As Trump Administration Pushes Confrontation with Iran, Miscalculation Risks War

Interview with Dan Kovalik, author, "The Plot to Attack Iran: How the CIA & Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Iran," conducted by Scott Harris

On May 8, 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the international Iran nuclear deal. America’s unilateral pullout from the agreement came despite Iran’s 100 percent compliance with restrictions placed on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear weapons program. Now, one year later, Trump and his national security advisor John Bolton appear to be preparing for war with Iran.
In quick succession, a series of events over the past week have contributed to a dangerous rise in tensions between Washington and Tehran. The White House dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group and bomber task force to the Middle East after asserting intelligence agencies were warning of a possible attack against U.S. forces or their allies by Iran or their proxies. At about the same time, Iran threatened to reduce its compliance with the nuclear agreement unless the other signatories could provide relief from U.S.-imposed sanctions.
Reports of damage to four oil tankers, two of them Saudi-owned vessels from a purported sabotage attack off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, further escalated tensions. Then the New York Times published a story maintaining that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented a military plan to deploy as many as 120,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East if Iran attacked U.S. forces or accelerated work on its nuclear weapons program. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik, author of the book, “The Plot to Attack Iran: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Iran.” Here, he assesses the Trump administration’s hostile stance toward Iran and the risk of miscalculation that could lead to war.

DAN KOVALIK: Iran knows that a conflict would be fatal for itself. And so it’s the U.S. that is ginning up the conflict. Iran was in compliance with the nuclear deal, our own intelligence services said that. Obviously, Europe believed that because they’ve tried to hold onto it and Trump walked away from it unilaterally. Why? Not because Iran wasn’t complying with it, because Trump wanted a conflict with Iran and certainly his national security advisor, John Bolton has been very clear that he wants a war with Iran.

And what we see now happening in the Persian Gulf with the U.S. Sending warships there. And then when these, frankly, very vague claims of ships being sabotaged, we’re seeing a pretext being developed for a war against Iran. Very much like the pretext we saw in the war against Iraq in 2003, which was based on weapons of mass destruction, which ended up not existing. Or like Gulf of Tonkin incident in the 1960s, which never happened either, but which led to the U.S.’ massive invasion of Vietnam.

And so we’re seeing this repeated right now. It’s interesting, the former Lt. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who actually wrote the yellow cake speech for Colin Powell, the one that helped pave the way for the war in Iraq has been very clear that he regrets having penned that speech, which was based on falsehood. And he’s also clear that a war with Iran would be devastating, 10 times more devastating in terms of lives and treasure than the war with Iraq. And that we should not be pushing for such a war. And yet we seem to be hurdling towards a war with Iran right now.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Dan, it’s often been reported that the Trump administration’s hard line against Iran has weakened the moderates there and strengthened the hard liners. The question out there is, what is the Trump administration’s goal here? Are they trying to gin up a war or is there some other goal here that they’ve articulated that I missed?

DAN KOVALIK: I think they’re trying to gin up a war. It appears to me that the neocons, again, best represented by John Bolton, have seized control of the U.S. foreign policy and they want and had been very clear for decades that they want to recreate the Middle East. And a big part of that is getting rid of the government in Iran. And I think the only way they think they can do it is through military force. And that’s what they’re pushing for. So yeah, I mean it’s very dangerous. This is going to cost millions of lives if it happens. Trillions of dollars that could be better spent on other things. But this is what some people in the White House want at this point.

BETWEEN THE LINES: Now, there’s a whole range of reckless actions, propaganda gone wild, unintended consequences, miscalculations even false flag operations that could trigger a conflict. What are you most concerned about that and maybe others that you can add to that list?

DAN KOVALIK: Well, I think any military invasion of Iran would be devastating. And I think we need to be looking for these fake pretexts again. I think we’re seeing some happen right now with claims of ships being sabotaged. You know, we send ships to the Persian Gulf looking for trouble and my guess is somehow the U.S. is going to find trouble, either real or imagined or made up. The problem has been that the mainstream press has been unwilling to challenge the White House – whoever’s in it – when they make such claims that lead to war. And I think we need to be skeptical and to question what we’re being told in regards to Iran. I believe Iran does not want a war. I think they realize they would lose a war ultimately. And I think we need to be very skeptical of any claims of the things happening that will lead to a pretext to start that war.

BETWEEN THE LINES: In this moment of rising tensions between Washington and Tehran, what in your view, is the role of the House of Representatives controlled by the opposition party, the Democrats? What should they be doing in this moment here?

DAN KOVALIK: Well, what they should be doing is enforcing the War Powers Act, making it clear that Trump has no constitutional right to start a war with Iran without congressional authorization. And they should not give such authorization. People want to focus on doing something to prevent a war – it would be putting pressure on the House of Representatives to take those actions because otherwise they won’t. I mean, the Democrats, let’s face it. They’re not good on these issues either. Certainly once a war starts, the Democrats will jump right on on board. So I think the time is now to put pressure on Democratic representatives to stand up to Trump on this.

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