National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have spent the last few weeks making the case that Iran is ramping up hostility towards the U.S. and that America will need to take serious action in response. But some people—including foreign generals, U.S. intelligence officials, and members of Congress—just aren’t buying it, according to the Daily Beast.
Three government officials told the Daily Beast that members of U.S. intelligence agencies say Iran’s renewed aggression is a direct response to American actions.
Several lawmakers also said that the Trump administration is essentially forcing Iran to act out in response to American aggression. In addition to pulling out of the nuclear deal last year, these provocations have included stricter sanctions on countries that buy oil from Iran, evacuating U.S. diplomats from the Baghdad embassy, putting an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, and designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group.
“I would characterize the intelligence I’ve reviewed as very murky, as reflective of generally increasing tensions in the region, and I have developed a belief that most of the activities that the Iranians are undertaking are in response to our very aggressive posture in the region,” Rep. Jim Himes, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told the Daily Beast.
“Without sharing any of the intelligence, the answer is, there’s nothing there that indicates that we should send B-52 bombers, a carrier fleet, and the Marines,” another anonymous legislator said. “So what’s going on here? What’s going on here? Wagging the dog?”
This skepticism and concern echoes what some foreign officials have been saying publicly about Iran’s actions. On Tuesday, for instance, a top British military official, Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, said that there was “no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria,” prompting a public rebuke from the U.S. military. German foreign minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday that the American provocations were troubling. “Maximum pressure always carries the risk of an unintended escalation,” Maas said.
Some Republicans told the Daily Beast that the administration’s actions are indeed provoking Iran, but that they didn’t see the problem.
“Clearly the Iranians are not happy with the maximum pressure campaign that the U.S. is imposing on them, including the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization,” Sen. John Cornyn told the Daily Beast. “And so I think they’re lashing out, and some of the threats are very concerning.”
Bolton has previously said that the aggressive actions against Iran were intended to push the country “until its leaders decide to change their destructive behavior, respect the rights of the Iranian people, and return to the negotiating table.” Well, they’ve decided to change their behavior now!
“I’d like to see them call me,” Trump said of Iranian leaders last week.
On Wednesday, the White House announced that Trump would meet with Swiss president Ueli Maurer, the diplomatic go-between for the U.S. and Iran, to discuss “facilitating diplomatic relations and other international issues.”