Who is Afraid of the Iranian Bomb? – By Uri Avnery

Who is Afraid of the Iranian Bomb? – By Uri Avnery

I HATE self-evident truths.

Ideals may be self-evident. Political statements are not. When I hear about a self-evident political truth, I immediately doubt it. The most self-evident political truth at this moment concerns Iran. Iran is our deadly enemy. Iran wants to destroy us. We must destroy its capabilities first.

Since this is self-evident, the anti-nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the five Security Council members (plus Germany) is terrible. Just terrible.

We should have ordered the Americans long ago to bomb Iran to smithereens. In the unlikely event that they would have disobeyed us, we should have nuclear-bombed Iran ourselves, before their crazy fanatical leaders have the opportunity to annihilate us first.

All these are self-evident truths. To my mind, all of them are utter nonsense.   

There is nothing self-evident about them. Indeed, they have no logical basis at all. They lack any geopolitical, historical or factual foundation.

NAPOLEON ONCE said that if one wants to understand the behavior of a country, one has to look at the map.

Geography is more important than ideology, however fanatical. Ideologies change with time. Geography doesn’t.

The most fanatically ideological country in the 20th century was the Soviet Union. It abhorred its predecessor, Czarist Russia. It would have abhorred its successor, Putin’s Russia. But lo and behold – the Czars, Stalin and Putin conduct more or less the same foreign policy. Karl Marx must be turning in his grave.

When the Biblical Israelite people was born, Persia was already a civilized country. King Cyrus of Persia sent the “Jews” to Jerusalem and founded what can be called the “Jewish people”. He is remembered in Jewish history as a great benefactor.

When the State of Israel was founded in 1948, David Ben-Gurion saw in Iran a natural ally. It may now sound strange, but not so long ago Iran was indeed the most pro-Israeli country in the Middle East.

Ben-Gurion was an out-and-out realist. Since he had no intention whatsoever to make peace with the Arabs, a peace which would have prevented the original small State of Israel expanding without boundaries, he looked for allies beyond the Arab world.

Looking at the map (yes, he believed in the map) he saw that the Muslim Arabs were surrounded by a number of non-Arab or non-Muslim entities. There were the Maronite Christians in Lebanon (not Muslims), the Turks (Muslims, but not Arabs), the Kurds (Muslims but not Arabs), Iran (Muslim, but not Arab), Ethiopia (neither Muslim nor Arab) and more.

Seeing this, Ben-Gurion devised a grand plan: a “partnership of the periphery”, an alliance of all these entities surrounding the Arab world and which felt threatened by the emerging pan-Arab nationalism of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser and other Sunni-Muslim-Arab states.

ONE OF the greatest enthusiasts for this idea was the Shah of Iran, who became Israel’s most ardent friend.

The “King of Kings” was a brutal dictator, hated by most of his people. But for many Israelis, Iran became a second home. Tehran became a Mecca for Israeli businessmen, some of whom became very rich. Experts of the Israeli Security Service, called Shabak (Hebrew initials of General Security Service) trained the Shah’s detested secret police, called Savak.

High-ranking Israeli army commanders traveled freely through Iran to Iraqi Kurdistan, where they trained the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in their fight against Saddam Hussein’s regime. (The Shah, of course, did not dream of giving freedom to his own Kurdish minority.)

This paradise came to a sudden end when the Shah made a deal with Saddam Hussein, in order to save his throne. To no avail. Radical Shiite clerics, who were very popular, overthrew the Shah and established the Shiite Islamic republic. Israel was out.

By the way, another element of the “Periphery” broke away too. In 1954 Ben-Gurion and his army chief, Moshe Dayan, hatched a plan to attack Lebanon and establish a pro-Israeli Maronite dictator there. The then Prime Minister, Moshe Sharet, who knew something about the Arab world, nixed this adventure, which he considered stupid. Thirty years later Ariel Sharon, another ignoramus, implemented the same plan, with disastrous results.

In 1982, the Israeli army invaded Lebanon. It duly installed a Maronite dictator, Basheer Jumayil, who signed a peace agreement with Israel and was soon assassinated. The Shiites, who populate the South of Lebanon, welcomed the Israeli army enthusiastically, believing that it would help them against the Sunni Muslims and withdraw. I was an eye-witness: driving alone in my civilian car from Metullah in Israel to Sidon on the Lebanon coast, I passed several Shiite villages and could hardly extricate myself (physically) from the embraces of the inhabitants.

