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By Kambiz Zarrabi

Hillary Clinton
artwork by Bozorgmehr Hosseinpur on cover of Iranian magazine Seda

To repeat, my main interest in the Clinton/Trump rivalry in their campaign for the presidency of the United States is how each candidate might affect the prospects of a rapprochement between the world’s greatest economic and military superpower, and the Middle East’s most consequential counterweight, Iran.

I must admit that, like everyone else, I also have my own personal preference, call it bias, in formulating my opinions in this regard; and here it is: I believe that a methodical, gradual and measured opening between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States of America is not only of tremendous benefit for the Iranian economy and global status, it would also serve America’s best legitimate interests and image worldwide. To accomplish that, some burnt bridges must be rebuilt.

On the one hand we have a clueless, self-promoting opportunist, whose foreign policy motto can best be summarized as: Holler boisterously and carry a bazooka! On the other, there is the seemingly hawkish nouveau-neocon, war-mongering Democratic Party candidate, with a reputation for lying and deceitfulness.

But regardless, let’s not forget that, when it comes to foreign policy issues, especially regarding the Middle East, there is little or no difference in attitude between the two political parties, but only in the methods of approach: The designated enemies and allies remain America’s enemies and allies, regardless of the merits of such designations. One party would not hesitate to bring the perceived enemies into submission by brute force, while the other prefers a diplomatic approach to coax them into committing suicide!

It is not that the politicians in top positions in America’s administrations have not been aware of the realities on the ground; but there are so many factors influencing their decision making process, which remain beyond public’s understanding or even interest to be openly and honestly revealed or debated.

Donald Trump has not been focusing on what goes on beyond his myopic self-centered vision of what’s good for The Donald. In my opinion, Trump had no idea he’d rise to prominence in the Republican Party nomination process; he wasn’t ready for this success, as temporary as it might hopefully be; and he’s got too much on his glutton’s-delight plate to worry about the outcome of his bid for the presidency of the United States, a position I do not believe he was seriously after in the first place.

He has surrounded himself, or perhaps more correctly put, he has been unwittingly surrounded by, a group of assistants and advisers who see Trump as a clueless jester, in whose administration they’d have a free path to pursue and promote their own respective agendas. Lest we forget, there are plenty of Saudi moneys and Zionist political rewards to seduce almost any opportunist! People like the sleaze bucket, Rudy Giuliani; or the butler-in-waiting, Chris Christy; and the junior light-weight anti-Iran Champ, Senator Tom Cotton; or the whining Iran-hater, Senator Bob Corker; and most recently the hardcore neocon, James Woolsey; plus a contingent of well-known Israel-firsters to whom Israel’s interests supersede America’s own, are just a few examples. He simply doesn’t care who these people are or what they represent, as long as these sycophants pat him on the back when they introduce him on the podium.

So, it is no surprise that Mr. Trump’s stated agenda regarding dealing with Iran is to tear up the P5+1/Iran nuclear agreement the first day he sits at the Oval Office, and to renegotiate a “better deal” for America “as only he knows how”: Remember; this legend-in-his-own-mind is a shrewd negotiator, as he has stated many times! It makes me wonder what kind of image of Iran and its leaders or negotiators Trump has inside the cocoon of his mind: Perhaps he is envisioning an Arabian-Nights setting, where hagglers buy and sell pomegranates and hashish paraphernalia at the corner souk!

This fellow is clearly unaware of what the P5+1/Iran negotiations and the final agreement were all about: he has even expressed his views that the “bad deal” was a “disaster” -his favorite word-, where “we gave” the mullahs 150 billion dollars and got nothing back in return. The problem is, most Republican Party bigwigs, as well as some Democrats, repeat the same nonsense, not because they believe it, but for the pursuit of their own less-than-honorable personal agendas!

Hillary Clinton is, as the old Persian proverb goes, a wolf who has spent many nights under stormy skies! She is a crafty politician with vast diplomatic experience and well-honed skills, and is a master in the vital art of manipulative hypocrisy. Being regarded as crafty and a hypocrite or a “liar”, as she has often been labeled, has been putting her on the defensive in the public domain. Perhaps Trump’s persona as a naive non-politician, shoot-from-the-hip Rambo who spills his guts out crudely with no reservations, has had the appeal to enough like-minded folks to gain him the ratings he has enjoyed thus far in the race.

