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“Trump’s Last Three Months in Office? Chaos, The Wounded Beast Syndrome and Trump’s M.E. policy” Tuesday, August 25, 2020 @ 6pm MST, KGNU: Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. Part Two (edited)

September 2, 2020

Ruins of Al Asad Air Base – U.S. Air Base in Iraq – after the January 7, 2-2- Iranian missile attack in response to the assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi Kata’b Hezbollah militia leader , Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis

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My personal view is that although the Trump Administration operates within that overall schema of American exceptionalism which is based on world domination that the problems, the challenges that exist in the United States visavis the Middle East in general and Iran in particular, is that they are still living in the past, in the 1970s, 1980s. They are trying to use old, dated Cold War strategies, tools by bombarding one place or another – what the British used to do in the past. But then as Imam Khomeini noted, “the period of gunboat diplomacy is over.”

Ibrahim Kazerooni

Essentially the Israelis and the Saudis came up with what amounts to a public relations scheme to give Trump the victory that slipped through his fingers with the collapse of the deal of the century. (By the way, whenever the U.A.E. in mentioned keep in mind that politically it is joined at the hip with Saudi Arabia.)

Basically this so-called historic deal is not historic and hardly a deal.

Rob Prince

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KGNU Hemispheres – August 25, 2020 – Transcript…Part Two. (continued from Part One)

Rob Prince: Ibrahim I want to ask you something.

I see a pattern here that you’re developing. It concerns weak presidents who don’t have a good understanding of foreign policy. Their foreign policy is managed by someone else. Whether it was Wolfowitz, Rumsfeldt, Cheney – or now – Pompeo.

Do you see that same trend?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Yes

Remember during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, 2002, 2003. We used to refer to Cheney as “the president” and George Bush as the vice president, because Bush had no clue as to how to structure, orchestrate or manage foreign policy. At the time foreign policy was being organized by a group of neo-cons who either got their inspiration from religious or political extremism.

When we talk about Trump’s foreign policy, we have to admit that the overall schema in which he operates – as well has his administration – is no different from that of Obama, Bush or any other past president. It is this doctrine that imposes some kind of understanding, world view, ontology regarding the rest of the world.

The United States wants to dominate.

Remember after 1990 all the literature that came out from the neo-cons. The opposing force the Soviet Union had literally disintegrated. The United States saw itself as the supreme power and was committed to use its military power to shape and frame the world according to its liking. Unfortunately, it has not happened, no matter how hard that Trump or anyone else within the administration has endeavored to do so.

This policy is clearly visible when it comes to Iran. Today, Iran is not the Iran of 1978, 1979 or even 1980 or 1990. Iran is not simply a country anymore. It is part of what is today called the axis of resistance. It has become a regional power.

But because the United States is not prepared to accept this reality, Washington is dealing with Iran using an old kind of strategy; but those tools have become redundant. It doesn’t produce the desired result. Constantly the United States speaks of economic embargos. Recently twice Washington has gone to the United Nations to elicit international support for tighter sanctions and failed to achieve their goal.

Pompeo is confused.

Where it concerns United States foreign policy towards Iran, they really don’t know what to do.

On the one hand they have walked away from the nuclear agreement. On the other hand they want Iran to adhere to it; they try to impose conditions . This time when they went to the U.N. Security Council, even countries friendly to the United States rejected their arguments.

My personal view is that although the Trump Administration operates within that overall schema of American exceptionalism which is based on world domination that the problems, the challenges that exist in the United States visavis the Middle East in general and Iran in particular, is that they are still living in the past, in the 1970s, 1980s. They are trying to use old, dated Cold War strategies, tools by bombarding one place or another – what the British used to do in the past. But then as Imam Khomeini noted, “the period of gunboat diplomacy is over.”

The Trump Administration really doesn’t know how to deal with the region. This is why they keep fluctuating from one extreme to the other. They are being tossed around. In Syria they have failed. In Iraq they have failed. Recently the Iraqi foreign minister was in Washington DC. Trump was trying to convince him to be more flexible when it comes to the U.S. (military) presence in Iraq but the Administration could not get him to agree to it. As a consequence, the United States has to start withdrawing from major military bases there.

The Trump Administration really doesn’t know how to deal with the region. This is why they keep fluctuating from one extreme to the other. They are being tossed around. In Syria they have failed. In Iraq they have failed. Recently the Iraqi foreign minister was in Washington DC. Trump was trying to convince him to be more flexible when it comes to the U.S. (military) presence in Iraq but the Administration could not get him to agree to it. As a consequence, the United States has to start withdrawing from major military bases there.

The maintenance of U.S. military bases in Iraq was something akin to the jewel in the crown of U.S. Iraq policy. Do you remember the extremist Senator John McCain, who went to Syria in support of the mercenaries there? He used to comment during the Bush years that the United States would remain in Iraq forever.

Washington’s hands are tied in Iraq, in Syria as well. In Lebanon the Trump Administration has tried to pressure Hezbollah to no avail. In Yemen they have failed. In Libya they have failed. What the United States really needs to do is to step back, admit defeat and start thinking about “Plan B”. Why, because those tools that they have been using are apart of old strategies that have become redundant.

So when you ask whether they have a strategy or not… on the greater scheme of things they are operating within the framework of American exceptionalism, but on a more immediate, micro level – no they have none. They don’t even have a clue as to how to structure their policies either within the Middle East region or on a global level.

