The Illogical Assault on Iran Deal

Israel’s domination of U.S. foreign policy in the Mideast is no more evident than in the prescribed hatred toward Iran. But there are also logical arguments on the merits that ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar examines.

By Paul R. Pillar

A major theme of those seeking to kill the Iran nuclear agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is that Iran is doing lots of other things, especially in the Middle East, deemed undesirable. Such rhetoric flows freely even though these other things are not covered by the JCPOA and are unrelated to the agreement.

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)

Arguments based on this rhetoric are just as dishonest as many other arguments of opponents, whose motivations involve not the terms of the JCPOA but instead other reasons they want to kill this accord and to oppose any agreement, on any subject and regardless of the terms, with Iran. We know this because death of the JCPOA clearly would not make matters any better according to the very criteria that opponents themselves offer. On some subjects, such as the sunset clauses that apply to certain provisions of the JCPOA, death of the agreement would make matters even worse according to those same criteria.

Dishonest or not, the smoke produced by the rhetoric needs to be blown away for the benefit of those trying to consider the subject more honestly. The undesirable Iranian actions are usually mentioned in very vague, nonspecific terms, such as in referring to “nefarious, malign, destabilizing behavior” — or similar terminology. For stylistic concision, let us label this idea as NMDB. The notion of NMDB as customarily used in debate about Iran is beset by many problems. These usually include a failure to be more specific about exactly what Iranian actions are included, to examine how Iranian actions differ from what other states in the region are doing, to consider why Iran is doing what it does and whether there is any realistic hope of change, and most importantly to consider how Iranian actions do or do not conflict with U.S. interests. But let us set these problems aside and assume for the moment that NMDB exists as an identifiable concept while asking how it relates to the nuclear agreement.

One purpose of the opponents in talking so much about NMDB is to arouse an emotional aversion — to cultivate general distaste for Iran that will make people believe they will get their hands dirty by having any dealings with it. But sound foreign policy is not a matter of emotion and distaste. Many of the most important international agreements are ones reached with adversaries rather than friends, and are important precisely because they were reached with adversaries. Emotion and distaste are enemies of reason and prudence in advancing one’s national interests.

Opponents of the JCPOA also have tried to portray Iranian obligations as far more extensive than anything Tehran ever signed up to, as part of a strategy of getting people to believe, contrary to repeated findings of the international inspectors who scrutinize the Iranian nuclear program, that Iran has been violating the agreement. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has been in the forefront of implementing this strategy, and NMDB has figured prominently in the implementation.

Detecting a ‘Spirit’

The strategy includes speaking of Congressional review legislation — which was written in a way that gives President Trump a hook on which to hang non-certification even if Iran continues to comply with all its obligations — as if it were part of the agreement that Iran signed, which of course it is not. The strategy also includes evoking a “spirit” of the agreement that is so fuzzy and broad that it can include anything that the opponent evoking it wants to include.

Nikki Haley, United States Permanent Representative to the UN, addresses the Security Council’s meeting on the situation in Syria on
April 27, 2017 (UN Photo)

The lengths to which opponents, including the Trump White House, will go along this line is illustrated by their seizing upon a sentence in the preamble of the JCPOA that reads “They [the parties to the agreement] anticipate that full implementation of this JCPOA will positively contribute to regional and international peace and security.” This is unexceptional preambular boilerplate that expresses in as nonspecific and ordinary way as possible the negotiators’ belief that their efforts have been worthwhile.

The JCPOA is a significant step on behalf of nuclear nonproliferation; of course its full implementation positively contributes to regional and international peace and security. It is absurd to contend that this sentence in the preamble places on Iran additional obligations that don’t appear anywhere else in an agreement of 159 pages and that don’t even have to do with nuclear matters.

But set the absurdity aside just for a moment and consider who — if the failure of peace and serenity to break out in the Middle East really did constitute a violation of the JCPOA — is most in violation. An Iranian making the same kind of argument could make it more plausibly than the Trump administration by pointing to that administration’s unrelenting hostility toward Iran, its goading of Iran’s regional rivals to ramp up the rivalry, and its vigorous pursuit of confrontation with Iranall over the Middle East, including through armed force.

