Home/Daniel Larison/The Iran Obsession Strikes Again

The Iran Obsession Strikes Again

President Trump and Supreme Leader Ali Khameinei. CreativeCommons, Shutterstock.

As if to prove the point that I was making yesterday, The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump may be sending as many as 14,000 more troops to the Persian Gulf as part of his bankrupt Iran policy:

The Trump administration is considering a significant expansion of the U.S. military footprint in the Middle East, including dozens more ships, other military hardware and as many as 14,000 additional troops to counter Iran, U.S. officials said.

The deployment could double the number of U.S. military personnel who have been sent to the region since the start of a troop buildup in May. President Trump is expected to make a decision on the new deployments as soon as this month, those officials said.

Mr. Trump, facing an election next year, has long sought to exit foreign entanglements and avoid new conflicts. But on Iran—and partly at the behest of Israel—he is convinced of the need to counter the threat his aides say Tehran poses, the officials said. He also could approve a smaller U.S. deployment, the officials said.

Sending more troops to the Middle East as part of the Iran obsession encapsulates much of what is wrong with Trump’s foreign policy. It is both unnecessary and dangerous, and it flows from the president’s own previous bad decisions. Trump is responsible for creating the heightened tensions with Iran with his relentless economic warfare against the country, and then in response to the crisis that he created he expands the U.S. military presence that makes a conflict more likely. None of this would have happened had Trump not reneged on the JCPOA and reimposed sanctions. Each new deployment further escalates the situation and makes it more difficult for both governments to find an off-ramp in the event of a clash.

Putting more ships and personnel in the Persian Gulf makes what is already a potentially explosive situation more dangerous by increasing the chances of accidents and misunderstandings. Increasing the U.S. presence in the region will likely cause the Iranian government to take its own corresponding measures that could be misconstrued or otherwise used as a pretext for war. The lack of any regular channels between our governments makes the possibility of escalation following an incident much more likely. At best, it is a waste of resources and it puts thousands more Americans at greater risk for no good reason.

The Trump administration’s fixation on Iran is out of all proportion to Iranian power. The military buildup in the region that we have seen this year is also completely at odds with the president’s rhetoric about bringing troops home. Instead of bringing troops home, he continues to send them abroad for the sake of an irrational obsession that has nothing to do with keeping the United States secure.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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