Trump Picks Iran Hawks

Commentary — Dec 30, 2016

While we are fortunate that Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House failed the man who beat her is beginning to look like he will carry on where George Bush left off. So instead of confronting Russia over Syria or Ukraine, we’re back instead to confronting Iran; and if that develops into a full-blown conflict Russia will no doubt join in too.
Either way, the team Trump is assembling around him doesn’t auger well with his stated intent to avoid military interventions overseas.
US Marine Corps General James Mattis. Click to enlarge

US Marine Corps General James Mattis. Click to enlarge

For a start he has picked a well known hawk on Iran, Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, as Secretary of Defense.
Iran, according to Mattis: “remains the single most belligerent actor in the Middle East,” and one whose “consistent behavior from the 1979 through today shows no signs of changing.”
Mattis is not alone among Trump’s picks for key positions in his administration with strong feelings about Iran. In his choice of Lt Gen. Michael Flynn as National Security adviser, Trump has named yet another well known Iranian hawk.
According to Flynn the “negative behavior and expanding influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” pose a threat not only to U.S. interests in the Middle East but to its main regional ally, Israel.
Flynn has repeatedly and emphatically singled out Iran as the biggest threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East and regional peace in general.
With Mattis as secretary of defense and Flynn as national security adviser it will only be matter of time before a “military option” in dealing with Iran is back on the table. For although Trump has promised a more conciliatory approach toward Russia the team he’s assembling suggests otherwise. For even if Iran is the intial focus, Russia will inevitably be drawn into the fray.
Israeli officials are reportedly “thrilled” with the team Trump is assembling and the more picks he makes the worse it looks.
Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., named as new CIA chief. click to enlarge

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., named as new CIA chief. Click to enlarge

In his choice of Mike Pompeo to head the CIA, Trump has chosen another confirmed hawk on Iran. Writing on Twitter in November, Pompeo wrote: “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”
Apart from denouncing Iran as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror, Pompeo has also called for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to receive the death penalty.
It doesn’t take a genius to see where all this is heading. Three key appointments in the Trump administration relating to defence and security and they are all saying the same thing. Words to the effect that Iran is a threat to the U.S. and its allies.
This is even before Trump has assumed office. What will they be saying after Trump has been in the Oval Office for six months? Will they still be warning about the supposed threat posed by Iran?
Or will they be demanding that something be done about it?
Despite the nuclear accord with Iran we seem to be heading back to precisely where we were when President Obama first assumed office. However, Iran seems to have used the intervening years to make ready for just such an eventuality. Not only has it taken delivery of Russia’s formidable S-300 air defence system, it has also redoubled its efforts to field its own indigenously developed weapons systems.
Having watched the crucial role played by Western air power in Iraq, Iran has concentrated on developing air defence weapons in particular. So that it now has an array of missiles effective at a variety of ranges and altitudes and a number of radar systems including passive radars and phased array radars.
What has now emerged is an integrated air defence network comprised of various radars and missile systems. Crucially, apart from the ‘game-changing’ S-300, the West knows next to nothing about the capabilities of those systems that comprise Iran’s integrated air defences. In the next year or two we may find out. Ed.

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