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Whatever the opposite of a rush to war is—a crawl to peace, maybe—America is in the middle of one. Since May 5, when John Bolton announced the accelerated deployment of the Abraham Lincoln carrier group to the Persian Gulf in response to intelligence of a possible Iranian attack, the press has been aflame with calls for America to show restraint, pursue diplomacy, and rein in the madman with the mustache before he starts a war.
Never mind that President Trump, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Patrick Shanahan, and Bolton have not said a single word about a preemptive strike, much less a full-scale war, against Iran. Never mind that the president's reluctance for overseas intervention is well known. The antiwar cries are not about context, and they are certainly not about deterring Iran. Their goal is saving President Obama's nuclear deal by manipulating Trump into firing Bolton and extending a lifeline to the regime.
It's a storyline that originated in Iran. Toward the end of April, Zarif showed up in New York and gave an interview to Reuters where he said, "I don't think [Trump] wants war," but "that doesn't exclude him basically being lured into one" by Bolton. On May 14, an adviser to Rouhani tweeted at Trump, "You wanted a better deal with Iran. Looks like you are going to get a war instead. That's what happens when you listen to the mustache. Good luck in 2020!"
And now this regime talking point is everywhere. "It's John Bolton's world. Trump is just living in it," write two former Obama officials in the Los Angeles Times. "John Bolton is Donald Trump's war whisperer," writes Peter Bergen on CNN.com. "Trump's potential war with Iran is all John Bolton's doing. But it might also be his undoing," says the pro-Iran Trita Parsi on NBCNews.com. "Is Trump Yet Another U.S. President Provoking a War?" asks Robin Wright of the New Yorker. Guess her answer.
"We cannot repeat the days before the Iraq war when even many of our most reliable news outlets repeated and amplified what was, in fact, a flimsy case for war," Wendy Sherman writes in the New York Times. She would rather our most reliable news outlets repeat and amplify anti-Bolton talking points instead. Sure, America suspects Iran was involved when "four commercial tankers were reportedly sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates," and "Saudi Arabia also reported that drones sent by Iranian-supported Houthis attacked Saudi oil facilities." But, look, "Iran has denied this." What more do you need to know?
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