Is the United States heading towards war with Iran? US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insists that the Trump administration does not want war – but also insists that Iran is behind the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, while not ruling out taking whatever actions necessary to protect ships in the Strait of Hormuz and to prevent the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb.
There are three reasons why so many of the United States’ traditional allies, including both the European Union (EU) and the vast majority of member states, are sounding lukewarm about the intelligence showing that Iran is behind the attacks on the tankers.
The first is that the intelligence is not certain, there is always a value in questioning intelligence. The second is that outside of the Trump administration, there is no appetite for war with Iran and the third is that, even more importantly, there is vast opposition across the continent to any war in Iran, particularly one with Trump’s White House at its helm.
Unsurprisingly, there is little enthusiasm among European voters to refight the Iraq war with a more formidable opponent and a less competent President, and as a result there is precious little support for it in European capitals.
That’s also true here in the UK, but the opportunity to remind British voters of Jeremy Corbyn and the row over Salisbury is too great for the various Conservative candidates to resist. In private, however, most admit that you don’t have to share the Labour leader’s account of global politics to be deeply uneasy about the bellicose sounds emerging from the White House.
Does Trump want war? We know – as his state visit demonstrated – that this President’s convictions shift depending on who he has last spoken to. At present, it is America’s remaining neoconservatives who look to have his ear, but that could change very quickly. It’s also possible that the US could blunder into a war with Iran it doesn’t really want.
As far as the UK is concerned, if there is a war with Iran, the UK won’t be involved. There is no majority in Parliament for it even before the inevitable opposition to it in the country has kicked into gear. –BBC