Category Archives: Iran Deal

Iran wakes up to new choices: Pompeo’s bark aimed at whom?

Trump’s words upon pulling out of the JCPOA Iran deal were ‘that’s life’, the ‘Iranians have to learn what life’s about’, suggests a strongarm negotiating tactic. That this may be a reflection of a generalised Trump modus operandi is suggested by the fact that the Trump summit with Kim Jong-un is having its pre-conditions mollified. This is down to strong South Korean diplomatic intervention, which is establishing an important premise for the negotiations, namely that denuclearisation must inevitably be a gradual and scaled process. Imperiousness has given way to diplomacy.

But then came Pompeo’s bark at the Heritage Foundation, which talked about the ‘strongest sanctions in history’. Is that a continuation of the Trump ‘art of the deal’? The answer to that lies in establishing who Pompeo was barking at. It is most likely that it was a response to Europe’s knee-jerk rejection of Trump’s decision, and its disinterment of old laws intended to protect European companies from foreign (in this case US) sanctions. So it wasn’t really addressed to the Iranian people. By knobbling the Europeans, the White House expects to be able to achieve its end of suffocating Iran.

Iran isn’t North Korea though, and it doesn’t have a powerful US ally with a vested interest in the outcome (South Korea) intervening actively on its behalf to achieve peace. It does have many nations, however, that are adversaries of the US – China and Russia – that see Iran’s survival as important for their own independence and the success of their long-term projects. One US ally – Turkey – although this alliance is clearly ambivalent – is always to willing to brave US sanctions and take the consequences on the chin, for the same reasons. Despite the bible thumping, war-drum beating proclivities of the current White House, it is unlikely to take the US to fully-fledged war in the Middle East. It isn’t in Pompeo’s interests, nor in Trump’s, nor would the Pentagon be enthusiastic, nor would Europe (across-the-board) provide the fig leaf of legitimacy that Bush acquired through Blair.

This doesn’t mean it won’t give Israel the backing and wherewithal to do what it wants in the Middle-East. But then, for years, Israel has been threatening to bomb Iran, and hasn’t done so yet, for many reasons that have been most eloquently spelled out in Gareth Porter’s book ‘Manufactured Crisis’ . Porter’s thesis that Netanhayu is a paper tiger, is borne out by Hassan Nasralla’s sober description of the essentially empty recent retaliation that was Lieberman’s ‘we have wiped-out Iran’s military capacity in Syria’, the background to which events has been summarised by Paul Rogers.

The judgement that Iranians are split over how to respond to Trump’s position and Pompeo’s bark, is a false description of the choice facing Iran. The Korean situation doesn’t involve any of the deep ideological bitterness between the people of the Middle-East and Israel/US, and none of the legacy of many recent wars and interventions there. Korea is an old war frozen in time. The choice Iran faces is between simply riding out the Trump administration(s) without changing anything, on the one hand, and actually making a nuclear bomb, on the other. Likely they will opt for the former, and seek to develop Iran economically with out the West. So just as nothing will change from the Israeli side, nothing will change from the Iranian side.

What will happen now is that the Iranian economy will merge deeper into the Chinese and Russian projects, which will help those countries widen their markets, and develop new products (commercial airliners, electronics, oil field services) that Iran needs and which those countries have been working on developing for years. With each passing day, trade between non-Western countries increases and as of 2009, has crossed the 50% mark in terms of the value of global trade.

 

Der Spiegel Editorial: Time for Europe to Join the Resistance

Edel Rodriguez designs the latest cover for Der Spiegel after Trump’s Iran decision. The magazine editorial runs as follows:

Trump’s renown is rooted in American hero myths. Trump says that women like Carla Bruni lust after him, something that women like Carla Bruni vehemently deny. Trump says he is exorbitantly rich, yet Trump ran himself into the ground with his casinos to the point that he was 295 million dollars in debt in 1990. He was bailed out by the banks and by his father. The greatest myth, though, has to do with Trump’s alleged negotiating expertise. This too is nonsense. Trump was never proficient in the art of the deal. As a businessman, he paid far too much for substandard properties and has shown no patience as a politician. He isn’t curious. His preparation is nonexistent. Strategy and tactics are both foreign to him. Trump is only proficient in destruction. And that’s what he does.

Read the rest here

After the destructive decision on the Iran Deal, will Trump’s hawkish team lead us inevitably to war?

Trump’s legacy will resemble a pile of rubble. There is no planning context to any of his negative actions, and so far there have been no positive legislative or executive actions or any kind. His tax cut was, after a tax cut, with little in terms of constructive thought about what it was for or what came with it, apart from the tired “trickle down” arguments.

It’s all been about obsessively taking down his predecessor’s legacy. This is so obsessive and all-consuming, it seems to be about the dregs of a slaver culture embodied in the man Trump, instinctively determined to eradicate all traces of black American endeavour. It is so instinctual and unreasoned that the destructiveness is almost childish. It is so dominant in the overall character of his presidency so far that, taken together with his early wish for rapprochement with Russia, and his general statements about the waste of money and time in making war in the Middle-East, it can be said that is not in any way linked to any wish to lead America to war.

