The Dream to Destroy Iran-Nuke Accord

With Israel and Saudi Arabia still lusting for war with Iran, President Trump and his disdain for reality about the Iranian nuclear accord have become the key enablers, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

By Paul R. Pillar

Donald Trump’s disdain for the truth does not prevent reality from repeatedly bumping up against his policies, the most consistent theme of which has been to try to destroy his predecessor’s accomplishments. The degree to which reality inconveniences Trump — and more importantly, how much Trump’s efforts to shove reality aside damage U.S. interests — vary from issue to issue.

President Donald Trump poses for photos with ceremonial swordsmen on his arrival to Murabba Palace, as the guest of Saudi King Salman, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Dominating the headlines recently, of course, has been health care, in which the denied truths include basic principles of how insurance pools work and the fact that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has successfully extended health care coverage to many Americans who did not previously have it.  In foreign policy, one of the most glaring rejections of truth has concerned climate change and Trump’s associated withdrawal from the Paris agreement, which represents rejection of a well-established scientific consensus.

Trump appears to care little about the resulting near-term consequence of U.S. isolation and loss of leadership. The most cataclysmic physical and economic consequences are longer-term ones that will mostly occur after Trump leaves office, and there is no evidence that he cares about those consequences at all.

As for what was probably Barack Obama’s leading foreign policy accomplishment — the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to restrict Iran’s nuclear program — the reality that Trump rejects is that the accord is working as intended to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon and that Iran is complying with its obligations under the agreement, as verified by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Trump faces every 90 days a congressionally imposed requirement for the president to certify whether Iran is observing the agreement. The certification is supposed to be a statement of fact, not an expression of a preference. For a truth-denier like Trump, who has been vituperative in denouncing the agreement, this requirement is a problem. The account in the New York Times of White House discussions leading to the most recent certification of Iranian compliance (the second of Trump’s presidency) indicates that Trump’s advisers had to drag him kicking and screaming into making the certification.

Tearing Down Obama

Notwithstanding (or perhaps because of) the JCPOA’s success, Trump clearly is still determined to try to destroy the accord. With his failure on the domestic side to undo Obamacare, he is probably more determined than ever to achieve destruction of this foreign policy accomplishment.

President Barack Obama announces at the White House a framework agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program on April 2, 2015. (Screen shot from White House video.)

The Times’s account leaves the impression that when the next certification is due three months from now, there is a significant chance that Trump will refuse to acknowledge the truth a third time, no matter how rigorously the Iranians observe the agreement. A failure to certify would open the door to new sanctions that would represent wholesale U.S. violation of the JCPOA.

Meanwhile, the Trump White House already has violated not only the spirit but the letter of the JCPOA by openly and explicitly discouraging other countries, as it did at the G-20 summit meeting, from conducting normal business with Iran. The Iranians have not yet given up on the agreement in response, but as Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has indicated, Iran’s patience, like anyone’s patience, is not unlimited.

For Trump and others who want to confront and isolate Iran and who all along have opposed the JCPOA or anything like it, the preferred scenario is for the Iranians to get so annoyed by U.S. noncompliance that Tehran finally does give up and declares the agreement void.

If that tactic fails, then do not be surprised if, in October, Trump refuses certification. That decision would be accompanied by trumped-up charges of Iranian violations. Anyone willing to examine the issue carefully would know they are trumped-up because, thanks to the highly intrusive monitoring regime that the JCPOA established, international inspectors have very detailed and timely cognizance of everything going on in the Iranian nuclear program.

Of course, readily available refutation has not stopped Trump from lying about many other things. But if Iranian conduct regarding the JCPOA to date continues over the next three months, then the world should realize that a Trumpian accusation of Iranian noncompliance would have as much validity as Trump’s statements about the size of his inauguration crowd or the millions of fraudulent voters who supposedly cast ballots for Hillary Clinton.

If Trump rejects the truth about Iranian compliance, the most favorable possible outcome would be for Iran and the other five non-U.S. powers that negotiated the JCPOA to try to continue the agreement despite U.S. noncompliance. Even that outcome would have significant negative consequences for the United States in the form of lost business in Iran, lost opportunities to build on the JCPOA in addressing other regional problems, and further isolation of the United States and estrangement from its allies.

Less favorable outcomes would involve complete breakdown of the JCPOA and an accelerated Iranian nuclear program, with renewed concern about diminishing breakout time until a possible Iranian nuclear weapon, increased uncertainty about the Iranian program in the absence of the enhanced international inspections established under the JCPOA, and heightened danger of U.S. involvement in a new Middle Eastern war.

Trump’s Motivations

How much would Donald Trump, motivated by whatever psychological and political factors drive him along his path of destruction, care about any such consequences? The experience with health care gives us some indication. To realize the campaign mantra of abolishing Obamacare, Trump evidently is willing to remove health-care coverage from millions of Americans, many of whom voted for him.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3, 2015, in opposition to President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. (Screen shot from CNN broadcast)

One way he has been dealing with the truth he denies is to try to create a new reality by saying “let” [sic] the ACA fail while he actively sabotages the program, such as by refusing to enforce the individual mandate and sowing as much uncertainty as possible to discourage insurance companies’ participation.

