Behind Trump’s Anti-Iran Tough Talk

Appeasing the Saudi-Israel axis in the Mideast, President Trump is talking tough against Iran and bringing his administration even more into line with neocon orthodoxy, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

By Paul R. Pillar

The Trump administration is bending over backward to be, and to sound, hostile and confrontational toward Iran. This effort to flaunt a role for itself as a dedicated enemy of Iran has roots in the same factors that underlie the more widely established anti-Iranism in the United States, staying ahead of which is clearly an administration objective.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani celebrates the completion of an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program on Nov. 24, 2013, by kissing the head of the daughter of an assassinated Iranian nuclear engineer. (Iranian government photo)

These factors include a troubled history highlighted for Americans by the hostage crisis of 1979-81. They include pressure from intra-regional rivals of Iran — especially the Israeli government but also the Gulf Arab regimes — that have an interest in depicting Iran as the source of all trouble in the Middle East and as a demon that distracts attention from problems that are more their own doing.

The United States and especially the current administration willingly succumbs to such pressure, with a habit of dividing the world simplistically into friends and enemies and taking the side of supposed friends in local conflicts in which the United States itself does not really have a valid reason to take sides. Related to that habit is the felt need to have a clear enemy as a kind of adversarial lodestar, a role that the Trump administration is all the more eager to thrust on Iran given the politically sensitive ambiguities of Trump’s relationship with Russia.

Lately the administration has been working overtime to trumpet its hostility to Iran, because it was required to submit a certification to Congress regarding whether Iran is observing its obligations under the multilateral nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). A certification that Iran is indeed complying with its obligations was the only plausible way to discharge this legal obligation of a report to Congress, given that Iran is in fact in compliance, as the International Atomic Energy Agency, implementing the most comprehensive and intrusive international monitoring arrangement that any nation has ever willingly accepted for its own nuclear program, has repeatedly determined since the agreement went into effect.

Avoiding One More Lie 

In short, the agreement is working exactly as it was supposed to work in keeping Iran’s nuclear activities peaceful. Any other statement to Congress on the subject would have been a lie. This President has no compunction about lying, of course, but such a lie would have meant needlessly creating a new crisis amid the other crises, foreign and domestic, that the President already has created.

President Trump at a news conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on April 5, 2017, at which the President commented on crisis in Syria. (Screen shot from whitehouse.gov)

The administration’s unease flows from how this inescapable certification may appear to be a positive gesture toward Iran. As such, it could be seen as weakening the administration’s anti-Iran credentials. Moreover, the admission that the JCPOA is working runs counter to Trump’s denunciation of the agreement as the “worst deal ever.”

Thus we have the administration’s compensatory rhetoric of today, which includes as much negative verbiage as possible about Iran in general as well as aspersions about the JCPOA. Most of the rhetoric falls in the familiar, non-specific vein that pays no attention to exactly what Iran is or is not doing and how that does or does not affect U.S. interests and instead is essentially sloganeering. But the recent extra straining to dump on Iran and the nuclear agreement has resulted in some especially peculiar and downright silly formulations.

For example, Vice President Mike Pence, half a world away on a visit to Australia and promising at a press conference with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that the United States would abide by a refugee resettlement agreement that Trump had described as another “dumb deal,” went out of his way to comment on how his President expresses “frustration with other international agreements, most notably the so-called nuclear agreement with Iran.” “So-called”?

On which aspect of the JCPOA is Pence trying to cast doubt by using that label? That it involves nuclear matters? That it is an agreement? That the agreement is with Iran? Pence’s comment can be filed in the same place as Trump’s comment about the “so-called judge” who suspended implementation of the anti-Muslim travel ban.

