Iran News ...


Seven Steps For Trump To Get U.S. Out Of The Mess Of His Own Creation

By Kambiz Zarrabi

Source: Iranian magazine Palakhmon

This time the Islamic Republic of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, the IRGC, had no problem admitting, even bragging, about shooting down the most advanced and the most expensive American pilotless drone out of the skies. The ten-miles-high drone was hit by an indigenous surface-to-air missile over what the IRGC insists was Iranian airspace.

The Iranian air defense authorities also claim that an American military aircraft with 35 men aboard (who knows how they knew that figure), flying at lower altitudes accompanying the drone could have been targeted instead of, or along with, the unmanned drone, but was spared to avoid human casualties.

The American forces stationed in the area stress that the quarter-billion-dollar state-of-the-art drone was about 35 miles away from the Iranian shoreline and within the international air corridor when it was hit by the Iranian missile.

This typical disagreement demonstrates, again, the role of plausible deniability that was the topic of my previous article, by allowing broader flexibilities for both sides in dealing with the latest developments.

The President, clearly taken by surprise, needed more time to contemplate on how to respond to the news. His immediate comments were understandably vague: the drone, he said, was just an unmanned aircraft, or that the decision to shoot it down could have been an unauthorized action by some rogue element within the IRGC; and finally in response to the persistent media reporters' questions as to what he was going to do about it, he simply repeated: You'll find out!

The President was quite wisely leaving his options open without committing himself to any solid answer, as would any experienced negotiator or businessman.

A conference was called by the White House to discuss the issues with the various select committee members of both Houses of Congress, President's advisors, and the representatives of the military, to determine the best course of action.

Much to the delight of the Administration hawks, such as Pompeo, Bolton, etc., the decision was apparently reached to take a measured and proportionate military action against three Iranian targets, such as the radar tracking stations and missile launchers, during the early morning hours local time.

But instead of giving the thumbs-up to start the ball rolling, the President gives the order to hold back the mission while the "planes were in the air and the ships were lined up." He explained his reason for that decision publicly the next morning: Just a few minutes before the initiation of the attack, he had found out that potential human casualties in Iran numbered around 150. This is why the President decided to call off the mission, as the expected human casualties made the mission disproportionate with the downing of an unmanned piece of equipment. Had any American personnel been targeted, he said, things would have been different.

When pushed more aggressively by the reporters, the President simply offered the off-the-cuff and strangely non-sequitur remark that Iran will never have nuclear weapons!!

A few days later, after acknowledging that an American military aircraft carrying American personnel had indeed approached Iranian airspace, but the IRGC had refrained from targeting it, the President graciously thanked Iran for that wise decision.

There are several important indicators in the aftermath of the initial hot and hostile rhetoric by both sides that point to a positive change in the weather over the turbulent Persian Gulf:

  1. We keep hearing the President and his VP, Pence, repeat that Iran will not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons!
  2. We also hear the President repeating the statement that he does not want a war with Iran.
  3. We now notice at least some sense of uncertainty as to whether the two American aircraft had actually trespassed into Iranian airspace, or whether the downing of the unmanned drone by the IRGC was officially authorized by the Iranian government.
  4. We also hear the President stating that a non-nuclear-armed Iran will find him a good friend of the Iranian nation!
  5. We hear that the United States has little concern about the closure of the Hormuz Strait, as it receives less than 10% of the crude from the Persian Gulf; and that America's concerns are only the safety of its personnel in the region, as well as the security of its allies.
  6. The sale of more military equipment to one of American allies, Saudi Arabia, an enemy of Iran, was stopped by the Republican dominated US Senate, with staunch hawks like Lindsay Graham actually criticizing the Saudi regime for its horrible internal and regional behavior! Putting the Saudi regime on notice would limit or stop its horrendous military massacre of the starving Yemeni populations, which would lead to a merciful detente between Yemen's Houthis and the Saudis. That would lower the tension between the regional competitors, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
  7. And finally, President Trump's official reelection campaign has already begun, and he must look as good as possible in competing against the Democrats.

Is there any reason to believe that some positive developments or a reconciliatory rapprochement toward Iran might be underway? I do believe so. Dark storm clouds over the Persian Gulf do have some silver linings, it seems.

I have been called an incorrigible optimist by many friends and colleagues, who view my optimism more as wishful thinking than reasoned logic. I don't mind that at all.

