U.S. Increases Risk Of War On Iran Without A Path To De-escalation

It is difficult to judge if the rhetoric and moves against Iran, amplified by gullible media, are just propaganda aimed at pushing Iran towards negotiations, or if they are a build up of a realistic military threat against that country.

Cross-posted from Moon of Alabama

Is the U.S. military, which lost its powerful positions in the White House, trying to get National Security Advisor John ‘Stache’ Bolton fired?

A ‘leak’ to the New York Times accuses Bolton of preparing for war on Iran:

At a meeting of President Trump’s top national security aides last Thursday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, administration officials said. 

The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser. It does not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops, officials said.

The development reflects the influence of Mr. Bolton, one of the administration’s most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush.

If asked for ‘options’ the military typically lays out three scenarios. The first is very minor action unlikely to have any effect. The second is what the military sees as reasonable or wants. The third option is fantastically exaggerated. The 120,000 troop deployment is the third option. The number is too high for an attack by air and on sea and too low for an attack on land, i.e. an invasion of Iran. Releasing the third option number is likely designed to rally against such a move.

More than a half-dozen American national security officials who have been briefed on details of the updated plans agreed to discuss them with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity.

Among those attending Thursday’s meeting were Mr. Shanahan; Mr. Bolton; General Dunford; Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director; and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence.

In a possible quid pro quo the delivery of ‘options’ by the Defense Department happened on the same day that acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan was finally nominated for the permanent position. The previous Secretary of Defense James Mattis had ignored similar options requests from the White House. Trump fired Mattis at the end of last year.

An alternative view is that Bolton himself leaked the briefing to shore up the Trump administration’s propagandistic threat against Iran.

Still, it is obvious that some of those present at the meeting disagree with whatever Bolton’s plans are.

In another sign of disagreement within the Trump administration the State Department just fired a Bolton ally:

A top U.S. arms control official and prominent Iran hawk has resigned from the State Department after serving just over a year in the position, said U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the decision.The State Department on Monday did not offer a statement explaining the planned departure of Yleem Poblete, the assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance.

In April, Reuters reported that some U.S. officials were concerned that the compliance report politicized and slanted assessments about Iran, which the Trump administration has singled out as the country’s principal foe.

Poblete was a favorite among hard-line anti-Iran groups such as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which hosted her for a speech in July 2018 in which Poblete praised the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran deal.

The news comes after mysterious reports of damage on allegedly four ships, including two Saudi oil tankers and a Norwegian vessel, anchored near the United Arab Emirates oil port Fujairah. The incident is said to have happened on Sunday morning but the official report came only some 36 hours later. Only one of the ships was pictured with damage that seems to have resulted from a collision and not from explosives…

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