“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election”
– Otto von Bismarck
There’s a question in the air. It lingers like a bad smell but won’t go away. “Will there be war”? Unless you’re living under a rock, I’m sure the question hangs in your head also.
Unfortunately, our region is highly volatile and we’re surrounded by war. Syria is a broken state almost beyond repair as it wrestles with an internal struggle for power. Yemen is a humanitarian catastrophe with millions struggling to exist. Their children have no future.
Iraq is a ghost of a memory; once proudly boasting science, technology, the strongest global currency, and the main pillar of the Arab world. Sudan has been split in two, Libya erased, the GCC fractured, and many more struggling.
Surprisingly, none of that really determines our fate. The current spectre of war has nothing to do with regional perturbances; although it knocks on our doors. The GCC always had its qualms with Iran but never acted upon them. Yes, there’s sabre rattling but a full-fledged war benefits nobody. Therefore, we continue as quiet trading partners as our diplomats work quietly behind the scenes.
Enter Donald Trump. An unstable narcissist to say the least. Some would go as far as calling him a madman. Trump is also fighting for survival, and the cracks in his dam have begun to appear. He’s losing several fronts in his war against the democrats, and the state and federal (corruption and obstruction) cases against him are gaining traction. He’s also losing his main fight to suppress the Mueller report which has been largely redacted by his newly appointed attorney general (William Barr); and it seems congress’s intelligence committee will eventually see what’s behind the blackout. The only thing saving him from being indicted is the fact that he’s President. Many are openly considering impeachment. The only thing that can keep him safe is remaining president. His only hope for re-election is being a war president in the middle of conflict: War presidents are never changed.
Trump famously promised his base that he will make us (the GCC) pay for America’s protection. What better jolt to the economy than an arms sale of $8 billion dollars to Saudi Arabia and the UAE? (The sale was just finalised a few days ago, against the wishes of congress). What better way to make AIPAC and Israel happy than to shake up the region and dismantle Iran militarily after economically crippling it? What better way to continue the quest for regional hegemony than to wipe out all large countries? Surely, that would ensure his re-election. (Let’s not forget he recognised Israel’s capital as Jerusalem and claimed the Syrian Golan Heights Israeli territory against the wishes of the rest of the world). Trump is bunkered down with a warmonger (John Bolton, National Security Adviser) on his right, and a useless cheerleader (Jared Kushner, son in law) on his left.
Wars have been started by far less and let’s remember that the First World War was started after the assassination of one man (Archduke Ferdinand). Yes, it may only have been an excuse, but isn’t that all men need? A simple excuse?
Although I don’t think there will be a ground war by any stretch of the imagination, just moving some troops around and having targeted strikes may shake things up enough to give Donald Trump the leverage he needs to keep his iron throne. The dangerous part of this game is that “the human factor” remains unpredictable, and even rational men can make bad decisions.
I truly hope war doesn’t break out around us, but if I was a betting man, I would put my money on black. The president is unstable, he needs to satisfy his base, he wants to make us pay and he assuredly wants to be re-elected. Those factors alone make the situation volatile and almost entirely out of our hands (or that of Iran’s hands for that matter).
I just hope the summit hosted by Saudi Arabia comes out with solid results that back peace. That, and congress blocking his quest for war, are the only two thin strings that peace hangs from.