Trump ordered strikes on Iran but backed away in last minute
President Trump at the White House Thursday as plans were finalized for what ended up as an aborted attack on Iran. Evan Vucci | AP

President Trump approved military strikes against Iran that were in their early stages at 7 p.m. last night but backed off in the last minute when U.S. ships were already waiting to launch missiles and the Pentagon’s warplanes were already in the air.

There is no proof either way whether the president backed off because he temporarily changed his mind or if the pullback was for strategic and logistical reasons. What we do know is that there are splits in the ruling circles in Washington and the country as a whole over the issue of when and even if to attack Iran.

People like national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were pushing for immediate war on Iran all day yesterday as they have been urging for many months. There were reports, however, that the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military brass had reservations about an attack on Iran, at least at this time.

Regardless, the situation grows more tense by the day because of events triggered by the Trump administration itself. The steady stream of false claims and threats coming from Trump can trigger a new war at almost any moment.

The latest flash point was the shooting down of a U.S. military drone flying over Iran yesterday. When reporters asked the president about a possible U.S. response Trump said “the public will find out about what the U.S. response is. Iran made a very bad mistake.” Contradicting numerous reports, he claimed that “the drone was in international air space.”

The crisis has been planned and orchestrated by the Trump administration over a period of time and began when Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear arms deal Iran had signed with numerous countries, including the U.S. itself. Trump used the false claim that Iran had violated the deal to increase the level of painful U.S. sanctions inflicted on that country and to block shipment of Iranian oil to much of the world. Everyone knew that Iran would have to respond to Trump’s trashing of the deal and to his increased economic attacks and that response came last Monday when Iran said it might violate the 2015 nuclear deal that Trump had already torn up.

Trump is alone in the world in his mad push for war on Iran. He garners support only from the most reactionary regimes in the Middle East, places like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who oppose Iran for their own corrupt reasons. They shower largesse on Trump and his family by lending them hundreds of millions of dollars and by bailing out Trump’s losing real estate ventures in exchange for his support for their attacks on the Yemeni and Iranian people. It’s corruption on steroids.

Only hours after Iran said it was forced to consider violating some of the terms of the nuclear deal Trump had already virtually killed, he responded with yet another provocation by announcing he was deploying an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East, bringing the troop increase since May to 8,500.

Most world leaders fear that any war started with Iran would grow into a major and wider conflict in the Middle East, possibly on a scale much larger than the previous war against Iraq that had been orchestrated by the war hawk John Bolton, now Trump’s national security adviser. Bolton has long been itching for a repeat performance of his Iraq production 15 years ago only this time with Iran. He has been calling for a U.S. campaign that would end up toppling the current Iranian leadership and replacing it with hand-picked surrogates for the U.S. Bolton has even said he hopes for celebrations of the successful regime change at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, the place where American hostages were held during the Carter presidency.

Opponents of a war with Iran are speaking out, arguing that it is only Congress that has the constitutional authority to make – and stop – war. Other than a few Democrats most in Congress have not yet challenged the Trump administration’s push for a new war. Anti-war groups, however, have mounted a petition drive to build momentum in Congress to challenge the president:

Tell Congress: Block war in Iran. Click here to sign the petition.

Proof of the Trump administration’s war planning is surfacing regularly. Four weeks ago Bolton issued his claims of “credible threats” to “American interests,” with no accompanying proof and with no definition of what those “interests” were. Those claims were used by the administration to justify sending 120,000 troops to the region.

Soon after the Bolton threats, for the purpose of creating a sense of imminent danger, Trump recalled all non-essential staff from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

The next thing the world witnessed was an attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Omar last week. Once again Trump blamed Iran. Not a shred of evidence, however, was shared with Congress or the American people and a day later the owner of the tankers said he had evidence that Pentagon claims were false.

The attack on the tanker in the Gulf of Oman brings to mind the lies Lyndon Johnson told about alleged attacks on the US by the Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin – lies used to justify the war in Vietnam. Those who find it difficult to believe that an American president would feed them lies to justify imperialist war need to look again at history. Lying is business as usual for the imperialists and militarists as they push for the wars that are so profitable to the arms industries.

The step by step process of an administration rolling out these unfounded accusations can be seen as nothing less than an attempt to win public backing for war.

Among the reliable sources rejecting Trump’s claims, in addition to the owner of the attacked tankers, was a British general responsible for joint U.S./U.K. operations in the region who said, “there’s no increased threat” from Iran. Germany’s Defense Ministry also issued a statement saying there’s “no concrete threat.” In fact, no other nation is preparing for military intervention.

Here at home there are even sections of the ruling class worried about Trump’s push for war against Iran. For good reason they see the danger the war policy poses to everyone on the planet, including them. The first signs of opposition to Trump’s military policy have even surfaced in the Senate with some Republicans pushing against arm sales to Saudi Arabia. The steady stream of distortion and lies coming from the Trump administration are getting to be too much for even some of them.

For the Trump administration facts and truth are, of course, meaningless.

The facts be damned when a president who has had failure after failure in foreign policy is looking for some type of spectacular success. The Venezuelan people successfully defending their revolution didn’t look so good for Trump or Bolton both of whom had staked their reputations on being able to overthrow that revolution by recognizing as president of that country someone who was going nowhere, at least for now.

The facts be damned when a president who is falling behind all his Democratic opponents in many key states is looking for a successful war or two to boost his popularity.

The facts are, however, very important. The most important fact is that Trump wants us to forget who it is that started this whole mess with Iran. It was the U.S. that blew up the nuclear deal with Iran. The U.S. was the only one of the six nations involved in that deal that refused to acknowledge Iran had been living up to the terms of the treaty all along. Trump’s lie about Iran’s compliance and then his killing of the deal triggered the events that got us to the place of danger we are in today.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.