Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika said during a briefing on Tuesday that "there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces." (Photo: U.S. Department of Defense)

Undermining Trump-Bolton War Narrative, British General Says No Evidence of 'Increased Threat' From Iran

"Intelligence and military officials in Europe as well as in the United States said that over the past year, most aggressive moves have originated not in Tehran, but in Washington."

Jake Johnson

A British general threw a wrench into the Trump administration's narrative that Iran is plotting attacks on American troops in the Middle East by telling reporters gathered at the Pentagon Tuesday that "there's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces" in the region.

"We monitor them along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in," said Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, speaking via video from Baghdad. "If the threat level seems to go up then we'll raise our force protection measures accordingly."

Apparently eager to squash the general's remarks, the U.S. Central Command issued a statement just hours later disputing Ghika's comments and repeating national security adviser John Bolton's unsubstantiated claim that American intelligence has "identified credible threats" from "Iranian-backed forces" in Iraq and Syria.

The public dispute came as anti-war voices and foreign policy analysts warned that the United States, led by Bolton, may be attempting to manufacture a false pretext to justify launching a war with Iran.

As Common Dreams reported on Tuesday, U.S. officials are—without any concrete evidence—attempting to blame Iran for attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz over the weekend.

The effort to pin the tanker attacks on Iran came just over a week after Bolton used the planned deployment of an American aircraft carrier and bomber task force to the Persian Gulf to threaten Iran with military action and warn—again, without evidence—of "escalatory indications" from Iran.

According to the New York Times—which reported Monday that President Donald Trump has reviewed a Bolton-crafted plan to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East to threaten Iran—Trump administration officials are having a difficult time convincing America's European allies to join them on their march to war.

As the Times reported Tuesday:

Intelligence and military officials in Europe as well as in the United States said that over the past year, most aggressive moves have originated not in Tehran, but in Washington—where John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, has prodded President Trump into backing Iran into a corner.

One American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential internal planning, said the new intelligence of an increased Iranian threat was "small stuff" and did not merit the military planning being driven by Mr. Bolton. The official also said the ultimate goal of the yearlong economic sanctions campaign by the Trump administration was to draw Iran into an armed conflict with the United States.

The anonymous American official's assessment aligns with that of foreign policy observers, who have urgently warned in recent days that the Trump administration is escalating tensions with Iran in an effort to provoke an attack and spark an all-out war.

"John Bolton is methodically setting the stage for war with Iran—forcing Iran into a corner and then readying war plans for when Iran takes the bait," Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, said in a statement on Monday.

Iran has thus far acted with restraint in the face of U.S. belligerence, urging diplomacy and attempting to restart negotiations with Europe over the terms of the Iran nuclear accord.

With tensions between the two nations reaching dangerous levels, U.S. Democratic presidential candidates have joined progressive anti-war groups in vowing to oppose the Trump administration's efforts to start a military conflict with Iran.

In a speech streamed online Tuesday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said "a war with Iran would be an absolute disaster."

"The United States Congress must do everything it can," said Sanders, "to prevent the Trump administration's attempts to put us on the brink of a catastrophic and unconstitutional war with Iran that could lead to even more deaths than the Iraq War."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) echoed Sanders in a tweet Tuesday night, announcing her decision to co-sponsor a bill aimed at stopping a war with Iran.

"We cannot let the Trump admin drag us into yet another war in the Middle East," Warren wrote. "This is exactly why the president doesn't have the constitutional authority to declare war. That's Congress's job—and that's why I'm supporting this legislation to prevent a war with Iran."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Coalition Urges Biden to Make 'Transformative Change' in Approach to Global Food and Agriculture

"This pro-corporate agriculture agenda must change under your watch."

Andrea Germanos ·


Mondaire Jones Warns Against Watering Down Human Infrastructure Proposals

The New York Democrat is advocating universal programs, not means-tested ones, for programs in the Build Back Better plan.

Andrea Germanos ·


Manchin Threatening Key Climate Provision: Reports

"To take it out is to decide that climate change isn't a problem."

Andrea Germanos ·


'Make a Gesture of Humanity': Pope Francis Urges Pharma Giants to Release Covid-19 Vaccine Patents

"There are countries where only three or four percent of the inhabitants have been vaccinated."

Andrea Germanos ·


Manchin Fumes After Sanders Op-Ed in West Virginia Paper Calls Out Obstruction of Biden Agenda

"Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation," wrote Sanders. "Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin."

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo