By Saeed Wazir
There are parallels between what happened to Iraq then and what is happening with Iran now – Trump’s threats to dismantle the nuclear agreement, allegations against Iran and a refusal to listen to experts who say that Tehran is abiding by its commitments.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear-monitoring arm of the United Nations, has repeatedly found Iran in compliance with the agreement, which eased economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for its verifiable guarantees of peaceful nuclear work.
According to Blix, a former IAEA chief, “the difference is that George W Bush was being urged towards the Iraq conflict by people in his administration who were neo-cons. They were civilians who were demanding military action. In the case of Trump we have people in the administration who are military but who are the moderates urging restraint. That is very interesting, isn’t it?”
“The difference this time, one would like to think, that the US do not want an actual war, they are not in a position to carry out an invasion and an occupation. But the language that Mr Trump is using is dangerous, just as the language he is using about North Korea is very dangerous, things can get out of control. And we have a situation where Trump is refusing to accept what the UN is saying – that Iran is abiding by the agreement.”, he added.
In his long-awaited speech last Friday, Trump did not pull the US out of the JCPOA. He sent the agreement to Congress, declaring that he would pull the plug on it unless tough additional measures against Tehran were brought in.
Those urging Trump to scrap the deal include Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister. He is at odds, however, with most Israeli experts in military intelligence, the Israeli Defence Forces, Mossad, the Foreign Ministry and the Atomic Energy Committee who all say that Iran has not violated a single clause.
The Saudis, leading a Sunni alliance engaged in bitter sectarian strife against Shia Iran, have vigorously opposed Tehran’s rapprochement with the international community. Trump’s first official foreign visit after getting to the White House was to Riyadh – basically an arms-selling trip for Gulf States – where he castigated Iran for range of alleged transgressions.
With his Iran speech U.S. President Trump has taken a huge step into uncharted territories. One that implies a 60-75% risk of leading to a US attack on Iran. Behind him stands the hardline militarists whom he has himself appointed.
Secondly, neo-conservative individuals and think tanks who have brought the world only a series of failed wars and unspeakable human misery since the invasion of Afghanistan.
Third, the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex, MIMAC, that is outside real democratic control and pushes relentlessly for ever-increasing armament and wars and serves the public all kinds of weird, fake images of what threatens the US.
Further, pro-Israeli and pro-Saudi lobby organizations and extremely wealthy individuals who buy political influence and thereby destroy the very foundations of democracy and free opinion formation.
Against these numerically tiny elites stand virtually the rest of the world, including NATO allies and the EU.
They’ve all communicated very clearly to the President how important it is for all involved that he re-certifies the immensely important and historically unique Iran nuclear deal of 2015, or the JCPOA.
As is usual for failed US foreign policy there is no comprehensive strategy and no exit strategy. Having no diplomatic relations with Iran for decades, Trump lacks appropriate channels of communication.
He also lacks basic knowledge of the country. (Whereas the Iranians know the West). His bizarre image of the country as presented in this speech bodes ill in every respect.
Seldom has a Presidential speech been so filled with psycho-political projections of one’s own dark sides on the adversary as this.
It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to de-escalate what he has pressed the escalation buttons for today.
The announced policy has nothing to do with an intellectually decent and comprehensive policy.
The Trump administration – no, we don’t call it “regime” or “dictatorship” – runs on irrational hatred of everything Iran, on bullying and fear-mongering like “calm before the storm”.
In spite of the failed and very costly wars, this Administration grossly overestimates what the US Empire can still achieve or get away with in terms of violations of international law and basic ethics.
And it underestimates the rapid loss of legitimacy in the eyes of everybody else, including its allies in Europe.
Since the military is the only US power dimension where it is still ‘second to none’ it believes it doesn’t have to listen or think. But these days are long gone in the modern global society.
No one in Iran would be able to find anything of value in this speech – condescending, blaming, vilifying in the extreme, unfair, distorting of history and the relationship.
Apart from all this fake it was filled with omissions – of what the US itself has done since the 1953 CIA/UK coup d’etat against the legitimate, democratically elected government of Dr Mossadegh.
One also looked in vain for even the smallest opening or invitation to co-operate.
Not one little indication of a will to peace in Washington or to set the relationship on a better track.
This intellectually poor Administration doesn’t even see that everything in this speech, if implemented, will end up making the situation for the 85 million Iranians – that he professes to respect so much – much worse, politically as well as economically.
For anyone politically and military allied with, or dependent upon, the US, October 13, 2017, should be a wake-up call.
Because what President Trump has now done is not to signal leadership, universally accepted norms or intellectual and moral strength.
Instead – and very sadly – it signals that the US is now a desperate, unpredictable and dangerous Empire rapidly on its way down.
For Mr. Rouhani, who described Mr. Trump’s depiction of Iran as an insult that warranted an apology, there was ample opportunity to present his side of the story on Wednesday, in his speech and at a news conference.
It was in many ways the diametrical opposite of Mr. Trump’s version. Iran is not meddling in the Middle East, he said, it is helping neighbors who ask for help. Iran is not sponsoring terrorism, he said, but fighting it. Iran’s missiles are not meant to attack but to defend.
And Mr. Rouhani said the nuclear agreement, which was negotiated not just with the United States but five other major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — was a model of international diplomacy that should be emulated, not abandoned.
“I declare before you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement; but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party,” he said.
In an indirect but pointed swipe at Mr. Trump’s administration, he also said “it will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by ‘rogue’ newcomers to the world of politics: the world will have lost a great opportunity.”
Mr. Trump’s portrayal of Iran as a fomenter of Middle East conflict, Mr. Rouhani said, was misplaced, given America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq and other military operations in the area.
“The United States government should explain to its own people why, after spending billions of dollars of the assets of the people of America and of our region, instead of contributing to peace and stability, it has only brought war, misery, poverty and the rise of terrorism and extremism to the region,” he said.
Later at an hour-long news conference, Mr. Rouhani held open the possibility of resuming uranium enrichment that is restricted under the nuclear agreement, should it unravel. But he also reiterated Iran’s contention that it does not want, and will never seek, nuclear weapons.
While the Iranian president’s version of all the facts may be in dispute, his tone was moderate, especially compared with the provocative performances by his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom he succeeded four years ago.
Mr. Rouhani’s tone also may have given him an advantage when compared with that of Mr. Trump, who was met largely with stony silence in the General Assembly hall with his criticism of Iran on Wednesday, categorizing it as a rogue state akin to North Korea.
Some disarmament experts said Mr. Rouhani was perfectly within his rights to insist that the nuclear agreement could not be renegotiated, even if it had flaws. That could further complicate Mr. Trump’s challenges with Iran.
“A deal is a deal, and Iran has met its nuclear commitments,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a Washington disarmament advocacy group. “And Donald Trump is threatening to tear it apart.”
He said Mr. Trump’s approach, “if it was intended to rally support against Iran, is clearly backfiring.”
The world, especially the US had better learn lessons from Vietnamization, Afghanistanization and ,more recently , Syriazation of America.This misperceived strategic move is bound to boomerang .