By Finian Cunningham
May 22, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - The erratic US president has gone from wishing for peace with Iran to, a few days later, making a veiled threat of nuclear annihilation against the Islamic Republic.
Donald Trump got on his twitter pulpit at the weekend, warning about the “official end of Iran”.
The configuration of military power in the Persian Gulf, the heightening of tensions between the US and Iran, and the unhinged aggressive rhetoric all make a tinderbox situation.
At times, the protagonists have each said they don’t want war. But just like the slippery slope towards the First World War (1914-18), the eruption of hostilities can take on a logic of its own.
Paradoxically, assurances last week from President Trump and his top diplomat Mike Pompeo that the US “is not fundamentally seeking a war with Iran” are not in fact all that reassuring.
Neither, it must be said, are assurances from the Iranian leadership that they also do not want war with the US. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said there was “no appetite for war”. That may be so, but it’s no guarantee there won’t be one, especially because the circumstances are so precarious.
In the run-up to the First World War, European leaders were similarly adamant that war could be avoided. They thought their rationality and modernity would spare them from catastrophe. Nevertheless, the Europeans quickly plunged into a conflagration through a chain reaction beyond their control.
What bodes particularly grave today is the erratic and incendiary nature of Trump’s rhetoric. At the end of last week he was telling media that “he hoped” there would not be war with Iran. Indeed, he even alluded to the possibility of future diplomatic talks with Tehran. Then, over the weekend, Trump flipped as always and tweeted that if Iran threatened the US “it will be the official end of Iran”.
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