The Trump administration is warning that Iran plans new attacks on American forces in the Middle East. Commentary’s Noah Rothman is up in arms that these claims are being met in some quarters with skepticism. “Those who accuse the Trump administration of engineering a military confrontation with Iran are asking you to ignore your own eyes and ears in service to their conspiracy theory,” he argues.
Rothman treats the somewhat vague intelligence of an imminent Iranian attack on the United States as a fact so solid only the most insane Trump-haters could deny it. Yet British major general Christopher Ghika, the top British military officer in the coalition fighting ISIS, tells reporters, “No, there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.” That would seem, at minimum, to throw the entire premise of an increased threat into question.
Rothman proceeds to argue that the Trump administration already has strong cause to attack Iran because Iran sabotaged two Saudi oil tankers,
“taking them out of commission and causing global oil prices to spike by 2 percent. The threat to international commerce and global maritime navigation posed by this attack is more than enough to justify a retaliatory response.”
Rothman continues to emphasize that this act alone justifies a military response:
Rothman treats Iran’s responsibility as a certainty: “According to the U.S. assessment, Iran or its proxy forces were responsible for an assault on two Saudi oil tankers,” he writes. He links to a story that merely calls this conclusion an “initial assessment.” Iran denies responsibility. So this premise is also less than completely solid.
More striking is Rothman’s casus belli: a 2 percent oil, uh, spike, if you can use the word spike to describe such a minuscule increase. That would translate to around 30 cents more to fill up a tank of gas. Note that Rothman doesn’t merely call this tiny, imperceptible, and temporary bump in the price of oil enough to justify retaliation — he says it’s “more than enough.” Would would just “enough” be?