherwise surrounded by enemies)
( 3 extra reasons “Why” that are not necessary but are interesting, if for no other reason for how nefarious they are. Also, their speculative nature is pretty close to conspiracy theory level, although I’m not arguing that’s there’s a conscious conspiracy. It’s more like these three added things seem to me to be true and to be perhaps the ugliest incentives driving the relevant decision makers:
If he goes to war, Trump might just be able to get something like the Patriot Act through Congress to give him more broad powers to shut down the Mueller investigation, assuming he wins the midterm elections.
Israel is clearly taking a turn to the right, so a little holy war seems like just the sort of thing it needs to justify an internal purge and finally get rid of those pesky Palestinians in Gaza and the Westbank. Also, a war like this would probably give them the necessary cover to exile or imprison all those pesky second class citizen Arabs.
Saudi Arabia would probably benefit from all this: nothing like trouble in the Middle East to increase the price of oil and increase the revenues of the Saudi Kingdom. Also, have you seen the state of Aramco’s IPO?)
My best guess is that this will be a little bit more like Libya rather than like Iraq, if it gets to that. Trump doesn’t want to commit boots on the ground, so he’ll send planes to carpet bomb Iran. Unless Russia, China or India step in, he’ll get away with it. Some Saudi-led coalition, along the lines of the one that decided to stomp on Qatar and kinda failed, will probably provide the troops. Israel’s role would be a bit uncertain… I don’t imagine IDF soldiers marching together with Sunni Wahhabist Arabs but I could be wrong on this. There are probably a lot of mercenaries in the Saudi army so it probably wouldn’t look like that. My best guess though is that after the whole debacle with Hariri earlier this year, MBS will gladly let Israel handle Lebanon…
Probably before the mid-terms, if Trump feels like it will help his chances at the mid-term elections. There’s not a lot of time for that though…
But if not by then, probably still at some point after that. My best guess: Spring 2020 – he needs to have won the war by September to have a shot at re-election. My hope: Never. My less optimistic hope: Autumn 2019. – Try occupying the Iranian plateau during the winter…
WHY DOES IT MATTER FOR EUROPE?
That’s what this website is all about.
Well a war with Iran is going to be really messy, and really, it’s only going to work out for Russia, in a way. It’ll completely divide Europe, kind of like Iraq did. Italy and Eastern Europe would tag along. Portugal and Spain perhaps too if right-wing parties are in government. France and Germany not so much. Oh and Turkey will also probably not like it one bit. It seems to have good relations with Iran and Erdogan clearly likes Putin nowadays. Worst case scenario: NATO collapses.
And another refugee crisis will probably end up knocking on our doors again.
You might think that this is the crisis Europe needs to get its affairs in order, drop the USA’s patronage, develop its own army and start a new era of paradigm-shifting political integration. Clearly that’s an end I’d be happy with. So why the long face? – because how you get to a place shapes how you look at that place when you get there. Basically, this is not how I’d like Europe to get to that place (even though as time passes and I watch our leaders complacently cozying up to the post-September 2012 Draghi announcement-induced stability, it seems like the only way we’ll get there…). Also, war sucks and makes everyone poorer, Europe and myself included.
Is there some hope it won’t come to that?
India gets a lot of oil from Iran these days and China dislikes instability in commodity markets, so perhaps Iran is the only thing they’d agree on?
Russia is clearly Iran’s ally. If Putin decides to draw a line in the sand, then the USA will not risk nuclear war over Iran. Why Putin would do that however is beyond me. As far as I can tell, there’s no formal treaty of mutual protection between the 2 countries so ditching Iran will probably not hurt its reputation too much. If it really works out, it could bait the USA and try to facilitate the most acrimonious split between Trump and Europe. Rising oil prices are good for Russia. So as far as I can see, it’s really win-win for Putin…