Following weekend reporting that key members of President Donald Trump's cabinet are leading a campaign to "foment unrest" in Iran, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's warning that a conflict between the two countries "would be the mother of all wars," Trump turned to Twitter late Sunday with a message for Rouhani:
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
"Trump's tweet chastised Iran for the very language Trump employed in his tweet," observed Peace Action executive director Jon Rainwater. "Every peace-loving person in the U.S. needs to press the president to tone down his rhetoric and rethink this march to war."
"The administration is making clear that military action is very much on the table."
—Jon Rainwater, Peace ActionIn a televised speech from Iran's capital, Tehran, on Sunday, Rouhani had warned Trump that the United States cannot block Iran from exporting crude oil. "Do not play with the lion's tail or else you will regret it," he declared. "Peace with Iran would be the mother of all peace and war with Iran would be the mother of all wars."
As the New York Times noted, "last month the United States said it would impose sanctions on all exporters of Iranian oil. American officials have since moderated the sanctions demand, which roiled oil markets."
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised the Trump administration's "tough" threats toward Iran, European and Iranian leaders have been trying to salvage the Iran nuclear deal. Trump announced in May that he would ditch the agreement and reimpose sanctions, to which National Iranian American Council (NIAC) president Trita Parsi responded, "this is how the Iran war started."
On Saturday Reuters reported that Trump's national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have "launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups," which is supposed to "work in concert with [Trump's] push to economically throttle Iran by re-imposing tough sanctions."
"This is not an administration that is pursuing a policy of actually trying to find a new way to the negotiating table or striking a new deal."
—Trita Parsi, NIAC
At an event in Los Angeles on Sunday, Pompeo delivered a speech to a group of Iranian Americans entitled "Supporting Iranian Voices." Pompeo reportedly claimed the nation's leadership "resembles the Mafia more than a government" and called Iran's clerics "hypocritical holy men."
"In a single day the Trump administration has firmly steered the U.S. onto a path of confrontation with Iran," remarked Rainwater. "The whole administration appears to be working in lock step to lay the groundwork for a military confrontation. By lodging personal attacks against Iran's supreme leader, making demands that no one believes Iran can fulfill, and hinting at regime change, the administration is making clear that military action is very much on the table."
Parsi appeared on Democracy Now! Monday morning to discuss the ramped up rhetoric, including the president "essentially threatening war over Twitter."
"Without a doubt, this is not an administration that is pursuing a policy of actually trying to find a new way to the negotiating table or striking a new deal. Everything they're doing right now is only compatible with a policy of confrontation," Parsi concluded. "Whether that confrontation will take place through a direct military confrontation, or whether it will be the Trump administration continuing and intensifying their efforts to destabilize Iran—or, as Reuters reported over the weekend, to foment unrest in Iran—remains to be seen."