Someone has attacked one or more oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman – and the Trump regime really, really, really wants us to believe that Iran did it. The trouble: none of the pieces come close to fitting together the way that Donald Trump is claiming, and it couldn’t be more clear that he’s trying to manufacture a phony crisis.
Last night Donald Trump screwed up during an ABC News interview and delivered one of his biggest self-inflicted wounds to date by admitting that he’s willing to illegally accept foreign help in the 2020 election. Even as calls for his impeachment grew louder than ever today, suddenly someone decided to attack an oil tanker. If Iran did it, that sure would be a well timed stroke of luck for Trump, as it would give him precisely the distraction he so desperately needs. But it’s probably not Iran.
Here’s the thing. Iran is preparing to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who generally has Donald Trump’s ear, in an effort to work around Trump and ensure peace. There’s no way Iran would decide to carry out an overt act of war, such as blowing up an oil tanker, while it was trying to cut a peace deal. But that hasn’t stopped Trump and his consistently dishonest Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from blaming Iran anyway.
Before anyone could possibly have known for sure what was going on, Pompeo posted this reckless tweet: “It is the assessment of the U.S. government that Iran is responsible for today’s attacks in the Gulf of Oman. These attacks are a threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable escalation of tension by Iran.” In other words, Pompeo doesn’t want to know who was behind the attack; he simply wants you to think it was Iran.
In an even more suspicious move, just as this was playing out, Donald Trump publicly told Shinzo Abe on Twitter that he shouldn’t bother going to Iran to try to make peace happen. If Trump were taking a good faith approach toward Iran, why on earth would he not want his powerful ally Abe helping him out?
There is still no direct evidence that Donald Trump actually wants a war with Iran. Even he seems to understand, based on his past statements, that land wars are albatrosses that hang around a president’s neck and legacy. But by creating a phony crisis with Iran, and then eventually announcing that he’s “fixed” it, he benefits from both the distraction of the crisis and the credit for having solved it. In fact we just saw Trump use this strategy with his threatened tariffs against Mexico.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report