PATRICK LAWRENCE: Regrouping the Nuclear Dealmakers

There are three good reasons for Iran to go back to the table, says Patrick Lawrence. 

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

Does the Trump administration want to negotiate peaceably with Iran, or is it intent on bringing the Islamic Republic to its knees while setting the stage for a military confrontation? After a week of intensifying diplomacy — and with more to come in days ahead — the White House will soon have to show its hand. One way or another, Washington’s schizophrenic conduct toward Iran in recent months is about to become more legible.

At the moment, what starts to resemble a kind of strategic confusion is all the administration seems to have on offer. During a one-day visit to France last week, President Donald Trump once more reiterated that he was open to negotiations with Tehran. “I understand they want to talk,” he said at a press conference near the D–Day landing beaches in Normandy Thursday. “And if they want to talk, that’s fine. We’ll talk.”

Trump in Normandy for D-Day observances. (White House/Shealah Craighead)

The following day the Treasury Department announced new sanctions on the Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co., Iran’s largest producer of petroleum byproducts. PGPIC accounts for 40 percent of the nation’s petrochemical output and 60 percent of its exports. Treasury alleges that its profits support Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the U.S. designated a terrorist organization last April.

Contradictions between what the Trump administration says and does have been evident since John Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began to fashion a newly confrontational Iran policy earlier this spring. But Washington appears to have taken a step too far when Bolton announced last month that the Pentagon would send a carrier group, bombers, and a missile system to the Persian Gulf, while Pompeo traveled to allied capitals to warn of imminent threats from Iran he never substantiated and few believed were authentic.

Allied Powers Intervening

Alarmed by the swift escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran, allied powers are now actively intervening in behalf of negotiations to settle a crisis the U.S. has singlehandedly precipitated. Russia has also stepped up its diplomatic efforts. In effect, these nations are challenging Washington to declare its objective: Is it diplomacy, or another dangerous “regime change” operation with the threat of military conflict?

Emmanuel Macron made this clear during Trump’s visit to the Normandy beaches last week. While supporting Trump’s stated intent to reopen the nuclear accord he abandoned last year, the French president also listed “a regional situation as peaceful and secure as possible” among the goals he purports to share with Trump. Macron’s challenge to the Bolton–Pompeo axis could hardly be plainer.

While Trump and Macron marked D–Day’s 75thanniversary, Tokyo announced that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to travel to Tehran this week for talks with President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. There is an even-or-better chance this will prove crucial to growing international efforts to defuse the Iran crisis.

The Japanese premier secured Trump’s approval for his diplomatic demarche when he offered to mediate between the U.S. and Iran during Trump’s four-day state visit to Japan late last month. Jiji, a Japanese wire service, reported Sunday that Abe intends to propose a Trump–Rouhani summit while in Tehran. If he does, the Japanese leader will effectively confront Trump head on: What will it be, Mr. President, war or peace?

Trump and Abe, May 27, 2019, Akasaka Palace in Tokyo. (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Last Tuesday the Tehran Times reported that Sergei Rybakov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, proposed new talks — a joint commission, as he called it — convened by the signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the 2015 pact governing Iran’s nuclear programs is known. These are seven: the “P5+1” group — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — plus Iran. While France and the other European signatories were prepared to renegotiate the accord as soon as the U.S. withdrew from it last year, Russia and China initially supported Iran’s resolute refusal to refashion a hard-won agreement whose terms it has rigorously observed. 

Questions arise. Should Iran now capitulate? Should it assent to new talks on the nuclear deal and related issues in response to Washington’s abrogation of the accord? Reversing his earlier position, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s gifted foreign minister, now signals that Tehran is open to renewed negotiations provided they are based on parity and mutual respect — conditions that, it must be said, may prove beyond the Trump administration’s capacities to meet.   

There are three reasons Zarif is right to alter course.

US Actions Require a Response

Tehran skyline at night. (Mehrad Watson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

First, the layers of sanctions the Trump administration continues to impose — and now its threatening displays of military power in the Persian Gulf — are highly volatile “facts on the ground” that take the Iran crisis well beyond the nuclear accord alone. These require a response, as the French, the Japanese and the Russians now acknowledge. “Convening a joint commission would be a right step to take,” Rybakov explained last week, “because we need to look into all aspects of the current, I would say, crisis situation around the JCPOA.”