A Misleading Certification

Then there is the certification itself, which is in the form of a short letter from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The letter was publicly released under the heading, “Iran continues to sponsor terrorism.” Good luck to anyone looking at titles as a way to search for a document that is about compliance with a nuclear agreement. The only support within the letter for that misleading title is the single sentence, “Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivering a statement condemning the Syrian government on April 11, 2017. (Screen shot from state.gov)

Like many other rhetorical linkages of Iran to terrorism, this statement ignores the major changes in Iranian tactics in the years since the Iranian revolution, the fact that Iran is on the same side as the United States in combating terrorist groups such as ISIS, and the fact that the roots of the sort of violent extremism that ISIS represents are to be found far more with rivals of Iran than with Iran itself.

The day after the certification was sent to Congress, Tillerson made a statement to the press that was designed to disseminate as much compensatory anti-Iran rhetoric as possible. Tillerson’s statement had all the usual generalities that pay no attention to what anyone else in the region is doing (such as in Yemen, where the Saudi and Emirati intervention in that civil war has been far more destructive and destabilizing than anything that Iran has done), but perhaps the most preposterous part of the statement was its linkage of Iran to the most salient international security problem du jour, North Korea.

Stop Making Sense

Tillerson said, “An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea, and take the world along with it. The United States is keen to avoid a second piece of evidence that strategic patience is a failed approach.”

North Korean missile launch on March 6, 2017.

And then later in the statement, “The JCPOA fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran; it only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state. This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face from North Korea. The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran.”

Huh? Far from passing a buck, the Obama administration, through an immense diplomatic effort, accomplished far more to resolve what had been widely and loudly touted (such as by the 2012 Republican presidential nominee) as the number one security problem facing the United States than any other administration before or after. Far from leaving Iran “unchecked,” the JCPOA imposes the most severe limitations on, and most extensive international monitoring (which continues in perpetuity) of, a national nuclear program.

If “strategic patience” has characterized some aspect of past U.S. policy on Iran, it was the earlier, pre-Obama, approach of simply piling on more sanctions and hoping that somehow that would persuade the Iranians to curtail their nuclear activities. Instead, the result was more and more centrifuges spinning and more and more uranium getting enriched — a process that the JCPOA not only halted but reversed.

A False Analogy 

Whatever one may think, pro or con, about the Agreed Framework that attempted to address North Korea’s nuclear activities, it was a far cry from the much more detailed, effective, and enforceable JCPOA. Bottom line: Iran does not have nuclear weapons, and all possible paths to making an Iranian nuclear weapon have been closed. That represents a world of difference from what we face with North Korea, and it is ridiculous to talk about these two cases together in terms of a “second piece of evidence.”

Secretary of State John Kerry and his team of negotiators meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and his team in Switzerland on March 26, 2015. (State Department photo)

North Korea is the severe challenge that it is today because of its nuclear weapons — which is the dimension that kept getting emphasized about Iran until, after the JCPOA closed the nuclear weapon option, those who have wanted to maintain hostility toward Iran have searched for other rationales for their hostility. Without its nukes, we would hardly be caring at all about the North Korean hermit kingdom. If Trump or anyone else could obtain an agreement with North Korea that was anything like the JCPOA, it would be a huge diplomatic triumph — and no doubt touted as such. It also would have been a huge diplomatic triumph a decade or two ago, when such an agreement might have been more reachable than it is today.

Trump himself has joined in the overtime effort to pump out anti-Iran rhetoric. At a press conference this week with the Italian prime minister, Trump again denounced the JCPOA as a “terrible agreement” that was “as bad as I’ve ever seen negotiated.” As usual, no hint was given as what any better alternatives would look like, or why we should believe that any such alternatives are, or would have been, attainable.

Then Trump asserted that Iran is “not living up to the spirit of the agreement.” What could he possibly be referring to? Trump didn’t say.

Iranian Compliance

If one focuses on the nuclear obligations in the JCPOA itself, it would be difficult to find any lack of good spirit in Iran’s verified adherence to the letter of the panoply of commitments it undertook. (Iran completed its initial requirements under the agreement, such as reducing its supply of low enriched uranium, with alacrity and more promptly than many expected.)

Army Gen. H.R. McMaster, national security adviser to President Trump.