However, when the Shiites realized that the Israelis had no intention of leaving, they started a guerrilla war against them. Thus Hezbollah was born and became one of Israel’s most effective enemies – and an ally of the Shiite regime in Iran.

BUT IS the Shiite Iranian regime such a deadly enemy of Israel? I rather doubt it.

Indeed, when the religious fanaticism of the new regime in Iran was at its height, a curious business occurred. It became known as “Iran-Contra” affair. Some conservatives in Washington DC wanted to arm rightist insurgents in leftist Nicaragua. American laws prevented them from doing so openly, so they turned to – who else? – Israel.

Israel sold arms to the Iranian Ayatollahs (yes, indeed!) and gave the proceeds to our Washington friends, who transferred them illegally to the Nicaraguan rightist terrorists, called “Contras”.

The moral of the story: When it served their practical purposes, the Ayatollahs had no qualms at all about making deals with Israel, the “little Satan”.

Iran needed the weapons Israel sent them because they were fighting a war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It was not the first one. For many centuries, Iraq served the Arab world as a bulwark against Iran. Iraq has a large Shiite population, but the Iraqi Shiites were Arabs and had no real sympathy for their fellow-Shiites in Iran. They still have little.

Israel helped Iran in that war because it feared Saddam Hussein. Therefore, Israel helped to convince the USA to invade Iraq.

The invasion was highly successful: Iraq was destroyed, and the historic bulwark against Iran disappeared. So it was Israel which helped to remove the main obstacle to Iran’s hegemony over the Middle East.

Sounds crazy? Is crazy.

Ben-Gurion’s grand design has been stood on its head. At present, the “periphery” of Lebanon and Iran, supported by Turkey, is our mortal enemy, and the Sunni bloc of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Egypt are our open or half-secret allies.

HERE I hear the impatient reader shout: “Cut the bullshit, what about the nuclear danger? What about the mad ayatollahs obtaining atomic bombs and annihilating us?”

Well, I am not afraid. Even if Iran obtains nuclear bombs, I shall sleep well.

Why, for God’s (or Allah’s) sake? Because Israel is well provided with nuclear weapons and a second-strike capability.

Bombing Israel would mean the annihilation of Iran, the multi-millennial civilization, the proud heritage of innumerable philosophers, artists, poets and scientists. (The very word “algorithm” is derived from the name of the Persian mathematician al-Khwarizmi).

The current Iranian rulers may be fanatics (I doubt it) but they are not suicidal. There is not a single indication in that direction. On the contrary, they seem eminently practical people.

So why do they clamor against Israel? Because their aim is to become the dominant force in the Muslim world, and cursing Israel is the obvious way. As long as Israel does not make peace with the Palestinians, the Arab and Muslim masses everywhere hate Israel. Iran’s current leaders are very good at cursing the Little Satan.

Experts report that Islam has recently been losing strength as the main force in Iran, while Iranian nationalism has been gaining. The cult of Cyrus, who preceded Muhammad by more than 1200 years, is gaining ground.

SINCE THE nuclear bomb was invented, no nuclear-armed country has ever been attacked. Attacking a nuclear-armed country simply means suicide. Even the mighty USA (the “Big Satan”) does not dare to attack little North Korea, whose endeavor to obtain a nuclear strike force is far from irrational.

So I shall sleep soundly in Tel Aviv even if Iran goes nuclear. Though perhaps with one eye half open.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 11/04/2017 at 3:06 am

    I did not make this up, the author of this article, whom I consider a sage – Uri Avnery, wrote, “[Israeli] Prime Minister Moshe Sharet said the plan was stupid.”

    While we are talking about ‘less stupid’ AGAIN – and how to stay alive – more than 240 U.S. Marines were killed in Lebanon while Ronald Reagan was President of the USA.

    Israeli troops withdrew after about 2-decades in the area and over a thousand dead Israeli soldiers.

    By the way, Hezbollah, “Party of Allah”, is Iran’s B-Team. They are NOT looking for a fight – they just want to stay alive. All of this death and destruction in the area was because some “ignoramus” was NOT paying attention.

    LOOK: Let’s start with just being less stupid. Coates will talk to you about how to be smart and I will copy and post it here.

