With U.N. officials reportedly worried that the United States is planning to carry out a bombing campaign against Iran — a move that ultra-hawkish Sen. Tom Cotton openly advocated over the weekend — the Trump administration late Monday announced the deployment of 1,000 more troops to the Middle East following attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
The Trump administration has claimed — on the basis of scarce evidence — that Iran carried out last week’s tanker attacks, but Japan and European nations have expressed deep skepticism and called for a thorough investigation. Iran has denied any responsibility for the attacks.
While acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan insisted in a statement that the 1,000 additional troops are being deployed for “defensive” purposes, anti-war critics and members of Congress raised alarm that the Trump administration is rapidly moving closer to an all-out military conflict with Iran.
“Rather than pursuing diplomatic off ramps to avert conflict with Iran, the Trump administration is in the left lane pushing the pedal to the floor, barreling towards another catastrophic war of choice,” Jon Rainwater, executive director of Peace Action, said in a statement.
“War with Iran would be a historic disaster, imperiling countless U.S. and Iranian lives and further destabilizing the region,” said Rainwater. “We cannot allow the administration to play politics with our foreign policy at the expense of national security.”
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink, declared in response to the troop deployment, “This is the Trump administration’s march to war with Iran.”
The Pentagon’s announcement came just hours after Iran said it may ramp up uranium enrichment in an effort to pressure European nations to provide relief from U.S. sanctions and uphold their end of the nuclear accord, which President Donald Trump unilaterally violated last year.
“None of this would be happening if Trump didn’t back out of the Iran nuclear deal,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said of the growing threat of war with Iran. “America’s response should be to return to the table and reinstate the Iran nuclear deal. Increasing tensions and threats of war serve nobody’s interests.”
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) echoed Omar, arguing that Trump’s “bad judgment is moving us closer to another war.”
He’s now sending 1,000 troops to the region as Iran moves towards enriching uranium.
This President’s bad judgment is moving us closer to another war.
— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) June 18, 2019
In a televised speech on Tuesday, just hours after news of the deployment of more U.S. troops to the Middle East, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said his country “will not wage war against any nation.”
“Those facing us are a group of politicians with little experience,” Rouhani said, referring to the Trump administration. “Despite all of the Americans’ efforts in the region and their desire to cut off our ties with all of the world and their desire to keep Iran secluded, they have been unsuccessful.”