If spirit instead refers to a larger relationship beyond the nuclear agreement itself, the first thing to remember is that the parties that negotiated the agreement realized that if they attempted too broad an agenda — including Iran’s grievances against the United States as well as U.S. complaints about Iran — then it probably would have been impossible to conclude a nuclear accord.

The next thing to note is that the preponderance of hostility is coming more from the Trump administration toward Iran than the other way around, as the most recent wave of rhetoric illustrates. It was a change of administrations in Washington, not in Tehran, that resulted in discontinuation of what had been a channel of communication at the foreign minister level that was effective at addressing problems (such as U.S. sailors straying into Iranian territorial waters) beyond the nuclear issues.

And it is not just rhetoric. The most significant departure in the last three months by either government regarding actions in the Middle East was the Trump administration’s direct, armed attack on Iran’s ally Syria.

Perhaps most pertinent to anything that could be called the spirit of the JCPOA are all the doubts being voiced by the Trump administration as to whether it will even live up to the letter of the agreement. Contained in the certification to Congress is the statement, “President Donald J. Trump has directed a National Security Council-led interagency review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States.” Translation: we haven’t decided whether we’re going to comply with our obligations under the accord. How’s that for living up to the spirit of the agreement?

All this striving to burnish anti-Iran credentials not only precludes any possibility of building constructively on the JCPOA to address other issues in the Middle East in a way that advances U.S. interests. The rhetoric — designed to excoriate one state rather than to illuminate the causes of regional problems — obscures the nature of those problems, distorts public and Congressional understanding of them, and consequently makes those problems all the harder to address effectively.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.) 

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33 comments for “Behind Trump’s Anti-Iran Tough Talk

  1. mike k
    April 24, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    More lies and warmaking from the present US government. What else is new? Once you are clear that the US is hellbent on ruling the world absolutely, you know everything you need to know about US foreign policy – it’s just a scam to help conquer the world.

  2. mike k
    April 24, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Can there be any more disgusting egoistic hubris that what figures in the US government manifest, I think not – we take the cake for clueless fatheads.

    • April 25, 2017 at 3:50 am

      Most recently, US commanders in Afghanistan are accusing the Russian Federation of arming the Taliban.
      The accusations allege that Russia is determined to undermine sovereign nations across the globe.
      The comedy writes itself:
      Washington is “going to have to confront Russia, where what they’re doing is contradictory to international law or denying the sovereignty of other countries.”
      So sais some delusional high up muckidy-muck named Jim Mattis

      Some of us may recall that Washington had it’s agents send arms to Mexican cartels through operations ‘wide receiver’ and ‘fast and furious’ from 2006-2012. This was discovered after one of those firearms found it’s way back to the US where it was used to kill an officer.
      IMO, Washington accuses others of criminal acts it perpetrates itself so that when rightfully charged, it can claim that it has only done what others have. The ol’ “but, but, they did it too.”
      The Russian Federation is not going to arm wahabist militants bent on murder and mayhem, ESPECIALLY since those zealots live just south of the border … that is the domain of the US.

  3. Bill Bodden
    April 24, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    In short, the agreement is working exactly as it was supposed to work in keeping Iran’s nuclear activities peaceful. Any other statement to Congress on the subject would have been a lie. This President has no compunction about lying, …

    And, of course, if it is a lie approved by the Israel lobby then a majority in Congress will have no problem going along with it.

  4. mike k
    April 24, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    The US idea of diplomacy is like the Mafia’s, “I’m going to make you a deal you can’t refuse.” John Perkins tells in Confessions of an Economic Hitman what happened to leaders south of the border who thought they could refuse the US “offer” – they ended up dead. Gives Trumpie a whole new way to “negotiate” eh?

  5. mike k
    April 24, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Maybe Trump is a convert to Maoism, “All political power comes from the mouth of a gun.”

