To be fair to the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, the trouble started with the now widely dismissed evidence of Saddam Hussein’s WMD development program. “Fool us once….. the rest of the world says. Flash forward to last week’s burning oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Trump says there is no doubt the Iranians did it. US intelligence releases a grainy black and white video showing the crew of a small boat doing something alongside a much larger one and claims it is an Iranian crew on an Iranian boat removing an unexploded explosive device from one of the stricken tankers. They claim to have additional evidence, my suspicion is that they tracked the boat from its origin to the tanker and back again. But that is just speculation and the US has not enlightened me or anyone else as far as I know.
The problem this time around is more complicated than a simple case of having fooled the world over Saddam’s deadly toys. We have a US president who has routinely lied about all things big and small. That president unilaterally withdrew from the Iranian Nuclear Control agreement without any regard for the fact that it was working and every other signatory nation knew it was working. That same president has repeatedly publicly dismissed his own intelligence services when their conclusions do not fit his narrative. This same president deals in fevered “deep state” paranoia for the purpose of explaining why rulings and actions don’t go his way. This same president dismisses any press story he does not like as “fake news” and encourages his followers to disbelieve anything they see or hear from anyone other than him. To sum up he has a credibility problem with anyone who has no vested interest in pretending to believe him.
No wonder then that the US’ usual allies, those nations whom DJT has spurned and attacked through trade wars, political interference and a transactional view of decades old alliances are slow to take up the verdict that “Iran did it”. In spite of the fact that Iran has the motive, the means and the opportunity to attack tankers off their coastline the rest of the world is shy to blame them. This reluctance is not out of fear over what else Iran might do, but out of exasperation with a US president they do not trust and their electorates do not like.
There are other explanations for the attacks on the tankers. All of them depend on conspiracy theories that rapidly became fantastical. I am no fan of conspiracy theories. I believe Iran has attacked tankers passing their shores. That the US is having any trouble at all convincing the rest of the world is a sure sign that Trump’s legacy of lies has severely damaged the global standing of the US.