National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton issued an extraordinary statement from the White House on Sunday evening, announcing that the U.S. was deploying new forces to the Middle East to deter an Iranian attack.
The statement read:
In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force. The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.
It is not known precisely what provoked the Trump administration to deploy military resources.
In the past few weeks, after the U.S. declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization, effectively isolating the organization financially as well as diplomatically, Iran has issued a number of perfunctory but ineffectual declarations that the U.S. armed forces are also terrorist organizations.
Over the weekend, Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip, backed by Iran, launched an unprecedented barrage of 600 rockets in some 36 hours at Israel. Many of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, but some were not, and four Israelis — including one Muslim Arab — were killed. Israel struck Palestinian military targets in Gaza in response, but for many years Israel’s responses to terrorism in Gaza have been thought to be somewhat restrained due to the presence of Iranian-backed Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border in Lebanon. The Second Lebanon War began when Hezbollah attacked Israeli territory in the summer of 2006 after Israel attacked Hamas following the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. That war caught Israel somewhat off guard and saw thousands of rockets land on northern Israel.
It is possible that the U.S. interpreted the Gaza rocket attacks at an Iranian provocation, and that Bolton’s statement was a response; Hamas suddenly reached a cease-fire agreement with israel shortly after Bolton’s announcement.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.