War is in the air

I woke up this morning with the premonition that America will be going to war with Iran, either directly or by proxies.

Why?

President Trump has long exclaimed his opposition to the nuclear treaty with Iran. By firing Gen. McMaster, and before him, Secretary of State Tillerson, and installing two hawkish substitutes, Mssrs. Pompeo and Bolton, President Trump has signaled that he is serious in his position.

Unlike North Korea, with which President Trump is now about to negotiate, Iran remains relatively isolated. It doesn’t have a next-door super-power ally as North Korea does with China; and Americans still loathe it, if not for its holding of the American Embassy hostages and its anti-Americanism, then for its religious-based intolerance of women’s rights and freedom of speech.

Now, consider that another leader, Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, under investigation by Israeli judicial officials for corruption just as President Trump’s campaign is for illicit ties with Russia. He likewise is a longtime opponent of the Iran nuclear treaty because of he fears that a nuclear Iran is a very real threat to Israel. His government has announced itself pleased by the nomination of Mr. Bolton to be the National Security Adviser.

And consider that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently visited Washington DC, to discuss the situation in the Middle East and to seek additional armaments. Saudi Arabia is very concerned about the threat to the region posed by a resurgent Iran in Yemen, Lebanon and Gaza. These concerns are shared by his Israeli counterparts.

Bring the three leaders together in an unlikely alliance and what do you get? War.

And what does a leader of a country do when threatened by low popularity? Rally the people behind an external enemy. Since President Trump seems to have chosen the path of détente with North Korea, that leaves only Iran as public enemy #1.

It’s what President Bush did by attacking Iraq and what, I fear, President Trump will do by annulling the treating with Iran and forcing a conflict with it.

No wonder I woke up in a sweat.

About the Author
Rabbi Anson Laytner of Seattle is currently president of the Sino-Judaic Institute and longtime editor of its journal Points East. Before retiring, he taught at Seattle University and worked with the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.
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