If one is genuinely concerned about Iranian NMDB, then the central question to ask regarding the JCPOA is: will NMDB likely be more of a problem with the JCPOA, or without it? There are two simple and honest ways to answer that question. One is that Iranian NMDB would be more of a worry if the pathways to a possible Iranian nuclear weapon were to be reopened — pathways that the JCPOA closed.

Another way to answer is to consider any reason that keeping or killing the JCPOA would induce Iran to do more NMDB or less of it. Opponents of the JCPOA have tried to make an argument about financial resources unfrozen by the agreement being used for NMDB, but that argument has ignored Iranian economic priorities and any consideration of how the position of Iranian political leaders depends overwhelmingly on applying resources to improvement of the domestic economy.

Most of all, it ignores all the other influences on Iranian foreign policy and presumes that the level of NMDB is determined by how many rials are in the regime’s bank account. The same anti-JCPOA voices who so often describe Iran as under the sway of crazed mullahs describe Iran instead, for purposes of this argument, as a nation of bookkeepers.

What Makes More Sense?

Here’s a more clear-sighted way to approach the answer. Which of these two possible Irans is more likely to rely on NMDB?

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at joint press conference on Feb. 15. 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

Is it an Iran that is being reintegrated into the community of nations, that sees material benefit from negotiating restrictions on itself and then scrupulously observing those restrictions, and sees the opportunity for gaining more respectability and influence as long as it plays by the international community’s rules? Or is it an Iran that is kept isolated and punished, sees any significant agreement that it does negotiate get destroyed or reneged upon by other parties, that is the target of unending confrontation and hostility, and that is treated forever as a pariah? The answer should be obvious.

The JCPOA has been in effect long enough that if there are to be any signs of increased Iranian NMDB as a result of the agreement — and not just as an artifact of the flow of events elsewhere in the region — we should have seen that by now. But we haven’t. To the extent there is measurable change in Iranian conduct that could be considered NMDB, it has if anything gone in the opposite direction. Those opposed to any dealings with Iran were talking plenty about NMDB before the JCPOA was concluded and before there was any sanctions relief.

It is a safe bet that the same opponents will still be fulminating about NMDB in the coming years, no matter what happens to the JCPOA. If you believe, in the event the JCPOA is killed, that those opponents will later be saying, “Ah, I’m glad to see that, having gotten rid of that awful deal from Obama, there is now less Iranian NMDB,” there is a bridge in Brooklyn you might want to buy.

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 “The Illogical Assault on Iran Deal

  1. Zachary Smith
    October 9, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    I suspect Mr. Pillar is over analyzing this issue. Donald Trump is on record as saying the agreement is the “worst deal” ever. Yet he must “certify” it every ninety days. If the spoiled 71-year-old brat of a POTUS can somehow arrange to make that embarrassing certification disappear, so will his concerns about the deal. In the meantime he’ll be generating a massive smoke cloud.

    That’s how I see it.

    • Paranam Kid
      October 11, 2017 at 9:37 am

      I don’t agree it is an over-analysis because there is enough hoo-ha about it that it is important that people like Pillar keep pointing out reality.

      Furthermore, there is 1 factor you don’t take into account when you talk about the “embarrassing” certification disappearing: Netanyahu will NOT let the issue rest & will keep @ it until Trump gives in to ‘Yahu’s 2 wishes: renege on the agreement and attack Iran.

      That’s how I see it.

  2. Garrett Connelly
    October 9, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    I realize I’m dense. NMDB? This was explained and I missed it, I’m sure.

    • anon
      October 10, 2017 at 7:41 am

      NMDB = “not my darned bomb” the centerpiece of US foreign policy implementation.

  3. Garrett Connelly
    October 9, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    “nefarious, malign, destabilizing behavior” found it!