Such a man is not likely to care much about setting back the cause of nuclear nonproliferation or stoking increased dangers and tensions in the Middle East, if that means getting a big notch in his achievement-destroying belt.

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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58 comments for “The Dream to Destroy Iran-Nuke Accord

  1. john wilson
    July 21, 2017 at 4:41 am

    The Americans are determined to destroy Iran just as they have destroyed Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen etc. By breaking the accord America forces Iran to begin its nuclear programme again when the Yanks will start to scream that Iran is making nukes so must be invaded and stopped. The Neocons never wanted Obama’s Iran accord and I am amazed they let Obama get away with it! Its only a matter of time before the Yanks find some reason to attack Iran, but the question is, will the Russians allow it?

    • Skip Scott
      July 21, 2017 at 9:54 am

      John-

      Saying it is the Americans who are doing this is a bit broad. It is the PNAC and the Yinon plan in action. The Deep State oligarchs pull all the levers of power, and whenever they are thwarted, it is only temporary. Right now the Russians are our only hope. It seems they may have succeeded in Syria, at least for now. Hopefully they can wage a successful challenge regarding Iran.

      • John wilson
        July 21, 2017 at 10:37 am

        Obviously Skip, I didn’t mean ordinary Americans, I was referring to the dogs in the government.

        • glitch
          July 21, 2017 at 9:39 pm

          Now you’re impuning dogs! Just call them what they are: oligos
          (and no, they do not get to self-identify as ‘elites’).

          • john wilson
            July 22, 2017 at 4:35 am

            Actually Glitch, I was thinking of calling them rsoles but even that is more than they deserve !!

          • Broompilot
            July 22, 2017 at 6:34 pm

            I often wonder how much money was spent at PR firms for these “rsoles” to come up with “elites” for themselves. Pitiful really.

    • Zachary Smith
      July 23, 2017 at 12:03 am

      Considering that many important “sanctions” never ended leaves room for the theory that the “Agreement” was merely a delaying tactic to allow a comprehensive attack on Iran to be developed — later.

      On Iran’s side, parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee was tasked to issue a report on the nuclear deal every six months. A consistent problem for Iran has been that large banks continue to be cautious of doing business with Iran due to remaining US sanctions not related to the nuclear deal. Parliament’s latest report addressed this issue, writing that Iran has access to smaller banks in Europe, but larger banks are still refusing to work with the country.

      The report concluded that sanctions have only been “removed on paper” and that the main culprit for this issue is “repeated American threats” about working with Iran. The report said that restrictions on Iran’s Central Bank and previous fines paid by European banks continue to limit Iran’s benefits from the nuclear deal. The report said that European banks had sought written permission from the US Treasury that their transactions with Iranian banks would not be fined later. Rather than issuing permission, the report said that the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which administers and enforces economic sanctions, gave vague answers to inquiries about doing business with Iran.

      h**p://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/07/iran-nuclear-deal-implementation-parliament-report-banks.html#ixzz4ncfpILzd

      Look at it this way – Israel wants Iran to be destroyed, and Israel still controls the most important levers of US Foreign Policy. According to the Wiki timeline the Iran deal went this way:

      Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

      Created 14 July 2015
      Ratified N/A (ratification not required)
      Date effective
      18 October 2015

      Smashing Syria was in the final stages, and I would assume the Neocon Puppets of Holy Israel were determined to do it right this time – First Syria, then Iran.

      But Russia proceeded to upset their Little Red Wagon by intervening in Syria on September 30, 2015. After much mockery by the NYT and WP, it gradually became clear that the destruction of Syria for Israel was no longer a slam dunk. Fast forward to July of 2017, and despite many US and Israeli airstrikes supporting ISIS, Syria seems destined to win.

      I’m going to assume this has left the scheduling for Iran’s Destruction up in the air. Twisting Trump’s arm to keep the Delay-Attacking-Iran-Treaty in force makes sense until some new strategy is put together. Since they don’t have President Hillary, attacking Russia as part of that strategy hasn’t gotten a lot of support. So keep stalling until somebody comes up with a good idea to Destroy Iran For Israel.

      Is that what’s happening now?

      • Peter Loeb
        July 24, 2017 at 9:13 am

        THERE NEVER WAS AN “ACCORD”

        The Iran “nuke accord” (assuming the title is incorrect in the tiotle
        above… what comes after “Iran- ??) never existed,

        The negotiations were not “in good faith” from the US side. One
        may well argue that it could never have existed. Neither an Obama,
        possible Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump Administration ever
        wanted it.

        It is unclear what kinds of political games were being played by
        the Obama Administration and its negotiators. It was never ever going
        to be a “signature” achievement.

        In this respect, Israel was more direct. It opposed JCPOA (eg the
        “Iranian Nuke Deal”) and said so. While there may be variations, one
        must assume that this is the opinion of most Israelis.

