A brave U.S. army lieutenant general may be risking his career to resist Trump administration efforts to provoke war with Iran. Robert P. White, who commands American forces in Iraq, last week wrote what the New York Times called a “blunt memo,” in which he opposed a new plan by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others to attack Iranian-allied militias inside Iraq.
Most of the world is concentrating on fighting the coronavirus pandemic. But a small group of powerful men are taking advantage of the huge distraction to try and instigate Iran into a war, apparently hoping against all logic that a conflict will prompt regime change there that will neutralize Teheran’s influence in the Mideast. This warmongering group includes Pompeo; Robert O’Brien, the U.S. national security adviser; some top Israelis, including Benjamin Netanyahu; elements of the Israel lobby inside the U.S., and Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Lt. Gen. White’s memo, which was leaked to the Times, warned that the proposed campaign in Iraq against Iranian-allied militias would “require that thousands more American troops be sent to Iraq and divert resources from what has been the primary American military mission there: training Iraqi troops to combat the Islamic state.”
The Pompeo/Netanyahu/Saudi target is the Kataib Hezbollah militia, which has attacked U.S. forces in Iraq, including after the Trump administration assassinated the senior Iranian general, Qassim Soleimani, in January. Pompeo et al dismiss Kataib Hezbollah as Iran’s “proxies,” although genuine experts argue that the group emerged because of the reality in Iraq, including the U.S. occupation, now entering its 17th year, and can act on its own.
Today’s Times report did not go far enough. Pompeo and his allies are not merely targeting a militia in Iraq, (and unnecessarily jeopardizing the 5000 U.S. troops still stationed there). They have a much larger aim — to provoke Iran into a response, which they hope escalates into a broader war. Plenty of critics have noted that aim, but the paper couldn’t find any of them to interview.
(At least the Times did get its hands on General White’s memo. The Washington Post is running a pathetic report that simply takes the Pompeo/Netanyahu approach at face value.)
Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump are notoriously vindictive. Let’s see what’s in the future for Lt. General Robert White.