US rhetoric on Iran could be N. Korea-style storm before calm, or prelude to war – ex-US diplomat
Remembering the harsh rhetoric on North Korea that preceded the Trump-Kim summit, US discourse on Iran may be an attempt to soften up Tehran for conciliation or a replay of Iraq, according to former US diplomat Jim Jatras.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo castigated the Iranian regime in a speech to the Iranian-American community in California on Sunday, describing it as "corrupt" and "kleptocratic." During his address, he also outlined Washington's plans to finance a new Farsi-language TV channel as part of an apparent push to undermine the Tehran government.
Earlier on Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Donald Trump against stirring up conflict with Iran and provoking "the mother of all wars." In a tweet addressed to Rouhani, Trump cautioned the Iranian leader to "never, ever threaten the United States again" or prepare to suffer "consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before."
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
RT: We heard Pompeo talking about the new Farsi-language TV-channel by BBG broadcasting for Iran. Do you believe this tool will be powerful in reaching US aims?
Jim Jatras: I am not sure it will. I think the symbolism of giving the speech at the Reagan Library was that he was drawing an analogy to the fall of communism. He says regime change is not the goal. But frankly, from what he describes, it seems to me that it amounts to regime change. It has to be an entire different mode of governance in Iran, from what he describes, to satisfy what he laid out. I think he is basically saying that we want to support a popular movement to bring down the Ayatollah's regime in the same way the communism fell in the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc, and that radio broadcasting would be a catalyst for that.
The US got out of the nuclear agreement without any reason. The International Atomic Energy Agency has certified [many] times already that Iran has been compliant with the nuclear agreement. And what you had from Secretary Pompeo… was a regime change program. They are putting a lot of pressure on Iran financially, they are engaging in a psychological warfare against Iranian people… The US is engaging in the activities that at the end of the day may lead to a military confrontation. And I hope we don't reach that stage… Basically, the US is trying to accuse the Iranian government of things that the US engages much more than anybody else in the world. - Foad Izadi, professor of political communication at the University of Tehran
RT: Apart from the new media outlet, Pompeo mentioned that they are asking all countries to join America in their effort to deal with the Iranian regime. Is it a "campaign to erode support for Iran's leaders," as Reuters writes about, citing "US officials familiar with the matter?" Several American government officials told the news agency that the drive seeks to paint Iran's leaders in a negative light. Is that true, do you think?
JJ: I think it was very heavy on describing problems internally, largely with Iran's political repression, corruption, economic problems, some of which I have no doubt are quite true. Although, I couldn't help comparing mentally in many cases that the US and Saudi Arabia is 10 times worse, but nobody is talking about sanctioning them or changing their regime. In terms of what we are going to do about it, it was already on the thin side: radio broadcasting and, of course, more sanctions. I think it was largely aimed at the Europeans, as we know we are already turning the screws on the Europeans with regard to new sanctions on Iran. And I think that is who his real audience was – even more than the Iranian-American community.
The US is trying to impose what Trump calls brutal sanctions on the country. He is trying to strangle the Iranian economy, basically he is trying to strangle the Iranian people. The US wants the Iranians to suffer as much as possible in order to force a change of policy in the country. And that is quite barbaric. - Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran
RT: President Rouhani said that "peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars." Does that leave a possibility for peace in any way?
JJ: I think that remains to be seen. Let's remember some of the harsh rhetoric that was used regarding North Korea and, as it turns out, we all play sweetness and light now with the Trump-Kim meeting. Maybe we will go back to the saber-rattling, but it looks like that was partly a warming-up or softening-up the target for something more conciliatory. That could be the case here. Or, as many people claim, this could be a replay of Iraq. So many of the same people that were beating the drums for the war with Iraq in 2002-2003 are playing exactly the same song now with respect to Iran. I don't think we really know which way this is going to go.
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