“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

That was Donald Rumsfeld speaking from the Pentagon podium in 2002 about assessing the threat from Iraq. The past week of provocations and counter-provocations between the United States and Iran—involving U.S. aircraft carrier and bomber deployments, mysterious explosions on oil tanker ships, drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities from the Iran-allied Houthis in Yemen, and a sudden withdrawal of some U.S. personnel from the embassy in Baghdad—has evoked fearful comparisons to that era and the military conflict it presaged. While the comparison might not be completely apt, there’s a key similarity; now as then, the American public finds itself in a fog of something short of war, with few ways to assess what could be coming.

Still unknown is what precise intelligence precipitated last week’s announcement from National Security Adviser John Bolton that the U.S. is sending a carrier strike group to the region in the face of “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.” Still unknown is who exactly was behind the tanker explosions, for which Iran has denied responsibility but which U.S. officials suspect to be their work. Still unknown is what exactly prompted the embassy evacuation order, and how much Iran-backed militias in Iraq are posing more of a threat to American forces in the wake of Washington’s “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran.

[Read: The flash point between America and Iran could be Iraq’s militias]

What it all adds up to, depending on whom you ask, …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Politics

      

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