On July 22 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a bizarre speech on Iran. Delivered from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, and ostensibly addressed to the Iranian-American community, the speech’s staging clearly sought to evoke the fall of communism, casting the Ayatollahs in the role of Leonid Brezhnev and company.
Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis has denied a report that the US was identifying targets in Iran to be struck as early as next month and disowned regime change. For what it is worth (probably not much) a recent poll shows that Americans are against war with Iran by a better than two-to-one margin. But, as Raimondo observes, “there are plenty of warmongers in Washington who just can’t wait for the shooting to start in the Middle East again, and they have targeted Iran as their next victim. … [S]uch a war would destroy Trump’s presidency precisely because his base would oppose it. And yet, … despite the fact that the President’s advisors are pushing war with Iran, Trump routinely ignores them and does exactly as he pleases: that’s why we had the Singapore summit and the Helsinki meeting with Putin.”
We can hope that Trump will decide on his next steps with regard to Iran based on much broader international considerations that impact his domestic goals. Taken most optimistically, that could mean a concept that some of us have been suggesting for almost two years: a new “Big Three” understanding among Trump, Putin, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Indeed, Professor Michael T. Klare, writing in TomDispatch.com, claims this is Trump’s conscious intention:
‘The only acceptable response, he made clear, was to jettison such overseas commitments and focus instead on “restoring” the country’s self-defense capabilities through a massive buildup of its combat forces. (The fact that the United States already possesses far more capable weaponry than any of its rivals and outspends them by a significant margin when it comes to the acquisition of additional munitions doesn’t seem to have any impact on Trump’s calculations.)’