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Trumping the Trump

By Kambiz Zarrabi

Let’s call a spade a spade. Let’s not try to be polite or politically correct, as the current front-running Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, often says. OK then, who is a good example of a self-serving, megalomaniacal, predatory capitalist pig? Do I have to name him here? I think I already have!

The man addresses a fairly large audience in S. Carolina and declares to a cheering crowd of bovines that no Moslems should be allowed to enter the United States until we can get a handle on the problem facing us. The crowd responds with a standing ovation. Donald loves that kind of grandstanding; he is a publicity seeking entertainer, a clown.

A question now comes to mind: Suppose Donald had gone one step further and suggested that all Moslems in the United States should be registered with the FBI and required by law to wear a yellow band around their arm or a tattoo on their foreheads for identification. How many among that audience do you believe would have booed him or left the room? None, I’d dare say! What if he had offered that Islam as a religion should be regarded as an evil ideology and banned as an official religion? What do you think the audience response would have been then? Again, another standing ovation?

Mr. Trump represents the very worst that American political culture could offer. He is to American culture and values what Da’esh or ISIS is to Islamic culture and values.

But why is this howler monkey with his cacophonous cries the main subject of talks and debates on all television networks, day in and day out? Turn on any network on TV and what you get beside commercial promotions and mindless entertainment is either something ridiculous or obnoxious about Trump or some mouth-watering juicy news about certain sensationalized disaster or gruesome crime somewhere in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. After all, infotainment networks are commercial enterprises whose principle objective is to make money no matter what garbage they feed us; the larger the number of their viewers, the bigger their advertising revenues, which translates to how “successful” they are.

Well, my guess has been that Donald Trump is not even interested in seriously considering running for President. He is simply a shit disturber clowning around with nothing to lose by behaving like a runaway garbage truck. The sad and indeed alarming thing is that his ridiculous antics have been attracting the attention of nearly half of the population in this country, people who are either totally clueless or lack enough excitement in their lives. Playing electronic war games on handheld devices even for ten hours a day doesn’t seem to be enough for some people.

At the same time, his bigotry against the religion of 1.6 billion people is jeopardizing America’s global interests and adding fuel to the same fire of terrorism America has been fighting here and abroad. But Donald doesn’t really give a damn about America no matter what he tries to portray; he is simply enjoying the orgasmic pleasures of being the prime object for media attention.

Trump’s bubble will soon burst. The harm he has done to the global image of the United States, whatever was left of it, will require some serious damage control. It would, however, be much more difficult for the Republican Party to recover from the tornado he has created, for a long time to come.

As he fades back into his billion dollar ivory tower in the aftermath of his triumphant retreat, the churning pot he has stirred up will float other debris to the top. Mr. Cruz, for one, may be somewhat wanting in moral values, but he is not an illiterate man, culturally as is Dr. Ben Carson, or otherwise. He is an ambitious opportunist who has often taken advantage of Trump’s bellicose rhetoric and bombast to gain better ratings and hence support from the radical Right. His statements may sound more erudite but are no more than fear mongering concocted rhetoric aimed at the same bovine crowds that cheered the front runner, Trump.

On one occasion he warned that, if not contained, Iran would develop electromagnetic nuclear devices and explode them over America’s East Coast, disrupting the nation’s entire electrical and communication systems! He actually said that even though he is not a delusional idiot; he knows that he is addressing crowds that buy into that brilliant sounding nonsense.

His potential rival is the sophomoric Florida Senator, Marco Rubio. His handlers claim that Rubio’s public appeal is due to his passionately sincere utterances that make him sweat with energy as he speaks. His machine-gun rapid pace of stringing non sequitur phrases together while he sweats is more likely because he is trying desperately to sound as though he knows what he is talking about! His supposed knowledge of foreign policy which is a combination of John McCain and Lindsay Graham approach has been appealing to the neocons who are vetting and promoting the young man, as though they are purchasing a thoroughbred for a future race.

Every Republican candidate has vowed to repeal the Iran/P5+1 nuclear agreement on their first day in office, should they become President. All except for Carly Fiorina, who has said more than once that she would first call her dear friend, Bibi Netanyahu, before tearing up that agreement!

Of course we should not be too surprised by that kind of rhetoric. In political campaigns, as is the case in the game of baseball, in order to score, the runner must touch each of the three bases while circling the track. In our current political atmosphere, any candidate for practically any office in the land must also touch all the necessary bases in order to have a chance. It has now become obligatory for the candidate, whatever he or she honestly believes in private, to begin by touching the first base, allegiance to Israel. Then comes the second base, phobia against Iran, and by extension, Islam; and followed by the third base of a pledge to beef up America’s military, hence the military/industrial complex.

This is not exclusive to the Republican presidential candidates; Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate, responded semi jokingly when asked if she had made any enemies that, yes, “The NRA, health insurance companies, drug companies, the Iranians...and the Republicans.” By smilingly including the Republicans she did manage to take the sting of seriousness out of her statement. She, as well as any serious Republican counterpart, knows that “Iranians” are not her or America’s enemies; but admitting that fact would mean torpedoing any chance they might have of winning their Party’s nomination.

A good example is the new bill passing through the Congress by bipartisan support, the HR 158 revision of the Visa Waiver program. The bill itself makes good sense, requiring holders of passports from the countries that had heretofore visa-free privileges to enter the United States, and who were dual citizens of certain countries considered terrorist havens or had travelled to those countries during the past five years, to need visas to enter the U.S. These countries included Iran!

