Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal today is no shock. He has been talking about it for a long time. Not out of any informed belief – I doubt he even knows its contents in any detail – but mainly because his campaign was in major part funded by Sheldon Adelson – a vehement Zionist. I’ve spoken before about how Trump’s pact with Adelson lies behind much of his foreign policy actions with regards to Israel and Iran. It’s a classic quid pro quo. It’s Mafioso logic. Not surprising.
What is also not surprising, but very regrettable, is that the media continue to pretend to be shocked, and also to express dismay and confusion as to Trump’s motives and the rationale for this decision. Why would he do this? Can’t he see that Iran has been fully compliant with UN inspections? Can’t he see that pulling out of the deal makes it more likely for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons? Can’t he see that he makes the US look like a bad partner to do business with? Why would he act this way? Is it just because he’s stupid? Yes, that must be it…he’s just a big, stupid orange doofus.
These questions are so lazy as to be malicious. On the level of Trump’s internal logic the answer is simple – he did it because he was indebted to someone to do it, and he has to pay his debts. The better question is what do those who made him do it really want?
Jung made a classically excellent analysis of human motivation. He basically said if you can’t identify a motive, look at the outcome of the action and infer the motive. If I sometimes can’t understand why someone does something, I try to see what their action (or inaction) creates, and posit whether that might be the motivation. This kind of thing comes up in psychotherapy all the time. We lament our situations, but do nothing to try and change them. In these cases it is often best to understand the role the sufferer has in creating and sustaining the conditions of their suffering. Do I get something out of being depressed? Do I get something out of being miserable and dependent on someone else? Do I get something out of having others be dependent on me? The answers can be surprising and deeply illuminating.
So if looking down the road we can see that a major logical consequence of abandoning the deal is eventual military conflict with Iran, it is willfully ignorant not to consider that war itself is the objective. Mainstream media are of course much too polite and deferent to make such a claim. It makes them uncomfortable to suggest such motivations. This passivity is criminal. It endangers society. We end up with dangerous reporters, servile editorialists, and a population who are ignorant to the genuinely malevolent motivations of the people behind a decision such as this. We end up with the editorial board of the New York Times supporting the war in Iraq.
Let’s make it very clear – there are elements within the United States whose primary motivation is to remove the current Iranian regime, by force if necessary. This should not shock anyone. We needn’t even bother with a review of the many previous instances of US-led regime change – although the most relevant example would be the 1953 CIA-backed coup in Iran that removed the democratically elected Mossadegh and instituted the Shah. Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution – at the time the largest mass popular movement in history – the US has bristled at Iran’s role as a nation independent and outside of the sphere of US influence.
That brings us to more empty rhetoric, again parroted by compliant media outlets. The ‘threat of Iran’ is not to do with nuclear weapons, with its military, with its supposed ‘terror sponsorship’, with its domestic peculiarities, with its theocracy. The Iranian threat is the same threat that has always concerned the architects of US Imperialism – that of independent nationalism and independent foreign policy. Iran is a problem because it just won’t do what it’s told.
Doing what you’re told is the real maxim of US foreign policy – which is not, and never has been, about mutual respect or ‘promoting democracy’. It is based on the amoral ideology of American ‘exceptionalism’. It is what allows the US to support much more oppressive and violent regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Sisi’s Egypt, not to mention many colourful dictators and authoritarian monsters in decades past. These people may be horrible despots – but they are ‘our’ horrible despots. They do what we say.
US policy positions seem mind-boggling until this fact is appreciated. The role of Saudi Arabia in financing Jidahism and Islamic extremism – ostensibly the great enemy of the 21st century thus far – is beyond dispute. There is evidence to suggest Saudi Arabia provided material support to the 9/11 hijackers. Basher al-Assad – himself no lover of tolerance – is currently waging a conflict against splintered Islamist groups that are cousins of ISIS. These groups derive their financial and military support from Saudi Arabia and the United States. The US literally funds groups almost identical to ISIS.
Also, what are we to make of the recent posturing of US and other Western democracies on their abhorrence for chemical weapons and the resultant need to bomb Syria for ‘humanitarian’ reasons? How can this be the case? Especially given they support a Saudi campaign against Yemen that also uses chemical weapons, engages in siege warfare and has precipitated famine and an outbreak of cholera.
What the hell is going on you might say? None of this makes sense. It seems to be so contradictory. And of course it is – if you subscribe to the rhetoric deployed by Washington and Western Imperialists in general – that we do things for the good of oppressed others and to promote stability and security. But when you recognize that the over-riding ideological and political position is much more prosaic, that it is simply ‘do what we say’, it becomes much clearer. It is so painfully simple, and it is again Mafia logic. The only thing that differentiates the ‘good guys’ from the ‘bad guys’ – the ‘moderate Saudis’ from the ‘radical mullahs’ – is that one does what we say, and the other doesn’t.
That is the ‘threat of Iran’. It is outside the sphere of US influence. As such, it represents a threat to the offshore colonial outpost of US imperialism, Israel. Let us not forget that Iran, along with many Arab nations, have previously called for a ‘WMD-free Middle East’. This has been consistently rejected by the United States and Israel, for the obvious reason that it would involve Israel renouncing its own nuclear arsenal – which to this day remains a poorly kept state-secret. In fact Israel, Pakistan and India are all nuclear states that do not subscribe to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at all, unlike Iran.
Again, if peace in the Middle East is what the United States and Israel say they want, then the establishment of a WMD-free zone sounds like a good start. But peace is not what they want. What must be maintained is Israel’s qualitative military edge and it’s right to have undeclared nuclear weapons. This has less to do with Israel’s role as a viable ‘Jewish state’, and more to do with it’s role as a military outpost for US Imperialism in the Middle East.
Unless we can rid ourselves of childish and logically inconsistent justifications for why something like today’s action occurred, in favour of a sober assessment of real motivations, then we ensure terrible things will happen.
The people around Trump and those leaders that influence him – Netanyahu, Sheldon Adelson, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Mohammed bin Salman, Jared Kushner – these people want war with Iran.
Every day the drum beats louder. The signs are numerous. Today’s action, recent changes in Israeli law to allow a single person, the Prime Minsiter, to authorize war, the demonisation of Russia, Iran’s ally (which also relates to the trauma inflicted on the US establishment by Trump’s victory), the positioning of John Bolton as National Security Advisor, the concerted propaganda campaign by Netanyahu last week around Iran’s “cheating” on the deal, Israel’s recent sorties into Syria (the last conducted only an hour following Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal) and the ramping up of war propaganda within the Israeli and US press. These things are all connected and there is a restlessness among the prominent war mongering officials that is very, very ominous. Add to this a very simple fact – that if they want this as badly as they obviously do, they better act fast. They have two more years of Trump, max. Two more years to encourage the idiot king.
The case is being made for war. We need to stop navel gazing about today’s actions and how silly Trump was to do what he did. He did what he did because he was told to do it. And the people who told him to do it want war. They want war.
I spent a few weeks in Iran years ago with a good friend of mine. I have traveled a lot and have never seen such a general level of generosity and kindness in a population. We visited some of the most important archaeological sites in antiquity, the ruins of an empire that has spanned millennia. To think that people who have never been there, who have never walked on the streets or talked with the people, are so keen to destroy it is very surreal. It does not seem possible. And yet it is more than possible – right now it is probable.
Time to wake up people. More than a million people died in Iraq. We couldn’t stop that then, to our eternal shame. Perhaps we can make it right and stop this now. The first thing is to know your enemy and not to underestimate him. Say it with me again – these people want war. Remember that. We must deny them this gruesome satisfaction.