Airing of Tehran’s Perspective

Second, new talks would allow Tehran to air its perspectives on the questions the U.S., with the acquiescence of its European allies, wants in a rewritten accord. Chief among these are Iran’s ballistic missile program and its support for the Assad government in Syria and for militias active in Iraq. The U.S. has relentlessly distorted Iran’s positions on these issues. Assuming renewed negotiations would be multi-sided, this could now be corrected in an international context. 

Washington’s complaints about Iran’s missile tests do not stand up to scrutiny on any number of grounds. Iran is not developing missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads, as Washington contends, and in any case the U.S. argument is circular: Iran has no fissile material to make warheads by virtue of the JCPOA. It is active in Syria and Iraq at the invitation of both governments and to combat Sunni extremism — the very terrorism the U.S. accuses it of backing.

Not to be missed in this latter connection, Zarif has long called for a regional security mechanism through which diplomatic solutions to conflicts of all varieties can be negotiated. In its latest iteration, announced two weeks ago, he proposed a non-aggression pact to be signed by Iran “and its neighbors in the Gulf,” as Zarif put it. Is this the thought of a “terrorist” state intent on destabilizing the region?

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said four days after Zarif’s announcement that Moscow was prepared to facilitate such an accord. As Rybakov put it, making a delicately veiled reference to the U.S. and its Sunni-nationalist allies, “You have a positive political alternative to a very destructive course that unfortunately prevails in some places.”

Effective Multi-Sided Format

Finally, new talks convening the JPCOA’s signatories would amount to a variant of the six-party talks on North Korea that began in 2003. While those talks were discontinued early in the Obama administration, the multi-sided format proved an effective mechanism in the intervening years. The advantage is that all issues can be negotiated among the nations with a direct interest in them. In this case, this would include Iran, the P5+1 group, and possibly Japan, given its close relations with Tehran and Premier Abe’s surprising diplomatic initiative this week.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist. His web site is Patrick Lawrence. Support his work via his Patreon site.

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39 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: Regrouping the Nuclear Dealmakers

  1. SteveK9
    June 13, 2019 at 13:49

    To all those who thought it would not make sense for Iran to ‘talk’, we have the answer … Khamenei after being given a message from Trump by Abe: ‘I personally do not consider Trump worthy of exchanging any messages with, and do not have and will not have any response for him.’

  2. Mary Jones-Giampalo
    June 12, 2019 at 15:02

    Interesting article here touching on Bolton’s blind Iran blunder……/

  3. Hawaiiguy
    June 12, 2019 at 14:51

    This is what I know in my stomach, Iran is the last obstacle for Zion Israel. If they can just get there goyum to sacrifice themselves for the zio overlords by dismantling Iran, then Israel can affect its final solution, the eradication of Middle Eastern states and the redrawing of Israel borders from the med to the Persian gulf. With only slaves(30%) left inside its borders to cater to its demands of idolatry.

  4. Robert
    June 12, 2019 at 10:36

    There is some hope. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in an imminent trip to Tehran, will likely discuss being an intermediary between US and Iranian negotiations. The trip is being taken with the blessing of both the US and Russia. Trump (unlike Bolton/MEK and the military-industrial complex) wants a new nuclear agreement with Iran, but also wants to include either some limitations on Iranian missile production and/or cuts to military supplies for Hezbollah. He was also made aware that a war with Iran would severely threaten world oil supplies. Israel’s IDF (unlike Netanyahu) also wants a nuclear agreement with Iran. Japan, a major importer of Iranian oil, wants direct unobstructed trade with Iran, rather than using the increasing role China as an intermediary. Finally, Iran itself wants a nuclear deal, but will be reluctant to weaken its military ability to deal with the increasing threats posed by rapid militarization of Saudi Arabia.

  5. Nathan Mulcahy
    June 12, 2019 at 08:16

    History tells unequivocally that you cannot trust the United Sates of America. Just ask the native Americans. How many treaties has the rogue nation and its regime violated? More recently, the Iranians are experiencing the same thing. And Russians have a special word for our behavior – ?????????????????? or “non-agreement capable”.

    Looks like the Iranians have only two options: have nuclear deterrence or await the demise of the outlaw empire of chaos.