  4. robjira
    October 9, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    Very good article. Iran has been an interest of mine since the time I asked my mother, “why are they mad we’re letting the Shah come here to go to the hospital?” She replied, “the Shah was very bad to his people, and they don’t think we should be helping him.” So, at 12 years old was when the veneer of US righteousness began to crack for me.
    Since then, it has never been in doubt that all Iran has wanted from the US is to be afforded the same dignity afforded to any other nation. Granted that the US’s record on affording dignity to other nations was already pretty spotty by that time, but it was not unreasonable of Iran to expect fair treatment in international relations.
    But US imperiousness won’t brook Iran’s presumption; as if there was no precedent for the revolution and its fallout. On close, practical examination, Iran has gotten over the US’s own “NMBD,” but the US just won’t let it go. A family member once said to me (after I had pointed out the overthrow of Mossadegh, and persistent, thinly veiled threats of attack by the US as reasons why Iran is still an authoritarian theocracy) that “Iran just needs to get over it,” and “we should’ve nuked them [for seizing the embassy, and taking hostages]; it was an attack on American soil!” all in the same breath. Who’s not getting over things, I wondered…
    Furthermore, what’s kind of ironic is that in the main points, the JCPOA isn’t all that different from a deal previously arranged by Russia, Turkey, and Brazil. The deal was presented to the UNSC, and seemed to have good prospects until the US said (imperiously, again) that the “timing for a deal wasn’t right.” The congressional review clause mentioned by the author was inserted by the neocon wing of the war party in order to head off any peace (or “stability”) braking out; another irony that in this particular case, it could actually salvage the deal should the moron in charge actually put his stupid thumb down.
    On the other hand, if (as some astute posters to this sight have opined) Tillerson should actually resign, and someone even more caustic is installed his place, it may not be a bad idea to start stocking up on iodine pills.

    • Sam F
      October 10, 2017 at 7:57 am

      Denials of the US overthrow of democracy in Iran in 1953 in hope of stealing oil along with UK, and the US installation of the dictator Shah, and training his engineers in nuclear weapons design, show the inability of most to rise above the propaganda of the zionist-controlled mass media. I have met people carefully trained to laugh off the facts and endlessly repeat the Israeli lies about the mideast.

      The US will not have a rational or humane policy until it has constitutional amendments to restrict funding of mass media and elections to limited registered individual contributions, and we will not have that until the mass media are in the hands of regulated mass media corporations, designed and monitored to preserve political balance at all levels. That will not happen until the US overthrows the oligarchy that has seized and destroyed its democratic institutions.

      • Bob Van Noy
        October 10, 2017 at 8:27 am

        Sam F. Thank you, I wanted to support your thinking here and add my personal frustration that all objective critical analysis seems to have stopped at about that time. My own research indicates that one prime mover was Alan Dulles but the On-going dilemma is “why has the obfuscation continued so long”? Total saturation propaganda must be the reason?

        https://www.amazon.com/Devils-Chessboard-Dulles-Americas-Government/dp/0062276174

        • Sam F
          October 10, 2017 at 7:06 pm

          Thanks, Bob. Perhaps a transition occurred from McCarthyist control of US mass media, directly or indirectly by US secret agencies, to zionist control, which was already nearly complete in the 1980s. But it seems likely that their takeover overlapped or was a joint venture.

          My informal but detailed research in the 1980s found that about 40-60 percent of US mass media were already controlled by people with Jewish names, and were exclusively zionist propaganda. That was known to be an underestimate because only about half could be identified by name, and none of the mass media ever disagreed with zionist propaganda. The percentage controlled was also known to be higher because they also controlled many if not most large advertising firms and business marketing positions, so they controlled the mass media budget indirectly as well. The percentage of directly zionist-controlled mass media was also increasing. It is very clear that now none of the mass media are not zionist controlled, by one means or another.

          We know that US secret agencies now have significant control of mass media by various means, but I have no figures there. I do not know the extent to which US secret agencies are controlled by zionists, but would be very surprised if it were not substantial control. During the Iraq War II spin-up, zionist DefSec Wolfowitz appointed known Israeli agents Perle, Wurmser, and Feith to run the offices at CIA, DIA, and NSA that “stove-piped” known-bad WMD “intelligence” to start a war for Israel. So probably they had plenty of cooperation from zionists in those agencies. And no doubt they know much more about 911 than we will ever be told.