The average voter supposedly prefers an honest, God-fearing, truthful and blemish-free, yet strong, hero to be in charge of the nation’s affairs, and as a Commander in Chief to protect the nation against enemies foreign and domestic. This is something very characteristic of the American psyche in general: Honesty, fairness, righteousness, compassion and graceful humility at the peak of strength, are some of the qualities that those who actually believe in “American Exceptionalism” admire and pride themselves in. We could then conclude that hypocrisy, something that Mrs. Clinton is being accused of, is a terrible trait for any politician or a prospective leader of the nation.

How ironic, indeed, that it is the height of hypocrisy to claim aspiration to such lofty, self-redeeming ideals! Who wouldn’t enjoy being served a cut of the best filet mignon, as long as the details of how the doomed animal was butchered and cut up to pieces are hidden behind an artfully designed, colorful menu? In truth, the mindset is: ‘Just give me the best and the most, but hold the details of how you got it and at what cost to whom!’ or: ‘Go ahead and do what you must, even if it is violating the international laws or even our own proclaimed standards and values, but doctor up the dirty details to avoid blemishing the public’s sense of innocent righteousness!

According to the recently declassified documents, when Ronald Reagan was made aware that Saddam Hussein was using the internationally banned poison gas against the Iranians during the latter stages of Iraq/Iran war, he, nonetheless, pressed on with support for the Iraqi forces, proclaiming that “An Iranian victory is not an option!”

Mr. Trump has declared more than once that the United States should have taken all of Iraq’s oil before leaving that country; as he cites the proverb: To the victor belong all the spoils! Victor in what “war”, Donald? So, this modern day Genghis Khan believes that invading Iraq under false pretenses constituted a fair fight or a just war, and that claiming ownership to the devastated country’s natural resources should have been the right thing to do as the reward for destroying a nation that was posing no threat to the United States. Does he think that a nation’s natural resources half-way around the world are his granddaddy’s inheritance he has a right to reclaim?!

Well, to be fair, Trump’s naively innocent expression of his ignorance is not that far from what his Democratic counterparts have been planning to do all along, albeit in a much shrewder and more sophisticated way: That is partitioning Iraq in the guise of creating regional peace and stability by supporting the Iraqi Kurds’ ambitions for autonomy, on the condition, of course, that the new Kurdistan’s oilfields of Kirkuk and Mosul, Iraq’s main oil reserves, would be licensed to American oil companies; and guess what: with the construction of a direct pipeline via Jordan to Israel to immediately begin!

Again, to be fair, Trump’s criticism of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail issues is no more hilariously ridiculous and impertinent than Mrs. Clinton’s accusations against Trump for his supposedly seditious admiration of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The allegation that Mr. Putin likes or prefers Trump because he is afraid of a Clinton presidency is so superficial that it is laughable. Any affection or admiration shown by the Russian leader toward Mr. Trump; or any hatred or animosity shown against Hillary Clinton by Mr. Putin, should improve the image of the Democratic candidate in the eyes of the voting public, who have bought into the big hype that Putin should be considered as an enemy of the United States; not a rival or competitor like China, mind you, but an enemy.

So, who would potentially be the better choice among the viable candidates to become the next Commander in Chief of the world’s mightiest empire, at least as far as foreign affairs is concerned?

Listening to the Libertarian Party Candidates’ team, Gary Johnson and William Weld, one would think that the VP choice, Mr. Weld, would have been a better presidential choice than the rather “absent” and less articulate Gary Johnson. Nevertheless, their position on foreign policy founded on non-intervention, sounds far more intelligent, reasonable and practical than what Hillary Clinton has been offering with great theatrical bravado and that aggressive frown and unblinking wide-open eyes when she wants to appear serious. I am not even going to bother with what Mr. Trump has to offer - zilch! This brilliant real estate tycoon suggests blowing the Iranian boats, which tease the American cruisers in the Persian Gulf, out of the water: Oh, wow; nobody would dare mess with this tough ‘motha!

I am sure if our libertarian candidates felt they had any chance at all to rise to the top, that they’d also be demonstrably more arrogant and bombastic in their speeches in order to impress the voting public and improve their fighting chances. This was also the case with poor Bernie Sanders, who likewise raised some important but sadly seldom discussed issues before he faded away. It’s interesting how honest and brave politicians can be when they have nothing to lose by expressing their views.