        In Gareth Porter’s excellent book on the negotiations, the Islamic
        Republic once seriously considered not taking part in the
        negotiations at all. In my opinion, this would have been a
        correct action, however misinterpreted in the Zionist-friendly
        west.

        In these spaces, I have always made clear that the US in
        particular was not negotiating “in good faith”. I never recommended
        what Iran should or should not have done at that time.

        As usual, it is absurd to believe that Iran is any “threat” to the
        US. The increasing political strength of Iran and others in the
        region may be a “threat” to Israel but certainly no more than Israel
        has been a lethal threat to non-Zionists from day One.

        The comments of Zachary Smith should be read with close
        attention.

        As regards the sanctions past, present, and future, it
        seems improbable to believe that the nations so
        sanctioned can fail to retaliate. What form these
        retaliations may take and when they will be taken
        depends on the independent decisions of the
        nations the US has sanctioned and their particular needs.

        —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  2. Adrian Engler
    July 21, 2017 at 6:27 am

    A likely development is that the conflicts between the US and the EU will increase. European countries want to allow their companies to do business with Iran, and they won’t easily give up on US pressure. At the time after the US-British aggression against Iraq, European countries were busy with diplomatic efforts connected with nuclear technology in Iran not so much because they were afraid of a nuclear bomb, but because they were afraid that, after Iraq, the US would attack Iran, as well. After the agreement with Iran has been reached and Iran abides by the rules, in contrast to the US where neoconservatives are very influential, in the EU (perhaps apart from Britain, which is leaving it), no significant forces are in favor of continuing an aggressive policy towards Iran despite Iran’s adherence to the agreement.

    If US sanctions only mean that US companies cannot do business with Iran, this is not necessarily a big problem for Iran. There are enough European, Japanese, Chinese, and other companies that are ready. If, however, the sanctions are designed in a way that doing business with Iran endangers the ability to do business with the US, this will probably lead to a serious conflict between the US and the EU. The same is true, of course, for sanctions against Russia that also affect European companies that do business with Russia. The proponents of that Senate bill don’t even hide that one of their main goals is that Europeans should buy US gas instead of Russian gas (even though US gas is more expensive and, of course, much more complicated to transport to Europe than gas from neighboring Russia and Russian gas has reliably been delivered to Western Europe since Soviet times).

    In the case of Iran, there are very few significant forces in the EU that advocate a hardline stance on Iran and forgoing business opportunities for that reason (except perhaps some people closely allied with Israel, but they are not that influential in the EU). In the case of Russia, there are more significant forces who are in favor of “becoming independent of Russian gas” even if this leads to economic disadvantages, but this is hardly a majority position, and sooner or later, the sanctions against Russia that are quite unpopular in many EU countries will probably gradually be lifted.

    It is not clear whether this could lead to a trade war between the EU and the US with EU countersanctions against the US for sanctions that affect European companies that collaborate with Iran and Russia, but that is certainly a possibility if the US follows through with the threat of sanctions against Iran and Russia that also affect third parties who do business with these countries.

    • Sam F
      July 21, 2017 at 8:58 pm

      If the US wars of MIC/zionist/Saudi bribery in the Mideast lead to US/EU friction we will be very fortunate. The US must be isolated, embargoed, and deprived of the warmongering excuse of NATO, hopefully after massive military defeats in its continuing indefensible wars, so as to discredit the ziocon tyrants, and restore democracy. Nothing less will do it, and the sooner the better.

  3. mike k
    July 21, 2017 at 7:08 am

    Rich people are really stupid. Donald Trump is an outstanding example of this. Oligarchs are blinded by their immense egotism to their own stupidity. I like that Mr. Pillar gets this very clearly. All the folks imagining this guy is a secret genius with some deep plans beneficial to our world at this critical time, are indulging in foolish and untrue fantasies. Donald Trump is a dangerous delusional fool. He is criminally insane, and will injure and kill millions of innocent human beings in his presidency. If he should accidentally do anything right, he will probably overturn it the next moment some crazy idea occurs to him. He has predictably surrounded himself with other idiots on his level of stupidity, so there is not one truly sane person in his administration who might represent some small check on his insanity. Trump is our declining Empire’s Caligula. His legacy will be one of wanton destruction.

    • backwardsevolution
      July 21, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      mike k – I don’t think anybody has even come close to calling Trump a “secret genius”. He came in wanting to stop wars, get along, cooperate with other countries, do business with them instead of bombing them. That appeared to be common sense, not genius.

      But the forces in Washington (the intelligence agencies, the Republicans, the Democrats, the media, Wall Street, the war machine) are fighting him aggressively. They don’t want all of this to stop.

      The witch-hunt continues.

      • Leslie F
        July 21, 2017 at 6:24 pm

        A lot of this is entirely on him. He was flogging war with Iran since early in the campaign, before the deep state got involved. He had previous business ties with Saudi Arabia and I’m not sure how he got entangled with Israel, maybe through Kushner. In any case he has long standing ties to both countries and they greatly influence his foreign policy. They both hate Iran. Add to that his desire to show up Obama and the deep state really didn’t have that much to do here. It did lose out in Syria, at least for the time being with his ending aid to the “moderate rebels” but even that may not last. He is having trouble trying to be friends with both Russia on the one hand and Israel and Saudi Arabia on the other, who hate Assad as well as Iran. He may flip back again.