          Certainly the latest Russia-bashing, Ukraine conflict, and US wars in the Mideast have little or nothing to do with the old cold war, and stem entirely from zionist corruption of the US government and mass media. Given its focus on AlQaeda/ISIS/et al and the Kurds, it is certain that this is all done in close coordination with Israel, and entirely for the benefit of Israel. So it seems very likely that the US secret agencies are mostly or entirely controlled by Israel.

          • Oscar
            October 11, 2017 at 11:47 am

            Yes Sam F, Netanyahu and PNAC have been trying to get the US to bomb Iran since the 1990s; the neocons got us into war on Iraq, and tried to do same in Syria–all in behalf Israel. Now they beat the same old drums to get out of the Iran Deal, which was the only defeat of AIPAC I am aware, unless you also count Obama’s not vetoing, but abstaining on the recent UN SC vote condemning Israeli settlements. They ever give up, remain very influential, and their spokes like John Bolton and The Weekly Standard guy are always trotted out as experts on TV infotainment shows.

    • Max Aubry Scoville
      October 10, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      Thanks Rob. Excellent: succinct and highly aritculate.

    • evelync
      October 12, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      Yeah, for sure, robjira, my views on this were also shaped by our role in the overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh, and by inference how neatly BIG oil/“MIC” bidness interests intertwined with the British/American hegemonic world view. And how the job of the CIA was not by default to serve the public interest but instead to serve the decades long wrongheaded agenda that our leaders followed in accordance with this world view.

      Remember the secret meetings that Cheney held with Big Oil from the outset of the Bush administration and his refusal to share any of that info with the public. No one in Congress seemed concerned enough to get to the bottom of this lack of transparency and question whether or not this decades long arc of foreign policy served this country.

      Every now and again an Ellsberg or a Snowden or a Manning are given access to the secret halls of foreign/military policy and they feel a constitutional duty to tell us the truth about the dark side of where these policies lead. And how counterproductive they have been in serving the best long term interests of this country.

      The inevitable overthrow of the Shah, followed by a repressive orthodox religious regime was another “unintended consequence”
      But no one was ever held accountable.
      Instead we now continue to bash Iran and portray it as part of George Bush’s the Axis of Evil.

      If Hillary Clinton wants to know why she really lost, it’s because she was an active party to the ENDLESS REGIME CHANGE WARS – which, as everybody knows, she supported and lobbied for as Secretary of State; and the shift away from the New Deal policies including the huuuuge FINANCIAL CRISIS following the deregulation of banking – which continued unabated under the Clinton Administration and beyond, with Hillary Clinton benefitting from the massive influx of campaign cash from the banks through her rise in politics.

      People are now finally well aware of these 2 massive government policy failures and the fact that Mrs. Clinton was a party to it and a beneficiary in her rise to power.

      And if I sound peeved, well I am, because our policy makers have the attitude that they KNOW BEST but are never held accountable for the fallout from their mistakes. And the phrase “hindsight is twenty-twenty’ is unacceptable.
      They seem to lack a moral compass. If one of them dares to question these policies they are lambasted in the press as weak.

      Jimmy Carter (who as president gave a conciliatory speech on energy independence, humility and conservation – was viciously attacked as weak and under political pressure capitulated and promoted the new Carter Doctrine of an aggressive ME stance) recently offered to talk to Kim Jong Un – THANK YOU PRESIDENT CATER! From time to time I read that N Korea wants to have bilateral talks with us. We refuse – we insist that they be 5 or 6 party talks. Why?

      It seems that, like Donald Trump, our policy makers prefer to create friction instead of find solutions.
      It’s all so senseless. When I was in high school I met a girl from Iran – a cheery, pleasant, friend. Her family was very nice.
      So its impossible for me to think that each of 80 million Iranians is a threat. It’s quite ludicrous, actually.
      It’s actually amazing that Anthony Bourdain can visit Iran and meet friendly people who know what this country and Britain did to their country but are not angry at average Americans. Of course some are…..

      We seem to have the paranoid idea that everyone’s out to get us.

      Right at the moment, ‘cause I’m a bit worked up over this, lol, I’m thinking that Donald Trump may simply be the end product of our dark side…….