However, there are three problems with an otherwise reasonable revision proposed by the new bill:

  1. How could one tell if a visitor to Turkey or Jordan has entered Syria, for example, when his or her European passport does not show any record of that?
  2. The European states that have been part of the Visa-Waiver program will reciprocate by restricting the visa-free travel to Europe by holders of American passports who are dual citizens of certain states considered as terrorist havens, or who have traveled to those countries during the past five years. That, of course, would include Iranian Americans who would, under the new regulations, need to apply for visas to travel to Europe.
  3. Finally, why is Iran included in the list of states that are regarded as harboring terrorists, when the real and well documented promoters of terrorism that actually do aid and abet international terror groups, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Pakistan, are not mentioned? What about Israel?! That, of course, is a rhetorical question, but it does deserve some reflection.

The visa waiver revision, the Bill HR 158, does not mean that Iranian dual citizens would now have restrictions imposed on their travel patterns. It only requires obtaining visas to enter participating countries as they did before the wavering of visas program was enacted in the first place. It will be an inconvenience and is certainly rather insulting to be regarded as anything other than normal citizens of their adopted country. I think we Iranians, dual citizens or not, can live with that.

What is more serious is the very inclusion of Iran in the list.

In my writings and addresses during the past twenty-odd years I have often tried to point out the causes, excuses, and the rationale for the creation and perpetuation of the anti-Iran sentiments here in the United States, and to explain why that momentum has been, up until lately, increasing to a dangerous level, to a point I have labeled the Flashpoint. It is no secret or surprise that one of the main prerequisites to be elected to Congress, particularly if a candidate, regardless of Party affiliation, intends to become a member of certain House or Senate committee, such as Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, etc., is to demonstrate his or her distain and distrust for the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It is not a hidden fact that some of the nation’s representatives owe their positions to the various influential special interest groups or lobbies, chief among them with bearing on foreign policy issues is AIPAC with its associated Zionist tentacles. Their pledge to follow these lobbies’ directives does not include any obligation to focus on America’s best strategic interests, but rather guarantees them their position, tenure and personal gains. There are others who have jumped on the hate-Iran bandwagon to take advantage of the public sentiment against Iran in their respective districts, mostly in the less urbanized, disconnected parts of the country. And there are some who either for their religious orientation or zealotry, people such as Ben Carson or Lindsay Graham, dislike and suspect any non-Christian group, or are xenophobic due to what should be called cultural illiteracy.

This is a reflection of the prevailing mindset among the public at large. In this kind of atmosphere no politician, from the President on down, would risk opting for a rapprochement with a member of the “axis of evil”, regardless of what he or she might truly believe.

It took President Obama until the middle of his second and final term in office to attempt swimming against the current and risk doing what he knows to be in America’s own best interests. Even so, he has had to walk cautiously over egg shells and repeat some of the negative rhetoric against Iran every now and then.

The situation is much the same in Iran. There, also, the Parliamentary leaders and highest level authorities express their disdain and suspicion for the American government, mostly in response to the negative portrayals constantly spewed against Iran. However, as I have maintained all along, both governments, at least at the highest levels, know full well that a rapprochement between the two countries would be mutually advantageous; and the sooner, the better.

The Administration’s detractors, mostly the Republicans, condemn Mr. Obama’s policies toward Iran as not tough enough against what they consider to be America’s avowed enemy. At the same time his supporters, primarily the Democrats, caution him against becoming too resilient and accommodating toward the Islamic Republic. The ultra-liberals blame him for not being strong enough to push harder against the neocons, warmongers and the radical Right, as though he could play the role of a benevolent omnipotent dictator impervious to assault! So, what on earth can Mr. Obama do to accomplish his goal before his term is up? Not much more than he, and his Secretary of State, have already done, I am afraid.

The simple fact that the Administration has officially stated the purpose of the P5+1/Iran agreement to be preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal points to a face-saving approach to paving the way toward an opening with Iran. This way, the United States and the other members of the team can declare victory that the sanctions against Iran have worked, and the danger of nuclear proliferation has been averted.

The truth is that Iran, even with a nuclear arsenal, would have posed no danger of aggression toward anyone near or far, and possession of such a deterrent would not have led to a proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region. There is not a single Middle Eastern Arab state that has not been, is not now, and will not remain for the foreseeable future, under the thumb of the United State to dare to obtain nuclear weapons against the wishes of its overlord!

The fact is that the rest of the world, including Iran’s major trade partners, including China, Japan, India, and the European Union, were tired of the meaningless anti-Iran sanctions regime and were ready to break away anyway. But for the United States some face-saving way to break the deadlock had to be found, and the fictitious nuclear issue, which was an Israeli ploy to begin with, was the best excuse.

Kambiz Zarrabi is the author of In Zarathushtra's Shadow and Necessary Illusion.He has conducted lectures and seminars on international affairs, particularly in relation to Iran, with focus on US/Iran issues. Zarrabi's latest book is Iran, Back in Context.

So, I am not at all surprised or alarmed by Hillary Clinton’s recent hardline sounding statements that the slightest infractions by Iran in its obligations under the nuclear agreement will be severely dealt with, or her other warnings. She, the most likely candidate for the next President, must sound equally boisterous and tough against Iran as are her rivals among the Republicans, and not just against Iran, but also against Russia and China, as a matter of course. Playing to public sentiments is a requirement in any political game. That is also true in Iran, let us not forget.

Finally, what if we are unfortunate enough to have someone like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or some other Republican occupy the White House in 2017? We already have a Republican dominated Congress. I am expecting the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, to play a hard enough warmongering, neoconish card to trump the likes of Trump! It’s a poker game, bluffing is a major part of the game, after all.

... Payvand News - 12/14/15 ... --

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