Pentagon Countering against Pompeo’s Iran Escalation
June 19, 2019 (EIRNS)—According to a report in the Washington Post dated June 18, the Pentagon has been pushing back against the aggressive policy towards Iran from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser JohnBolton. According to the report, Pompeo has privately delivered warnings intended for Iranian leaders that any attack by Tehran or its proxies resulting in the death of even one American service member will generate a U.S. military counterattack, according to senior officials not named.
“The potential for a significant military response to even an isolated event has fueled a broader internal debate among top Trump officials about whether the administration’s policy exceeds President Trump’s specific goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,”
these officials said. Pompeo reportedly delivered one such message when he flew to Baghdad in May, when reports were that the Shi’ite militias were supposedly contemplating an attack on U.S. troops in Iraq.
The second feature of the Post report is that it’s the Pentagon that has been pushing back against State and the White House on escalating against Iran. The absence of a confirmed Secretary of Defense has fueled worries that hawks in the White House and State Department could push the military beyond its specific mission of destroying the remnants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, raising the potential for conflict with Iran.
The unnamed officials told the Post that Bolton has dominated Iran policy, “keeping a tight rein on information that gets to the President” and sharply reducing meetings in which top officials gather in the White House’s Situation Room to discuss the policy. The hardliners in both the White House and the State Department have prevailed on how hard to squeeze Iran with sanctions and were also behind ending the waivers that allowed Iran to export amounts of enriched uranium and heavy water that exceeded the limits of the 2015 nuclear agreement, JCPOA. All of this has been the subject of intense debate in both Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon, debates which officials in both departments complain Bolton has been keeping from the President. The process is “very exclusionary, and Bolton has very sharp elbows,” a senior administration official was quoted as saying.
At the Pentagon, they fear that the maximum pressure policy, even though they’ve gone along with it, might itself lead to conflict.