President Donald Trump cannot want war with Iran.
Such a war, no matter how long, would be fought in and around the Persian Gulf, through which a third of the world's seaborne oil travels. It could trigger a worldwide recession and imperil Trump's reelection.
It would widen the "forever war," which Trump said he would end, to a nation of 80 million people, three times as large as Iraq. It would become the defining issue of his presidency, as the Iraq War became the defining issue of George W. Bush's presidency.
And if war comes now, it would be known as "Trump's War."
For it was Trump who pulled us out of the Iran nuclear deal, though, according to U.N. inspectors and the other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China — Tehran was complying with its terms.
Trump's repudiation of the treaty was followed by his reimposition of sanctions and a policy of maximum pressure. This was followed by the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a "terrorist" organization.
Then came the threats of U.S. secondary sanctions on nations, some of them friends and allies, that continued to buy oil from Iran.
U.S. policy has been to squeeze Iran's economy until the regime buckles to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's 12 demands, including an end to Tehran's support of its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Sunday, Pompeo said Iran was behind the attacks on the tankers in the Gulf of Oman and that Tehran instigated an attack that injured four U.S. soldiers in Kabul though the Taliban claimed responsibility.
The war hawks are back.
"This unprovoked attack on commercial shipping warrants retaliatory military strikes," said Senator Tom Cotton on Sunday.
But as Trump does not want war with Iran, Iran does not want war with us. Tehran has denied any role in the tanker attacks, helped put out the fire on one tanker, and accused its enemies of "false flag" attacks to instigate a war.
If the Revolutionary Guard, which answers to the ayatollah, did attach explosives to the hull of the tankers, it was most likely to send a direct message: If our exports are halted by U.S. sanctions, the oil exports of the Saudis and Gulf Arabs can be made to experience similar problems.
Yet if the president and the ayatollah do not want war, who does?
Not the Germans or Japanese, both of whom are asking for more proof that Iran instigated the tanker attacks. Japan's prime minster was meeting with the ayatollah when the attacks occurred, and one of the tankers was a Japanese vessel.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal Monday were Ray Takeyh and Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a neocon nest funded by Paul Singer and Sheldon Adelson.