For the second time in his presidency, Donald Trump has threatened to destroy a whole country.
He promised the “official end of Iran” last Sunday.
And Britain’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt rushed to back him up, saying, “I would say to the Iranians—do not underestimate the resolve of the US.”
Trump isn’t just a loose cannon. His brinkmanship over Iran flows from the US’s defeat on the battlefield of Iraq. In 2003 then president George W Bush hoped the invasion would signal to rivals that the US was still top dog.
The opposite was true—and the big winner was Iran.
So his successor Barack Obama tried to contain Iran’s influence through conciliation and signed the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Trump administration wants a more “go it alone” approach.
He withdrew from the deal and hired John Bolton, who advised Bush in 2003 and has pushed for war throughout his career.
Israel and Saudi Arabia always opposed the nuclear deal, urging for a more aggressive policy towards their biggest regional rival. They have found more of a hearing with Trump.
It’s likely that the US will rely on economic sanctions, but growing regional tensions mean even a small incident could make war more likely.
These war threats are another reason to take to the streets against Trump in London on 4 June.