american carrier jets
© REUTERS / Jeff Sherman/U.S. Navy
The United States continues to amass military forces in the vicinity of Iran, following tanker incidents near the Strait of Hormuz and the alleged threat that Iran poses to US forces operating in the Middle East.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, one of the architects of Washington's hard-line policy on Iran, has relayed a message to Tehran that the death of a single US service member would trigger a military response, the Washington Post reports.

According to the broadsheet, one such message was sent during Pompeo's emergency visit to Baghdad, after the White House picked up intelligence allegedly showing that Iran or its proxies were threatening US interests in the Middle East.

A person with knowledge of the situation was quoted as saying that Pentagon officials, including outgoing Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan, have been "the ones putting the brakes" on hawks at the State Department and the White House.

Comment: That may be why Pompeo seems to have broken protocol on several occasions by talking to military commanders without Shanahan present. Pompeo and Bolton want war, and they'll steamroll over anyone in their way to get it. Luckily, however, so far they haven't been successful - in North Korea, Venezuela, or Iran. If anonymously sourced reports are anything to go by, it seems that Trump is at least attempting to keep them on the leash, too.

However, Shanahan's upcoming departure from Pentagon's top slot is understood to have raised concerns that the more belligerent Trump administration will push the military aside and involve it in further escalation of the conflict.

Gen. Paul Selva, the nation's second-highest-ranking military officer, warned on Tuesday that "if the Iranians come after US citizens, US assets or the US military, we reserve the right to respond with military action," and that would also apply to Iranian-aligned militias in the Middle East.

"The evidence points towards Iran," Selva told reporters. "The only perpetrator in the area that has a motive to perpetrate it is Iran," he said.

Comment: That's a lie right there. There are plenty of individuals and groups with a motivation to cause a war with Iran. See:

"Our history in the region is we have threatened to respond and not responded. It would be a miscalculation on the part of the Iranians to believe that that's going to persist."

Comment: Actually, that is - or should be - the position of the Iranians. They have threatened to respond and have not responded to American pressure. And it would be a miscalculation on the part of the Americans to believe that that's going to persist.

On Monday, the Pentagon gave a go-ahead to the dispatching of an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East, following last month's military build-up.