      BTW in his speech at Westminster University, Bernie recently brought up the coup we fomented on Iran and the one we fomented on Chile and the torture and bloodshed those coups caused plus other wrongdoing and he said he did;t think many Americans know about this. Good for him!!!!!

      These are conversations we need to have publicly. But it takes courage for elected officials to question these policies because apparatchiks like Hillary Clinton use these critiques to bash the messenger like she bashed Bernie in the Miami primary debate over his questioning of our Latin American policies when he was mayor of Burlington (which the moderators played on tape to red bait him – and Hillary took the opportunity in a later question to use her time to remind people that Bernie was a Communist “sympathizer” as though his concern for the people who were murdered by our right wing allies in Central and South America was any such thing….

      So, what I’m trying to say now, is that even though we are a fearful country and it’s been useful for politicians to use “terror” to frighten us into “preemptive” wars, I think that after the recent foreign policy disasters where we seem to foment more hatred against us and our domestic banking failures that wiped out so many people, the cat may finally be is of the bag – we’ve all learned that maybe the people who’ve been running Washington from both parties DON’T have all the answers and have made bad choices.

      The irony is that when Trump was a candidate, he attracted some voters by pointing rather superficially some of those policy failures – too bad he never lived up to that rhetoric.
      He attracted what he calls his base by dog whistles of White Supremacy but he also attracted some voters by calling out these domestic and foreign policy disasters. Too bad under pressure, he buckled to ignore those voters and defaulted to the White Supremacy tightened angry base…

      What a mess.

  5. elmerfudzie
    October 9, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    This latest political skirmish with Iran regarding the JCPOA agreement and alleged axis ties to North Korea, do not address the real issue. In retrospect, China would have been more than eager to assist Iran in constructing (pilot project) Thorium commercial reactor cores instead of the Uranium/Plutonium MOX type for either the Iranians or North Koreans. In fact China has an up and running Thorium Commercial (Gen IV), passive cooling, power plant. Thorium 232 is very abundant, it cannot produce fissionable Uranium or Plutonium for bombs and financial costs are much lower for reactor shielding and permanent waste storage. This technology was well known and feasible prior to constructing either the Bushehr or the power plants at Yongbyon. However, Russia and Western corporate Interests, are clearly to blame for not aggressively promoting this type of electrical generation. In this particular circumstance, construction giant ABB-Zurich, Switzerland, and their U.S. representative, Donald Rumsfeld as well as their Russian competitors, i.e., Atomenergoprom, TVEL, the uranium trader Tekhsnabexport (Tenex) all went headlong into promoting MOX based commercial energy into militarily unstable areas of the world. Both the Eastern and Western interests refused to invest in Thorium Technology and or lacked the vision to do so, thus failed to “nip at the bud” serious nuclear proliferation issues that now bring us all to the brink of WW III. Further, the recipients, Iran and North Korea intentionally embraced older reactor technology because they DID want bomb making material and DID intend to destabilize the balance of power between Western Occident and Russian Federation forces. CONSORTIUMNEWS readers, not unlike the opinions stated herein are (perhaps) now compelled to agree to exercise the military option, before proliferation gets completely out of hand especially in terms of increasing the magnitude of future terrorist attacks and or criminal enterprise schemes (blackmail/extortion)

    • alley cat
      October 10, 2017 at 12:41 am

      Elmerfudzie, your post starts out seriously enough but then devolves into typical unsupported (probably hasbara) allegations. You claim that the failure to “nip at the bud [sic]” serious nuclear proliferation issues “now bring[s] us all to the brink of WWIII.” Israel’s nuclear arsenal apparently doesn’t constitute a serious nuclear proliferation issue for you, but Iran’s fantasy nuclear arsenal obviously does. You lump Iran and North Korea together as if they were both nuclear threats while you ignore the Israeli nuclear threat. Of course, if you’re a Zionist, your end-game is to destroy Iran (and Russia, if it continues to block Israeli plans for territorial expansion). (Or more accurately, you want to maneuver your goy pawns into destroying all obstacles to Israeli expansion). Lumping Iran and North Korea together also helps disguise the “made in Israel” nature of any U.S. attack on Iran, since Zionists couldn’t care less about North Korea. After this exercise in Alice in Wonderland-style fantasy, you then urge the “military option.” (The “military option” being, for Zionists, another euphemism for a U.S. attack on enemies of Israeli expansion.) Do you really believe you can provoke a war against Iran without involving Russia, and that the Russians don’t realize who is really behind the U.S. “military option” against Iran? Turning the Middle East (or the planet) into a radioactive wasteland won’t further the Zionist agenda of Eretz Israel, unless Israelis plan to do all their expanding underground.

