“This was an attack by Iran on the world,” U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared on CBS Face the Nation this morning. “This was an act of war.”
Yet Pompeo did not state that America would start dropping bombs or send troops into Tehran. He consistently told ABC, FOX, and CBS the U.S. wanted to solve the problem diplomatically and get the entire world behind stopping Iran.
“The whole world understands that Iran is the bad actor,” He told Fox News Sunday while also calling Iran an evil force in the Middle East. “I hope this week here in New York, the whole world will come together to push back against this and convince the Iranian leadership that this behavior is simply unacceptable…this is the world’s responsibility to respond from these state-on-state acts of war that took place in Saudi Arabia this past week.”
These are similar words used by the United States in the run-up to the war with Iraq in 2003. The Bush Administration promised it was seeking a diplomatic solution while also looking to see if a coalition of other governments would commit troops to invasion. Whether there are enough nations outside of Saudi Arabia is up for debate.
Pompeo did shed little light on what America wanted from Iran.
“No missile strikes. No capacity to build out their nuclear weapons program, broadly speaking. Stop the assassination,” he said on CBS Face the Nation. “They’re killing people in Europe. They have an assassination campaign in Europe. This is not a normal nation and we hope- we hope the Iranian people, who we think are demanding that their country stop this kind of behavior, act in a way that causes the Iranian regime’s behavior to change. That’s our mission sense. That’s what President Trump is determined to achieve. First and foremost through diplomatic means.”
There are questions regarding Pompeo’s claim about Iran assassination campaigns. He first raised the idea of an ‘assassination campaign’ in May 2018 during a speech at The Heritage Foundation. A State Department spokesperson later told The Guardian that Pompeo had access to information which was not made available to her but promised it was a valid claim. An Iranian dissident was killed in 2017 in The Netherlands but the Dutch did not attribute the killing to Iran.
A Norwegian of Iranian descent was taken into custody last October on claims he was involved in reconnaissance of the Dutch leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz. The Netherlands suggested Iran had targeted the ASMLA group for some time and the Danish Security and Intelligence Service was providing personal security for the separatist group for several months. It’s possible Pompeo was referring to this case in his 2018 speech at Heritage even though the Dutch were just starting to protect the ASMLA leader. He was intimating it today during his Sunday show visits.
Iran is planning for some sort of conflict. The military held a parade today where it displayed a surface-to-air missile which might be able to hit nearby American bases. Iran President Hassan Rouhani also poked the White House by saying the region would be more stable if America stayed out of the Middle East. History does suggest nothing good comes from land wars in Asia.
It’s still up for debate as to whether the U.S. military should strike Iran. The Netherlands is not part of America. Neither is Saudi Arabia. It would make more sense for these nations to put together and lead some sort of ‘coalition’ into Iran instead of the United States. The American military need not be world police despite Pompeo’s claim Iran committed some sort of act of war.
The only sort of good news from all this is the lack of commitment from President Donald Trump on what happens with Iran. “Nothing is ever off the table, completely, but I have no intention of meeting with Iran and that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen,” he told reporters today per a White House pool report. “I’m a very flexible person, but we have no intention. It’s not set up. We’re meeting with a lot of leaders we have about 15 meetings set up, but Iran is not one of them.”
Diplomacy is what’s needed in this, diplomacy which includes Iran. The only hope is cooler heads prevail and no other violence spawns from the rhetoric.