        • backwardsevolution
          July 21, 2017 at 7:08 pm

          Leslie F – it wouldn’t be hard to show up Obama, but I don’t think Trump is even trying to do this, although many are trying very hard to stick that label on him. That’s their simplistic way of trying to stop him: “Oh, look, he’s trying to undo what Obama did because he doesn’t like Obama.” I don’t think Obama is on Trump’s radar at all.

          Israel controls the U.S. with money, probably the same money they’re given every single year from U.S. taxpayers. Rich Israeli businessmen also contribute heavily to campaigns on both sides. Talk about influencing elections! This practice needs to be stopped.

          Leslie, Trump is not in control, just as Obama wasn’t. Well, I should say that Obama appeared to be, but only because he pretty much went along with the neoliberals and neocons. Obama played ball. Trump is “trying” to twist, but they’re making it hard. We’ll see who wins out. If the neoliberals/neocons win, that will not be a benefit to you, not in the long run. Might look like it now, but it won’t last.

          No one should be touching Iran. Iran has done nothing wrong. Israel gets nukes, but Iran can’t have them. Yeah, that’s a real fair world, a bully’s world. Israel should be set to drift on its own, same with Saudi Arabia. But Saudi Arabia is probably playing ball, keeping the oil price down so as to hurt Russia, and they’re buying lots of weapons from U.S. manufacturers.

          War is a racket, and a real good business if you’re in it. These guys don’t want to see their gravy train end. So we have Trump who wants to end wars against those who don’t. What do you want, Leslie?

    • Broompilot
      July 22, 2017 at 6:42 pm

      So far he hasn’t started any new wars, yet. He does seem to be trying though. Maybe he is going after that peace prize. Too many people. Too few not dead yet.

  4. Joe Tedesky
    July 21, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Destroying the Iranian Nuclear Agreement is not only sad for the Middle East, it sets a bad example for N Korea, but then Trump will ask himself, ‘what would Obama do’?

    • Realist
      July 21, 2017 at 8:16 am

      So he can do the opposite? Or am I being too cynical?

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 21, 2017 at 7:10 pm

        You are not being too cynical. Trump is determined to do all that is necessary in order for him to be 180 degrees opposite of Obama. Granted that is what politicians do to be different from their rivals, but with Trump it seems as though his dislike for everything and anything Obama is obsessive. I get it, but will the country do well because of it? Time will tell.

    • Typingperson
      July 22, 2017 at 11:30 am

      Obama did what his handlers told him to do. Trump is interesting because he’s more unpredictable. Faces same pressures from Deep State interests as Obama did and similarly has zero interest in well-being of the common people–similar puppet in many ways, but, also, not quite. Certainly his tenure has been effective in unmasking the machinations of the Deep State–intelligence agencies, corporate media, war contractors, Wall Street, neocons.

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 22, 2017 at 4:32 pm

        Until people quit labeling us who point out a Deep State involvement into our politics, and corruptions, of our governing mechanisms, nothing will change for much the better. Citizens who laugh off all of these accusations, are the ones kidding themselves. Yet, for some odd reason these same citizens buy into such conspirator allegations as to believe in this Russia-Gate story….and it is just that, a story.

        This public reluctance shows up on so many other themes, such as the Warren Report and the 911 Commission Report, and that is a terrific loss of the public’s leverage to hold our government, and its officials, to any real accountability. The mass acceptance of anything and everything, but the truth, is almost as bad as the public being a useful accomplice to these dastardly crimes against humanity.

  5. Sally Snyder
    July 21, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Here is an article that looks at the members of Congress that have received the most money from the health care sector:

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.ca/2017/06/buying-influence-in-washington-health.html

    The health care sector successfully shaped the Affordable Care Act during the Obama Administration and there is no reason to believe that it will be any less successful at prodding Congress to change the laws to benefit itself under the Trump Administration.

  6. Realist
    July 21, 2017 at 8:12 am

    It would seem that Washington (not just Trump, but the entire Congress and Deep State as well) will not be impeded from starting a war of choice against Iran whenever they wish. Hillary would have not cut Iran a millimeter of slack either, even if it meant repudiating her predecessor’s diplomatic “triumph.” They apparently feel they don’t need the pretext of the nuclear weapons treaty brokered by Obama to raise hell with Iran.

    The Trump administration certified compliance of that by Iran just recently. However, they still ratcheted up sanctions against Iran on the pretexts of i) siding with Assad in the Syrian war, ii) siding with Hezbollah in Lebanon, iii) siding with the Houthis in Yemen, iv) continuing a missile development program, and v) nebulous charges of destabilising the region by supporting terrorism. They can pull as many of these charges as they please out of their asses and levy more sanctions, which are basically theft of Iranian money and assets in broad daylight, until Iran cracks and pulls out of the nuclear deal or does something else Washington chooses to characterise as provocative and “threatening to American interests.” We will then have no alternative but to “defend” ourselves yet again. We’ve seen the routine often enough to recognise the pattern.

