We are on the brink of another American war — this time against Iran. After Iran shot down a U.S. drone in its own airspace, Donald Trump ordered a military strike which, by his administration’s own estimates, would have killed 150 Iranians. But then, as if scripted for Reality TV, Trump changed his mind with just minutes to spare. That’s how close we came to a war on Iran.
New Bedford Democrat Richard Drolet recently wrote an excellent overview of the history of Iranian-American relations, appealing for Congress to block any move to attack Iran. As Richard points out, U.S. claims of Iranian attacks on marine vessels in the Persian Gulf have precedent in other deceptions of the American public. Remember the Gulf of Tonkin? Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Remember the Maine?
It doesn’t take much to deceive a credulous and poorly-informed American public. Despite the administration’s claims of Iranian aggression, this will not be a war over drones and shipping channels. This will be a long-desired war to ensure Israel’s status as the only nuclear superpower in the region. And, if Trump’s neoconservatives John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, and Michael Pompeo get their way, it will also be another chance to effect regime change in the Middle East.
Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the US-Iranian nuclear agreement, placing the Iranian military on a terrorist watchlist, supporting violent Iranian exile groups like the MEK, hitting Iranian civilians with more crippling sanctions, and deploying the U.S. military force to the Persian Gulf have all brought us to this crisis.
Trump’s neoconservatives have convinced Republicans that invading Iran is one way to make America Great Again, and that an American invasion would be a “slam dunk.” Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton thinks it wouldn’t take much to defeat Iran — “two strikes, the first strike and the last strike.”
But an entire generation has gone by since the first Gulf War and the US is still not out of Iraq, a much smaller country than Iran. After hundreds of thousands killed, and trillions of dollars squandered, the US is also still in Afghanistan propping up a puppet regime.
Cooler and better-informed heads remind us that a US invasion would be the Mother of all Quagmires. Juan Cole, a Mideast expert at the University of Michigan, published the “Top Ten differences between the Iraq War and Trump’s Proposed Iran War.” Among them:
- Iran is 3.7 times bigger than Iraq — 1.5 million square miles, almost the size of Alaska.
- Iran has 3 times more people than Iraq — 81 million.
- Iran can mobilize 1.5 million paramilitary forces and 500,000 active duty personnel.
- While the Gulf War “Coalition” drew on NATO allies to fight Iraq, Europe is now skeptical of a war on Iran.
- Many of Iraq’s neighbors were happy to see Saddam go. Iran still has many regional friends.
Congress must reclaim its Constitutional authority and pass legislation to prevent an unauthorized conflict with Iran. 71 House Representatives have sponsored H.R.2354 — the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act of 2019. Shamefully, of the 9 Massachusetts Congressional Representatives, only Jim McGovern and Ayanna Pressley are co-sponsors.
So here we are, again, on the brink of another American invasion of a country in the Middle East. Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 and leave a message with your Representative. Remind them that, under the Constitution, it is up to Congress, not the President, to declare war. Demand that they hold Donald Trump accountable for any illegal military actions. And ask them to cosponsor H.R.2354 to stop what will surely be another disastrous war of choice.