  6. Realist
    April 24, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    I had hopes that, considering his background as an international businessman of the highest achievement and influence, Tillerson would deal in the truth and honest rhetoric in his new capacity as Secretary of State, the reason being that he would not want to damage the credibility of his company and his industry in future deals with other sovereign nations. But, apparently, he thinks that he can slander and lie about Russia, Iran and any number of other states with whom the American oil industry has done and will want to continue doing business. Now, by anyone’s standard, the well has been poisoned. No one in those countries will believe a damn thing he or his industry counterparts will ever have to say again.

    Doing business, with goods, services and cash involved, has, to be sure, always involved some chicanery and fleecing of inattentive marks, but, unless we are talking about the Mafia (organised crime from whatever country), the deals ultimately did not hinge on threats of existential annihilation of entire societies. Exxon-Mobil (under Tillerson, by the way) did not get the deal to develop Russia’s Arctic oil fields by threatening to nuke the Kremlin. Yet now, acting like a thug with hit-man enforcers, he speaks this language with respect to the future of Crimea unless it is forced back into occupation by the Ukronazis or the continued existence of Iran as a modern technologically-advanced state unless it conforms to some standards of behavior that are not even well-formulated by the Neocons who drive American foreign policy.

    Iran can continue to abide by their treaty with the United States (and several other international signatories), adhering to ever jot and tittle recorded on the piece of paper shoved in its face by Washington whilst America ignores its own promises made in the agreement. But that will never be enough, because Iran will never be allowed to know exactly what other, unspecified, demands the American hegemonists presently want, will want or even may want at some time in the future. Until then, every American pol, including the former stand-up guy Tillerson, will be expected to gratuitously bash Iran and threaten it will a scorched-earth war that only the minds of the Israelis could fully contemplate.

    What we are seeing is just one more, in a long series of target states, being beaten into submission by the last bully standing on planet earth–the transmogrified United States which now refutes, de facto if not in words, all the bullshit about freedom and democracy that it purportedly used to stand for. Now, it no longer seeks to keep secret its despicable agenda and thuggish tactics, it only strives to recruit and hide behind a growing list of vassal countries, like the latest pipsqueak nation of Montenegro, to deflect from its own deep guilt. Hey, says Sam, don’t blame me, I’m just carrying out the will of all these other schmoes. We see through it, Rex, Donald… Barack, George, Bill, George, Gipper and all the wanabees like Hillary, Mitt, McShame, and several dozen other names willing to sell their integrity for the illusion of power.

    • mike k
      April 24, 2017 at 9:56 pm

      I love realism no matter how bitter it is, it tastes sweet to my soul, which thrives on truth.

    • Gary Hare
      April 25, 2017 at 3:00 am

      Loved it. How very obvious. How very true.

  7. D5-5
    April 24, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    I want to argue that skepticism of Establishment Politics is increasing—due the failure of relying on demonizing as the mask. Policies must be masked, and demonizing is the worn-out methodology. Skepticism is increasing. Recent, increasing pressure to shut up critical voices (BTW what’s with CN’s server problems these past couple of days?) may support this thesis. Demonizing is not working as well as it did. People may be nearly as sick of hysteria as they are of war. Attempts to shut up critics will grow more severe.

    There is no rational argument to oppose the agreement with Iran, nor was there one with North Korea in the late 90’s and into W’s time in the White House following a similar crisis in 1994. So you demonize to suit your aggressive dominance policies. But as time moves on demonizing Assad is increasingly questioned, as with Putin, as it ought to be with Jong Un, etc. etc. Trump’s language is so impoverished he doesn’t get much beyond “terrible, really terrible” and the fall-back position to rely on demonizing is worn out. Americans may be stupid, but they’re not that stupid.

    A growing problem for the Establishment is the faded old purple rhetoric they’re using, which will probably lead on to more attacks on those who criticize, and this will happen as a form of desperation due the ineffectuality of the verbiage. The Vietnam War, 9/11, WMD in 03 are now skeptically received, questioning increasing, and I believe this will also happen, and more quickly, with the latest in accusing Assad for the chemical incident, and the absurd and apparently ineffectual Tomahawk strike, and the MOAB monstrosity.

