The debate over Iran largely falls along similar lines to past debates between those who respectively oppose and support war. ,President Bush was mocked 16 years ago for labelling three countries the Axis of Evil but it’s worth revisiting that concept. The short version is that the country that President Bush preemptively invaded still has problems, but it’s not seeking WMDs or an existential crisis facing the U.S. But we recently averted war with Iran which continues to be a growing threat.
North Korea remains a threat and their actions are so provocative that America felt the need to deploy missile defenses, missile submarines, and a carrier to the region. The U.S. is left with little military options because the South Korean capital, Seoul, is only 30 miles from the border and millions of people are within conventional artillery range. Any attack might bring a costly reprisal that North Korea has had years to prepare for which makes this a lingering problem for U.S. presidents.
The threat from Iran seems self-explanatory but there are still people asking how America could justify using force and blaming the tension on warmongering Neocons like John Bolton. Iran supports terrorists as an arm of foreign policy, support insurgents across the Middle East that leads to massive human suffering and instability, supplied weapons and money that made the Iraq insurgency more deadly, and its likely they are responsible for American deaths. They seek nuclear weapons, bombed ships in key international waters, and recently shot down an American drone.
What turned out to be incorrect intelligence and not false-flag operations, and a long insurgency in Iraq as well as continual Middle East turmoil, has soured America on the concept of the Axis of Evil. But American intervention in Iraq and how they are more of a pedestrian basket case instead of a rogue nation seeking WMDs shows the world is a better place with an active and interventionist America. When problems become obvious to the American people it is usually only after a devastating sneak attack with thousands of casualties like 9/11 or Pearl Harbor. But some presidents have the foresight and courage to at least try and deal with problems when they are small and more manageable. Yet the very fact that they are small means that many people end up thinking military solutions are unnecessary and the president is being a warmonger.
Hence the current debate over Iran and attacks on Trump and John Bolton as warmongering Neocons. Trump shouldn’t worry about criticisms like that, as George Bush saw a danger in rogue regimes using weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or supplying them to terrorists. Of the three countries he listed in his Axis of Evil, Iraq still has problems but has not been ruled by a dictator sharing WMDs with non-state actors and has largely vanished as a serious threat. While the other two, North Korea and Iran, are dangerously closer to having them (the most serious threats of Trump’s presidency), and have created intractable problems for multiple presidents. That should be a strong argument that preemptive war and dealing with problems with military force is not the wasteful warmongering that critics say it is.