    TWO Things:

    You are not paying attention – and for now, get over yourself.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 11/04/2017 at 7:30 am

    Opinion | Op-Ed Columnist

    The Sleazy Case Against Mueller’s Probe

    Bret Stephens | The New York Times

    In the matter of Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump-Russia connection, administration apologists make three significant claims in an effort to discredit the former F.B.I. director’s work. Let’s have a look at them:

    First, they insist that the intelligence dossier compiled by British ex-spook Christopher Steele that’s one basis for the F.B.I.’s own investigation has been discredited or is at best uncorroborated.

    In the same vein, they claim that Fusion GPS, the research firm that helped pay Steele for the dossier, is little more than a “sleazy operator.”

    The truth about Fusion is that it is paid to dig up dirt by whoever is willing to pay for the dirt. Its business model relies on the Beatles’ timeless insight that “everybody’s got something to hide except me and my monkey.”

    But questions about Fusion’s credibility, client list or aggressive tactics are irrelevant. Fusion brokered the dossier but Steele produced it.

    What’s relevant is his credibility, the reliability of his sources and the truthfulness of their claims.

    These check out. Bill Browder, the anti-Putin campaigner who is an outspoken critic of Fusion, calls Steele “a top-class person whose reputation is beyond reproach.”

    At least one of Steele’s possible Russian sources was found dead and three others were charged with treason, suggesting, as one Wall Street Journal news account noted, that the Kremlin was cleaning out the moles who had betrayed its hand in last year’s election meddling.

    As for the allegations themselves, former C.I.A. station chief John Sipher laid out the decisive case for their broad truthfulness in a lengthy article in September in Just Security.

    “Well before any public knowledge of these events,” Sipher notes, Steele’s report “identified multiple elements of the Russian operation including a cyber campaign, leaked documents related to Hillary Clinton, and meetings with Paul Manafort and other Trump affiliates to discuss the receipt of stolen documents.

    Mr. Steele could not have known that the Russians stole information on Hillary Clinton, or that they were considering means to weaponize them in the U.S.A. election, all of which turned out to be stunningly accurate.”

    After this column went to print, The Times reported that Trump foreign-policy adviser Carter Page met with Russian government officials in a July 2016 trip to Moscow, something he has long denied. This further confirms another claim made in the Steele dossier.

    There’s more of this, but you get the point:

    The suggestion that the Steele dossier has been discredited is discreditable to the point of being dishonest.

    This brings us to the second anti-Mueller contention, which is that his indictment of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort for tax fraud connected to his political work in Ukraine, along with news of the guilty plea entered by Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos for lying to the F.B.I., is merely evidence of the slimness of the special counsel’s case.

    The nonchalance about Manafort’s illicit ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine is almost funny, coming from the same people who went berserk over China’s alleged meddling on behalf of Democrats in the 1996 presidential campaign.

    But if nothing else, the Manafort indictment underscores the Trump campaign’s astonishing vulnerability to Russian blackmail.

    Did that vulnerability explain the campaign’s bizarre intervention – denied by Manafort – to soften the Republican Party platform’s language on providing help to Ukraine?

    Why did the campaign pursue a course of semi-secret outreach to Russia through George Papadopoulos, giving him just enough visibility to let the Russians know he was a player but not so much visibility as to attract much media attention?

    What else about Trump’s obsequious overtures to the Kremlin might similarly be explained by the contents of the Steele dossier?

    These questions require answers, which is what makes calls to remove Mueller from his job or have Trump pardon Manafort, Papadopoulos and even himself both strange and repugnant.

    Since when did conservatives suddenly become conveniently bored with getting to the bottom of Russian conspiracies?

    As it turns out, they’re NOT bored. They just want the conspiracies to involve liberals.

    Thus, the third Trumpian claim: That the real scandal is that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee paid for the Steele dossier.

    Somehow that’s supposed to add up to “collusion” between Clinton and the Russians, on the remarkable theory that Steele was merely retailing Kremlin-invented fables about Trump.

    Yet how else was Steele supposed to investigate allegations of Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign except by talking to Russian sources with insight into the Kremlin?

    If Clinton was the beneficiary of the Kremlin’s designs, why did it leak her emails?

    And why would Putin favor the candidate most hostile to him in last year’s election but undermine the one who kept offering improved relations?

    You already know the answers.

    The deeper mystery is why certain conservatives who were once Trump’s fiercest critics have become his most sophistical apologists.

    The answer to that one requires a mode of analysis more psychological than political.

  • Ron Saywack  On 11/04/2017 at 7:38 am

    There is plenty of treatment available for extreme OCD.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 11/04/2017 at 8:14 am

    He Quit JetBlue by Sliding Out of a Plane.