  6. Sam F
    June 11, 2019 at 12:43

    No doubt Zarif’s diplomacy is the right course for Iran to avoid war.
    But if it fails, they should certainly move to a nuclear deterrent, as the US has no principles.
    A nuclear-armed Iran would likely continue minding its own business, as no one can win such a war.
    But the region is likely to remain unstable for generations due to factional fanaticism.
    The problem is that the US corruptly gave Israel nuclear weapons.
    Had it not, the region would be stable, and such negotiations would have meaning.

    • Skip Scott
      June 12, 2019 at 07:32

      I think Putin will not allow the US to go to war with Iran, and will quietly deliver an ultimatum to make the US back off. Putin just needs to promise to back Iran with its own missiles.

  7. Pablo Diablo
    June 11, 2019 at 12:14

    USA = an Empire in decline.

  8. Bob Van Noy
    June 11, 2019 at 11:10

    Thank you Patrick Lawrence and, of course CN. I have been following Thierry Meyssan for nearly as long as I have followed CN and I’ve found his reporting to be well informed and insightful. He seems to have an excellent analysis of post WWII Mid-Eastern politics and is uniquely good about the exotic religious mix. Here is his analysis as of today. It’s very encouraging…

  9. June 11, 2019 at 10:50

    Even if Iran and the US were to reach an agreement, history suggests that the United States will renege on that agreement the moment it becomes inconvenient.

  10. June 11, 2019 at 10:13

    A very insightful article, but historically the evidence suggests the US-Iran dispute can only end in war: world war by dragging in other nuclear powers, mainly Russia and China, who have vital interests to protect in the region.

  11. June 11, 2019 at 09:50

    Not without getting rid of John Bolton should the US restart talks. Bolton is a schemer as well as psychopath and would sabotage such attempts. Trump needs to wake up and figure out that Bolton is his nemesis, not his friend, and is just using him. Abe, Macron have good intentions, but the poison apple of Bolton has to be pulled out of the barrel. Sure, other neocons are behind the scenes, but they haven’t got Bolton’s official status.

  12. Grady
    June 11, 2019 at 09:31

    Good article and some very good comments. Let’s please remember who controls US foreign policy especially regarding the 7 countries in 5 years.
    Peace is not profitable. War, and its associated industries, is extremely profitable. We could end there, but why is this? We can connect the dots in any direction, but starting at the top might work best.

    In all major conflicts, a few steps above the politicians, talking heads, and “decision makers” are the financiers, basically the Rothschilds and their cabal. The financiers were responsible for wars long before WWs 1 and 2, but the complete control of USA wasn’t prioritized until after a few failed attempts at central banks in the US, along with the political push for zionism. The zionists always needed a global power to enforce the zionist project and that was originally England, which was in Europe and already controlled by the Rothschild central bank of London. Thus the Balfour declaration developed, and the establishment of the class A, B, and C mandate system, of which England conveniently held power over Palestine in the class A mandates. As expected, the zionist Rothschilds ruled England’s economy and controlled its empire, and by 1913 the USA’s as well, and then made both military and financial investments to establish the state of Israel.

    By WW2 England was unable to devote resources to its mandates and had to get out or lose the war. So, a new global power had been prepared and was ready to be the world’s ‘good guy’ and utilized as the enforcer for all things zionist. The zionists had the US Fed Reserve/central banks with which to purchase the necessary political power in ALL branches of government, and wall street, hollywood, vegas, MSM and anything else profitable.

    Fast forward from a non-legal establishment of Israel (not illegal, just not legal with the UNGA recommending the UNSC accept it for resolution with nothing in its charter giving it the authority to establish a state that never existed) to the 1982 Oded Yinon strategy for greater Israel, from the Nile to the Euphrates, and how that could be accomplished. While still in process (that pesky Palestinian issue), it requires the global power, the USA, to be the enforcer/attack dog for the zionists via total control of both the economy and political process, not to mention the security apparatus (mossad front companies own the software and security for every computer in the government, FAA, USAF, Pentagon, etc., etc.). Therefore, war and regime change is needed to divide any country capable of resisting the dominion of greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates.

