Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Is Trump Framing Iran for Oil Tanker Attacks in the Strait of Hormuz?

Normally we would consider it unthinkable to believe a US president could be behind the oil tanker attacks that took place in the Strait of Hormuz last week. However, there is nothing normal about the current president.  As we have seen many times since the inauguration, President Donald Trump is blazing a trail of unorthodoxy - and that is being generous with the magnitude and ethics of his approach to government.

Don't get me wrong; I am not saying that Trump is behind the attacks.  However, unfortunately I simply can't rule it out.

The US was first out of the blocks to blame Iran for the attacks.  It may be that Iran IS responsible, but the quick leap to judgment would make any reasonable person suspicious.  The US states, through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that they have enough evidence to convict, but so far all we have seen is a grainy image of what appears to be an Iranian boat removing something off a ship - the US claims it is an unexploded mine.  Maybe it is.  However, the US has used grainy footage before to justify military force, and it blew up in their face . . . so to speak (see War: Iraq).

Great Britain and Saudi Arabia were also quick to join the US in blaming Iraq.  Iraq denies responsibility and the European Union and Japan have stated that they haven't seen enough evidence to draw any conclusions.

The argument for Iran's guilt is based on the position that they would be showing that they are going to be a big player in the  oil trade and no one else will transport oil through the channel if they can help it.  However, if that was the case, denying responsibility would weaken their position.  In addition, one of the tankers was Japanese and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Iran at the time on a diplomatic mission.  It doesn't seem to add up.

Although others have reason to sew discord in the area.  Saudi Arabia has long wanted the US to act against Iran.  They would benefit from the attack being pinned on Iran while tensions gear up between Iran and the US.  That is probably why they were eager to stand with Pompeo when he rushed to judgment to blame Iran.

What would Trump have to gain to frame Iran for the attacks?  First of all, it would help cement his standing with another repressive country, Saudi Arabia. Trump seems to be eager to up his reputation in the Deranged Despot Club (DDC) with Putin and Kim Jong-un.  Trump supports the horrendous war in Yemen waged by the Saudi's that has caused 50,000 deaths and millions in need of aid.  He also backed Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salmon (member in good standing in the DDC)  in his denial of having American resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi killed despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Trump wants to continue support of the war in Yemen in addition to moving forward on selling arms to Saudi Arabia despite Congress blocking him in bipartisan fashion.  If tension heats up between Iran and the US to the point of military action, then Congress would feel pressure to back off  and allow the arms sale because of Saudi's conflict with Iran would make them an ally in the conflict.

In addition, Trump is feeling the pressure of the election.  Just about every poll picks a number of Democrats defeating Trump in 2020 - even in key states Trump won last time.  With the knowledge that Americans are hesitant to vote an incumbent president out of office in times of war or international conflict, a dust up with Iran couldn't come at a better time.

For some, the thought of Trump being behind the attacks in some way to frame Iran just seems untenable and ridiculous.  However, after two years of the Trump Administration, untenable and ridiculous have proven to be right in his wheel house.  Add National Security Advisor, and White House resident war monger, John Bolton, to the mix and its time to start hugging the national guard members in your family before they deploy.

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