The United States is on the brink of war with Iran. In fact, war is mere minutes away as U.S. bombers speed through the sky on their way to strike ground targets in that country.
Flash back to several days previous:
An American drone spy plane has been shot down by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who claim they caught the drone flying in Iranian air space, though the Americans swear their drone was flying fairly and squarely over international air space. In the most secret American military circles there is conjecture – which is subsequently leaked to the public – that the American drone might possibly have nosed over the line into Iranian air space. It’s not completely clear.
Flash back further to the back story.
The fuse that is now being shortened by the second by the American bombers was lit a year earlier by the American President, whose experience with international diplomacy - as well as every other aspect of governance - was zip before he was elected to the most powerful position on the planet.
A year earlier Iran and the United States had been more of less peacefully co-existing thanks to a nuclear arms treaty brokered by the crazy President’s predecessor.
But why Iran?
Well, why not Iran?
However, Operation Maximum Pressure did not yield the desired outcome and a year after its inception the only result was that now Iranians hated Americans, and at it appeared that at least some of them were bent on laying some economic damage on the Americans by choking off the oil supply from the Middle East to the West.
Subsequently, in the weeks before the drone incident mysterious mine explosions crippled half-a-dozen international oil tankers as they carried their cargo through the Gulf of Oman.
It was a pretty sure bet that mines were planted on the tankers by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, but Iran staunchly denied this, and so it wasn’t completely clear who mined the tankers, but it was making the crazy American President crazier and ramping up tensions and hostility between the United States and Iran.
Then the unshootable American drone spy plane was shot down.
Iran claimed responsibility for the strike and the Iranian populace cheered but behind the scenes intelligence leaked that the missile strike was in fact not ordered by the Iranian national leaders, who likely only wanted to harass the United States, not start a war, and who were furious at the Revolutionary Guard commander who made the decision to shoot down the American drone.
The crazy American President, it turned out, also wasn’t so crazy that he wanted to have to deal with waging a real war either, especially since he’d been promising his adoring fan base all along that he’d make the U.S. so powerful and feared on the world stage that we’d never actually have to go to war anymore.
But the warmongers got pushy and the President, who wasn’t really as tough as he always pretended to be, caved and now the planet was ten minutes away from the opening volleys of what could proliferate into an Armageddon of human suffering.
Miraculously, the President’s ear is grabbed at the eleventh-and-a-half hour by a political newscaster who is the voice of the President’s base.
As it turns out, the President is less afraid of his war-mongering advisors than he is of losing the next election and, offering the inscrutable excuse that he just learned that up to 150 Iranians would likely die in the initial attack and he doesn't want to cause that kind of death over a $131 million drone, has the mission aborted and the bombers called back with ten minutes to spare.
There is much relief in America and in Iran, too, especially among the ruling officials there. In America a bad war can cause a President to lose and election, but in Iran a bar war can cause a President to lose his head.
Thus the President can now not only boast to his base that he has prevented a world war, but this made-for-TV President has presided over a dramatic, adrenalin-pumping move worthy of a made-for-TV docu-drama.
Which this episode in American history may well be made into. Likely a very dark comedy.
“Why Tanker Blasts in the Gulf of Oman Have Put the World on Edge,” David D. Kiripatrick, The New York Times, June 14, 2019
“Downing Drone was ‘Big Mistake’ by Iran, says U.S.,” Michael Shear and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, The New York Times, June 21, 2019
“Pompeo, Steadfast Hawk, Coaxes a Hesitant President on Iran,” Edward Wong and Michael Crowley, The New York Times, , June 23, 2019
“Swipe at U.S. Kindles Bravado in Tehran,” Farnaz Fassihi and David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times, June 23, 2019