    Some warm up exercises in Panama and others got us to Iraq, but Bush1 didn’t have the neocons running his poker game for him and he got out of Iraq. The zionists didn’t like that and he wasn’t reelected. More practice in global manipulation in Bosnia got us to Bush2 and Iraq2, which was still able to resist zionist dominion. Not anymore after the neocons sold the WMD lie via the presstitues and whores in congress. The 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Lebanon and Iran is almost done, 5 can no longer resist. Lebanon, despite Hezbollah, is not a threat but could resist in its south and is an easier target; so now on to Iran!

    But Hezbollah resists; Syria still resists and supports Hezbollah; Iran supports Hezbollah and Syria; Russia supports Syria and Iran; China supports Iran and cooperates with Russia; so we have to fabricate more wars with all of them so there can be no further resistance to zionist hegemony. Except, whose blood and treasure is lost in these illegal massacres? The Israelis fly some missions and drop a few bombs for show. Who propagandizes the evil while being the biggest evil doer the world has ever seen? Hypocrisy.

    Beyond the allies in China, Russia, Iran, and Syria, is the cardinal sin of trading oil in a currency other than the dollar – see Libya and Gadafi’s dinar. China is happy to trade with Iran and Russia without the dollar as do the BRICS. This is the one direct threat to the US. If the dollar ceases to be the global reserve currency, or is diminished in any way, the whores in congress and presstitues fill the media with more propaganda decrying evil because we are teetering on collapse. The puppet masters insist we double down time and again to preserve the neocon agenda of global hegemony to benefit the Rothschild new world order and empire, with the seat of power in Jerusalem. The PNACis still alive and well. Connect the dots in any direction and it ends in the zionist grip on the USA.

    • Skip Scott
      June 12, 2019 at 07:28

      I don’t think Russia and China are just going to roll over and accept a US attack on Iran. Even with all our fire power and military bases, we have no answer for the latest missile technology, nor do we even have the capability to keep the straits of Hormuz open. We can only hope that saner heads will prevail, and Empire will slowly collapse rather than go out with a very big bang. Russia and China have just recently agreed to bypass the dollar, thus our reserve currency status is waning. Interesting times ahead.

      • June 13, 2019 at 21:22

        Right now, assuming that Iran indeed hit two tankers to give a hint of more to come, USA does not seem to have any idea how did they do it. If so, how USA can defend the allied traffic from unknown weapons? It reminds me a scene of the past when USA offered, with much fanfare, naval escort to the tanker ships. Then, surprise, floating mines appeared and the convoys had to be regrouped: supertanker in front, and a naval destroyer in the rear — upon hitting a mine, a navy ship is a tightly packaged barrel of crew, weapon and ammunition, risking a massive secondary explosions and carnage upon hitting a mine, while a supertanker may loose the bow ca. 1000 ft away from the engine and crew quarters and proceed. This time US Navy is prepared for mines, but unknown crafty opponents prepared something else.

        Second possibility is that US Navy does know what happened, but they do not want to tell because they do not want a bloody avoidable war. So the war maniacs like Bolton and Pompeo are left with rather vacuous arguments that only Iran could do it.

        And of course there is a possibility that our friendly war maniacs did it, in which case neither Navy, nor Bolton and Pompeo want to say.

        In short, we cannot learn a thing from the official statements.

  13. Kiwiantz
    June 11, 2019 at 09:04

    Sorry Patrick, you can’t negotiate with a snake, which is what the US Cult Leader, Trump is? This manic, chaotic, bipolar idiot has proven to be, over the last two years of his disfunctional shambolic rule, a compulsive liar, full of freedom hot aiir & utterly the biggeest Bullsh**ter ever & his word is as worthless as the fiat US dollar! Trump is prepared to tear up agreements & initiate Trade Wars based on Twitter whims & how he feels from moment to moment? And the dying American Empire he represents is disingenuous, untrustworthy & not worthy of any other Nations respect because it never honors the agreements it signs! The JCPOA is a classic example of America’s shameful withdrawal of a Plan negotiated in good faith & being adhered to by Iran, but Trump not only illegally pulled out of this but then started a campaign of economic terrorism via sanction warfare to sabotage the deal? Is it any wonder Iran’s Leaders look on the US with utter contempt & disgust & now make the legitimate claim that you can’t negotiate with the Devil, being the Trump Administration which is a snake that’s devouring its own tail!

