By Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III
In his “Speech on the Iran Nuclear Deal,” on May 8, 2018 President Trump said, “In theory, the so-called ‘Iran deal’ was supposed to protect the United States and our allies from the lunacy of an Iranian nuclear bomb.” He went on to say, “In fact, the deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium and, over time, reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.” He also said he is withdrawing America from the Iran nuclear deal. His stated rationale for this action is illogical and fraught with inaccuracies and lies.
The deal he is referring to is actually the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In 2015 JCPOA was struck between Iran and six world powers (the U.S., U.K., Russia, France, China, and Germany) and was the signature foreign policy achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency. According to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell who interviewed President Trump on the day it was signed, he was opposed to the deal as soon as he received word that President Obama had signed it. His opposition had nothing to do with its content. According to Mitchell, President Trump had not even seen the deal, let alone read its text, before he expressed his opposition to it.
Every respected intelligence apparatus is adhering to the conditions of the agreement. Even former CIA Director Mike Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “With the information I’ve been provided, I’ve seen no evidence that they are not in compliance today.”
Captain Nativ, the chief of an intelligence section in the “central command” of the Israeli army has stated, “We see a fundamental change in the nuclear challenge from Iran. In the next few years we understand that we don’t really have any threat from Iran because of the deal, I will say from this period to five years from now…So in the long run we can’t really say that it is a good deal or a bad deal, but we can say for the next few years, for the near future, we won’t have any nuclear challenge, so for that, that is good.” This is a direct contradiction to the lies being spread by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
As part of his rationale for backing out of the JCPOA, President Trump said, “we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie…Israel published intelligence documents, long concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.”
According to NBC News, Netanyahu’s presentation on Iran’s defunct nuclear program was high on drama and short on current data. He claimed that tens of thousands of files prove there was an effort to build and test weapons. Unfortunately, the presentation did not contain any big surprises for the U.S. intelligence community. There was nothing in the documents, which Netanyahu said were smuggled out of Tehran to change the American intelligence assessment, to suggest that Iran is living up to its agreement and is not attempting to restart a nuclear weapons program. All of this was told to the Senate Intelligence Committee by American intelligence officials on Feb. 13, 2018.
President Trump continued his fabrications by stating, “Over the past few months, we have engaged extensively with our allies and partners around the world, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom…We are unified in our understanding of the threat and in our conviction that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon.” This is a subtle misrepresentation of the facts. Both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Washington last month in last ditch efforts to get President Trump to stay in the deal. Boris Johnson, the U.K. Foreign Secretary, has been in the U.S. this week and appealed to him through an interview on Fox & Friends saying he is wrong.
Why would President Trump cite Israeli intelligence when his own intelligence agencies said months ago that Iran was in compliance with the agreement? Like his predecessor President George W. Bush did by creating the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon, he is using bad data, misinformation, and/or lies to put America in the precarious position of backing Israel in a war with Iran for no rational reason. One of the links between President Bush’s war in Iraq and Trump’s aggressiveness towards Iran is John Bolton.
Bolton served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006 under the Bush Administration and is the current National Security Advisor. Bolton was one of the signatories to the infamous PNAC letter to President Bill Clinton wherein he was asked to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
The policy of “containment of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months…Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished…The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.” President Clinton did not fall for the lie in 1998. President George W. Bush however, fell for it in 2003 and subsequently helped perpetuate it and invade Iraq.
In December of 2017 President Trump made the unilateral decision to defy over 20 years of precedence of previous administrations, “to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.” Contradicting well established rationale and policy he “determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”
Campaign promises are made by candidates to express a desire to take the country in a particular direction. Once elected, presidents are usually swayed by daily security briefings, consultation with policy experts and meetings with allies. The Washington Post reports, even the simplest version of the presidential brief has proven too challenging. Now, President Trump gets his briefing verbally. He said, “I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” First, how can he make such judgements when he does not understand the intricacies of the relationships and issues. Second, rarely do “campaign promises” unilaterally become U.S. foreign policy.
Dr. Bandy Lee, Assistant Professor in Forensic Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine believes, “The special counsel’s indictments started a crisis—a mental health crisis in a president who is not able to cope well with ordinary stresses such as basic criticism or unflattering news.” In her edited volume The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, it was stated, “Trump is an extreme present hedonist” and may also be a sociopath, a malignant narcissist, borderline, on the bipolar spectrum, a hypomanic, suffering from delusional disorder, or cognitively impaired.
Donald Trump has been unable to make the shift from campaign to governance and unilateral decision maker to leader of the free world. His ill-informed rants and decisions are moving this country closer and closer to the brink of international isolation and disaster. The fact that he nominated Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State and appointed John Bolton as National Security Adviser, both Iran hawks, does not bode well for peace and stability. I think the U.S. is being positioned to back Israel’s play and attack Iran.
We’ve seen this movie before, it was called Iraq and the sequel was called Libya.