    Now he has advice for the rogue Twitter employee.

    Amy B Wang | The Washington Post

    Steven Slater has some advice for the “rogue” Twitter employee who had apparently deactivated President Trump’s personal Twitter account on the person’s last day of work.

    The former JetBlue employee, who gained fame for how he abruptly quit his job in 2010, said he doesn’t really use Twitter but began suspecting something was up Thursday when friends began messaging him.

    One friend texted him a screenshot of an article about the Twitter deactivation with the following caption:

    “I never thought anyone could top the flight attendant who slid down the emergency exit on his last day. The bar has been raised.”

    More than seven years ago, Slater reached his breaking point. After the landing of one particularly stressful flight, in which he got into an argument with a passenger, he took to the plane’s PA system to declare he was “done,” along with a string of profanities. Slater then grabbed two beers from a service cart, activated the plane’s emergency chute and slid out onto the tarmac — and into the annals of history.

    The exit was immortalized in dozens, if not hundreds, of news reports, along with the Wikipedia entry “JetBlue flight attendant incident.”

    Slater was arrested later at his home in Belle Harbor, N.Y., and charged with criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. He was also feted as something of a cult hero, with many expressing sympathy — if not outright envy — that he had quit his job in such an epic way.

    For the most part, Slater has tried to avoid the spotlight after finishing with court proceedings, completing community service and moving to Los Angeles. He acknowledges that was partly possible because his very public “meltdown” took place before the omnipresence of Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and so on.

    But on Thursday night, Slater’s job-quitting story rose to public consciousness again after Twitter’s 11 minutes without @realDonaldTrump.

    Immediately, people drew comparisons to the JetBlue incident.

    The Twitter staffer who deleted Trump’s account reminds me of the JetBlue attendant who grabbed two beers and exited via the emergency slide
    — Tom Gara (@tomgara) November 3, 2017

    Whoever deleted Trump’s twitter acct may have finally dethroned the Jet Blue guy who cussed out the plane & slid down emergency chute w a
    — Molly Beck (@GollyGMollyB) November 3, 2017

    This now tops the @JetBlue guy as my favorite way to quit a job @TwitterGov @twitter https://t.co/4dlcopl6wn
    — Brandi Dawson (@Brandii_Jade) November 3, 2017

    “I knew that it had happened but I didn’t know that it was a Twitter employee,” Slater told The Washington Post in a phone interview Friday. “I think the whole thing is just hysterical.”

    Slater immediately recognized parallels between his 15 minutes of fame and the Twitter employee’s situation, even though that worker has so far remained unnamed.

    “Sometimes I think one person can sort of be a lightning rod for sort of what’s in the group conscience,” said Slater, who noted he is not a fan of the president.

    “What’s funny about it is I believe it did sort of tap into the zeitgeist of that moment . . . . I mean, God, who hasn’t wanted to pull the plug on [Trump’s Twitter account]? Who can’t get behind this? Who can’t rally behind that?”

    For Slater, though, the months leading up to his last day at work and the years since have been filled with personal struggles that are often omitted in the casual retelling of his dramatic airplane exit.

    At the time, he had been caring for his mother in California, who was dying of lung cancer. He also had legitimate frustrations with his employer, he said, which is based in Queens. On top of worrying about his family, Slater admits he was dealing with health and substance-abuse issues.

    “I was stressed out and exhausted and flying all over the country,” he said. “I was kind of having a meltdown . . . which I’m grateful for because I could have gone another direction.”

    The plane exit, he said, was not planned and, in retrospect, felt like an out-of-body experience that happened “lightning fast.”

    “In some respects, it was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m doing this.’ And then the next thing I know, I was on the tarmac,” he said. “‘What the hell? What did I just do?’ I remember standing on the tarmac in the sun and it was just so warm. I thought, ‘Ahh, I can exhale. But how did this happen?’”

    Slater said he understood why he was charged — officials expressed concerns about copycats, among other aviation security issues — but said he has stopped litigating the situation in his own mind.

    “Might I have done it in a more professional manner? Probably,” he said. “Did it get the job done? Absolutely.”

    As a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, Slater said he can appreciate the JetBlue incident in a strange way, particularly after “a really, really tough few years.”

    “It’s kind of a line of demarcation. It’s a before and after. My life was completely transformed, for better or for worse, after that date,” Slater said. “It was a split second that affected everything going forward. It was the moment of like emancipation and empowerment. I mean, it wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done but it sure felt great . . . I just hit like a crescendo of like frustration.”