    After taking the position of Mr. Ordinary when it comes to politics, which led on to his support, and the freshness of challenging Establishment Views, Trump has swiveled and sunk himself to being its supporter because he “changed his mind.” Such shallowness and opportunism makes the man ridiculous, and less capable at hiding this than Obama, who similarly swiveled and immediately compromised himself.

    The mood of the public a year ago in the campaign is another indication of a new truculent suspicion in the American public. The decay of the System has surfaced in the aftermath of an electoral process that had “rigged system” ringing in everybody’s ears. We do not have a representative government, its constituency is special interests and money, and it continually speaks with falsehoods. This reality is clearer every day.

    • mike k
      April 24, 2017 at 10:07 pm

      The American people are mostly not stupid. But they have been entranced, brainwashed, propagandized, misled, charmed, lied to, bribed, threatened, addicted, conned relentlessly from childhood with a false version of who they are, and what their country truly is and has done. It’s a miracle that some of us come out from under this total assault on our reason and higher faculties of knowing truth and right from wrong, and manage to see things pretty much for what they actually are.

      • Gary Hare
        April 25, 2017 at 3:04 am

        Sorry Mike. I think the evidence is quite compelling – the majority of Americans really are stupid. As are Australians for going along with all the shit they put out.

        • mike k
          April 25, 2017 at 7:41 am

          I take your point Gary to be brain washed = stupid. But brainwashed people can be highly intelligent in other areas not affected by the brainwash. It is true that in the areas covered by their brainwashing people are incapable of clear rational thought, you could say that their critical faculties are suspended or covered over in those areas. This may be why we call these folks asleep, they are out of contact with reality while brainwashed, and act like zombies. For the sake of avoiding further insulting people under a propaganda spell, I refrain from calling them stupid, because I know from personal experience that they can possibly awaken from their trance and begin thinking clearly. It happened for me, and it is still happening! It’s amazing how deep our conditioning goes, layer upon layer. In hearing other folks views here on CN I have little awakenings, my “sleep” becomes less and less…….

          • Skip Scott
            April 25, 2017 at 9:09 am

            Well said, mike k. The truth will set us free.

          • Ol' Hippy
            April 25, 2017 at 11:30 am

            Certainly. Only after I had to quit working, due to a major disability, and also quit drinking, did I have the faculties to ‘see’ why the US is constantly being attacked,(9/11, foreign free press) and the absolute brainwashing that keeps the masses in the dark. I assume it’s easier for people to avoid knowing the truth as it can be a painful realization to know what the picture of the US presented in school is mostly fabrication to ensure compliant citizens. After all it would take a big awakening to actually effect some change, if at all.

          • Joe Wallace
            April 26, 2017 at 12:14 am

            mike k:

            Well done. You’ve made your point in a politic way without alienating an audience that has prospects of awakening.

          • Realist
            April 26, 2017 at 7:27 am

            Mike, I think we all start out having been purposely brainwashed in childhood by our public institutions, like our elementary schools, our churches, the boy scouts, and similar organisations. This continues through adulthood via the press and the electronic media where we are delivered grade A homogenized propaganda 24/7.

            When I reflect back at my post-WWII elementary education, every day started with the pledge of allegiance, singing the national anthem and marching into class whilst John Phillips Souza marches played over the P.A. system. History class, which could spill over into other subjects, always dwelt on our country’s manifest destiny and exceptionalism. Current events always dwelt on dumping on “communists” and why the American way of life was superior to all others. It was always a narrative about how the wilderness was tamed in the face of attacks by aboriginal savages and foreign powers competing with our Anglo-Saxon culture in the Western Hemisphere. Our independence from Britain, which allegedly had all the right ideas but somehow went wrong, was described as an act of pure altruism on the part of the saintly founding fathers. I was educated in the North, so slavery was represented strictly as a mistake made by those racist Southerners, who simply needed to be set on the right path by the pious Abraham Lincoln, a man later martyred by craven ingrates.