Jim Nelson: I’d like to step in and add something.

Are you concerned that if it looks like Trump is going to lose in the weeks ahead, he might become a little more unhinged than he already is. In the period between election day and the January 20 inauguration his actions could be more erratic. Possibly he’d look to the Middle East to incite a conflagration with Iran. Both Pence and Pompeo have this religious, right-wing messianic Armageddon way of looking at the world. With the President becoming unhinged and having some kind of wacky idea as to how to save his presidency, aren’t you worried about what might happen?

Rob Prince: Along the lines you are talking, Jim, one of the things I was look at at… who is Trump looking at to be his vice presidential candidate? That tells us something about his base and whom he wants on his team so to speak.

Once again it Mike Pence.

That suggests that should Trump win again that we’re not going to see a lot of changes in his policies. Have to admit I hope he doesn’t but after 2016, I’m not sure what’s going on. Trump has these possibilities: he could change course on the Middle East but if he were to do that he’d need a whole new cadre of staff. That does not look likely. So what it appears that regardless of what he does over the next couple of months, his approach will be pretty much the same.

Let’s keep something in mind about the threats he’s making and what he’s going to do. There are plans, should he try this kind of nonsense – to hijack the elections one way or another – to not let such an outcome take place.

I don’t want to speculate on that kind of outcome at the moment …

My take is the main area that he’s going to focus these next months is domestically where he’ll try to continue to create chaos whether it’s wrecking the post office which he’s trying to destroy or letting lose his racist thugs as he’s been doing all over the country and other things along these lines.

Where it concerns foreign policy, in large measure because he is so weak – well again, we’re speculating here – but I don’t think he wants to aggravate the international situation anymore, at least for the moment. My sense is he’ll pretty much keep things on hold.

For example, despite all of his attacks on China, he’s actually looking for some kind of trade deal now.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Yes.

Jim, what you pointed out – I remember about a year ago Rob and I were discussing the same thing – the role of religious extremism in political decision-making of this administration.

It was visible even during the election year how the Southern Baptists, Christian Zionists and others were involved. The extreme religious persuasion within the Trump Administration is not new. It has been able to somehow dictate Trump’s reactions.

With regard to Iran – it was just about a year ago – when one of the biggest and most technologically sophisticated U.S. drones went into Iranian air space, it was shot down. What did Trump do?

Nothing. He just swallowed it.

He said little and tried to downplay the incident, that it had not been an important issue. Then (in response to the Soleimani assassination) Iran bombed the U.S. military base in Iraq. Again, Trump and his administration didn’t do anything.

So I don’t think that even if the Israelis or any other country is trying to push the United States to go to war with Iran, at least Trump has a little bit of an understanding of the situation that it is better for the U.S. not to get involved. However some deluded regional powers could somehow start something – but that is a different story, whether it’s Saudi Arabia, the Israelis.

But, if after the election and “the wounded beast” tries to do something, to stir up some kind of anarchy, chaos to prevent a normal transition of power to his opponent – even then – I don’t think he’ll be directly confrontational, but other regional issues could trigger some kind of incident against Iran. In such flow of events, he could deny, as the United States has done repeatedly, that they are involved – I’m not quite certain that in such a situation, Trump is capable of acting rationally.

Jim Nelson: I have a question…

Ibrahim just mentioned the new formalizing of diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, supposedly one that Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner was involved in facilitating. But haven’t these relations been going on for ten or more years. As a part of that deal, the U.S. at first agreed that the U.A.E could purchase F-35s.

Rob Prince: This so-called deal has to be put in context

The context is – as Ibrahim has eluded to – the Trump Administration really doesn’t know very much about the Middle East other than making arms deals – the deal of the century (forcing an Israeli program on the Palestinians) collapsed. Trump was hoping to use that deal as evidence that he is a great Middle East peace maker that he could leverage in terms of the presidential election.

But it failed, leaving him with nothing to boast about in the region.

The context is – as Ibrahim has eluded to – the Trump Administration really doesn’t know very much about the Middle East other than making arms deals – the deal of the century (forcing an Israeli program on the Palestinians) collapsed. Trump was hoping to use that deal as evidence that he is a great Middle East peace maker that he could leverage in terms of the presidential election.

But it failed, leaving him with nothing to boast about in the region.

So what happened?

Essentially the Israelis and the Saudis came up with what amounts to a public relations scheme to give Trump the victory that slipped through his fingers with the collapse of the deal of the century. (By the way, whenever the U.A.E. in mentioned keep in mind that politically it is joined at the hip with Saudi Arabia.)

Basically this so-called historic deal is not historic and hardly a deal.

Jim, it’s not ten years that Israel has been cooperating with the Saudis, the Emirates – and quite frankly Jordan and Egypt and I’m probably missing a few. I can go back to 1970 when Israel went in and saved the skin of King Hussein in Jordan around the time of Black September. Israel has been involved in coordinating with these reactionary Arab governments for a very long time.

In the Middle East these relations have long been an open secret. All the countries – Israel, the Arab countries know about these relations and speak about them openly. So there isn’t much there when one speaks about some kind of diplomatic breakthrough and what there is now seems to be somewhat unwinding as we speak.

When Israel understood that a part of this agreement included the U.A.E. would get F-35s they lobbied Washington against this.

To be continued…

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