There seems to be little doubt that Hillary Clinton will be the next occupier of the White House: If so, should I take that as an encouraging turn of events, considering the alternative? I’d cautiously say yes.

We have to keep in mind that to run a campaign with any hope of winning, Mrs. Clinton, like the other candidate, must attract the lion’s share of votes in the general elections. In the current sociopolitical atmosphere here, there are dos and don’ts that could make or break any candidate’s chances of success. She does have to sound tough and strong, which shows the potential leader’s resolve, perhaps Hollywood style, in dealing seriously with global threats and challenges. Therefore, there must, by necessity, be threats and challenges globally, and especially where the United States has already been involved, in the Middle East, to deal with. How could you be a dragon slayer with no dragon to slay?

Since there is no time to re-educate the public, she must play into the public’s well-established sentiments that, for instance, Iran is an untrustworthy adversary, is a supporter of terrorists, and remains the source of agitation and instability in the region. She must also appear as Israel’s best friend and supporter, who would endorse any legislation favoring Israel passed in the Zionist dominated US Congress; and order her Ambassador in the UN to oppose or veto any proposal against Israel’s actions, regardless of what that would do to America’s global interests and image. I cannot even conceive of a scenario in which a president of the United States or even any congressional leader could find the courage to say anything or act in any way against the Jewish state’s agendas, and survive politically. That much we can be quite certain of!

Other issues, such as the need to boost the military, or to provide the most and the best for the American people, remain on the menu, of course. Trumps patented phrase: “I’ll make America great, again.” as vague and truly meaningless as it is, has been his most appealing slogan among his supporters: no explanation needed as to what being “great” means to him, or how he is planning to achieve that mission.

Trump wants to beef up the military, remove the generals who, according to him, have been reduced to rubble during the Obama/Clinton period, and appoint new generals, as though he is engaged in a PlayStation computer game, where he could do as he wished by pressing a button.

Clinton is also for improving the military, which, unlike Trump, she admits is already the world’s mightiest and the best prepared. She also knows that support, whatever that is supposed to mean is, in effect, support for the gigantic industrial infrastructure that is geared to and feeds America’s war machine. And she is experienced enough to know that any budgetary shortfall in this regard could well be compensated by extorting hundreds of billions of dollars from the hapless oil-rich Arab Kingdoms and Emirates who are coerced into asking for expensive “defensive” arms to protect against the regional evil, not Israel, but Iran! The world’s biggest arms dealer could sell submarines to a land-locked country in the middle of the Sahara if it wanted to!

Mrs. Clinton is not about to admit, at least not until next year, that Iran’s Quds forces and the Shi’a Hezbollah of Lebanon have been in the forefront of war against the Da’esh (ISIS) and Al-Qa’eda terrorists in both Syria and Iraq, and suffering significant casualties. No; according to the junior Senator, Tom Cotton, the only function of Iran’s Quds force has been to kill Americans! That charlatan actually said that in a formal Senate hearing. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where his marching orders are drafted.

Hillary Clinton does understand, but will not admit the fact that without Iran’s cooperation, just like Russia’s, there will be no hope of reaching a diplomatic resolution in Syria. And, likewise, she would never betray the Obama administration’s efforts in carrying out behind-the-scenes dialogue with the Iranian government in coordinating anti-terror operations in Iraq and Syria, as well as the military-to-military information exchanges to avoid an accidental or false-flag incident by Israel or the Saudis that could ignite the region’s powder keg.

Unlike her Republican counterparts, Mrs. Clinton never once during her campaign accused Iran of attempting secretly to develop nuclear weapons after the P5+1/ Iran agreements. All she has said in that regard has been the same as what President Obama and his Secretary of State, John Kerry, have been saying; that the agreement succeeded in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and not that Iran was actually on its way to doing so. There is a big distinction between the two versions.

People with adequate insight into Iran’s nuclear energy program knew all along that, while the technical knowledge of manufacturing explosive nuclear devices is a byproduct of any peaceful production of nuclear energy, diverting resources in that direction clandestinely would have been too risky, too expensive, and counter to Iran’s national interests. And, even if Iran had managed to obtain a nuclear bomb, it could not have been of any use other than as a potential deterrent against a nuclear attack, itself a highly unlikely scenario to deserve the costs and the risks involved.