  14. June 11, 2019 at 07:16

    I couldn’t agree less.

    This reads like the worst mainstream corporate output.

    Iran has done nothing, except lawfully abide by its agreement.

    The United States arbitrarily has ripped up a valid, working international agreement, and done so consulting no one beforehand.

    The United States has severely attacked Iran economically with sanctions.

    Such sanctions, used frequently now by the US are nothing more than coercive efforts to apply American law universally, ignoring local laws and international laws. It is America ignoring the rule of law, our most important civilising principle.

    The United States has clearly threatened war. The threat, whether intended to actually be carried out or not, is totally in violation of international law. It’s the international equivalent of a threat to kill somone in private life.

    How does one negotiate with such a series of vicious attacks?

    What is the meaning of negotiation under dire threat? It’s really an exact repeat of behavior in the late 1930s from Germany against states like Czechoslovakia. Hitler would throw stunning tantrums in negotiations and make terrible threats.

    No one should support the validation of such an approach in international affairs. It is the very opposite of what the world requires for peace and security.

    What Trump has done is simple and sleazy. Fearing his impeachment and other threats to his security in office, he approached some exceedingly wealthy people for support, people whose chief concerns are with other matters.

    He received his money and support for 2020 and any possible attempt at impeachment, undoubtedly.

    But he was required to pay a price. That price included ripping up a valid, working international agreement, appointing terribly dangerous men like Bolton and Pompeo to important offices, and being seen as very solicitous of Israel’s views of a country it has always much resented as a competitor for regional influence, Iran.

    This is a country that has never really represented any threat to Israel – ever hear of a non-nuclear country attacking a nuclear one? – although Israel has made many threats against it, even once spending a great effort in Obama’s time planning a large first (non-nuclear) assault, and it has carried out over the years a number of murderous dark ops against it.

    So, the whole world must now pay in fears and concerns for Trump’s being comfortably supported for staying in office. That really is what America’s ghastly behavior represents. The Congress of course will not interfere in any matter involving Israel, so Trump has his own insane way completely. A madman in charge.

    And a law-abiding country, one that has never attacked anyone in its entire modern history, Iran, is supposed to validate the attitudes of a country that has been at almost continuous war for seventy years? One that has attacked every neighbor that it has, some more than once? One that has an illicit nuclear arsenal and poison gas stocks? One that makes a regular habit of assassinating people, a recent book saying there have been 2,700 political assassinations by Israel?

    • AnneR
      June 11, 2019 at 11:28

      Your argument against the article by Lawrence I fully concur with, Mr Chuckman.

      It is the USA that is in the wrong, totally. Not Iran. Therefore, it should be (but won’t given the hubris of the American ruling elites and all too many of their supporters) they who come cap in hand to Iran.

      And why would Iran negotiate – i.e. give away more – this treaty all over again? Definitely not give in on its missile defenses – without those it would be pulverized by its ultra greedy, psychopathic, ethnic-cleansing, racist neighbor.

      • OlyaPola
        June 17, 2019 at 07:16

        “And why would Iran negotiate”

        The opponents believe/hope in projection of their “own” expectations, that their appendages will instill awe in others, whilst at least some understand that size is not everything but it would be impolite to say so.

    • bjd
      June 11, 2019 at 16:19

      Hear, hear.

    • June 11, 2019 at 19:59

      One reason I agree with you, Mr. Chapman is this passage: “Finally, new talks convening the JPCOA’s signatories would amount to a variant of the six-party talks on North Korea that began in 2003. While those talks were discontinued early in the Obama administration, the multi-sided format proved an effective mechanism in the intervening years.”

      What!? Effective mechanism? This is a classic case of a “mechanism” that allows to starve a country, intercept its ships with products like iron ore (the gall! they want to sell iron ore!) and so on while the negotiations continue or not. The basic question is if the countries that agreed with the deal signed by them or their allies are able to stand by their word.

      Basically, USA follows the traditional European value that made Western European civilization superior to others: piracy. Get their oil, spake Trump. That is actually hard, oil is combustible and hard to “take” among hostilities.
      But USA can fine the companies that do not follow our whims with billions of dollar — it is actually rational to be whimsical if you can get away with that. Companies in France, Japan, Germany etc. were whacked and the poor excuse for “common European policy” that is EU did what?