            And, so all the wars of conquest and acquisition, all the lands stolen from England, Spain, France, Mexico and Hawaii were portrayed and excused as actions ordained by the creator, because he wanted us righteous Christians to have the land and its resources just as he wanted the Jews to possess the “Holy Land.” All the later military adventures we had versus the dying Spanish Empire, the blatant colonialism throughout Latin America, and the two world wars we finagled our way into against Germany and its allies, much to our political and economic gain, were also “no-brainers” that any “righteous” purely “altruistic” people would have undertaken.

            Starting with that premise, it had to be obvious that the Soviet Union (and later Russia) was always wrong, China was wrong, North Korea was wrong, North Vietnam was wrong, Cuba was wrong, anti-colonialist “leftist” rebels such as Patrice Lumumba had to be wrong, Arab nationalists like Gamal Abdel Nasser had to be wrong, even leaders of the non-aligned movement such as Josip Tito and Jaraharlal Nehru had to be wrong. (The list is almost endless, so please excuse me for stopping there.) Only those countries and their leaders receiving the approval of the American State Department and intelligence agencies, like Israel, Canada, Taiwan and others willing to be front-line proxy fighters on the battlefield or in the U.N. could be officially considered “friends of the United States” and worthy of public approval by our citizenry.

            If you are seventy or close to it, you should remember all that shit. Even if you are a Gen-Xer you should remember most of it. Perhaps Millennials get a pass for not having the propaganda reinforced daily with life experiences. For me, enlightenment came during the Vietnam war, especially when it became clear that thousands of my cohorts (at least ten of whom I personally knew, now dead much longer than they lived) were dying for an evil rather than a good and that even to publicly protest this travesty made one an enemy of the state.

            The Vietnam war went on for so long without the slightest benefit to anyone but the war profiteers that eventually the mood of the country turned against it, Richard Nixon was impeached–as much for that as for the Watergate spy caper–and congress de-funded the war effort, making the evacuation of Saigon by helicopters on rooftops inevitable.

            One might have assumed that the body politic had an epiphany from the Vietnam fiasco and that such wars conducted for pure profit and hegemony would not be repeated. The effect did not last. George H.W. Bush gloated that we had “kicked the Vietnam syndrome” after his glorious little war against Saddam Hussein after suckering him into Kuwait, otherwise known as Gulf War I. But, really, the madness picked up again as soon as Jimmy Carter retired to private life and Ronald Reagan opened the flood gates for multiple covert wars and proxy wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. He and Bushdaddy also fueled the war of attrition they purposely instigated between Iran and Iraq, to degrade both sides whilst spinning a tidy profit to subsidize the carnage in Central America.

            So, though I believe that most of the American people thought the killing had stopped and wanted it to stop after Vietnam, they were hoodwinked. And then gradually the wars became less covert, more overt, and even clearly precipitated as a matter of choice by the American state without even the pretense of a legitimate excuse or an appreciation of consequences including blowback against our interests and citizens, till we come to the present day wherein most Americans have no idea what is going on, why it is happening, don’t care that it is happening and once again take the old default position we had during the early days of the Vietnam conflict: my country right or wrong.

            In fact, most of them believe we are always right and to doubt this is an act of betrayal. Dubya purposefully indoctrinated us with this very idea. People eventually got sick of him and voted in the great double-crosser Barack Obama, but they hung on to that notion that this country is always the good guy and the media always tells it like it is.

            Even when they doubt their politicians, the fools still believe the lying media. The lack of a genuine free press will make it so much harder to enlighten the public now than was possible during the Vietnam war. You see the same effect even in France where the people were so fed up with Hollande that he didn’t dare run again, yet they seem poised to elect his hand-chosen clone (Macron) running under the subterfuge of a different party label. The folks there, nor in Germany where Merkel is suddenly popular again despite her Russophobic and other insane international policies, are not getting the straight dope from their media. Yes, there is definitely a component of willful ignorance on the part of the public–be it American or European–but, since deregulation made it possible during the Clinton administration, the media has come entirely under the control of a mere six mega-corporations and they take it as their sole mission to advance the financial interests of those corporations, even to the detriment of the country and its people.