    • SteveK9
      July 21, 2017 at 11:08 am

      That’s way too pessimistic. US sanctions against Iran mean almost nothing now, because no one else will go along, particularly Russia and China, but also most of the European countries. It is not going to hurt Iran at all. They have to protest, but I doubt they give a crap at this point. They do care about a military invasion, but their conventional capabilities make that a very difficult proposition, which I doubt we will try.

    • July 21, 2017 at 9:22 pm

      Realist,…quite frankly I believe our “experts” in the State Dept. & Pentagon have a hard time dealing with nuances( the essence of diplomacy). The Alawites in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon are all put neatly into a Shiite bag. They have a much harder time with the Sunnis and just seem to be in denial that Al Qaeda,Isis, Al Nusra et. al. have all been spawned by our dear friend and ally, Saudi Arabia. Trump is just not the kind of guy that wants to be bothered by nuance. Putin understands nuance. I believe this is one reason the MIC doesn’t want them talking together.

      • Typingperson
        July 22, 2017 at 11:36 am

        Good point re nuace. It seems to me that US spy agencies, military, war contractors, etc. are operating off an old template and formulas that no longer work. Question is, will they provoke more wars before the people get wise and they are discredited?

  7. July 21, 2017 at 11:46 am

    “…the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has successfully extended health care coverage…”
    The ACA is a fraud – FRAUD – written by insurance companies for insurance companies. There is nothing great about Obama legacy; he is a war criminal covered in the blood of Libyans and Syrians, in addition to being a pleaser of Wall Street. The Iranian saga will continue least the Israel-firsters lose their deadly grip on the US government. Trump, of course, jumps with Israeli tune – particularly when Mossad and the CIA make a single agency.
    Remember USSLiberty?http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/07/httpturcopoliertypepadcomthe_athenaeum200710what-i-know-abohtml.html

    • mike k
      July 21, 2017 at 1:35 pm

      Amen. Right on Anna.

    • Cal
      July 22, 2017 at 2:18 am

      Anna

      July 21, 2017 at 11:46 am

      “…the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has successfully extended health care coverage…”
      The ACA is a fraud – FRAUD – written by insurance companies for insurance companies
      >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      Exactly.
      It was never going to work with for profit insurance companies.

    • Gregory Herr
      July 22, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Anna, the author of this blog has some good thinking on healthcare issues if you’re interested:

      https://theysaythepenismightier.com/2017/07/21/fleece-the-american-public/

  8. Ol' Hippy
    July 21, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    The US government has quite a long history of reneging of ‘peace treaties’ or accords when the situation demands it or administrations change. The “Iran Deal” is just one more instance of this case. The neocons have just been itching for any excuse to shred the, most likely, best foreign policy deal Obama made. The pressure must be immense and Trump can be coerced into rash actions by those much more cunning than he is. By feeding his vanity the warhawks/neocons can go about their business of destroying the world and the US people as they see fit. Trump’s too weak and vain to run this country and by all measures he’s in the process of destroying all the gains the US has made in the last 50 years or so, both domestically and foreign alike. We can do better.

  9. July 21, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Are the grovelling political puppets just following “orders” from certain countries in the Middle East that appear to control their foreign policies and to whom they appear to pledge allegiance….
    [more info at link below]
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/06/the-heinous-hypocrites-and-their-fancy.html

  10. July 21, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    I believe the war criminals are determined to start a war with Iran.
    [More info at link below]
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/02/will-there-be-war-with-iran.html

    • mike k
      July 21, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      I agree that the madmen at the helm of America are planning war on Iran. Russia cannot stand by and let this happen without intervening. They understand that their existence as an independent nation depends on their defending this “last frontier’” of their home territory. The problem for we who are sharing sanity on this and other alternative blogs, is that we have little power to stop these deluded souls from plunging all of us into WWIII.

  11. Virginia
    July 21, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Good comments. Really wish to avert war and do believe (wishful thinking) that Russia will stand in the way of the US warmongers should they decide to go to war with Iran. Russia could no more let Iran fall than they can Syria.

    Here’s a contrast worth thinking about: “Russia-collusion” or “Russia-collision.” Which do the people want or fear most — Trump bashing or collision with Russia? People are so embroiled in fear and reckless accusations, that they forget there could be retaliation. Robert Parry reminds us of the dangers quite often, so I thought to offer this spin-on-words idea. Maybe it would make people think twice.

  12. backwardsevolution
    July 21, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    “…the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has successfully extended health care coverage to many Americans who did not previously have it.” And increased costs considerably on the Middle Class in order to do it. What, these people don’t count?

    “As for what was probably Barack Obama’s leading foreign policy accomplishment — the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to restrict Iran’s nuclear program…” Do you mean the one where Putin rushed in and convinced the Iranians to go along with the plan because he knew the U.S. were looking for any excuse to go after Iran? Do you mean that plan? Obama had very little to do with it.