      Instead, the most decisive action was to beg USA for “waivers”. Are they grown ups?

      The piracy business is lucrative in many ways, if not exactly for American allies, thus there are scant chances that negotiations, bi- or multilateral will get anywhere as long as the patience of American allies is unlimited. Back in the years of bi-polar world USA actually had to worry a bit to get sufficient cooperation from essential allies, but now USA can actually benefit from being unhinged.

      What I see is that Abe, Macron etc. try to appease USA by cautiously checking if there is ANYTHING that the last remaining superpower may deign to accept while being faintly possible. Would it help if all Iranian allies would disband, pay Israel an indemnity for mental problems inflicted over the years, Iran would introduce an obligatory subject in its schools “Why we should love USA and Israel”, what would it take?

    • Realist
      June 12, 2019 at 05:28

      That’s pretty much what I was thinking, Mr. Chuckman. Iran’s agreement with the multiple parties through the auspices of the U.N. was already a serious example of appeasement by a sovereign nation with a gun to its head. It carried through on all of its ignominious obligations under that treaty, yet the American bully amongst the several signatories refused to put its gun down.

      Its new demands, beyond making Iran grovel even more than it has, are not clear, have not been objectively justified and should not be trusted even if they were crystal clear, as Washington routinely reneges on its deals. Washington’s demands go way beyond mere cessation of a nuclear program that never existed except as a specious accusation and attempt to wrest all sovereignty, trade and foreign relations from that ancient and long peaceful society. Washington has betrayed not only Iran, but even the preceding American administration on this matter (perhaps intended to be as much a target as Iran for purposes of domestic politics).

      Not only has Iran been cowed by a bellicose Trump administration, but so have all the other signatories to the signed agreement that refuse to buck Washington’s disgraceful show of naked intimidation. Why is the sheriff hiding behind his locked door at the U.N., when he should be calling out the Trump gang to put their guns down? Who is remiss in not reminding America of its obligations under the conventions regarding warfare established at Nuremberg? Why do the basic precepts of international law seem long settled except when it comes to the self-described “exceptional” country which is always willing to break them and then reflexively exonerate itself? Just think how badly it might behave if it claimed to be chosen for the role by some diety.

    • June 12, 2019 at 14:25

      I agree. And think Lawrence is totally wrong. American presidents have been tossing away agreements ever since Truman at Potsdam ditched the agreements that FDR had reached earlier with Stalin at Yalta. Truman waited until the A bomb had been successfully demonstrated at Alamogordo in July 1945. Now, he said, “we have a hammer on these boys.” Or as Secretary of War Stimson put it, we had “a master card” as if it were simply a poker game. Tocqueville pointed out in “Democracy in America” that democracies rarely want to live up to agreements with foreign powers. It’s not “The American Way.” Trump is no different from any other president who’s been elected since the end of WW2. Both parties are complicit in this arrangement, as Assange and Venezuela and the tightening of screws on Cuba have shown in the last few months.

  15. Rochelle
    June 11, 2019 at 02:00

    “Treasury alleges that its profits support Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the U.S. designated a terrorist organization last April.”

    They can’t be saying this with a straight face… They can’t seriously expect revenues from a state-owned oil company to not be used to fund the country’s military (does PGPIC even have a say in which branches of the military will get the share of its profits?).

    Unless something drastic happens, I am not convinced that the US genuinely seeks a diplomatic solution. It’s even wrong to call it a “solution,” because just like in Syria and Venezuela, the problems arose thanks to the US (& friends), who then distorted, exaggerated, propagandized and flat out lied about facts on the ground to its gullible public.

    Like most people who aren’t neocons or imperialists, I dread the day a shooting war breaks out between Iran and the US (and Israel), but as I see it, Trump is merely playing a good cop rhetoric and, while he may genuinely wish to avoid war, I’m not so sure he also genuinely wishes to leave Iran alone. If a diplomatic agreement is reached that lets the Iranian people live unharrassed by American sanctions or Israeli assassinations — and I’m all for that — it’ll be thanks to the efforts and diplomatic flourishes of countries like Russia and China, not the US, unless Trump takes the right step and sacks Bolton, Pompeo, Abrams et al. I won’t hold my breath for the latter possibility.

