Ex-US Official: Trump Pushing Falsehoods to Pitch for Iran War

 Ex-US Official: Trump Pushing Falsehoods to Pitch for Iran War  Ex-US Official: Trump Pushing Falsehoods to Pitch for Iran War

The US administration has been orchestrating a campaign based on "shortsighted policy decisions" to create a false impression that war is the only way to deal with Iran and get Americans on the war wagon again, says a former US official. 

False narratives coming out of the White House on Iran echoes a similar scenario that led to a war of choice with Iraq in 2003, Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times on Tuesday. Wilkerson believes that the US invasion of Iraq based on false information about weapons of mass destruction resulted in catastrophic losses for the region and the United States-led coalition and destabilized the entire Middle East.

  Same Playbook

"The Trump administration is using much the same playbook to create a false impression that war is the only way to address … Iran," he wrote.  

Wilkerson, who admits he helped sell pre-emptive war with Iraq, says the recent claim by US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that the administration has "undeniable" evidence of Iran's supply of weapons to Houthi fighters in Yemen is astonishingly similar to Powell's presentation on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. 

"As I watched Ms. Haley at the Defense Intelligence Agency, I wanted to play the video of Mr. Powell on the wall behind her, so that Americans could recognize instantly how they were being driven down the same path as in 2003—ultimately to war."

Only this war with Iran, a country of almost 80 million people whose vast strategic depth and difficult terrain make it a far greater challenge than Iraq, would be 10 to 15 times worse than the Iraq war in terms of casualties and costs, said Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel.

He believes that the methods used by US President Donald Trump's administration overall match those of former US president George W. Bush. 

  Wide-Ranging Efforts

"The Trump administration's case for war with Iran ranges much wider than Ms. Haley's work," Wilkerson said. "We should include the president's decertification ultimatum in January that congress must 'fix' the Iran nuclear deal, despite the reality of Iran's compliance; the White House's pressure on the intelligence community to cook up evidence of Iran's noncompliance; and the administration's choosing to view the recent protests in Iran as the beginning of [the ruling system] change." 

In addition, he said the analysts claiming close ties between al Qaeda and Iran come from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which vehemently opposes the Iran nuclear deal and unabashedly calls for change of the ruling system in Iran.

"It's a vivid reminder of Vice President Cheney's desperate attempts in 2002-03 to conjure up evidence of Saddam Hussein's relationship with al Qaeda from detainees at Guantanamo Bay," Wilkerson said, adding that it also seems not to matter that 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were Saudis and none were Iranians.

"We've seen this before: a campaign built on the politicization of intelligence and shortsighted policy decisions to make the case for war. And the American people have apparently become so accustomed to executive branch warmongering—approved almost unanimously by congress—that such actions are not significantly contested," the article read. 

  Single Purpose 

Like the Bush administration before, these seemingly disconnected events serve to create a narrative in which war with Iran is the only viable policy, the former official added.

"As I look back at our lockstep march toward war with Iraq, I realize that it didn't seem to matter to us that we used shoddy or cherry-picked intelligence; that it was unrealistic to argue that the war would 'pay for itself', rather than cost trillions of dollars; that we might be hopelessly naive in thinking that the war would lead to democracy instead of pushing the region into a downward spiral," he wrote. 

"The sole purpose of our actions was to sell the American people on the case for war with Iraq. Polls show that we did. Mr. Trump and his team are trying to do it again. If we're not careful, they'll succeed." 

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