    • anon
      October 10, 2017 at 7:34 am

      Nonsense, you have no argument that the seeking of nuclear deterrents by longstanding targets of the US warmonger destabilizers is “destabilizing.” No one is “compelled” to agree with your propaganda.

  6. elmerfudzie
    October 10, 2017 at 1:50 am

    alley cat, perhaps I was being a bit too subtle here. Israel’s Dimona, MOX reactor is based on old technology and the commercial application of Thorium 232 for electrical generation was NOT on the table over thirty years ago. I’m not sure how Zionists entered this picture but perhaps they do…Israel (Mossad) pilfered fission grade plutonium from one of our U.S. Tennessee MOX processing facilities and this incident (as well as other diversions, i.e., former USSR as well) serves to buttress the notion that it is extremely difficult to monitor, police and prevent MOX diversions in the future. The potential JAPOC collapse and Korean crisis may just turn out to be a very special moment in history where Russia, China and the USA may agree to come together and force both Iran and North Korea to covert their reactor cores to Thorium 232. This project would be extremely expensive, financed by all three superpowers and done only once, with the proviso that ANY future commercial reactor plans anywhere must be exclusively based on Th232. Don’t worry about Israel launching A-bombs against anyone. That nation is so topographically small that any attack against contiguous or GCC members would only serve to destroy Israel, not to mention destroy the fisheries of the Mediterranean sea. When the US Army stationed Davy Crockett shoulder fired mini nukes along the East-West German border, the Berkeley physicists had to point out to field commanders that half their soldiers would burn up or become contaminated with hard radiation during any onslaught from the East. Well, fifty years later, battlefield A-bombs are just as small but pack an even greater punch thus pose an even greater absurdity as a usable weapon system. Anyway, I can dream can’t I? the alternatives are very grim indeed!

  7. mike k
    October 10, 2017 at 7:10 am

    The possibility, indeed the necessity of eliminating all nuclear weapons, and all nuclear power plants from our planet is not considered in this discussion. The real answer to all these complex control problems is to cut the whole thing at it’s root. Breaking open the atom was a very bad idea from the beginning. In a properly managed world there is absolutely no need for atomic anything. Of course in the myth of endless “progress” this idea of shutting down the various atomic rackets is unthinkable. I am aware that this idea is contrary to the widespread belief that it is our destiny as humans to have more and more of everything, through more and more complex and expensive technology. The very idea that less of anything might be a good idea is the ultimate heresy in our religion of cornucopia. But just as one dying of obesity might consider eating less, and one dying of cancer might try ingesting fewer toxic chemicals, those dying from nuclear pollution might consider putting that Genie safely back in nature where it belongs.

  8. anon
    October 10, 2017 at 7:27 am

    The article subtitle intro sentence is misleading and should say “nowhere more evident” or better “evident,” rather than “no more evident.” The article is flawed in using throughout the undefined phrase “nefarious, malign, destabilizing behavior” which should be specified “alleged destabilizing” etc.

    The US has no interest whatsoever in the Mideast other than to buy oil at the same price as everyone else, which it can do with no relationship to Israel. US actions in the Mideast obviously and solely advance the policies of Israel paid for by zionist bribes to nearly all US politicians. Plainly all US political opposition to Iran and Russia is due purely to zionist fascism – a philosophy of stealing everything and killing anyone to benefit Israel. Israel is a curse upon the Mideast and the United States, and its US supporters are traitors.

  9. Bill
    October 10, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Iran has been labeled evil by the USA for a long time. That’s enough for most Americans, and they have a huge hard-on for Iran. Look at Nicki Halley.