    • AnneR
      June 11, 2019 at 11:35

      One wonders at American stupidity or two-facedness or both: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is a legitimate arm of its military. Therefore, one should expect that it is funded via government monies. That is normal throughout the world.

      As far as I know, the US military is fully funded (albeit with unconscionable quantities of debt) by the taxpayers (who will be landed with those debts). So – government funded.

      And the US calling the IRG a terrorist organization is really rich, given what its CIA and military has done over the past 70 plus years. Talk about pots and kettles (not that I believe that the IRG is a terrorist organization, nor is Hizbullah; the IDF on the other hand).

      • Realist
        June 12, 2019 at 05:55

        You are both (Rochelle & Anne) obviously correct, the US does not make logical arguments, it simply offers absurdities that it damned well knows will and should be rejected out of hand. It intends to respond to the rejection of its absurdities with what any sane world would immediately refute as unjustified, illegal and immoral acts of belligerence. It thereby pretends to absolve itself of the moral responsibility for the mass murder of innocent civilians that will ensue. It can pretend all it likes that the millions killed in its deliberately fabricated wars of choice come guilt-free because our troops were merely “defending” themselves, after we hauled their asses and implements of death halfway round the planet in great numbers to make the bloody contest possible. But that excuse was not accepted at Nuremberg nor will it be when future historians can some day write the truth… regardless of the lies the NY Times promulgates today.

  16. Ian Brown
    June 10, 2019 at 23:38

    Perhaps Iran made a strategic mistake signing on to the JCPOA, by agreeing to limit a nuclear weapons program it didnt have, it made itself a target for future hawkish regimes in Washington.

    I’d be stunned if US allies are really wondering if regime change is the objective. That should have been evident to everyone for many years, at least for the past 2 1/2 if not more. God help us if foreign leaders are this inept.

    The bigger joke is that the main exporter or terrorism in the region is our major ally, KSA and there is talk of giving them nuclear weapons!

  17. CitizenOne
    June 10, 2019 at 22:01

    All of this is well and good but the Trump Administration rightly or wrongly blew up the last deal and will not make it to the table for more talks. There is an entrenched ideology in conservative political movements that span beyond the current administration. It is an ideology that holds true its most closely held value that negotiations and peace talks are a dead end and lead to military conflicts as aggressor nations see any attempt to talk peace is to talk weakly. The ideology holds that the only form of communication that middle eastern nations know is violence as a virtue and diplomacy is just the weak guys crutch to be kicked out from under him. Next is to start kicking him.

    The history of the World is filled with examples like the famous decree by Neville Chamberlain that he had secured (on a piece of paper) peace in our time. It is clear that treaties are just pieces of paper and can and have been torn up unilaterally many many times when one side perceived it had a military advantage and was willing to risk it. Trumps tearing up of the Iran Nuclear deal is perhaps to be seen as a moderate gesture in the lens of history since it did not result in military action even though the US has the military advantage.

    There is a big risk for the US though as it plays out its hand by not following up on treaty breakup with military action. It creates space for Iran where negotiations with other nations can happen and those nations with a national interest in economic ties with Iran can form new alliances and make new mutual defense strategies which is what is happening.

    So at this point I agree that it is the better option for Trump to reopen talks even though his besties want nothing but to attack Iran.

    The US foreign policy on Iran is really up against a rock and a hard place. Do nothing and watch as Iran forges new allies or attack Iran with the dire consequences that will have. The quandary is what happens when the war hawks partially succeed at the easy stuff like breaking a treaty and are hesitant to pull the trigger on war or are restrained from doing so. This middle earth is ground where the US loses its credibility and loses the good will of other nations as Iran plays the victim and promises its fortunes to those nations that will back it with arms if necessary.

    What could happen is that the US makes its point that military action is a very real threat and that it is the only possible result if Iran does not come to the table while actually treating Iran with the respect it deserves as a sovereign nation with a lot of oil and military power while insisting it drop its funding of extremist groups or else face military consequences.

    So far we have seen Iran flinch as the US builds its military advantage in the Gulf. They do not want war. It is time to extend an overture for peace talks while we are prepared to strike hard.

