Skepticism surrounding the Trump administration’s approach towards Iran has been on full display following recent attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quick to publicly draw the conclusion that Iran was responsible, and the US Navy released grainy footage as proof, the reception from the public and even America’s closest allies has been circumspection. A question that many in Washington have been asking in private has increasingly become public: are we witnessing a ham-fisted, Trumpian rerun of America’s past misadventures towards war, this time with Iran? Many are already bracing themselves for Pompeo’s version of Colin Powell’s vial of anthrax at the UN. And even before the tanker attacks, talk of the Gulf of Tonkin and “remember the Maine” were being thrown around by typically sober-minded analysts.
While the truth behind the tanker episode may reveal itself to be exactly what Pompeo has claimed — or exposed as something more nefarious — the machinations behind a separate campaign to shore up the humanitarian case for war with Iran have already begun to unravel. And the fingerprints of key players in the Trump administration and its allies are all over it.
In the lead-up to the Iraq war, the Bush administration propped up an Iraqi exile, Ahmad Chalabi, as the voice of the Iraqi people. Thanks to Chalabi, Americans were led to believe Iraqis wanted their country to be invaded and, in the words of the administration, the US “would be greeted as liberators.” Nearly two decades later, in the age of social media, the proponents of war with Iran have not just propped up a single Iranian validator in support of intervention, but an entire cyber network of Iranian Chalabis. And while in many cases these accounts may indeed belong to organic supporters of regime change, recent revelations have cast a long shadow.Back to top