If this turns out to be right, it would be ironic, because his bête noire – Obama – Nobel Peace laureate – was indeed a war president. However, Trump’s appointments of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo might appear, given their well-known hawkishness and their hate of Iran, to dictate a path to war. But while John Bolton may want to direct the president in that direction, so far this president has shown a very high propensity for not wanting to be directed, and firing anybody who tries. And while Mike Pompeo may be hawkish, he is, unlike either Bolton or Trump, keen on “consequences” and “what happens after”.

Thomas Wright writes in Politico about how Bolton and Pompeo are incompatible and how Pompeo’s aspirations make him a more cautious character than Bolton. He is politically a natural ally of Mattis, who strongly advised against destroying the Iran nuclear deal.  Mattis doesn’t like Bolton, although he admires Pompeo.  The alliance that looks like forming between the Pentagon and the State Department  that will serve the incumbents’ individual interests, besides Trump’s natural disinterest in actually starting wars, makes war unlikely. Furthermore Bolton’s role, it has to be emphasised, is advisory not executive.

By the looks of things, the (unintended) “consequences” of destroying the Iran nuclear deal that Pompeo will have his hands full dealing with, will have less to do with war in the Middle East, than with the ensuing  (major) rift with Europe, which is suffering economically and is growing tired of the wrecking-ball that is America. As far as actually engaging Iran militarily, the same reason still stands that led US military chiefs to avoid war with Iran in the past decade: they would lose. Another defeat would weaken the US global position even more catastrophically than the defeat of its professional army at the hands of a lightly-armed rebel insurgency in Iraq. Its withdrawal, after Petraeus’ massive payoff to the Sunni tribes was ignominious. The outcome of a war with Iran would be much worse, for the US and the world.

Obama doing his ‘constitutional duty’ snatches the towel from a corrupt Congress

Obama appeals to the figure of JFK to defend his political position and drive Congress into a corner:

“I want to thank President Kerwin and the American University family for hosting us here today. Fifty-two years ago, President Kennedy, at the height of the Cold War, addressed this same university on the subject of peace….”

“… he [Kennedy] rejected the prevailing attitude among some foreign-policy circles that equated security with a perpetual war footing. Instead, he promised strong, principled American leadership on behalf of what he called a practical and attainable peace”.

“I believe the facts support this deal. I believe they are in America’s interests and Israel’s interests, and as president of the United States it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment”

“Let’s not mince words: The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war — maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon… How can we in good conscience justify war before we’ve tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives?”

Aaron David Miller, from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, who has served in Republican and Democratic administrations, said that Mr. Obama’s speech was bold and left no doubt that those who oppose it are either uninformed or, in the case of the Iraq war comparison in his speech, recklessly marching to the next war in the Middle East.

 

 

Nine reasons Obama is going to win on Iran. The first: Netanyahu

We have said all along this deal is going through. Philip Weiss lists who is going to vote for it:

53 percent of Americans supported the deal in April, it’s bound to be higher now
J Street is supporting it – the left-wing of the Israel lobby – which tells us that 59% of American Jews support the deal [see; http://www.timesofisrael.com/most-us-jews-support-iran-nuclear-deal-j-street-poll-finds/]
Dianne Feinstein is going to support the deal
So is Nancy Pelosi
National Jewish Democratic Coalition
Many diplomats and Nuclear Experts [see: https://twitter.com/JBWolfsthal/status/621866621422968832]
Samantha Power
The Carnegie Center and the Atlantic Council
We said some time ago that Hillary Clinton was supporting the deal
Charles Ellis “Chuck” Schumer – the pro-Israel senior Senator from New York
Jonathan Chait – neocon-lite – the bellwether of Jewish establishment support
and so on
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Iran engaged in a nuclear programme specifically to end US sanctions

Gareth Porter writes:

Iran had long viewed its nuclear programme not only in terms of energy and scientific advancement but also as a way of inducing the United States to negotiate an end to the extraordinary legal status in which Iran has been placed for so long. Even during the Bill Clinton administration Iranian strategists wanted to get the United States to move toward more normal relations, but Clinton was determined to be the most pro-Israeli administration in US history, and instead imposed a complete trade embargo on Iran.

Clinton eventually offered a “dialogue” with Iran but made it clear that he had no intention of giving up the sanctions against Iran. The lesson that Iranian strategists, including then secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and now President Hassan Rouhani, learned from the Clinton years was that the United States would only negotiate the end of its sanctions against Iran if was convinced that the cost and risk of refusing to negotiate was too high.

read on at

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/15/how-a-weaker-iran-got-the-west-to-lift-sanctions/

 

The Obama narrative

Have Obama and Kerry ever made a positive statement about progress on the Iranian negotiations? It is difficult to remember any. Now that most major issues have been resolved (especially the whole matter of the fraudulent Israeli dossier on nuclear weapons) and negotiation is down to the punctuation in the final text, things haven’t changed. Obama says he thinks there’s less than a 50-50 chance of the deal succeeding.

