In an interview with Time Magazine this week, President Donald Trump confirmed that he was willing to commit the military to conflict with Iran if it was the only choice to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing a nuclear weapon. However, he indicated, he was not so willing to go to war to protect oil supplies, which have been seemingly threatened by an attack on Japanese and Norwegian oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Asked by Time what Iran could do to provoke the U.S. into a war, Trump said, “I would certainly go over nuclear weapons, and I would keep the other a question mark.”
Of the attacks on tankers, which administration officials have blamed on Iran, Trump downplayed their severity.
“So far,” he said, “it’s been very minor.”
On Monday, Iranian officials announced that they would be ramping up their production of enriched uranium beyond the limits ordained by the 2015 nuclear agreement. They said that they would reach these higher limits within 10 days, putting their stockpile well above the amount necessary to run their power plants.
While Iran is no longer beholden to the United States in terms of the Obama-era deal, they are still partnered in the agreement with five other nations. Furthermore, the Trump administration has been crystal clear about the U.S. position on Iran’s enrichment program. Iran is playing with fire, in more ways than one.
In a nearly simultaneous announcement, the Defense Department said Monday that the U.S. would send another 1,000 troops to the Middle East.
“In response to a request from the US Central Command for additional forces, and with the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House, I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East,” acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement. “The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region.”
President Trump has been candid about his approach to military strategy. Namely, he believes it is in our country’s best interests to play our cards close to the vest. Given that, and given the fact that we know many in his administration are itching to get tough with Iran, our Islamist friends need to realize they are walking on very thin ice. Trump is not inclined to commit the same errors we made in Iraq, and we don’t believe he’ll go blundering into another Middle Eastern quagmire without due cause. On the other hand, a nuclear-armed Iran is an unacceptable proposition.
This would be a good time for President Hassan Rouhani to come to his senses.