Disagreement on whether the U.S. will start military action against Iran

There’s plenty of disagreement on whether the United States will start some sort of military action against Iran.

The analysts appear to believe the Trump Administration is building a case to attack Iran – without Congressional involvement. NBC’s Jonathan Allen wrote a lengthy piece on the issue yesterday which suggested the 2001 authorization for use of military force may be what the administration is hedging its bets on when it comes to Iran.

That law gave the president the power to use force against “nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier strike group to the region. Three U.S. officials told NBC that a surge in American forces in the region was a response in part to intelligence-gathering suggesting that the Iranian regime had given proxies a green light to attack U.S. personnel and assets in the region.

And in recent weeks, the Trump administration has accused Iran of assisting al Qaeda, designated an arm of the Iranian military as a foreign terrorist organization and accused Iran of being linked to a terrorist threat against the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

The counter to this is from Washington Free Beacon Editor-in-Chief Matthew Continetti who thinks the only thing the U.S. is doing is displaying peace through strength and Tehran is basically on the ropes.

U.S. sanctions are crushing the economy, but if they leave the agreement with Europe they will be back to square one. To escape the box you try to punch your way out. That’s why Iran has assumed a threatening posture: Provoking an American attack could bolster waning domestic support for the regime and divide the Western alliance.

America faces a challenging international environment, with trouble spots in Venezuela, North Korea, China, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The breadth and depth of the crises requires dispassionate analysis and prudent judgment. It also requires us to remember the differences between deterrence, retaliatory strikes, and regime change and ground invasion. Only the first two things are under consideration, as Iran’s behavior in the Middle East grows worse. Guess what: We’ve got a peace fever. And the only prescription is more Bolton.

Continetti’s idea is Democrats and the mainstream media are raising the possibility of a war with Iran because they’re just trying to keep the Iran Deal in place and want to make John Bolton into some sort of second-rate Emperor Palpatine or, maybe, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish from Game of Thrones or, if you prefer the books, A Song of Fire and Ice.

“It’s John Bolton’s world. Trump is just living in it,” write two former Obama officials in the Los Angeles Times. “John Bolton is Donald Trump’s war whisperer,” writes Peter Bergen on CNN.com. “Trump’s potential war with Iran is all John Bolton’s doing. But it might also be his undoing,” says the pro-Iran Trita Parsi on NBCNews.com. “Is Trump Yet Another U.S. President Provoking a War?” asks Robin Wright of the New Yorker. Guess her answer.

“We cannot repeat the days before the Iraq war when even many of our most reliable news outlets repeated and amplified what was, in fact, a flimsy case for war,” Wendy Sherman writes in the New York Times. She would rather our most reliable news outlets repeat and amplify anti-Bolton talking points instead. Sure, America suspects Iran was involved when “four commercial tankers were reportedly sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates,” and “Saudi Arabia also reported that drones sent by Iranian-supported Houthis attacked Saudi oil facilities.” But, look, “Iran has denied this.” What more do you need to know?

The politicians are saying otherwise. Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney told CNN’s State of the Union today there wouldn’t be a war with Iran, and the admin wasn’t pushing for it.

I don’t believe for a minute that either the president or John Bolton or, frankly, anyone else in a serious senior position of leadership in the White House has any interest in going to the Middle East and going to war.

That’s just not going to happen. There’s no interest in doing that, barring some kind of attack from Iran or something of that nature, which I don’t think anyone anticipates. So, going to war with Iran, not going to happen.

And, look, the president made it very clear that he thinks the greatest foreign policy mistake probably in the modern age was the decision by President Bush to go into Iraq. The idea that he would follow the same path by going after Iran, a more difficult enemy, if you will, militarily, that’s just not going to happen.

Similar comments were made by Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton to Meet the Press.

We’d like to see the regime change its behavior. But my point about the first strike and the last strike is the United States is not going to take the first strike here. But if Iran attacks the United States or our allies in the first strike, then it will be up to America in a time and a manner of our choosing to take the last strike because our military will devastate theirs.

Cotton also suggested he wanted to see the Iranian regime change its policies and not meddle in other countries. He added the U.S. sending the Abraham Lincoln carrier group to the Middle East was about deterring Iran, not trying to push them into a war.

Whether this is the case is debatable. It is odd the U.S. has taken a policy towards negotiation with North Korea but isn’t interested in talking with Iran. You’d think the administration would take both tacts if it wanted to reduce any sort of tension between the countries. Diplomatic engagement seems favorable to isolation and threat of war.

One would hope the administration would seek a vote in Congress before any sort of military action – regardless of whether it’s limited or not. Skipping it would be a serious violation of the Constitution. That’s something administrations like to flaunt, and Congress seems rather tolerable towards regardless of which president does it.