Cesar Chelala / AntiWar.com & Daniel Larison / The American Conservative – 2018-05-09 19:38:16
Trump’s Decision on Iran Deal Spells Disaster for the Middle East
Cesar Chelala / AntiWar.com
(May 9, 2018) — President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal with Iran creates, unnecessarily, a new source of tension in a region besieged by conflicts. This move was heartily supported by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and opposed by all other governments that are part of the deal. Given the level of legal troubles that President Trump is facing now, his decision could be based to some extent in creating the conditions to fog his personal drama.
For several decades, relations between the US and Iran and between Iran and the West have been shrouded in misconceptions and prejudices. They have done nothing to achieve a peaceful relationship with that country, and only led to a permanent state of distrust that can lead to war at any moment. In this situation, some basic facts need to be restated.
The present conflicting relations can be traced to a large extent to 19 August 1953, when both the United Kingdom and the US orchestrated a coup that overthrew Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh. The reason: Mossadegh was trying to audit the books of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), a British corporation, to change the terms of that company’s access to Iranian oil.
Following the refusal of AIOC to cooperate with the Iranian government, the Iranian parliament voted almost unanimously to nationalize AIOC and expel its representatives from Iran. The anti-government coup that ensued led to the formation of a military government under General Fazlollah Zahedi. That government then allowed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to rule the country as an absolute and ruthless monarch.
60 years after the coup, the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) finally admitted that it had been involved in both its planning and the execution of the coup that caused 300 to 800, mostly civilian, casualties. That fateful coup and the US behavior towards Arab governments throughout the region are behind the anti-American sentiment not only in Iran but throughout the Middle East.
I wonder how we, in the United States, would have reacted if China and Russia, for example, would have plotted to overthrow a democratic American government, leaving a chaotic situation in its wake. In addition, while Iran has not invaded another country in centuries, both the US and Israel, Iran’s enemies, have led brutal wars against other countries and peoples.
US interference in Iranian affairs didn’t end there. In September 1980, Saddam Hussein started a war against Iran that had devastating consequences for both countries. The war was characterized by Iraq’s indiscriminate ballistic-missile attacks and extensive use of chemical weapons.
The war resulted in at least half a million and probably twice as many troops killed on both sides, and in at least half a million men who became permanently disabled. The US actively supported Saddam Hussein in his war efforts with billions of dollars in credits, advanced technology, weaponry, military intelligence, and Special Operations training.
Pentagon officials in Baghdad planned day-by-day bombing strikes for the Iraqi Air Force. According to the US former ambassador Peter W. Galbraith, Iraq used this data to target Iranian positions with chemical weapons. Despite the brutality of these attacks, Iran didn’t respond in kind.
In 1984, Iran presented a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council condemning Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons, based on the Geneva Protocol of 1925.
The US instructed its delegate at the UN to lobby friendly representatives to support a motion to abstain on the vote on the use of chemical weapons by Iraq. Given these facts, can we be surprised that Iranians have a deep resentment against the US?
However, rather than following a policy of appeasement, President Donald Trump nixed the agreement with Iran that goes contrary to the US’s own political and economic interests in the region. And they have a faithful ally in Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Where do these actions lead us to?
Dr. Cesar Chelala is a winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award and a national journalism award from Argentina. He has written extensively on Iranian issues.
The Stupidity of Reneging on the Nuclear Deal
Daniel Larison / The American Conservative
(May 8, 2018) — Trump is expected to announce his decision on the nuclear deal this afternoon, and everyone assumes that he will decide to terminate sanctions waivers and withdraw the US from the deal. Secretary of State Pompeo confirmed as much in a conference call with his European counterparts that the president:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told his colleagues from the E3 — France, Germany and the United Kingdom — on Friday that President Trump has rejected the understandings that were drafted with American negotiators over the last four months regarding a possible fix of the Iran nuclear deal.
Ever since Trump delivered his ridiculous ultimatum to our European allies earlier this year, the charade of negotiating a “fix” to a deal that doesn’t need fixing has been an attempt to shift blame for eventual US withdrawal.
Instead of simply quitting the deal outright months ago, Trump has feigned an interest in keeping the deal alive when the changes he demanded would have amounted to a violation of it. There was never a chance that France, Britain, and Germany could agree to Trump’s terms without violating their own commitments, and now the charade has finally come to an end.
No one can claim to be surprised that this is how things have turned out. The writing has been on the wall since at least the middle of last year, and Trump made his hatred for the deal impossible to miss during the campaign. Between the constant misrepresentations and lies about the deal from his party’s Iran hawks and Trump’s own ignorance, the deal never stood much of a chance.
The fact that it was a major part of Obama’s legacy was probably enough by itself to ensure that Trump would reject it. That is what made the charade of trying to “fix” the deal so absurd, since it was obvious that Trump had already made up his mind about it long ago.
All of the other parties to the agreement have expressed their desire to keep it alive even without US participation. If the Trump administration is intent on reimposing sanctions and enforcing them, that sets the stage for an unnecessary and destructive fight with the EU.
Reneging on the deal drives a wedge between the US and Europe that harms relations with our allies for no good reason, and it will likely make our allies think twice before they support another major US diplomatic initiative.
Iranian hard-liners will be pleased by Trump’s decision, since it lets them claim vindication and accuse their domestic opponents of making the mistake of trusting the US Hard-liners in the US and Iran feed off of each other, and when they are in the ascendant in one country it boosts hard-liners in the other.
Armed conflict between US forces and Iran and its proxies is going to become more likely as a result of this decision, and that could escalate into a larger war faster than anyone expects. Once the US is out of the deal, it won’t be long before we hear the usual drumbeat for military action against Iran.
Reneging on the nuclear deal doesn’t serve any American interests and does significant harm to several of them. Other states will be less willing to trust the US to honor its obligations. That will raise the costs of every negotiation the US conducts with other governments during the current administration.
Every government that cooperated with the US to secure the deal will remember how Trump simply threw away a major diplomatic achievement for the sake of spite and ideology, and they will be less inclined to cooperate with Washington the next time their help is needed.
Withdrawing from the JCPOA is a huge unforced error and self-inflicted wound whose full costs we won’t realize until later, and it represents a serious setback to the cause of nonproliferation.
Trump is walking away from a deal that got the US almost everything it wanted at virtually no cost, and he is doing it mainly because it allows him to repudiate his predecessor’s work.
It is a perfect example of putting petty self-interest and pique ahead of the interests of the United States, and it has absolutely nothing to do with putting America first.
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