    First thing on the table should be verifiable nonsupport for terrorist groups by Iran. Second thing should be economic relief from sanctions if they comply. Third thing should be deescalation of the US military stance in the region. We have made it clear we can respond quickly when we want to. That threat will not diminish.

    • June 12, 2019 at 06:51

      “The US foreign policy on Iran is really up against a rock and a hard place. Do nothing and watch as Iran forges new allies or attack Iran with the dire consequences that will have.”

      What is so hard in “watching Iran forge new allies”? If you do not like the view, you can always go for a round of golf and watch the unnatural grass in the green.

      • CitizenOne
        June 12, 2019 at 21:28

        What I meant was forging alliances with Russia, EU and China to cut the US out of the picture, sell these countries/nations their oil perhaps even using a separate trade system so they could bypass sanctions, continue their funding of terrorists and perhaps even secure a nuclear deal with Russia or China. It may be a long shot but Russia and China are getting tired of being beat up by the USA. They just might do it out of frustration with the whimsical nature of our erratic and unreliable foreign policy.

    • June 12, 2019 at 14:31

      There was a time about thirty years ago when I believed what I read in the NYT. What a fool I was.

      • SteveK9
        June 13, 2019 at 13:52

        I stopped reading anything in the NYT after the WMD in Iraq propaganda campaign. At the risk of provoking a shock, I read the online version of RT each morning to get the ‘news’. I look at a lot of sites like this one as well, but I find RT gives a good overview of what is happening in the World with a lot less bias than any of our illustrious media.

    • June 12, 2019 at 14:33

      Seems to me you’re saying Iran should throw away its cards before the game is played. Seems like nonsense to me.

  18. Jeff Harrison
    June 10, 2019 at 21:36

    Sorry Patrick, I don’t buy it. The bad actor in the room is the US. Everybody was prepared to move forward until the US unilaterally destroyed a multinational agreement. Why would Tehran (or anybody else for that matter) think that the US would stick to its obligations? I understand your point about Tehran being able to air their side of the story. But everybody already knows what it is. The really horrible part is that it wasn’t just Clinton (we won’t move one inch towards Russia’s borders) or Shrub (we are withdrawing from the ABM treaty) or Obama who the moment the JPCOA was signed had US treasury officials already telling foreign banks not to handle Iranian debt because we didn’t intend to honor our word (Oh, like that’s a surprise) or Thump who walked out of the JPCOA, and the INF treaty, and will almost certainly allow the START treaty to expire. Tehran doesn’t need a talking to, the regime in Washington does and, unfortunately the only thing that Washington understands is force.

  19. GKJames
    June 10, 2019 at 20:13

    Why would anyone, especially a party to the agreement, press Iran to re-trade the deal simply because Washington wants to manufacture a crisis for no reason other than the president’s pathological dislike of his predecessor? If Abe, Macron, Merkel, Putin et al want to bring sanity to the equation, it’s in Washington they need to apply the screws, not in Tehran. Not doing so simply rewards the gangster in the White House, his Foggy Bottom loon and, of course, the State Department’s Middle East Desk in Jerusalem.

    • Skip Scott
      June 11, 2019 at 08:40

      To appease Trump’s ego, I imagine that they will “renegotiate” an agreement which will in fact be nearly identical to the JPCOA. Trump will get to puff up his chest and the world will get to live another day.

      • bjd
        June 11, 2019 at 16:30

        Don’t bet on it. The US interests here are Israel’s interests. I.e. the objective stretches out way beyond Iran, to Syria. The Apartheid State needs Lebensraum.
        This it can get first and foremost in Syria. The problem is the Russians and Iran-affiliated forces there. Russia seems ready to sit down and talk via-a-vis Syria, is my guess. Iran less so, for good, existential reasons.

        • Skip Scott
          June 12, 2019 at 07:04

          As powerful as Israel is, I don’t think they have enough juice to make us go to war with Iran. I hope I’m not wrong on this because the consequences are potentially existential for all of humanity. Iran doesn’t have the power to retake the Golan Heights, and I think Russia (as you say) is ready to deal. If idiots like Bolton and Pompus get to have their way, we’re all in big doo-doo. Let’s hope Trump isn’t quite that stupid, and has learned a lesson in Venezuela about listening to the wrong people.

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