Weird but true: Given the president’s devotion to watching Fox News and the dearth of dovish voices around him, Carlson may have more influence in keeping America out of war with Iran with his commentaries than anyone else in the United States.
Even weirder yet also true: If the U.S. and Iran were to start firing at each other tomorrow, Fox’s 8 p.m. guy and its 9 p.m. guy would find themselves poles apart on this issue.
And despite nationalists’ apprehensions about intervention abroad, there’s zero question which side of that dispute Fox’s audience would take. Tucker would suddenly find himself a lonely figure as a right-wing critic of America’s newest assault on the Axis of Evil.
His guest in the clip below is over the top in questioning whether Bolton is trying to engineer a Gulf of Tonkin incident to justify war with Iran but, as best as the NYT can tell, it’s true that the evidence of a growing Iranian threat is thin. Even some U.S. allies aren’t seeing it.
Intelligence and military officials in Europe as well as in the United States said that over the past year, most aggressive moves have originated not in Tehran, but in Washington — where John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, has prodded President Trump into backing Iran into a corner.
One American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential internal planning, said the new intelligence of an increased Iranian threat was “small stuff” and did not merit the military planning being driven by Mr. Bolton. The official also said the ultimate goal of the yearlong economic sanctions campaign by the Trump administration was to draw Iran into an armed conflict with the United States…
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s efforts this week to recruit European countries to back the administration’s steely posture on Iran are being received coolly…
Privately, several European officials described Mr. Bolton and Mr. Pompeo as pushing an unsuspecting Mr. Trump through a series of steps that could put the United States on a course to war before the president realizes it.
A top British commander in the western effort to defeat ISIS says he’s seen “no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria.” Iraqi intelligence officials are also reportedly skeptical of U.S. claims that the Iranians are plotting something.
It’s possible, obviously, that the intel which the U.S. has is sturdier than the Times sources realize and/or that naysayers are downplaying it for political reasons, because they oppose an attack on Iran for prudential or ideological reasons. In particular the bit about Bolton and Pompeo leading an “unsuspecting” Trump around by the nose seems aimed at playing upon Trump’s vanity, knowing how much he detests being seen as a catspaw of his deputies. Carlson’s commentary here complements that, starting with a reminder that the president commands the U.S. military, not John Bolton. If you don’t trust POTUS to oppose a major war with Iran on the merits, appeal to his vanity. Or maybe show him this poll and remind him how politicians who supported the last major war in the Middle East have fared in recent presidential elections. (2004 worked out okay for Dubya, of course.)
But it’s also possible that the intel really is thin and that the hawkish faction led by Bolton is being opportunistic in citing it as a reason to turn the long cold war between the U.S. and Iran hot. It may be Bolton’s misfortune in this matter that the recent plot to oust Nicolas Maduro by having his top advisors desert him en masse failed so miserably a few weeks ago. Had the intelligence behind that plot been borne out, Trump naturally would have more faith in the intel detecting an Iranian threat to U.S. proxies in the Middle East. As it is, having been burned by the failure in Venezuela, he’s destined to be more skeptical now. The failure in Caracas may have foiled the plans for Tehran.
Exit quotation from citizen Donald Trump, November 29, 2011: “In order to get elected, @BarackObama will start a war with Iran.”