President Trump's speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, September 25, left no doubt as to my depiction of him as the Clueless Clown. The world laughed at his comedic boastful claims of glory, which he brushed off unfazed as though he either doesn't get it, or is immune to it! He read, seemingly dutifully, from a prepared text provided by his hardcore Zionist speech writer and advisor, Stephen Miller, a text that could have very well been written by Netanyahu's own speech writer.
His verbal barrage against Iran was by no means unprecedented. As he repeated allegations against Iran as the world's worst supporter of international terrorism and a destabilizing agitator in the region, etc., his delivery sounded as though he had not bothered to rehearse the text, or even understood the implications of what he was reading: that is not unusual for Mr. Trump!
Therefore, it was no surprise that the next day, Wednesday, September 26, Mr. Trump first paid a visit to the Israeli PM Netanyahu before chairing the UN Security Council meeting on the subject of non-proliferation. The Irony, as the Iranian President Rouhani later commented, was that Mr. Trump was addressing the same UN body that had unanimously approved the laboriously concluded P5+1 and Iran nuclear agreement in which the Unites States had also been a signatory, while reneging on that same agreement in the face of opposition by the other signatories to the deal! Mr. Trump started by once again clumsily reading from a prepared text the same allegations against Iran that he had delivered the day before at the United Nations General Assembly.
I would like to clarify a few points as I see them before proceeding further:
1/The P5+1-Iran nuclear agreement:
I never thought that the discussions and the final agreement reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UNSC plus Germany was truly to safeguard against Iran's ambitions or plans to develop nuclear weapons, even though it had been the pretext for the negotiations. The purpose, in my opinion, was to reopen channels of trade and diplomatic relations with Iran, which had been heavily restricted by the United States (on behest of Israel and the House of Saud, I might add), hurting not just Iran, but Iran's European and other global trading partners.
2/Israel's concern about Iran has never been based on fear of an Iran initiating a suicidal attack, with or without nuclear weapons, against the Jewish state. Israel's concerns have been twofold: First and foremost, Israel has always counted on convincing its chief benefactor, the US Congress, of the presence of some seemingly, even if not credibly, believable existential threat against it, which requires continuing military, diplomatic and financial support. This has been an extremely productive tactic by Israel, which could count on its enormous fan club in both Houses of Congress, as well as its command on the entire American news media, Left, Right or Center. Secondly, Iran's support for the Lebanese Hezbollah and, by extension, the Palestinian Hamas resistance group, has prevented or hampered Israel's aggressions and expansionistic agendas, not fully, but to a significant extent.
Some time ago, I thought that Pakistan, a nuclear armed Islamic state with highly questionable security apparatus could easily and more convincingly replace Iran as the regional pariah and a possible threat to Israel. This thought was shattered by the Saudi's political and financial support for Pakistan and its radical Sunni Islamists, especially since the Saudis developed, first covert and now overt, alliance of convenience with Israel.
3/The Saudi Government does, and has had, reason's to be concerned about Iran. Contrary to the prevailing theories about the Sunni/Shi'a rivalries for dominating the region between Iran and the Mediterranean, the real animosity toward Iran by the Saudi regime is, again in my judgment, the fear that Arab Shi'a minorities in the Arabian peninsula, inspired and encouraged by Iran, might try to gain more political power and autonomy and challenge the rule by the Saud clan. In addition, opposing Iran has been helpful in further securing America's protection and support by siding with Israel - the enemy of the Iranian regime.
4/As far as the United States is concerned, its military presence and the economic gamesmanship and targeted sanctions, etc. in the Middle East and beyond serve several strategic purposes. But none of these concerns has anything at all to do with promoting peace, stability, prosperity, freedom or democracy as has been officially proclaimed. So, let us put that ridiculous nonsense to rest here before proceeding.
In his speech at the UN General Assembly, President Trump clearly and boldly, and perhaps undiplomatically, spelled out America's ethos: self-righteousness and the right to global dominance economically and diplomatically, backed by its military might if necessary. In short, the ethos could be summarized as benevolent global hegemony. This is perfectly in line with the stated tenets of "The Project for the New American Century", a neoconservative think-tank drafted twenty-some years ago. Even though America's global behavior has been no different since the end of WWII, no American president has had the audacity to openly and belligerently take pride in bragging about it in front of the world body! Whatever happened to grace with humility as a smokescreen, at least?!
We have to accept that the unequivocal support for Israel has long worked its way into the American foreign policy DNA and, right or wrong, it is there to stay; Israel is more an integral part of the United States than is Puerto Rico, for example! As long as the global economic and military dominance of the United States can be ensured, any harm this allegiance with Israel and kowtowing to the Zionistic mandates might cause for the United States and indeed the Middle East region, of which there are too many to recount, have been and will be rebuffed and ignored by the American administrations, whether Republican, Democrat or even Independent.
