Trump Administration officials continue to talk up the idea of a war with Iran at every opportunity. In the past few days, talk of the “Iranian threat” has grown, even though there is no question the US would be the one to attack, not Iran. Still, officials try to make it appear an inevitability.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues talk of the war during his visit to India, saying that if there is a war it would be Iran’s fault, and that he believes the US has “done everything it could” to avoid the conflict.
To be clear, the US doing everything it could, as Pompeo is claiming, involved months of US threats to attack, and Pompeo taking point on trying to drum up support for a US attack.
President Trump called off an attack on Iran at the last minute just a week ago. This week, however, he has repeatedly threatened “overwhelming force” against Iran, and “obliteration” of large parts of the country. Iranian officials say they view that comment as a threat to nuclear strike Iran, which is the only way they could “obliterate” anything the way Trump is talking.
But Trump talks a lot, too, which means his promises of apocalyptic destruction, and a quick decisive war with no troops involved are likely just more of his tirades that aren’t meant to be seen as policy proclamations.
Iranian FM Javad Zarif was quick to reject Trump’s comments, saying it was “an illusion” to suggest the he could launch a short war between Iran and the US. US officials seem keen to advance this idea, likely as a way to present a huge war with Iran as so inconsequential as to not be worth serious debate.
President Trump has, whether he’s on a day where he’s inclined to start a war or not, consistently argued that he can unilaterally attack Iran whenever he wants, and that not only doesn’t he need Congressional authorization, the choice to even inform Congress that a war is starting would be entirely his. This has been a matter of some debate in Congress, but it’s not clear a serious legislative effort will happen to preclude Trump from carrying out this unilateral war, should the mood strike him.