    Slater said he has gone to interviews and been recognized as “the JetBlue guy.”

    They usually have a laugh, he adds, but he does wonder if his history factors into their ultimate decision not to hire him.

    “I understand it,” he said. “If I’m going in for some sort of a customer service position, I’m kind of like your worst nightmare.”

    Twitter said Friday that it has added safeguards to prevent similar incidents in the future.

    Slater said he has no way of knowing what was going through the Twitter employee’s head when he or she decided to pull the plug on Trump’s account.

    But his advice to that person is to brace himself or herself for any public backlash. He experienced some of that, too, and can only imagine it would be worse seven years later.

    “Don’t take anything personally,” he said. “And don’t have regrets. Don’t second-guess. It is what it is. Be present and you’ll be fine . . . And I would say I’d like to buy this guy two beers.”

  • Clyde Duncan  On 11/07/2017 at 5:37 pm

    Opinion: How Israel Can Avoid War With Iran and Hezbollah – for Now

    Israeli leaders should push for more military restraint, and to moderate their jingoistic rhetoric, to avoid further escalation. The situation on Israel’s northern border isn’t ‘intolerable’- yet

    Chuck Freilich | Haaretz

    It’s still not clear whether the current escalation to the north of Israel is a temporary uptick in hostilities, or a reflection of the growing self-confidence of the Assad regime and its Iranian allies, and as such, a portent of coming events.

    Either way, the Iranian and Hezbollah effort to strengthen their foothold in Syria has taken a turn for the worse lately.

    Iran is reportedly interested in establishing air and naval bases in Syria, deploying ground forces, over and above Hezbollah’s, in building rocket manufacturing facilities in both Syria and Lebanon, and to dock submarines in Syrian ports.

    It was recently reported that Iran and Syria also recently signed a military and strategic cooperation agreement; and Lebanon’s premier Saad Hariri resigned in protest over Hezbollah’s and Iran’s domination of his country.

    The danger of the next conflict in the north becoming a confrontation between Israel and Iran is growing.

    To deal effectively with the Iranian-Hezbollah-Syrian axis, now under Russia’s aegis, Israel must formulate a comprehensive strategy, rather than the current policy of repeated tactical responses.

    The FIRST component of a strategy such as this would be the ongoing demonstration of military self-restraint and forbearance, based on a long-term approach of conflict management, NOT resolution.

    Military action should be taken only when truly essential and after all other alternatives have been exhausted, not merely as a demonstration of strength or for purposes of “deterrence maintenance”, as the IDF explains following almost every incident.

    Ongoing weak and ineffectual responses, coming on top of the repeated rounds with Hezbollah and Hamas which have ended without a clear outcome, deplete Israel’s power to no avail and only weaken its deterrence in the end, rather than strengthening it.

    The SECOND component, along with military restraint, is rhetorical moderation.
    It is only natural to define difficult circumstances as being “intolerable” and to derive the measures to be taken from this determination.

    Israel undoubtedly does face a variety of “intolerable” situations, by any measure, but in our insane circumstances they often turn out to be quite tolerable

    Not every cabinet meeting, or visit by governmental leaders in the field, has to end with jingoistic statements designed to prop up our national pride.

    Russia and Iran also have public opinion and national pride of their own, not just us, and it is important to understand that the ongoing humiliation of their client state, Syria, by repeated public accentuations of our ability to fly anywhere in Syria’s airspace, is not something they will long be able to tolerate.

    Emphasizing similar capabilities in the past, for example, during the 1969-1971 War of Attrition, led to the deployment of Soviet anti-missile systems in Egypt and ultimately to the downing of 20% of Israel’s Air Force in the horrible first days of the Yom Kippur War.

    It is far better for Israel to operate quietly.

    The THIRD component of the proposed strategy consists of a diplomatic effort vis-à-vis the U.S.A. and Russia, designed to achieve some, limited, influence over the emerging new order in Syria.

    The U.S.A., in the Trump era, cannot be a reliable strategic backer for Israel. Its stature in the world and region have diminished and it does not have a strategy for Syria beyond the defeat of ISIS.

    President Donald Trump also does not have a coherent policy towards Iran, his hollow protestations, when presenting his recent “Iran strategy”, notwithstanding.

