Story by Risa Peris
On June 20, 2019 the United States and Iran were at the brink of war. There has been escalating tension between the two countries. On June 13, two oil tankers were attacked in the Strait of Hormuz in international waters. This is an extremely important waterway as a significant amount of oil is carried on tankers through this area. Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, accused Iran of the attacks. Iran denied any involvement. The crew of one of the boats, Kokura Courageous, said they witnessed something flying into the tanker. They claimed they did not consider mines to be the weapon that struck the ship and barely missed the engine room.
The US released a strange video of what they concluded were the Iran Revolutionary Guard removing a bomb on the side of the oil tanker. The US military declared they have biometric evidence in the form of a fingerprint. Not long after, the US military showed a magnet and fragments and said it belonged to Iranian weapons.
The Kokoura Courageous was a Japanese oil tanker and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was on a state visit in Iran at the time. Iran said the attack on the tanker was suspicious and they continue to deny any involvement. The oil tanker was in international waters and several nautical miles from Iran’s national waters.
On June 20, 2019 Iran shot down a US drone they say was in its international air space. The US stated the drone was in international airspace. Iran tweeted out and made public through other channels the exact coordinates of where the drone was when it was shot down.
Trump, on June 21, 2019 said the US was “cocked and loaded to retaliate” against Iran. We were on the brink of war. However, Trump took a step back, struck a friendly tone with Iran, and then said the strikes planned against Iran were disproportionate. Apparently, the military told him 150 Iranian lives would be lost and the drone was unmanned. No American lost their life in either the attacks on the tankers or by the drone being shot down.
But is that what really happened? Did Trump reason through war at the 11th hour?
Russia and Iran have a long complicated relationship that extends over centuries, but currently Putin is having good relations with Iran. On June 20, 2019, Putin said he was open for talks with Trump about Iran and stressed any attack on Iran would be a catastrophe for the US and its relationship with both its allies and enemies. Trump said he would meet with Putin at the G-20 summit and talk “on the sidelines”.
Trump, since before his presidential election in 2016, has had a close relationship with Russia and Putin. It is no secret that Russia played a huge role in the 2016 election. You need only read page one of the Mueller report to understand the gravity of Russian interference. Did Trump get a phone call from Putin while the US was “cocked and loaded” and talked Trump off the ledge? So far there is no proof of this. However, it is worth contemplating whether Putin helped prevent a US war with Iran. If Putin has such power over Trump it would be interesting to ponder in what other ways Putin might have intervened in our foreign policy and will continue to do so.
Regardless, the US needs to begin diplomatic talks with Iran, re-enter the nuclear agreement and focus on stabilizing the Middle East including refusing to sell arms to Saudi Arabia so they can wage a war in Yemen. The way out of tensions is not chest beating like Vikings about to pillage. The way out is talking. What did Freud famously say could help turmoil? Oh yes, the talking cure.