    “…climate change and Trump’s associated withdrawal from the Paris agreement.” I don’t trust anything that Wall Street is just itching to get at. Besides, the Paris agreement did absolutely to curtail China’s and other countries’ pollution, which is absolutely immense. Read this article.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/20/asias-coal-fired-power-boom-bankrolled-by-foreign-governments-and-banks

    So we cut back, but they increase. As the world turns, we end up getting it anyway.

    “How much would Donald Trump, motivated by whatever psychological and political factors drive him along his path of destruction, care about any such consequences?” After reading the article, I wonder about the psychological and political factors driving the author.

    • Typingperson
      July 22, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Good point re the Iran deal, Backwardsevolution.

      Obama, as usual, was passively along for the ride. Putin and, I assume, Lavrov, got the Iranians on board and Kerry got the USA-ians to cooperate. Obama just watched the show while deciding which war-crime drone assasinations of innocent humans to sign off on every Monday.

      And now he’s got his $60M “book deal.” AKA payment for services rendered. He knows where his bread is buttered. He’s a good boy.

      I hope no one buys his lameass book and his publisher goes bankrupt. Deep Staters will keep that from happening, no doubt.

  13. July 21, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    I believe what we are seeing is “respectable” criminality. The powers that be looted the financial system and got away with it. Now this has morphed into endless illegal wars. The financial and war criminals don’t care, they control the system. See link below for more info on this:
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/05/the-open-criminality-of-establishment.html

  14. peace
    July 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    USA(527 person) vs American (340,000,000) divide bothers me; Americans h/n input into their own health care. Corporate owned health care puppets in government s\n\h\e power to limit available health care to just those Americans willing and able to pay. [same type situation <= American Revolution..] Powerful British corporations dictated to [lobbied] their puppets in Parliament, give British Corporations (modernly maybe it s/b American health care Insurance Companies) exclusive monopoly power to make money from British Colonies; America was a British colony. A corporate owned British ship arrives in Boston Harbor to off-load its tax-exempt cargo of tea; the colony owned ships had no tax exemptions; impossible, it was for colony merchants to buy tea from colony owned shippers). Tea party! At the time, all tax revenues were generated from tariffs (duties) on goods not income taxes. So the British corporations made all the money and left the colony governments with no tax revenues.

    A nation of 340,000,000 persons with equal political power was divided into two groups [340,000,000=Americans] vs [527=USAers]
    then, all of the political power in the American group was transfered to those in the USA group and the Pharaohs then selected candidates for the Americans to elect. A process which made those in the American group cattle and those in the USA group cowboys. But who did the dividing?
    Why of course it was the Pharaohs.. they needed Slave drivers to police and manage the masses.

  15. exiled off mainstreet
    July 21, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    The fact Trump was willing to stop CIA funding for Jihadi thugs in Syria is an inconvenient fact to Pillar. My question is what would the situation be today if the harpy was running the show and attempting to force no-fly zones on the Russians.

    • Typingperson
      July 22, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      Good question, exiled!

      I didn’t vote for Trump or Hillary (Bernie supporter who voted Stein). That said, I have no regrets that Hillary is not president. Zero regrets–instead relief–that I did not vote for her after 30 years reliably voting Dem. The corporate media and DNC are really showing their collective ass with this insane Russiagate witch hunt. The unmasking continues….

  16. mrtmbrnmn
    July 21, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    If we continue to carry water for the repulsive Israeli and the Saudi regimes in the Middle East, like the hapless frog in the parable, we will inevitably be slow-boiled to death.

  17. backwardsevolution
    July 21, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    “If we consider the combined power of these interest groups—the US military/security complex with an annual budget greater than the GDP of most countries, the neoconservatives with their ideology of US world hegemony and alliance with both Democratic and Republican parties, and Israel which has the US government in its pocket and brags about it—how is it possible for President Trump to do as he said he would do and normalize relations with Russia and withdraw from the US interventions in the Middle East? The prospect of Trump succeeding is remote.

    If the Russian government fails to understand that President Trump is not the one who is in charge, Russia will be destroyed along with America and the rest of the world.”

    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/07/20/the-reign-of-propaganda/

    Read the whole article to see what Trump is up against. Thank goodness Putin understands that Trump is not in control; he’s already said that governments change, but things stay the same. Our safety is now in the hands of Putin.

  18. Stiv
    July 21, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Our safety is in the hands of Putin. LOL! The clown act featuring the regular drama queens continues…

    With a President that is a wild card on any given issue on any given day, we’re certainly in the worst possible position for conflicts that COULD be rebuffed if we didn’t have an president who simply doesn’t care about anything other than his self image.

    Pillar is one of my faves and he’s pretty much on the spot here…nothing new for him. Now if Parry ever gets his head out of his ass….

    Nah…come to think of it…CN will never get another cent out of me.

    • backwardsevolution
      July 21, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      Stiv – you’ve got bigger problems than Trump. The country is in control of neocons and neoliberals, not the President. That does not bode well for you, at all.

