By Cameron Gonzales
Last night, President Trump ordered (then called off) a strike on Iran. The strike order was in response to Iran shooting down an American drone. It is still unclear as to whether the drone was in fact within Iranian territory, as the Iranian government has claimed, or if it was in international waters, as the White House claims. Iran’s representative to the UN wrote a letter claiming, “we are not after war but will defend against any aggression”. Since the only information we have on the strike comes from the Presidents tweets, absent even a White House Press briefing, the details are unclear surrounding the situation.
What we are aware of is that less than ten minutes before the strike was expected to take place the President called it off, which he said he did in response to learning 150 civilians would be killed. Without an acting Secretary of Defense (or even a proposed Secretary of Defense for six months), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton have been calling the military shots. Both Pompeo and Bolton have been strong advocates for a regime change in Iran, which should be concerning in a time with such high tension with the country. If Trump did have a Secretary of Defense, the civilian casualties likely would have been communicated long before those last few minutes before the strike. Additionally, it should be concerning that neither the President nor his advisors considered the loss of civilian life before ordering the strike. It looks on the outside as if the administration is not taking the necessary precautions required to not escalate already tense relations into a full blown war.
America does not need to enter another war in the Middle East, but we head into this conflict with two hawkish advisors and no Secretary of Defense to warn otherwise. Pompeo has even claimed in a House Services Committee meeting, that the administration could use the 9/11 era AUMF to invade Iran without congressional approval. The AUMF, or the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, allows the president to use any force necessary against nations/groups believed to have committed or aided the 9/11 terrorist attacks. America has already sent 1,000 troops to the region to join the 1,500 already stationed troops. Without any briefing, the American public holds its breath in the hopes that the “forever war” does not continue.
The question remains, how did tension with Iran escalate so fast, and why is it happening at all? In July of 2015, the Iran Nuclear deal was signed after two years of negotiation with Iran and the worlds superpowers: China, France, Russia, the UK, the US, and Germany. Its purpose was to place restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifted sanctions, and it was successful. Under the deal, Iran had considerably dismantled their nuclear program, confirmed by international inspectors who were not allowed more transparent and easily accessible inspection of the program itself. Trump called off the deal a year ago and has ramped up sanctions on Iran. Iran has, in turn, re-started its nuclear enrichment program. With mixed signals coming from the current Administration in terms of war, it is clear that Iran is taking advantage and pushing for escalation.
In our past, America went to war for noble causes, for patriotic reasons, to stand up for our values and to promote global security. Our soldiers were mobilized and trained to fight for our country and our values. They were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend everything we stand for. This conflict is not what we stand for, a conflict that had been close to resolved with the help of the Iran Nuclear Deal. The only time a President should be prepared to send troops to sacrifice their lives is if there is an immediate threat to America or its allies, and all other avenues have been exhausted. All information regarding the conflict has been kept behind closed doors. The American public is now getting their briefing from late night tweets rather than White House Press briefings (which have all but vanished). We head into this conflict with no Secretary of Defense, no Air Force Secretary, and no UN Ambassador. We have lost credibility with our allies and their citizens. America is on the road to a full-scale, uninformed war with Iran, led by hawkish advisors, without congressional approval, and with an incredibly weak link between the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Iran. We should all be concerned.