Trump’s tiger repellent and phantom menace of Iran

“There haven’t been any attacks on Americans. I would consider that a hold,” acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday, as he and other Trump administration officials briefed Congress on the alleged Iranian threat.

This is about deterrence, not about going to war.

That is how Shanahan characterized the increased US military presence in the Persian Gulf – which includes a carrier strike group, some missile destroyers, a wing of B-52 strategic bombers and Patriot anti-missile batteries, all over unnamed, unspecified “credible threats” reported from unknown sources (but highly likely Israel.)

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Pentagon chief claims US steps ‘put on hold’ Iran’s plans for ‘attacks against Americans’

“That doesn’t mean that the threats that we’ve previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate,” Shanahan said.

There is an old joke about a grifter selling rocks as tiger repellent, who when asked how it works explains, “you don’t see any tigers around, do you?” The joke was even features on the Simpsons – way back in 1996, in an episode dealing with illegal immigration of all things.

Afflicted by both the gullibility and attention span of Homer Simpson, however, the mainstream media in the West have failed to recall the uncanny similarity between President Donald Trump’s tweet about “official end of Iran”over the weekend, to his “fire and fury”threats against North Korea from back in 2017.

Has there been a nuclear war with North Korea? Of course not. Trump has even met with Kim Jong-un on two occasions, and although the duo has not struck a deal on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula just yet, for the first time since 1953 there is some movement on ending the Korean War.

That is not to say that Tehran didn’t get the message – or rather, understand that the US saber-rattling was intended mainly for domestic consumption.

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‘There won’t be any war’ between Iran & US – Khamenei

“There won’t be any war,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week, even as the US announced its military build-up. “We don’t seek a war, and they don’t either,” he added, insisting that the Americans are well aware that a military confrontation with Iran is “not in their interests.”

Let’s face it, Trump is a showman. He spent years in reality television, and before that in the media spotlight as a real estate mogul. He has a certain negotiating style which involves a lot of bluster, and has used it from North Korea and China to Iran. Whether it will actually work remains to be seen.

Drumming up the “threat” of Iran, however, is literally the oldest trick in the book that works wonders in a country where perception management routinely trumps facts – as does claiming credit for deterring or defeating the manufactured (and phantom) menace. If only there had been a movie (or three) relatively recently about that very thing…

Nebojsa Malic for RT

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