  19. ADL
    July 21, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    “President Trump and his disdain for reality”

    That is putting it mildly – Paul is being very kind. Trump is a man of very little actual knowledge or intelligence – good god just listen to him babble his lies and nonsense. It’s embarrassing. A total narcissist and egomaniac, lacking any principals, ethics or morals.
    Along with being a racist, misogynist (My daughter is a nice piece of ass), and pathological daily liar about everything. Everything !
    He has no solutions, ideas, plans or policies. Nor does he care. That must be emphasized over and over. He does not care !

    Some commenters on this site, and any T supporter, need to have a little reality check themselves. For any person to believe that he is trying to accomplish some good for the world or our country is to be even more delusional than T.

    T is NOT a victim. Any person who is a pathological liar, racist, misogynist, bully, and yes crook ( $25M in fraud cook ) is not a victim. There is no bogey man out to get him. He is his own destruction – and how badly he takes down the US and other countries at this point is the only question.
    I often feel like I am watching a newsreel from the 30’s with the star being a maniacal despot, screaming and blaming all those ‘Others’ for everything. And masses of supporters/enablers screaming their allegiance to said ideology of blaming those ‘other’ people, races, religions, politics, and ‘deep state’. Boy I’m really afraid of that boogeyman “DEEP STATE “.

    This has been – and will continue – to just get worse and worse.

  20. ADL
    July 21, 2017 at 5:37 pm

    Everyone please reread what Paul wrote.

    “Trump White House already has violated not only the spirit but the letter of the JCPOA by openly and explicitly discouraging other countries, as it did at the G-20 summit meeting, from conducting normal business with Iran.”

    The USA is not in compliance. Repeat the USA is not in compliance.
    The Iranians, by all accounts from our own IC, Military, and the IAEA, are in compliance.

    But somehow someway in Trumpworld – that is reversed. Fantasy is their reality.
    Anybody remember that old Bush proverb – “Everyone knows Iraq has WMD’s”? How did that work out?

  21. John P
    July 21, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    I think the whole mess are the neocons (much inline with Israel), Israel, and Saudi Arabia each with different ambitions but willing to go at it together and eliminate another influence Iran which aggravates them. Obama held back, but perhaps Trump, with business dreams in his future knows you don’t slam Zionists if you want to grow your business. Israel wants to eliminate forces that hold them in check, Hizbollah which freed occupied Lebanon south of the Litani River an area Zionists consider theirs. Hizbollah is supported by Iran. Saudi Arabia wants to be the Royal chair overseeing a vast Sunni (Wahhabi) realm. America wants influence over the region because of the oil and thinks Israel and Saudi Arabia will help them on that. Get them Russians out, they are eliminating ISIL and supporting Assad who is friendly to the Shiite. Remove him and Israel and the Saudis win and then perhaps, wishful thinking (USS Liberty in mind), America can lead the region. I wouldn’t bet on it.
    Trump I think is also concerned about business interest associated with Russia and is in a bit of a quandary , but Zionism is winning out.

  22. Joe Tedesky
    July 21, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    I recently heard someone say, how Trump reacts when he should lead. Although the phase, ‘Make America Great Again’ sells to many U.S. Trump supporters this mythical wording only stands to offend the world’s many other nations. This Trump election slogan comes after Obama declared the U.S. as being exceptional and indispensable, so what is the rest of the world to make of all of this U.S. bluster?

    Talking about keeping Iran nuclear free won’t sell any more nukes, or conventional arms to our allies. Think of it, if Iran and N Korea weren’t looked upon as them being a threat, then what would be the need to arm up every nation on the assumption that these U.S. Allied nations are defending themselves from these ‘axis of evil’ rogue states. I’m not calling Iran nor N Korea rogue states or axis of evil states, but this is the title that the U.S. has bestowed upon these two nations. So in order to sell more weapons to our U.S. Allies, Iran must be suspected of producing a nuclear bomb. Iran going nuclear is good for business, likewise this holds true of N Korea.

    I wish the American MSM would get off this Russia-Gate thing, so as we could see Trump for what he is. I’m all for debating his strong points, and weak ones, but please let’s get on with it, and leave Russia alone.

    As far as Iran goes, the sorry truth is, is that as long as the U.S. stays allied to Israel and Saudi Arabia nothing for the good will come Iran’s way….at least nothing from the U.S.. Iran should take great value in the fact that so far Iran has the cooperation of the European countries, who also see great profit in making the NPT agreement work for Iran. Here again, like the Paris Climate Agreement the U.S. will not be out in front, because the U.S. is too busy making itself great ‘again’.

    • Realist
      July 22, 2017 at 12:35 am

      Ah, yes, American “exceptionalism.”

      Always seemed a lot like…
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7JcwMEj6Mg

      • July 22, 2017 at 10:09 am

        Thanks Realist,…interesting bit of cartoon history

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 22, 2017 at 10:24 am

        Keeping the sheep focused is the order of the day, everyday, all year. Now put CNN on, or better the patriot who watches MSNBC. We must keep America free.