            So, we NEVER get the truth via the MSM, only propaganda that benefits the interests of its owners. Who ARE these owners? Well, Carlos Slim is the major shareholder for the New York Times. Jeff Bezos is the outright owner of the Washington Post. Rupert Murdoch owns Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and dozens of other newspapers and television stations and networks. NBC/MSNBC (and a bunch of other stations) are owned by Comcast. CNN (and a bunch of other stations) are owned by Time-Warner. A lot of minority shareholders in the American mega-media corporations are Saudis, especially partnered with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. If they say that Assad gassed his own people, you can take that to the bank (summa cum sarcasm).

  8. Zachary Smith
    April 24, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    They include pressure from intra-regional rivals of Iran — especially the Israeli government but also the Gulf Arab regimes…..

    Since Joe Tedesky pointed this out in another essay, I’m paying a bit more attention.

    So Holy Israel is the only outfit which has a genuine “government”, and all the dirty towelheads have only “regimes”.

    Interesting.

    • Joe Tedesky
      April 24, 2017 at 11:56 pm

      It is always good to feel you are remembered, no matter how slight, so thank you Zachary.

      Talking about slight, I find the most effective propaganda is exposed with the most subtle of word usage. So slight these words meant to add or subtract from the quality of a person or entity that it almost passes you by, but the messengers message is embedded deep, and so softly inside of your brain that if you are not careful you may end up using the same words yourself, when describing a person, place, or thing.

      On the subject of the Trump Adminstrations tough talk I’m beginning to wonder how far these new occupants of the White House are willing to take their ultimatums. What bothers me most is Jared’s influence, and to how much of his geopolitical ideology has been mentored by the Netanyahu regime.

      There have been many of us here who preferred to listen to a rational Trump presidential candidate, who campaigned on talking to Putin, and who at times said some pretty promising things. Although, if you were listening there was the candidate Trump who promised he would blow the shit out of them, or torture even the terrorists families. Remember while Trump spoke gentlemanly in regard to Vladimir Putin, he at the same time threw a fit everytime he mentioned the Iran nuclear deal…bad deal.

      What bothers me the most, is how it seems like the majority of Americans are not seeing through all of this purposely one sided war driven garbage that we here in America call the news. I can’t get over how gullible everyone seems to be. The narrow callousness is deeply troubling, for it all to go over every Americans head, that these nations we so desperately wish to destroy have people much like ourselves in them, but by the clever word usage of these evil hearted media pundits, and politicians it would appear that we Americans believe bombing and killing people through out this world is something that God would prefer for us to do, and we are the righteous ones for doing what God commands us to accomplish in his name….hmmm, now where have I heard of that one before? So America ask yourself if we do this killing as if it is our God commanded duty, will we automatically become God’s chosen people too?

      • April 25, 2017 at 4:07 am

        USans are the attack dogs of god’s chosen.
        If the attack dog ever turns on it’s master, god’s chosen will burn the globe in nuclear fire.
        The chosen ones really do have nukes, not like Iraq, Iran or NK, whose nukes require a jumbo jet to carry the components to where it must be assembled for testing.
        If the zionist has it’s way, the globe will be theirs, and it’s inhabitants their slaves.
        If the zionist does not have it’s way, they will burn us all.

        • April 25, 2017 at 10:15 am

          Heil Israel! Uber alles! Uber alles! Heil Netenyahu! The Israelis are better Nazis than the Germans!

          • Ol' Hippy
            April 25, 2017 at 11:39 am

            Sometimes I wonder whose dog is wagging whose tail. Is Israel’s dog wagging the US’s? Even though we have a bigger dog, Israel has found a way to wag the mighty tail of the US, something I still fail to understand.

