Trump’s Simple Re-Election Gambit–War With Iran (Video)

In 2011, Donald Trump tweeted the following:

Nearly a year later, he followed with:

Two weeks later, Trump tweeted:

This indicates a lot about how Donald Trump thinks the way presidents win re-election.

Although Trump’s prognostication about Barack Obama starting a war with Iran was incorrect, Trump is planning on doing what he accused Obama of intending now that the House of Representatives is in full impeachment inquiry mode and the tide of public opinion is beginning to turn against him.

This week, the Trump administration agreed to send nearly 2,000 troops and advanced military equipment to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to thwart threats from Iran.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday:

“I have ordered the deployment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of two additional fighter squadrons and supporting personnel.”

That personnel includes two batteries of soldiers, an Army unit manning Patriot air-defense missiles, two squadrons of fighter jets, and 3,000 soldiers.

Yet Donald Trump insists on a promise he repeated on the campaign trail about extricating the U.S. military from foreign entanglements.

On Monday, he said:

“We want to bring our soldiers back home. These are endless wars.”

He then claimed–falsely–all U.S. forces have been pulled from Syria when approximately 1,000 troops are still deployed there.

Since May, the Pentagon has added 14,000 soldiers to our Middle East presence.

He tweeted last Wednesday:

A U.S. Air Forces Central Command report from last month confirms we launched the most Afghanistan airstrikes in over a single month in ten years.

We have increased airstrikes in Libya and continue our proxy war in Somalia.

Trump is not the first president to use the military as a re-election strategy gambit.

James Madison became our country’s first wartime president during The War of 1812, setting a precedent where no incumbent president has ever lost re-election during a time of war.

Ronald Reagan tried it back in 1983 with an invasion of the tiny island of Granada.

His successor George H.W. Bush did it with his “100-hour war” with Iraq, known as “Desert Storm” in 1991.

In 1999, then Texas Governor George W. Bush reported to journalist Mickey Herskowitz:

“If I have a chance to invade…if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

Then came September 11, 2001, after Bush ignored repeated intelligence warnings Osama bin Laden was intent on attacking the United States.

Herskowitz said:

“Suddenly, he’s at 91 percent in the polls, and he’d barely crawled out of the bunker.”

Two years later the United States invaded Iraq, a country that had no hand in the fateful attacks, and posed no existential threat to our nation’s sovereignty.

After being re-elected in 2004, Bush stood before the American people talking about earning some “political capital” he intended to use.  That “political capital” was privatization of Social Security and other Republican agenda items.

Tensions between Iran and the United States intensified last month after attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities for which Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels took responsibility.

Tehran denies any involvement.

The Trump administration nevertheless blames Iran.

This is part of a pattern.

In June, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pronounced Iran was responsible for the alleged limpet mine attack on two oil tankers earlier that day in the Gulf of Oman, showing grainy video supposedly featuring members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded mine from one of the tanker’s side.

This was the only “evidence” he provided, and he fielded no questions.

Iran denied any involvement and accused the U.S. of trying to sabotage diplomacy.

This comes conveniently one month after former National Security Adviser John Bolton claimed, again without evidence, Iran launched ballistic missiles at small Iranian sailing vessels, unlikely due to the ships’ sizes and lack of previous ship-based missile tests.

In May, Mother Jones reported:

“Tensions between Iran and the United States have been high for weeks, beginning with a menacing video Bolton released in February targeting the Iranian supreme leader and reached a boil last week when, according to the New York Times, he ordered the Pentagon to prepare to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter Iran.” 

Pompeo also blamed Iran for an assault in Kabul, Afghanistan, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.

The Washington Post reported this is yet another sign of the Trump administrationitching for war.”

In an MSNBC interview, Former State Department spokesman Marie Harf stated Donald Trump’s rhetoric toward Iran in recent weeks is similar to what the Bush administration told us in the run-up to the Iraq war.

She said:

“They’re cherry-picking intelligence, they’re upping what they consider to be the threat. And, look, there is a real threat. I don’t want to downplay that. But what worries me the most is that something like this happens, or the Iranians do something else that is a provocation and we get locked in this cycle of escalation where John Bolton–-don’t forget John Bolton is still there-–Mike Pompeo push President Trump so he feels like he can’t back down and then we’re in this cycle of escalation that, quite frankly, could end very badly. There is no reason to go war with Iran today. We can counter them in many, many other ways. The Trump administration doesn’t seem to have a strategy to do that and that is scary to me.”

But the $65,000 question is, will Trump’s little gambit work?

After all, it worked for the aforementioned commanders-in-chief.

Will we fall for the ruse again?

Have we learned nothing?

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Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.