  10. Michael Kenny
    October 10, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Surely anyone with the political sophistication to visit a site like this would not need to have the “smoke” blown away so as “to consider the subject more honestly”! They would be perfectly capable of doing that all by themselves. Moreover, such people are unlikely to take the word of an ex-CIA officer for anything. All this speaks to what we lawyers call witness credibility. Mr Pilar spent 28 years at the CIA and rose to be one of its top analysts. That means he was not a “dissident” who resigned in protest at something. He wasn’t sacked for misconduct. He certainly wasn’t a whistleblower. He had a long and successful career in the Agency and his superiors were obviously fully satisfied with his performance. The biography he presents to us suggests total unreliability as a witness. Since when were intelligence agencies paragons of honesty and frankness? Why therefore would anybody take the word of an ex-CIA spook for anything? That problem confronts not just Mr Pillar but also the numerous other retired intelligence agents who now people the internet.

    • Seer
      October 10, 2017 at 11:44 am

      Message. Messenger.

      Everyone was once a toddler, crawling around and drooling. I believe that most have changed: change happens. To state that because one was once something or other that one will always be such. Sometimes people actually do have a change of heart.

    • Herman
      October 10, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Michael Kenny, very imaginative argument, that people who have served in the CIA and I suspect you might include defense and other security agencies lack creditability for that reason. I assume further it is only those former folks who express opinions contrary to yours. I suppose the likes of McGovern, Binney, Pillar would disagree, even making the point that their credibility is far greater, not less.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 10, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      Mr Pilar spent 28 years at the CIA and rose to be one of its top analysts. That means he was not a “dissident” who resigned in protest at something. He wasn’t sacked for misconduct.

      Our hit-and-run troll seems to assume that the CIA doesn’t have a real job to do. Just because some parts of the organization are totally rotten doesn’t detract from that. I’d imagine it’s possible that 90% of the employees there and at the NSA can spend an entire career doing nothing except useful and honorable things for the US.

      I know nothing about Mr. Pillar except that he sometimes writes essays here. When he writes things I agree with, I try to remember to applaud. When he writes ones which I disagree with, I try to make it a point to explain why I object to them.

    • elmerfudzie
      October 11, 2017 at 1:24 am

      Mike Kenny-excellent comment. Webster G. Tarpley suggests, Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon papers turned out to be just a limited hangout. A black poet by the name of Benjamin Zephaniah, a Millennial, sings a tune, Rong Radio Station.The lyric’s hit the mark,….heavily laden with examples and those subtle consequences that Deep State propaganda has on our minds! , the sheer onslaught of info-garbage they continually pump into our ears! …he ends with the quip, I’ve been listening to spy’s,…Take a listen @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3HjMcY50Kc

  11. exiled off mainstreet
    October 10, 2017 at 10:29 am

    If there is anything positive about this negative fact, it is that the Iran thing gives vassal states an effective excuse to distance themselves from the yankee leviathan. Since, in recent years they have been more faithful as vassals than the Warsaw Pact states were during the 1950s-80s, we will see if there is any way to break the chain, which is based in part on propaganda.

  12. Hank
    October 10, 2017 at 11:29 am

    “A major theme of those seeking to kill the Iran nuclear agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is that Iran is doing lots of other things, especially in the Middle East, deemed undesirable. Such rhetoric flows freely even though these other things are not covered by the JCPOA and are unrelated to the agreement.”

    Says it all: Iran is Not a terrorist state as portrayed by MSM. It does support Hamas which is why Israel wants to destroy the state. Israel seems to rule indirectly via key positions in the deep state. It is insane and illogical that its leader is invited to speak before Congress wherein other leaders are not invited. Look at Palestine in 1947 and today. The shrinking map tells the story and Americans are paying out the nose for this hegemony.

    • Seer
      October 10, 2017 at 11:48 am

      And on the other hand we have Saudi Arabia, where the bulk of the supposed/suspected 9/11 terrorist came from. (and, of course, its actions in Yemen speaks for itself)

      No tangling alliances… FAIL!