Obama needs to show US legislators that he dragging Iran kicking and screaming into a deal not of their liking. To give the impression that he is friends with Iran, at this juncture, isn’t apparently good politics in America.

The inevitable Iran Deal

As I said on May 5th (at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/05/why-things-are-going-to-get-much-worse-in-the-arab-world-before-they-get-better/) the Iran deal is going to be signed.

Despite the constant lies peddled by the US media (actual lies about the press briefings in Vienna on an ongoing basis, believe it or not, according to Gareth Porter who attends the briefings – see below), the US cannot but sign this deal. The Israel – Saudi lobby fighting it tooth and nail don’t have a chance of stopping it. It is too important for the US geopolitically.

Obama’s administration has actually been working on coming to terms with Iran ever since his offer to Iran of a “new beginning” in March 2009. The White House with its myriad advisers had come to the same conclusion as strategic studies institute Chatham House that: “The wars and continued weaknesses in Afghanistan and Iraq have further strengthened Iran, their most powerful immediate neighbour, which maintains significant involvement in its ‘near-abroad’. The US-driven agenda for confronting Iran is severely compromised by the confident ease with which Iran sits in its region”. (see: https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/public/Research/Middle%20East/iran0806.pdf)

In terms of US domestic politics, as I said on May 5th, it was  essentially the collapse of the neocon coalition, which Obama seems to have figured out would eventually have to occur, which made the deal politically possible for his administration. To neocon-in-chief Bill Kristol’s utter dismay, even AIPAC is now also taking Obama’s side on this matter. (see: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-04-24/aipac-vs-pro-israel-republicans)

The fact is, over the longer term, reality is ultimately hard to avert. Reality seems to have punctured the neocon balloon on the US domestic political scene. Iran’s power has grown immeasurably as regional hegemon as a direct result of their mistaken policies. The Iranian nation has never looked back since the overthrow of two of its direst enemies – Saddam Hussein and the Taliban régime of Mullah Omar. It would have been almost unthinkable 10 years ago for Pakistan to refuse to send soldiers to help the Saudis against Shia insurgents, yet it did. (see: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/middle-east/article24782905.html)

The Iraq and Afghan wars have been enormously wasteful and have eroded US power and reputation around the world, while boosting Iranian power. The threats of “all options are on the table” in regard to Iran have regularly been made, in the past, just to keep the Israel lobby sweet – out of the administration’s hair as it were. However, war was never really on the table because Iran controls the straits of Hormuz. A war with Iran would end up with West facing a situation probably much worse than the February/March 1974 oil embargo. The very UK and US fleets protecting the Persian Gulf would – out of port – become targets for sizzler missiles, sinking them and thus blocking passage to the VLCCs through the straits. These missiles cannot be countered by the US military. (see: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a5LkaU0wj714)

In terms of the geopolitics of central Asia Israel, however powerful in the legislative corridors of the US, can no longer supply the strategic backing the Empire needs. Iran sits astride the Middle-East and Central Asia, and with the commercial centre of gravity shifting dramatically to the East (with the development of the Eurasian Union, the Shanghai Council and Xi Ping’s massive silk road projects), Israel is left feeling, like Venice in 1497 when Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape, ever so slightly irrelevant. Hence the sour grapes and the pointless campaign of sabotage by Zionist-influenced mainstream media over the negotiations. What is more, as Israeli policies have pursued the increasingly myopic goal of covering the ethnically-cleansed hills of Palestine with suburbs full of crazed extremists, to the exclusion of working (normally) on the position of the country in the region and the world, David Petraeus, in his time as head of the US military in the central region, said clearly to Congress that Israel had become a hindrance and not a support for overall US strategic objectives. (see: http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2010/03/foxman-calls-petraeus-a-jew-baiter/189249/)

See Gareth Porter’s latest on the negotiations: http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2015/07/07/iranian-nuclear-deal-edges-closer-as-main-obstacles-overcome-sources/

The US Iran Deal

As I discussed here:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/05/why-things-are-going-to-get-much-worse-in-the-arab-world-before-they-get-better/

the Iran deal is clearly vital for US interests, and many lobby groups, which previously looked as if they were going to be dead set against the deal (because Netanhayu was against it),  are nevertheless going to back Obama.

If there had been any doubt about this, NY Senator Charles Schumer told a New York Jewish audience a week ago that the U.S. and Israel have very different interests re a possible Iran deal and as a senator representing Americans, he may determine that the deal is in his country’s best interest. In a remarkably frank discussion of dual loyalty, he said his concern for Israel comes second.

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