    • Typingperson
      July 22, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      The biggest surprise to me of the Trump election has been the insane, bogus Russiagate pushing by the corporate media / MSM as well as alternative so-called left pubs, such as Mother Jones and The Nation, to cite particularly rabid examples.

      So many competent journos and publications that I formerly respected (Matt Appuzo most recently, but I could name dozens) have jumped on this crazed bandwagon.

      Been really weird and sad to watch. Like a zombie attack. They’ve all been bitten. Journos I read and respected for years–now participating in this dangerous nonsense. So much for the Fourth Estate.

      In my own newsroom at a fairly conservative legal trade publication, my experienced, savvy reporter colleages totally buy the Russiagate nonsense. When I said it was all horseshit yesterday, I was met with disbelief and scorn. Very sad. And so dissapointing.

      The unmasking continues…

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 22, 2017 at 4:13 pm

        I get laughed at as well when I knock the hell out of this Russia-Gate nonsense. This ridicule always leads to my accusers calling me a Trump Supporter, which I’m anything but. So here is the modern American political debate in all of it’s decisive ugliness. We don’t debate issues, as much as we are all talking about personality traits, and this is what we elect people on. Talk about going down the wrong road.

        Here is the good news though. If you go back into CN’s archives, you will read comments, and of course articles, where time proofed out how right we all have been. Whether we all leaned heavily towards an Iran NPT Agreement, or we all thought the terrorist were aided by our CIA/Pentagon long before that news became common knowledge, this site has had it right.

        One of the things I do, to see how good an author is, is by rereading what, and how these authors depicted events from a time well pass. So when you have a chance read CN’s pass archives, and see if you see what I see about the fine analysis of this sites authors, and comment providers.

        Always good to read your comments Typingperson. Joe

  23. Cal
    July 22, 2017 at 4:14 am

    Europe is doing some hefty business with Iran and its expected to increase fourfold next year.

    http://www.inss.org.il/publication/europe-iran-relations-one-year-sanctions-lifted/

    In some ways Trumps bombastic style may be a plus—-its making Europe pull away from US influence and with their growing investments in Iran they are not going to flush that $$ down the toilet and go along with US military action against it. Good for everyone except Israel and Saudi.

    If I were indifferent to human life I would like to see Israel take it upon itself to start bombing Iran and if the US assisted them it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back re the US public and Israel and the US ‘leadership’ position in the world would go further down the toilet —which would be a good thing considering our ‘leaders’ are mostly psychopaths.

    I do, as do some others do, worry in about a Israeli false flag involving Iran—-‘deception’ is their stock in trade.

    I have wondered why no one has done a false flag on Israel—-set them up to do a big false flag and then ‘catch and expose’ them at it.

  24. Constantine
    July 22, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Mr. Pillar makes some good points in this piece, but I believe that Trump’s blundering policy concerning Iran has rather different roots.

    Even before the election campaign Trump had opted to attack Obama on the issue of the Iran deal and he escalated this rhetoric from the primaries onwards. Trump’s views and statements on foreign policy have been a mix of pragmatism and cheap demagoguery for scoring points. Iran falls in the latter category.

    And yet, if one pays attention to certain bits of his speeches early on (particular emphasis on the time period), Trump was not that extreme in his support of Israel or his hostility towards Iran. In a speech I watched by chance (I don’t recall which one now), he made a point that since the US made the deal with Iran, there should be at least increased activity to capitalize on profitable investments. That sounded somewhat peculiar, but then again Trump definitely wasn’t in the beginning such a champion of Israel. And it is the latter’s lobby that was (and still is) showing unremitting hostility towards the prospect of improved US relations with Iran.

    The critical factor was the relentless attack Trump came under, once it became clear that he would be the opponent of Clinton. At that point Trump decided to attract the Israel Firsters (as opposed to the America Firsters) in order to garner support. He was already trying to present a ”tough” image by attacking Obama’s Iran deal as a weak policy. This combination of support for Israel and irascible hostility towards Iran has led to the surreal spectacle of the current POTUS denouncing from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia the Iranians as a destabilizing factor and sponsors of terrorism.

    It would seem to me that Trump has failed to realize that a US President of true grit should be able to show his mettle by taking a stance against the domestic foe of any reform of the current messy policies: the MIC and the Israeli lobby. Obama’s weakness and now Trump’s has been the inability to confront the war industry, particularly the neocon cabal that infests the foreign policy halls of Washington, not the lack of threatening or bombing more targets than they already have. As long as this challenge is not met directly, it will be impossible for any administration to change course from the perpetual war-footing the US is in.

    • Typingperson
      July 22, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Excellent point. Trump needs to confront the war interests to resolve this situation. And the American people would back him.

      He’s not going to do it. Like Obama, George W. Bush, Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Reagan and all our other puppet presidents.

  25. Tim
    July 23, 2017 at 11:03 am

    He’s a mentally unhealthy man with an extremely one-upman-like ego, showing consistently poor judgement, clearly believing he’s right when most know he’s wrong. He is reckless because he must be right at all costs. That is a dangerous man!

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