Trump Is Acting Like Israel's Puppet, Not Russia's
Under the amazingly unsteady stewardship of Donald Trump, the U.S. has renounced its solemn commitment to lift international sanctions against Iran in return for Tehran’s submission to a comprehensive regime of inspections and limitations on its nuclear technology capabilities. Trump will, instead, move immediately to institute “the highest level of economic sanctions,” placing Iran off-limits to the U.S.-dominated sections of the world financial system and punishing those that persist in trading with the targeted nation. Trump doesn’t claim that Iran violated any provisions of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, but says he is compelled to withdraw because it’s “a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.” Trump offers no legal basis whatsoever—because empires need no justification for their acts.
In tearing up the pact, the U.S. is now in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231. Naturally, the other signatories to the deal—Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China—are righteously upset. The European Union also signed onto the agreement. Virtually the entire planet opposes the U.S. action, with the exception of apartheid Israel and the Arab oil monarchies of the Persian Gulf, Trump’s current soul mates.
U.S corporate media are also critical of Trump—not so much for shafting Iran, but for breaking faith with Europe. The Washington Post laments that “Mr. Trump has opened a rift with Britain, Germany and France … and he has handed Iran’s Islamic regime some unfortunate opportunities.” The New York Times berates Trump for abandoning President Obama’s “signature diplomatic achievement,” and for showing himself “to be adept at destroying agreements” but “utterly lacking in the policy depth or strategic vision and patience to create new ones.” Trump “has no obvious plan B, except ratcheting up the pressure on Iran,” said the Times.
International law did not figure in either paper’s critique.
CNN political analyst Elise Jordan said Trump is “Giving the middle finger to our closest allies,” the Europeans. “I think this is a very huge move in terms of the United States literally going it alone.” Jordan had no thoughts on international law, either.
Trump’s “highest level” sanctions—the weaponization of the U.S. banking system in order to “break the regime” in Tehran, as a European official put it—is itself an act of war. But who’s counting? Since 2011, the United States has been engaged in naked aggressive war—the highest international crime—against the sovereign state of Syria, arming, training and providing politically cover for al-Qaida and associated jihadist armies, a specific violation of U.S. law, and of international law in the form of specific U.N. Security Council resolutions, the Charter of the United Nations and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which outlaws: “The sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State … .” Yet, the U.S. corporate media pretends not to have witnessed the massive crime, even as it unfolded, year after year, in plain site.
In the process, the U.S. and its allies—the Arab Gulf States, Israel, Turkey, Britain, France and other NATO countries—have caused the deaths of half a million Syrians and displaced many millions. Were it not for the military assistance of Russia, in 2015—a totally legal intervention, at the request of the internationally recognized government in Damascus—Syria might have been overrun by the West’s hordes of head-choppers. The Times and the Post and the rest of the imperial media are accomplices in this great crime—just as they were criminally complicit in George Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq, which even the supine former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan called “a violation of the U.N. Charter.”
U.N. investigators found U.S. drone warfare—the global assassinations begun by George Bush and then massively escalated by Barack Obama—to be violations of international law. Noam Chomsky calls it “the most extensive global terrorism campaign the world has yet seen.”
U.S. foreign policy has been composed of little else but war crimes, without a pause since 2001. At every juncture of this global crime spree, the U.S. corporate media has rationalized and normalized Washington’s savagery. In such a maelstrom of U.S. state violence, drone strikes and weaponized economic sanctions—which have also caused the death of multitudes, as intended—are now viewed by the bourgeois media as relatively “soft” tools of imperial policy. With each passing year, the bar of civilization has been lowered, and international law has become irrelevant to the U.S. political conversation, as mediated by the corporate press.
The United States sabotaged the two U.N. conferences organized to redress the five centuries of Euro-American crimes against humanity of colonialism, slavery and racial discrimination. George Bush torpedoed the U.N. conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, and Barack Obama did the same in 2009 to Durban II, delivering a bipartisan and “post-racial” veto to any notion of reparations to half a millennium of western warfare against the non-white world. The U.S. answer to Durban I and Durban II was AFRICOM: the U.S. military command in Africa, begun in the last year of George Bush’s administration and relentlessly reinforced under Barack Obama. Its first major mission was the overthrow of the government in Libya, Africa’s most prosperous nation, with the U.S., Britain, France and other NATO members providing the air force and munitions for a jihadist “revolution,” as the U.S. media giddily described it. In the aftermath, the northern tier of Africa was set aflame, providing AFRICOM with more excuses to militarily occupy much of the continent. Next stop: Syria.
