Why is the Trump administration escalating its economic war against Iran, a dangerous policy that could eventually lead to a shooting war and trigger a world recession? Iran in 2019 is no danger to U.S. interests anywhere. Tehran is not threatening American shipping, or military bases; its allies, like Hizbollah in Lebanon, have not targeted U.S. civilians or soldiers for years.
The U.S. is squeezing Iran mainly because Israel wants it to. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in a de facto alliance with Saudi Arabia, and has warm relations with the other Gulf states and with the Abdel Fattah el-Sisi dictatorship in Egypt. Iran is the only regional power that is deterring him from completely annexing the West Bank. Iran is also a major supporter of Hamas, the resistance movement in Gaza.
Israel wants the Iranian government destroyed, and Netanyahu has been instigating the United States for years to attack Teheran. Now that American foreign policy is in the hands of incompetent, bellicose officials like Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, Israel senses that its hour has arrived. First, it encouraged the Trump administration to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, even though all the inspectors recognized Teheran was fully in compliance with the agreement. This economic assault is the next step. How long until an actual war?
The U.S. mainstream press is mostly missing the the Israel angle. Let’s start with the New York Times front-page report on the U.S. efforts to tighten the existing boycott and reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero by threatening importers like China and India. The word “Israel” appears nowhere in the fairly long article. Not once. The Washington Post made exactly the same omission: no mention of “Israel.”
Most mainstream coverage takes at face value Secretary of State Pompeo’s contention that U.S. pressure is only meant to make Iran act like a “normal” country. But it fell to the New York Times editorial board to tell the truth that should have been reported in its news pages; back in February, the Trump administration sponsored a conference in Warsaw that attracted officials from many Arab states and Israel. The Times dismissed the administration’s stated reason for the gathering. “The goal of their meeting. . . was not peacemaking,” the Times said. “It was to rally support for economic and political war with Iran. . .”
That Times editorial went even further. It cited a tweet by Benjamin Netanyahu, since deleted, in which the Israeli prime minister admitted that the Warsaw conference was in truth “an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.”
Why aren’t the reporters who cover the State Department hammering Pompeo and his mouthpieces with tough questions about Israel’s connection to the tightening U.S. pressure on Iran?
Before the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, there was at least a vigorous public debate, even though the Bush administration did sucker most of the U.S. mainstream media. This time around: silence. America could be sleepwalking into another tragedy that is not in our national interest.