President Trump's briefing to the American people on January 8 to defend his decision to order the killing of Iran's military leader Qasem Soleimani offered a glimpse into an ongoing internal battle over strategic policy within his administration. Trump asserted that he had made the right decision, based on intelligence that said an attack against Americans orchestrated by Soleimani was "imminent", therefore it was necessary to act immediately.
He also repeated his view that Soleimani was the "world's top terrorist", and that Iran has engaged in "destructive and destabilizing behavior", as a "leading sponsor of terrorism." For this reason, it is essential, he said, to ensure that Iran not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, and called on American allies, including Russia and China, to work with the U.S. to draft a new treaty to accomplish this objective, replacing the JCPOA negotiated by President Obama. He had made dumping what he called "Obama's terrible deal" a priority during his campaign for President.
At the same time, he expressed satisfaction that Iran's counterstrike, which hit two U.S.-Iraqi bases in Iraq, had produced no casualties, observing that "Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world." He then opened the door for potential future improvement in relations, stating that "ISIS is a natural enemy of Iran. The destruction of ISIS is good for Iran, and we should work together on this and other shared priorities." Further, he reiterated what he had said on January 3, after confirming that Soleimani had been killed, that in taking out the Iranian leader, "We do not seek a war, we do not seek regime change."
While it appears that, for the moment, a de-escalation of tensions is holding, there is no guarantee that it will last, given that warfare and terrorism, strikes and counter-strikes, have characterized the strategic situation in that region since after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, launched by President George W. Bush in October 2001, was followed by the invasion of Iraq, in March 2003, meaning the U.S. has been engaged in war there for nearly twenty years—what Trump called "endless wars", which he pledged as a candidate, and as president, to end. It is now known to everyone that the "intelligence" used to justify the invasion of Iraq was a fabrication, one which is part of a series of lies deployed to continue the destructive policies of the U.S. and its allies in the region—as for example the charge that the Syrian government deployed chemical weapons in Douma, to justify a strike against the Syrian military.
Given that Trump has been proceeding with a plan to withdraw U.S. forces in the region, it is certainly legitimate to investigate who in his administration would promote an escalation against Iran, which could precipitate another endless war.
"REPEATING THE SAME MISTAKES"
Among the prominent experts questioning the intelligence behind the strike against Soleimani is Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (ret.), who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell during the run-up to Bush, Jr.'s Iraq war. Powell is infamous for having used the fake dossier prepared by MI6 leader Sir Richard Dearlove, which claimed to have proof that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons, in his presentation to the United Nations that preceded the 2003 war against Iraq. In an interview prior to the killing of Soleimani, asked about the intelligence which claimed an Iranian attack was imminent, Wilkerson said, "We've seen this before—we don't need to do this again." He added, "We keep repeating the same mistakes." He said he agreed with Trump, that the Iraq war was a "catastrophic strategic mistake", which produced chaos, and was responsible for the rise of ISIS.
After the killing of Soleimani, Wilkerson questioned the "intelligence" produced to justify the act, saying "these lies are absurd", referring especially to Vice President Pence's statement that Iran was involved in the 9/11 attacks. He confirmed the charge made by retired General Wesley Clark, who reported that he had been informed by a Pentagon official shortly before the Iraq invasion, that there was a list of seven governments in the region that the U.S. would "take down", and this included Syria, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon and Iran. Everything bad in the Mideast today, Wilkerson concluded, "the U.S. started when it invaded Iraq."
The same question was posed in a significant article by journalist Patrick Lawrence, posted by Consortium News on January 6. He asked, "Have we not learned our lesson by now?" He asks who ordered the Soleimani assassination—was it Trump? Or was it Pompeo and Esper? He reviews the continued efforts by Trump to disengage U.S. forces from regime change globally, from North Korea, Venezuela, Syria and the Persian Gulf. In each case, he writes that Trump was frustrated in his efforts by his former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who often teamed up with Pompeo, who served as CIA Director before becoming Secretary of State.
Lawrence points to the failure to produce evidence of the plot attributed to Soleimani as an indication that a "Pompeo-Esper axis" exists within the administration, which is coordinating with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Mark Milley, to push the U.S. towards war. Pompeo has long been an advocate of harsh measures toward Iran. Without explicitly calling for regime change there—which would put him openly at odds with Trump—he said on May 21, 2018 that it would be "wonderful" if the Iranian people "get to make a choice about their leadership," in answering a question if he would favor regime change.
Bolton, who was fired by Trump for sabotaging his efforts to resolve crises such as North Korea and Iran with diplomacy, responded to the Soleimani killing by offering his congratulations, saying he hopes "this is a first step to regime change in Teheran." Bolton remains an influential voice among neoconservatives, who oppose Trump's intention to disengage militarily in the Mideast.
In reviewing the turbulent history of the last century-and-a-half in the Middle East, most of the turmoil can be traced to the British Empire and its creation of the doctrine of geopolitics as a modern means to upgrade the ancient policy of "divide-and-conquer." A central feature of the Empire's policy, going back to the mid-19th century "Great Game" against Russia in Afghanistan, is to use permanent conflict to maintain the dominance, and protect the interests, of the empire. Without reviewing that whole history, there are two recent precedents which point toward the "made in London" origin of current events.
First, going back to the infamous dossier asserting that Saddam's regime had weapons of mass destruction, it was produced by MI6, and presented to the U.S. by its leader Sir Richard Dearlove—the same Dearlove who still vouches for his former operative, Christopher Steele, who produced another "dodgy dossier," that which formed one of the pillars of the Russiagate attack against Trump. As this news service has been reporting from the outset, Russiagate was launched from London, in collaboration with CIA/NSC operatives serving in the Obama administration, committed to preventing Trump from collaborating with Russia and China to end the destructive and expensive "endless wars."
There is a second, lesser known example of British meddling. The U.K. Ambassador to the U.S., Kim Darroch, sent a series of communiques to the Foreign Office on how to manipulate the Trump administration. Darroch wrote he believed Trump would "be open to outside influence if pitched right." To accomplish this, he spoke of the need to "flood the zone", to "cultivate" a team of "Trump Whisperers", to "ensure the U.K. voice is heard in the West Wing."
When Trump called off the planned strike against Iran on June 21, 2019, following the downing of a U.S. drone, Darroch wrote that Trump's policy is "incoherent, chaotic." However, he wrote that he believed that Trump is now "surrounded by a more hawkish group of advisers...Just one more attack somewhere in the region could trigger yet another Trump U-turn," leading to a strike against Iran.
In seeking the answer to the question, "Who wants a war with Iran?", a good place to start would be to identify the "Trump Whisperers" cultivated by Darroch who are involved in shaping the "intelligence" provided to him. As was seen in the phony "Ukrainegate" hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, there are many people—like former Ambassador Taylor, George Kent and NSC operative Fiona Hill—who are part of the permanent bureaucracy, who believe they know better than Trump what should be done, and arrogantly think they, not the duly-elected President, should be the ones who make policy.
This usurpation of the constitutional role of a U.S. President elected by the American people represents an existential threat to the United States, and to world peace. These usurpers, who are allied with a foreign power, the U.K., which has meddled repeatedly in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, will not cease in their efforts to sabotage Trump's commitment to peace. There is no doubt that those who support the "unending wars", using regime change, False Flag terrorism, and psychological warfare to justify launching them, are the same individuals and institutions which have been behind the three year witch-hunt against President Trump—and that they are now pushing for war with Iran, rather than accept a peaceful, cooperative relationship between the U.S. and Russia, which is favored by both Trump and Putin.
It is time for these imperial war hawks to be brought before a tribunal, and tried for the war crimes which they have committed.