The US military is incrementally building up forces in the Middle East to ensure the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz but is unlikely willing to start an unwinnable war with Iran, according to former Defence Department adviser Karen Kwiatkowski.
“It [US troop deployment] is part of an incremental buildup to be seen as preserving the transportation lines and oil flow in the region”, Kwiatkowski said. “The Pentagon has long understood that no sustained ground or air war against Iran is winnable or desirable”.
Earlier in the day, Tehran and Washington took a step closer towards full-blown confrontation after a US drone was shot down by the Iranians who claimed it violated the country’s airspace. The incident comes on the heels of the Pentagon deploying more than 1,000 troops to the region over recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Although US President Donald Trump initially said Iran made “a very big mistake” he later told reporters he doubted the drone shoot down was intentional. On Wednesday, US envoy Brian Hook told Congress the latest Mideast troop deployment was a defensive move and no offensive operations are being considered.
Kwiatkowski, a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel who worked in the Pentagon’s Near East and South Asia directorate (NESA), said the most recent troop increase is likely part of a longer-term US strategy.
“The Pentagon defaults, in a strange way, conservatively – meaning to get as many troops in a safe forward location as soon as possible with a minimum of publicity and public comment and risk of embarrassment”, she said.
Kwiatkowski also observed differences in signals being sent to Tehran by Trump and some of his advisers. She also pointed to signs of infighting including between militants like US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House National Security Adviser John Bolton.
“There is a palpable desperation in US foreign policy and increasing friction between the warmongering chicken-hawks Pompeo and Bolton, with his recycled team of Iraq war engineers placed in key policy-making positions in DC”, Kwiatkowski suggested.
The former Pentagon adviser also speculated that the US moves may not be about Iran per se but rather about the Trump administration staying relevant with “erstwhile” allies in the region in terms of arms sales, prestige, and oil and gas production.
Kwiatkowski also doubted that Trump even grasped the significance of US tensions with Iran.
“Trump has no fundamental or honest idea why Iran is ‘important’ to the US and at some point he will tweet about this and revert to his successful Jeffersonian/Jacksonian/Teddy Roosevelt themed messaging in order to simultaneously dump the neocons in his cabinet and get re-elected in 2020”, Kwiatkowski concluded.
Kwiatkowski also worked for the National Security Agency (NSA) and is a founding member of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of former US intelligence and military officials opposed to Washington’s aggressive foreign policies.