This week, four commercial tankers were reportedly sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, near the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic shipping lane for about 40 percent of the world’s oil. Saudi Arabia also reported that drones attacked an oil pipeline, possibly by Iranian-supported Houthis. Both incidents ratcheted up tensions as anonymous American officials in the press pointed to Iran as the perpetrator. Tehran has denied this.
Additionally, during a meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly shared reports of escalating Iranian threats in the Middle East. On Wednesday, the State Department announced that it was pulling nonessential staff from Iraq, citing unspecified Iranian threats. This came after increased American sanctions against Iran and the movement of an American aircraft carrier and B-52s to the Persian Gulf. With Iran threatening to step back from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran nuclear deal, the Trump administration leaked plans to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East if war is to come.
But war is not inevitable. President Trump campaigned on bringing troops home, not sending tens of thousands more to the Middle East. Such a deployment, although inadequate for a full-scale war, is more than foolish. War in the Middle East, as we should have learned by now, is neither swift to end nor sure to achieve its purpose.”