KER Politics – Mon 20 May, 2019

Dr. Ullman opines on John Bolton and Iran


May 20 (UPI) — Despite the president’s order to his acting secretary of defense not to start a war in the Persian Gulf, it is hard to discount a more sinister interpretation of the Trump administration’s decision to deploy additional naval forces and bombers to the region as part of exerting “maximum pressure” on Iran.

That national security adviser John Bolton made the announcement rather than the Pentagon of this response to intelligence warnings of potential Iranian strikes against American and local forces is also troubling. After all, Mr. Bolton has expressed a clear preference “to bomb Iran before it gets the bomb.” And the so far unattributed attacks on four tankers in the Gulf of Oman just outside the Gulf last Sunday have heightened fears of a potential flash point being ignited. Unfortunately, in times of crisis, administrations are almost always deaf or forgetful of history.

Perhaps someone might caution the president against pursuing a policy of “ready, fire, aim” in these circumstances. In February 1898, USS Maine blew up in Havana Harbor. This became the cause celebre for starting America’s war with Spain who at the time owned Cuba and were blamed for sinking the ship, killing about 200 American sailors. In fact, as it was later proven, the detonation was caused by an explosion in the ship’s coaling bunkers and not by the Spanish. But war was fought in

In August 1964, after USS Maddox was attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats, she was ordered back to a patrol station in the Tonkin Gulf accompanied by another destroyer, the USS Turner Joy. Both ships reported a second attack. Needing a raison d’ĂȘtre to escalate the war against North Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson did not wait for confirmation. Instead, Johnson ordered a retaliatory bombing of the North and Congress passed with two dissenting votes, the infamous Tonkin Gulf Resolution committing the country to what would become a ten-year losing war.

The second attack never occurred, and the first attack was carried out by a local commander in contradiction to orders from Hanoi not to do so. Of course, the second Iraq War that began in March 2003 was waged over weapons of mass destruction that long since had been destroyed.

So far, Congress is equally forgetful of this history. Indeed, should military action follow, it is very possible that the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), approved eighteen years ago by the 107th Congress after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, could be used to justify strikes against Iran or its proxies. Should that happen, this would be a gross congressional abandonment of its constitutional responsibility to declare war.. would use far more force. But if that figure indeed were an option, more careful thought is vital.

In 1978, the Pentagon completed its so-called Persian Gulf study, during the Cold War. The mission was preventing a Soviet invasion into Iran from the north driving south to seize Iran’s valuable oil fields. The study concluded that an American force of between 300-400,000 was required to repel such an attack. In those days, the Shah was in power and Iran was firmly on our side. With a country as large as Iran and Tehran hundreds of miles from the Gulf; a large army and larger reserve force; and population of some 80 million who would oppose any ground intervention, an invasion force of 120,000 would produce a catastrophe equivalent to Gallipoli.

Iran also has many options. Its missile forces could obliterate much of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities. It could blockade and mine the Strait of Hormuz. It could send a sizable force to occupy the island of Bahrain. It could unleash Hezbollah against Israel along with a formidable offensive cyber capacity that Americans tend to discount.

Logistically, where would a force of 120,000 Americans be stationed? How long will it take to deploy with weapons, fuel, food, water and support? Would the Saudis and UAE agree as they did in 1990 and Kuwaitis in 2003 to hosting such a force? And would Congress approve its use or defer to the president?

First and most importantly, the attacks against the tankers must be attributed and correctly so. We do not need cherry picking of intelligence, a la 2003. Second, both intended and unintended consequences must be examined. And finally, we need careful and objective consideration of options that “Remember the Maine!”

Dr. Harlan Ullman is UPI’s Arnaud deBorchgrave Distinguished Columnist. His latest book is “Anatomy of Failure: Why America Has Lost Every War It Starts.” He can be reached on Twitter @harlankullman

Big Al says: The obvious conclusion that I come to here is that Trump is using Bolton to intimidate or even “put the fear of Allah into the leaders of Iran. What do all of you think of that conclusion?

  1. On May 20, 2019 at 12:53 pm,
    larry says:

    I think that this is an adequate backup plan in case the equity markets enter their ‘normal’ but severly delayed true deep 4 year cycle correction…A long overdue 50 to 60% corrective move is due and prior to the presidential election…..War initiation declines historically are ALWAYS followed by massive recovery rally’s once the victory cross over is attained…

    • On May 20, 2019 at 1:04 pm,
      Big Al says:

      Al I heard earlier, “if we go to war against Iran, Trump is guaranteed to get elected.
      I am not really sure if I would agree with that even though history is on the side of such an opinion.

  2. On May 20, 2019 at 12:55 pm,
    larry says:

    I am not speaking of clear victory as much as neutralization of escalation moments…..look at charts and war moments…It is true

  3. On May 20, 2019 at 12:58 pm,
    cfs says:

    Iran is a side-tracking issue.
    The Russians, allies of Iran are encouraging Iran to hassle the U.S..

    In my view this is because investigators in the U.S. are getting closer to understanding Russian spying on U.S. High Tech, and Russian dirty tricks to support Hillary and malign Trump.

    • On May 20, 2019 at 1:13 pm,
      Al B Korelin says:

      Read the article, thanks. You could very well be correct in your thoughts about “getting closer to understanding Russian spying”

  4. On May 20, 2019 at 1:06 pm,
    cfs says:

    A major Russian associated with the Skolkovo Project WAS one of the SOURCES for the STEELE DOSSIER.

    Smell anything here?

    • On May 20, 2019 at 1:42 pm,
      Al B Korelin says:

      Of course, I n smell something rotten here. But then again Steel’s payment did come, for the most part, from efforts of the Clintons.

      • On May 20, 2019 at 2:10 pm,
        cfs says:

        I’m not sure the “Steele Dossier” was fully written by Christopher Steele, or even that it was originally a “dossier”.

        There is some indication it was a bunch of notes originally.
        Possibly added to and “improved” by Nellie Ohr (or her husband).

        It has been the biggest boondoggle and distraction for the Trump Presidency.

        The polirization in the country with regard to the judiciary and the entire placemrent of self-interest and retaining power for politicians is slowly making the country self destruct into un-governability.
        It now requires so much greater effort to filter out true information out of the media, which is running 90% opinion, rather than giving unbiased facts.
        If I’m having a problem, I don’t think the general public have a hope of finding out the real truth.

        • On May 20, 2019 at 2:12 pm,
          cfs says:


          I know how to spell….just have problems reading.

  5. On May 20, 2019 at 1:11 pm,
    cfs says:

    You still don’t think HRC is a traitor?

    Are you stupid or simply ignorant?

    Listen to Dan Bongino. He understands the real Russian Collusion.

    It’s always what you don’t know you don’t know that gets you in the end.