houseofrepresentativesIn response to Iran’s missile test a couple days ago, President Trump tweeted: “Iran is rapidly taking over more and more of Iraq even after the U.S. has squandered three trillion dollars there. Obvious long ago!” Not wanting to be left out,the House of Representatives passed a resolution ( authorizing the President to wage preventative war on Iran in order to keep them from gaining a deliverable nuclear weapon capability.

If this all sounds eerily familiar, that’s because it is. Bellicosity from the President and permission to go to war from Congress are the steps that preceded the the war in Iraq; a war from which we have not yet fully extricated ourselves nearly fifteen years later; a war that created the conditions on the ground necessary for ISIS to come to power.

If we want to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons and a delivery capacity capable of reaching its neighbors (e.g., Israel) with those nuclear weapons, we have only two choices: Either we negotiate with them or we go to war with them. Obama chose the former and got a reasonable if not perfect deal that bought us a decade or so of time; a lot can happen in a decade. Given Trump’s bellicose temperament and the fact that Iran’s missile test was conducted as a direct challenge to the new President, Trump, who is notoriously thin-skinned, is more likely to choose the war.

To those who think this is a fine, please note that a war with Iran will be nothing like the war with Iraq. Iran has a much great capacity for waging war than Iraq had. And given the ill-will we have built up in the Middle East since our invasion of Iraq, it could easily turn into a regional conflagration, possibly pitting us against Russia, and possibly leading to the use of nuclear weapons. As the start of World War I demonstrates, these things can quickly spin out of control and engulf the entire world in war.

This will be Trump’s second major test as President. The first was on the diplomatic front where he went into complete meltdown mode in conversations with the President of Mexico and with the Prime Minister of Australia, driving a wedge between the US and two of our strongest allies. Now he faces a bellicose Iran that considers him a joke, which is why they were willing to thumb their noses at the world’s only superpower.

UPDATE Feb 3: The Trump administration is now promising new sanctions against Iran. This would effectively gut the nuclear arms control agreement arrived at via a multi-year, multi-national effort. Which means that Iran will now be free to continue its development of a nuclear weapon capability. Unlike Iraq, this really would be a threat.