Let's look at those seven points above:

  1. The agreement, JCPOA, was designed exactly for that purpose. Trump's decision to pull out of that agreement, to which the US was also a signatory, was a thoughtless maneuver partially to undo his predecessor's laborious achievement and partially to appease the Israeli and the Saudi regimes, again, for purely personal reasons.
    The fact is that JCPOA agreement, on the surface aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, had little or nothing to do with that: The IAEA, United Nation's watchdog agency, had confirmed that Iran's scientific research about the feasibility of developing nuclear energy beyond the limits needed for peaceful purposes, had been abandoned since 2003. A signatory to the NPT, Iran had remained open to regular, invasive inspections to ensure its adherence to the requirements.
    The true reason for the world's superpowers, United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, France, plus Germany to open that dialogue with Iran was to use that excuse to open up economic and diplomatic relations with Iran, which was being isolated by decades-long sanctions imposed by the United States under the Republican administrations.
    Iran welcomed that approach and had no problem agreeing to not develop nuclear weapons, since Iran was not in pursuit of that, anyway; plus by signing that agreement, Iran was looking forward to the lifting of economic sanction.
    There is no space here to dig through the developments that had started the row between Iran and the American government, from the eight-year-long Iran/Iraq war to George W. Bush referring to Iran as a member of the axis of evil after the 9/11 episode. But, suffice it to say, no matter where we look, the footprints of Israel are clearly visible.
  2. President Trump and most members of the US Congress, as well as the high ranking military staff at Pentagon, understand that another military engagement in the Middle East would not serve America's best interests. The exceptions are the radical hawkish elements within the White House circle and the Congress whose personal interests, egos, or prejudices trump the interests of the nation they are supposed to be serving.
  3. There is some uncertainty as to whether the pilotless drone or the military aircraft accompanying it had actually entered into the Iranian territorial zone; or whether the shooting down of the drone was authorized by the Iran's military high command. This uncertainty leaves the door open for reexamination of the data in some future date. However, the evidence that the American aircrafts had trespassed into Iran's airspace is quite overwhelming. Most international observers and our Western and Japanese allies also believe that!
  4. Trump said that a none-nuclear Iran would find him a good friend of the Iranian people. But he did not say a none-nuclear, disarmed, friendly to Israel, none-meddlesome in the region Iran, would find him a good friend of the Iranian nation. This, in my opinion, is quite significant. The Iranian President might have responded by saying that: by lifting of the sanctions against Iran, America would find Iran as a good friend of the American nation!
    The significance of President Trump's dwelling on and emphasizing the nuclear weapons phrase is exactly the fact that he knows, as did his predecessor, President Obama, that Iran is not after developing nuclear weapons, anyway. So, getting that reassurance in some future dialogue will not be a challenge.
  5. Mr. Trump's comments regarding the Strait of Hormuz were music to Iran's ears! This so, especially as the Iranian IRGC has already vowed to keep the shipping lanes open and guarantee the safety of navigation through the Persian Gulf.
  6. Forcing the Saudis to stop the indiscriminate bombing of Yemen will also allow Iran to refrain from supporting the Houthi rebels who have been fighting the Saudi-backed regime in Yemen. The end of that proxy war will put an end to what the international observers have called the greatest ongoing human tragedy.
  7. Trump, more than all other considerations, is concerned about his personal image, and now winning the upcoming battle over his reelection. As a ruthless businessman, he has never had any problem changing his mind, breaking promises, reneging on his commitments, or violating the accepted norms of behavior and decorum, whenever his personal interests are concerned. And, for the scenario I am writing, that is a good thing!

In spite of all the bluster and bold threats, all signs point to a strategic maneuvering by Trump that could lead to a lessening of the tensions and a potential rapprochement between the United States and Iran. President Trump's one and only desire is to win the second term and look good doing so; but he would definitely miss that target if he takes the nation into another miscalculated and pointless war of attrition. But to achieve his dream he must handle the following issues:

  1. Get rid of John Bolton as soon as possible; and don't replace this a,,hole neocon with another crazy like Tom Cotton! Remember; going to war will be a disaster for any chances you might have in 2020.
  2.  Muzzle the windup robot, Pompeo, and program him to simply repeat your own statements about Iran without embellishing them with his own stupid commentaries.
  3. Stay the course, being vague and sounding indecisive, thus giving yourself room to ad-lib and improvise as the situation requires.
  4.  Impose more harsh sanctions against Iran to show your toughness; but don't insist on enforcing them seriously, which would backfire when the cornered cat reacts violently. Remember, you cannot afford going to war!
  5. To maintain and improve America's relation with the European and East Asian allies, allow for some exemptions for them in trading with Iran.
  6. Play the schoolyard game of dare: Dare the Iranians to come to the table by removing some of the biting sanctions you have re-imposed on them.
  7.  Remember, Iran is not America's enemy, poses no threat to America, and has no ambition to develop nuclear weapons, anyway; and, therefore, would have no problem agreeing to any measure that would guarantee it won't, especially if it would mean lifting the economic sanctions once and for all.

Any chance you might have for winning, God forbid, bite my tongue, a second term would thus be maximized. And, you might even be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for backing out of a global catastrophe of your own creation!

About the author:

Kambiz Zarrabi has devoted the last thirty-some years teaching, lecturing and writing about US/Iran relations. Previous to his retirement, his career included working as geologist/geophysicist in the oil and minerals exploration industries with American and Iranian firms and in the private sector. His tenure included serving at Iran's Ministry of Economy as the Director General of Mines in the late 60s and early 70s.

He received his college education at the University of California in Los Angeles, graduating in 1960.


... Payvand News - 06/26/19 ... --

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