As I have been maintaining all along, the prospects of any Iranian nuclear threat to the region or to the world has been a concocted allegation created by Israel and promoted by the United States to serve other purposes. I am sure many members of the House and Senate, mostly Republicans, believe that Iran did have plans to acquire the bomb, so that those “suicidal maniacs” could blow Israel out of existence; and that the P5+1/Iran agreement will in no way deter Iran from that pursuit. But the more savvy among them know full well that such phony allegations against Iran are intended to gain them various personal and political rewards.

So, what might be Hillary Clinton’s angle in all this?

Several decades of antagonism, threats of direct and indirect military action, direct and indirect attempts at regime change - by the way, all illegal - and diplomatic and economic sanctions failed to bring the Iranian regime to its knees. So, it makes one wonder why this strategy was allowed to continue for so long, and why are the Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate so intent on legislating more ways to prolong this ineffective strategy. The answer is that while this strategy has been ineffective in delivering the openly expressed results, it has been quite effective in certain other nefarious ways.

Putting Iran under unrelenting pressure, both openly and covertly, left the post-revolution Islamic Republic with but two choices: either capitulate and comply, or adopt any and all measures to resist the pressure, even if some of these measures were too radical, suppressive and distasteful for the citizenry. Misjudging the social dynamics of the Iranian populations, it was hoped by the opponents of the Islamic regime that the increasing oppression and economic and social hardships would result in a public uprising and a regime change. But this strategy backfired and, instead, the conservative orthodoxy gained increasing legitimacy and power to crack down on any movement or voice of dissent or opposition that could have been perceived as plots against the Islamic Republic.

Direct endorsement of some of these even indigenous and honest reform-oriented movements by the United States was enough to delegitimize them as agents of the enemy superpower. It may not be simply a conspiracy theory to conclude that America’s open support for these movements was specifically intended to torpedo their efforts, in order to perpetuate the image of the Islamic Republic as unpopular and oppressive internally, and as a threat against peace and security of the region, especially Israel and America’s Arab allies.

The demonization of the Islamic Republic of Iran did serve, and continues serving, manifold purposes: Without a regional pariah, the merits of American military presence and near permanent bases all around the Middle East, as well as the resulting alliances of convenience, would have been brought to more scrutiny, perhaps leading to a potential sea change in America’s policies in that region; the kind of sea change that appears to be rising near the horizon.

I had predicted several years ago, at the beginning of the Obama presidency, that Pakistan, a real and not imaginary source of potential nuclear proliferation, and a conduit for funneling Saudi money to the various terrorist groups and for the spread of Wahhabi extremism, would displace Iran as the region’s troublemaker. I suppose the “system” wasn’t ready for that, quite yet.

My observations and analyses tell me that President Obama’s administration, which included Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, had concluded that it was time to rethink America’s counterproductive entanglements in the Middle East and avoid the lurking potential of being dragged deeper in the region’s quagmire. But the Saudi financial grip, especially with its alliance with Israel, and the pro-Israel political pressures over the US Congress, proved too formidable to overcome.

Reaching out to Iran, under the pretext of talking the Islamic Republic out of developing atomic weapons (a fictitious allegation), in exchange for removing economic sanctions against Iran, was an unprecedented move by an American administration, in which the President and his Secretary of State took pride in accomplishing that supposedly enormous task.

Against unrelenting Republican opposition to any opening with Iran, the President continues to express his decision to veto any new legislation that would torpedo the P5+1/Iran agreement while he is still in office. He’s got nothing to lose with his term expiring in a few months.

But Hillary Clinton would be risking her bid for the presidency if she ignores some realities on her bumpy path. Here is where her long experience in manipulative hypocrisy could come into play. She could criticize Iran and continue accusing it of destabilizing the region, and approve additional sanctions (all easy to circumvent!) against Iran for its support for “terrorist” groups and human rights violations, etc.; but at the same time continue the policy of rapprochement with the Islamic Republic by being supportive of Obama administration’s defense of the nuclear treaty, and remaining committed to protect Mr. Obama’s legacy, in which she has shared significantly. That might entail engaging in some very creative diplomacy with the troubled Saudis; as well as pouring more money, with Congress’ blessings, into Israel’s coffers to keep it out of mischief.

Only the future will tell if I am the incorrigible optimist that I am often accused of being, or a realist.

About the author:

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.




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