    • John P
      October 10, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      Hank, read the history behind Hamas, and you will see how in the 80s’ Israel supported it with funding, and a permit to collect funds all gifts denied Fatah. The intent was to divide and conquer. It split the Palestinian people to Israel’s advantage.
      Read up on the Yinon Plan. Check out Jonathan Cook’s web site for an article “How Kurdish Independence is Central to Israel’s plans to Reshape the Region”.

      “Sharon was not explicit about how Israel’s empire could be realized, but an indication was provided at around the same time in the Yinon Plan, written for the World Zionist Organisations by a former foreign ministry official.”
      “Oded Yinon proposed the implosion of the Middle east, breaking apart the region’s key states – and Israel’s main opponents – by fuelling sectarian and ethnic discord. The aim was to fracture these states, weakening them so that Israel could secure its place as sole regional power.”

      He was born in the UK and is married to a Palestinian Christian living in the besieged Arab-Israeli city of Nazareth.
      When Palestinians talk of Israel they don’t mean to destroy it but to change it into a true democracy where all citizens are treated equally. And by the way, Israel about faced on Hamas when by to their great surprise, it won the first election in Gaza and they suddenly realized the balance they wanted was gone.

      Cook also had a terrific article printed by Mondoweiss, ‘As battle rages in the UK Labour Party, Moshe Machover expelled after asserting ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal Anti-Semitism”. See how the UK democracy is savaged by Zionists.

  13. October 10, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    I visited Iran last summer; it’s not the big, bad monster that Trump & Co. would have us all believe.
    http://www.robertfantina.com/?p=613

    • Paranam Kid
      October 11, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Just read the article in the link you provided. You should write a more extensive report because considering your reputation you will be able to make a positive contribution to the discourse about & perception of Iran.

  14. Samir jabb
    October 10, 2017 at 6:07 pm
  15. Haines
    October 10, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    I have been in Iran. The people there LOVE Americans. The Iranian English language newspaper reports very accurately. The average citizen does not like the government and wishes to be free from the theocracy. The best way to do this would be to flood the country with tourists, allow free travel of Iranians to the USA, and stop accusing them of being evil. Every Iranian I met wants to live in the USA!

  16. Peter Loeb
    October 12, 2017 at 11:00 am

    IRAN:THE “SYRIAL” (SIC)

    Much of Mr. Pillar’s article and many of the comments above providing
    one overlooks entirely the fact that JCOPA or no, the Islamic
    Republic (aka Iran) has found no home of any kind in what is
    sometimes called “the community of nations”. In translation
    that means folks like you and me.Another translation is: the US and
    so-called “allies”.

    They have found a home with others in the Middle East,
    with Iraq (in part), with Russia, with Hezbollah. When
    called to help Syria, the “community of nations”
    (read with sarcasm) was silent.

    When it is a question of profit however, some of the “community of
    nations” is champing at the bit to invest in Iran. It sounds
    like enormous European corporations want the same kind of
    profit that US corporations find in FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT
    (FID), sometimes called “outsourcing”. Renault ,for example, is
    planning to build cars in Iran soon. Of course, French workers
    will lose jobs. The way the system works is that the product
    made in Iran (or elsewhere) ends up in the US and is cheaper.
    The huge profit must be “recycled” which
    means that it must be invested in French paper (securities etc.).
    In the case of the US it is almost always US Treasury bonds.

    T Bonds don’t employ coal miners. Or steelworkers in Ohio.

    But no one ever claimed (with a serious face) that the
    current President of France was a friend of the French
    worker. He formerly was an investment banker (I think for
    Rothschilds) and though young he knows well how
    system works. For the wealthy. For workers? There will
    no doubt be so-called “labor reforms”.

    (For detail see Jack Rasmus, SYSTEMIC FRAGILITY
    IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY.)

    Evidently there are many French corporations eager to invest
    in Iran.

    And does Israel or the US want a Chine-type powerhouse
    on its boundaries? Nuclear or non-nuclear.

    Having addressed nuclear issues as somehow separate, I wish
    Pillar had included the growing power in the Middile East of
    Iran.

    Immediately, the power relationships be come infinitely more
    complex. The exceed issues of nuclear or non-nuclear
    issues.k And they are most often beyhond this commenter’s
    area(s) of competency.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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