Now, let us address the ongoing and increasing pressures on Iran through clear, albeit deniable, efforts to bring about a regime change and the illegal, under international law, trade embargo by the United States. The Iranian President correctly called these trade restrictions and embargos "economic terrorism", aimed at harming an entire population for political purposes: that is indeed one definition of terrorism!
Mr. Trump may be the Clueless Clown, as I have long chosen to call him, but one thing he is not is stupid. He is reckless and temperamental, but he is not unpredictable; his psychological and emotional underpinnings are actually quite transparent. He is first and foremost an egotistical narcissist that enjoys flattery, even while being ridiculed. The danger is that there lurk people around him who have, and do, take advantage of his weakness, which he likes to portray as strength, to mole their way into his circle to promote their own nefarious agendas at the expense of the nation's best interests. Perfect examples are the Zionist, Neocon, John Bolton and the old sleaze bucket Rudy Giuliani.
Fortunately for the nation, there are also experienced, knowledgeable and patriotic advisors and executives around the President to keep him from making major mistakes, whether militarily or economically. Being basically uninformed or clueless, but not stupid, may be actually working as an advantage for Mr. Trump by making him prone to take advice from people he does trust. There was a mention in the media that he had told the mole, Bolton, to not try too hard to create a military confrontation with Iran!
With the Europeans and especially the Asian block finding alternative ways to keep the business and trade routes open with Iran, there are signs that the Trump Administration is beginning to ease off its draconian restrictions by blackmailing global businesses against dealing with Iran. Mr. Trump does often state that his mind is "open", not meaning that his mind is totally empty of content, but that he understands the need to accept new input that would potentially change his former decisions: That is a plus and a hopeful sign!
The November deadline for embargoing oil exports from Iran is only one month away, an act that is not only contrary to international norms, but that could trigger a catastrophic response by the Iranian government. My personal expectation is that there will remain enough loopholes in that embargo, should it actually be implemented, that the Iranian crude oil exports would not suffer as a result.
In the meantime, the Iranians are suffering under mounting economic hardship and runaway inflation. While the decline of the local currency, the Toman, against foreign moneys has been causing great concerns, this decline is not a true sign of an economic collapse as some fear. The exchange value of the US Dollar hardly represents Iran's GDP, and the chaos that it has created is mostly psychological and will, in my view, prove short-lived.
Iran's economic situation, national security, and the general public's outlook during and after the Iraqi invasion were in far greater jeopardy than it has been since, even today. But the nation endured and survived against all odds. Granted, Iran's population has increased and has become far more demanding than it was during the revolutionary period and the eight-year-long war; but the spirit of defiance and perseverance has not been changed. What the Iranian government calls the "Economy of Resistance" has created a drive toward increasing self-sufficiency, which means less reliance on foreign imports while improving local productivity.
Today, with public concerns and expectations, the Iranian government cannot rely solely on the time-tested revolutionary sloganeering, religious sermons, or by rekindling the sympathy for the religious heroes and their sacrifices in Karbala some thirteen centuries ago. People want visible results now, today. One of their main grievances has been institutional and financial corruption extending up to high levels. The government judiciary has been taking action more recently to bring as many offenders to justice and as quickly to show that some effort is actually being made in fighting financial corruption. Iran is, of course, not alone in something that has been a global pandemic. But in today's dire economic circumstances in Iran, an epidemic that has been part of the culture for generations has gained a much more objectionable status.
The replacing and reshuffling of ministers and other high-ranking officials we see these days is another indication that the political system within the country is restructuring in efforts to adjust to the evolving and more demanding economic conditions facing the country.
No doubt, the United States is not ready to tolerate a non-compliant and fiercely independent country with a relatively large population and great natural resources in the Middle East, especially one that would be capable of challenging a belligerent Israel or an obedient client, the Saud clan. Therefore the pressure, economic and political, will continue by the United Sates until such time that the Trump administration with its hawkish neocon advisors folds office, or the international community, especially China and the European Union, find it to their economic advantage to circumvent America's imposed demands.
Whatever happens some things are certain. There will
never be any potential for the dissident group, the MEK (the Mojahedin) to
replace Iran's leadership, regardless of how much money the Saud clan pours into
their lap, or how many speeches the likes of Giuliani and Bolton give in their
support, for a fee, of course! The best chance for political transformations in
Iran, which as I have often stated are long overdue, will take place when the
country is not under constant foreign threats, and is instead under better
economic conditions. As long as the threats and outside pressures continue, the
conservative ultranationalist and the religious hardliners can justify their
stranglehold as the self-appointed guardians of the nation's security. Perhaps
that's what the global hegemon actually intends!
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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