    Secretary of Defense Mattis and other senior administration officials, conversely, do have more coherent approaches towards Iran, close to Israel’s, and it is essential that we coordinate policy with them to the greatest extent possible.

    America’s abandonment of the Syrian theater leaves Russia in charge. Russian interests in Syria are different from Israel’s, but Putin does tend to take them into account. Russian and Iranian interests in Syria are also not identical, despite Putin’s recent visit there, thereby creating some room for promoting space between them.

    Israel should therefore continue talking with Putin, in order to try and ensure that the emerging cease-fire in Syria creates as broad a buffer as possible between Iranian and Hezbollah forces, and ourselves. A diplomatic effort, combined with low intensity military pressure, may yield some results. Putin, too, is aware of the dangers of escalation in Syria generally, and between Israel and Russia in particular.

    The FOURTH component is preservation of the nuclear deal with Iran, as the most effective means available of preventing it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

    Israel should encourage the U.S.A. and its allies to enforce the deal effectively and to begin creating the conditions for the future imposition of a follow-on deal on Iran, designed to ensure that the limitations on its nuclear capabilities never expire.

    A FIFTH and final component is an international diplomatic campaign to pressure Iran into changing its aggressive regional behavior, especially in Syria and in regard to its missile program. Preservation of the nuclear deal is a prerequisite for this; in its absence, it is the U.S.A. and Israel that will be isolated, NOT Iran.

    Israel can successfully deter Iran and defend itself against her, but Iran’s decisive defeat is beyond our capabilities. Even global powers treat Iran carefully.

    Lebanon’s unique characteristics, as well as the changes that have taken place in modern warfare, mean that Israel has also been hard-pressed to achieve a decisive defeat of Hezbollah, except at a completely unjustified cost in lives and damage to the home front.

    We can always go to war, and may have no alternative in the end, but the greater wisdom is in finding ways to avoid the need for that.

    A comprehensive and coherent strategy towards the Iranian-Hezbollah-Syrian axis can and must be formulated. Iran is not going anywhere. Neither is Israel.

    Chuck Freilich, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center, is a former Israeli deputy national security advisor. He is the author of the forthcoming “Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change” (Oxford Press, March 2018)

  • Clyde Duncan  On 11/07/2017 at 5:41 pm

    The author, Chuck Freilich, wrote:

    Israel can successfully deter Iran and defend itself against her, but Iran’s decisive defeat is beyond our capabilities. Even global powers treat Iran carefully.

    Lebanon’s unique characteristics, as well as the changes that have taken place in modern warfare, mean that Israel has also been hard-pressed to achieve a decisive defeat of Hezbollah, …….

    [**NOTE: Hezbollah, The Party of God, is Iran’s B-Team.]

  • Clyde Duncan  On 11/07/2017 at 6:33 pm

    Iran’s Snub to USA Has Meaning for India

    M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline

    Only Tehran could have punctured USA President Donald Trump’s massive ego with just a delicate deflection by the wrist.

    It all began in the weekend with an innocuous media disclosure in Iran that Trump had sought a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani during the latter’s visit to New York in September to address the UN General Assembly, but the latter spurned the overture summarily.

    On Sunday Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahran Qassemi commented crisply, “A request indeed was made by the US side, but it wasn’t accepted by President Rouhani.”

    Of course, Washington went into a tizzy with White House struggling to deny the Iranian report at first, but belatedly realizing, perhaps, that a lie might boomerang allowed the State Department spokesperson to tamely confirm it on Tuesday.

    Trump’s request was apparently transmitted to the Iranian side when the USA Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javed Zarif were closeted together on the sidelines of a meeting of the foreign ministers of the P5+1 and Iran to review the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal in September.

    The episode speaks volumes about Trump, the man and the statesman – and his times in the White House and the US foreign policies in such extraordinary times.

    Countries such as India or China must draw appropriate conclusions. Indian analysts, in particular, are still crowing about Tillerson’s recent rhetoric at the CSIS conjuring up from thin air a quadripartite alliance between the US, Japan, India and Australia to contain China, while Trump on the other hand is preparing for a momentous state visit to China looking for some foreign-policy trophy as outcome in his barren presidency.

    The point is, Trump could so blithely befool the wily Saudi King Salman and the pompous Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in one go, sending them into wild ecstasy that he is about to go after the jugular veins of the Iranian leaders, while in reality also desiring to cultivate them on the quiet or at least keep open a line of communication to them – and, perhaps, even do some business with Tehran for ‘America First’.

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