Donald Trump was just a spectator—a rich, racist political amateur, a fan of empire and its crimes—when establishment Democrats and Republicans were constructing a “War on Terror” that has all but erased the rule of law. Trump is a man with no foreign policy of his own, but who is currently acting like a hand-puppet of—not Russia, but Israel and its de facto ally, Saudi Arabia. He is unpredictable and stupid—which is why the guardians of empire at the CIA, the Council on Foreign Relations and the rest of the permanent government, including the corporate media, flocked to Hillary Clinton, who could be trusted to maintain the full spectrum of proxy and direct confrontation with Russia and China. They have goaded and harassed Trump to prove that he is not a Russian agent in the White House, and made it impossible to conduct normal relations with the world’s other nuclear super-power.
Trump now thinks he has embarked on a “signature” policy of his own, with his break from Obama’s treaty on Iran. It’s really Netanyahu and the Saudi Crown Prince’s gambit, but don’t tell Trump that. However, Israeli policy and U.S. policy have always been entwined, the push and pull between kindred rogue states. Their larger objectives are the same: preservation of the imperial Euro-American-dominated world order, of which the Israeli settler colony is the last, late-birthed child. Trump’s digression from the script is easily reintegrated into the imperial game plan, which has called for regime change in Tehran since 1979. In elevating Iran to U.S. Enemy Number One, Trump has provided the War Party with an “existential” justification for remaining in Syria (even though Trump told the Pentagon to make plans for leaving) and to bomb the country at whim, or to support Israel’s attacks on Syria, which are escalating. The corporate media can be counted on to support any and all such aggressions, despite their blood-feud with The Donald. They, too, are America First.
The potential problem is Europe, whose capitalist class resents being bossed around by an exceptional superpower with roughly the same size economy. The U.S. ambassador to Germany, anticipating Trump’s announcement, all but ordered that country’s businessmen to cut their losses and vacate Iran. “US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy,” tweeted Ambassador Richard Grenell, a true Trump acolyte. “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.”
Germany, France and Britain, three-fifths of the P-5 Iran deal signatories, issued a joint statement saying they “remain committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld” and would “ensure this remains the case including through ensuring the continuing economic benefits to the Iranian people that are linked to the agreement.” But neither the Europeans nor the U.S. will restrain Israel, whose deadly attacks on Iranians in Syria are designed to provoke retaliation. Netanyahu is in control of events.
These are dangerous times—but that’s how it is when the empire enters a period of decline and permanent crisis. Every year that goes by, the U.S. and Europe shrink in their proportion of the world economy. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told his people Tehran will stick by the deal, for now, but would negotiate with “the two superpowers“—meaning Russia and China—on a way forward. Iran is expected to soon join the Russia-China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization, where its future lies.
China’s stance on U.S. imperialism is like Nikita Khrushchev’s: “We will bury you”—without war. But U.S. imperialism has no option but war. World survival is therefore in the hands of a singularly unworthy people: the citizens of the United States, whose duty is to disarm the monster. That will require an overthrow of the capitalist ruling class, which survives by brute force at home and abroad. But, until then, Code Pink understands that an apology is in order:
We, the undersigned, apologize for Donald Trump’s reckless, baseless, and dangerous decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement and we pledge to do everything we can to reverse that decision.
We are ashamed that our government has broken an agreement that was already signed not just by the United States and Iran, but also by France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China, and then approved by the entire UN Security Council in a unanimous vote. We are ashamed that our government has broken a deal that was working, a deal with which Iran was complying, a deal that was making our entire world safer and could have moved our nations closer towards the path of friendship.
Unlike our president, we believe that a deal is a deal. Unlike our president, we want to resolve the conflicts in the Middle East, not escalate them. Unlike our president, we want our nation’s resources to be dedicated to enriching people’s lives, not enriching the weapons makers. Unlike our president, we want to live in peace and harmony with the people of Iran.
We understand that our nation already has a dreadful history of meddling in the internal affairs of your country. The 1953 coup that overthrew your democratically elected government was unconscionable. So was US support for Iraq’s Saddam Hussein when he invaded Iran in 1980, including selling him material for making chemical weapons that were used against you. The 1988 shooting down of an Iranian civilian airliner, killing all 290 passengers and crew, was unconscionable. So, too, are the decades of covert actions to overthrow your government and the decades of sanctions that have brought such needless suffering to ordinary Iranians.
We understand that the US government has no business interfering in your internal affairs or in the Middle East in general. We should not be selling weapons to nations guilty of gross human rights violations or sending our military to fight in faraway lands. With all the flaws in our own society—from massive inequality and racism to a political system corrupted by monetary influences—we should clean up our own house instead of telling others how to govern themselves.
We will do everything in our power to stop Donald Trump from strangling your economy and taking us to war with you. We will ask the UN to sanction the United States for violating the nuclear agreement. We will urge the Europeans, Russians, and Chinese to keep the deal alive and increase their trade relations. And we will work to rid ourselves of this unscrupulous president and replace him with someone who is trustworthy, moral, and committed to diplomacy.
Please accept our hand in friendship. May the peacemakers prevail over those who sow hatred and discord.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford cab be contacted at [email protected]