        • Joe Tedesky
          April 25, 2017 at 12:27 pm

          I wonder to how many Americans even realize what a Zionist is. I also always like to stress how all Jews aren’t Zionist, but how all Zionist are Jews.

  9. Taras77
    April 24, 2017 at 10:04 pm

    Excellent article and comments above.

    To state the obvious, Iran is the target as evidenced by increasing rhetoric from the zionist neocons and their enablers in the admin and congress. I’m seeing more and more indications of neo cons, who by any standard of decency, have no right to show their face in public, coming out from under their rocks.

    The odious wolfowize doing an op-ed in WSJ and interview with NPR, an interview with felon Elliott Abrams indicating he has not given up on a position in the State Dept, trump hiring Robert Karem who previously served in the White House as a Middle East policy advisor to Vice President Richard B. Cheney. It is enough to make one retch at this insidious movement, they are like termites.

    I attach a fairly lengthy summary by Jim Lobe to highlight some of these developments-it is worth at a minimum a scan IMHO:

    http://rightweb.irc-online.org/bannon-pentagon-neocons/

  10. Abe
    April 25, 2017 at 12:44 am

    Behind Rachel Maddow’s Anti-Russia / Anti-Iran Tough Talk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRcWTILGWGA

    • Joe Tedesky
      April 25, 2017 at 1:03 am

      Thanks Abe that was a breath of fresh air. I would also add that news segments like the one in your video link is what I wish we could view on our cable news networks.

  11. Peter Loeb
    April 25, 2017 at 6:46 am

    “THE SALESMEN”

    In his book “GOLAITH”, Max Blumenthal refers to Benjamin Netanyahu
    as a “salesman”. A perfect match for President Donald J. Trump.
    And as we all know. “deals” are “negotiated” on the golf course,
    at dinners at private clubs, and so on. Netanyahu and Trump have been
    friends for years.

    This President continues to believe that he will rule by
    blowing up the world while also blowing up (metaphorically)
    the US…

    Read James W. Carden’s consortium article of today
    unfortunately fails to explore the US choice to dance to
    Israel’s tune.

    Why Trump did not offer Hillary Clinton the position of
    Secretary of State must surely have been an oversight on
    his part. A marriage “made in heaven”” certainly.

    Although “separated”, they are of course still joined at
    the hip.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • mike k
      April 25, 2017 at 7:49 am

      Good insight. Thanks.

  12. Michael Khattib (@MKhattib)
    April 25, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Since the deal was negotiated, the Iranians have received more than 100 billion dollars in unfrozen assets, and the regime has been further enriched by corpulent, lucrative deals since the sanctions have been lifted. This has been used, in good part, to enrich and empower Iran, and to help the Islamic Republic destabilize the globe in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and in Saudi Arabia.By certifying that the Iranians have been in compliance, the United States will be continuing the Obama administration’s policy of willful blindness combined with grand deception about the Iranian regime and its destructive behavior.

    • Joe Wallace
      April 26, 2017 at 1:08 am

      Michael Khattib (@MKhattib):

      Oh, bullshit! You’re made whole (not “enriched”) if you get back money that was yours to begin with. You also have to be aggressively ignorant not to see that the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, with their support for terrorists, do far more to “destabilize the globe” than Iran does. Pull your head out.

      • Skip Scott
        April 26, 2017 at 8:16 am

        Amen Joe. It’s amazing to me that these trolls even bother showing up at CN. There arguments are so obviously flawed to anybody with a shred of intelligence, and that describes all the commenters on this site, with the exception of the occasional troll. I think they must be on AIPAC’s payroll.

        • April 27, 2017 at 5:09 am

          I searched for this @Mkhattib, he seems to be visiting all the alternate news media and commenting his opinions. Seems to focus on the Iran ‘question.’

  13. Bill Goldman
    April 27, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Trump has always subscribed to hawkish new-con orthodoxy except for his single assertion that he might consider joint action with Russia and ISIS and he reneged on that. Faced it. Being the notorious liar that he is, he simply flip-flopped.

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