Given the posturing of Australia’s bigger brother in the schoolyard of geopolitics recently, the question of whether we will engage in full-scale warfare with Iran is, once again, becoming more relevant and immediate. Our current Prime Minister appears blindly willing to co-operate with the USA on matters of foreign policy which makes things all the more scary.
Iran has shot back into the news after Mike Pompeo immediately blamed Tehran for an attack on two oil tankers, but offered no evidence to support his claim. He was backed up by defence officials from friendly foreign governments around the world. Not only is there little evidence to support the claim that Iran and its Revolutionary Guard Corps orchestrated the attack, there appears to be ready evidence against that story.
One of the tankers that was attacked in the Strait of Hormuz was Japanese. Why would Iran attack a Japanese ship while the Japanese Prime Minister was in Tehran negotiating, among other things, trade arrangements? There’s even less Iranian incentive when one considers the crippling economic sanctions that have been levelled against Tehran since the abandonment of the Iran Nuclear Deal. This is aside from the eyewitness reports from those on board the ship of flying objects (likely drones) that hit the ships with missiles.
While I believe that Donald Trump, for a number of reasons including having run on an anti-war platform in his 2016 campaign, is not directly interested in starting a war with Iran, there are dangerous figures around him that have sought to confront Iran for years. John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are principal and foremost among these.
John Bolton has made his stance against Iran known since as early as 2002. He has consistently pursued a vehemently anti-Iranian line. Not only is Bolton’s stance anti-Iranian, its anti-diplomacy. When the Obama administration began negotiating with the regime for the ultimately successful Iran Nuclear Deal Bolton said “The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure”. He continued this line despite Iran passing all IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspections of their nuclear facilities. And in 2015 authored an op-ed for the New York Times entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran”.
Mike Pompeo, on the other hand, is a Christian fundamentalist who sees USA foreign policy as a means for holy war; he frequently mentions his beliefs in conjunction with foreign policy prompting the idea that these may be of significant influence over his policy decisions. Pompeo also has ties to Christian Zionism, a doomsday theory essentially in which the end of the world will arrive when Jews regain control of the Holy Land. This is one of the reasons why he is so staunchly in favour of Israel and working to oppose one of its old enemies, Iran.
It’s nothing new for the USA to raise international tensions by engineering facts and engaging in false flag operations. In 1964 the Johnson administration used a fabricated incident in the Gulf of Tonkin to escalate a ground war against North Vietnam (prior to that it had been performing aerial raids against South Vietnamese Viet Minh enclaves). More recently the Bush administration used fabricated information from an Iraqi refugee in 2003 to begin its invasion of Iraq, the greatest foreign policy blunder of this century so far.
On Twitter, Trump has been feuding with Rouhani (the Iranian leader), claiming that the USA military will “obliterate” Iran in a confrontation. Rouhani has responded in kind, warning Trump “not to play with the lions tail”.
Trump has also recently claimed that USA military planes were “cocked and loaded” and ready to initiate strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, among other sites. This was in response to Iran shooting down an unmanned USA drone that may have been in its airspace.
Whether he actually intervened 10 minutes before the strike so that he could save 150 civilians is probably matter that will remain among the Joint Chiefs of Staff for some time. But it seems much more likely that he was presented with the possible regional/global ramifications of the strikes and reached a natural conclusion; these impacts may have included retaliation against American expats in the region and that could have pulled in Russia & China along with a coalition of usual bulwarks of Western justice to a protracted war.
The willingness of our current Prime Minister to follow USA foreign policy blindly was highlighted well by his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, contradicting decades of Australian and international posturing on the issue. He has also backed the US President on his tough stance toward the Iran Nuclear Deal. The PM has refused to rule out military involvement in Iran, should the USA invade.
So all-in-all, I would say the chances for war involving Australia in the near future are relatively high. The worsening situations in both North Korea and Iran alongside worsening water woes in nuclear-armed Pakistan and India put the world closer to nuclear annihilation than ever before.
What a time to be alive.
By Nathan Booth