Brian Becker and John Kiriakou of Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear program spoke to Gareth Porter, an award-winning American investigative journalist, and Catherine Shakdam, a geopolitical analyst and journalist who is a main contributor to Shia newspaper Shafaqna.
"This is a very prime example of the general phenomenon, in particularly the Trump administration, but it applies pretty broadly to other administrations as well," Porter told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. "Major US foreign policy decisions are primarily a reflection of domestic politics, not the actual situation abroad that one might expect would be the basis for such decisions. What's going on here is primarily that this president is trying to keep campaign promises and appealing to his base, which dominates just about everything that Donald Trump does. It seems to me that Iran policy is certainly no exception."
"That doesn't mean that there are no consequences; obviously there are serious consequences of Donald Trump carrying out the threat to wreck the Iran nuclear deal. It certainly would mean that Iran will respond, there will be moves made with regard to its nuclear program, they've made that clear in the past they will repeat that again."
"But it doesn't of course mean that Iran is going to actually move to get a nuclear weapon or make steps that really portend a nuclear weapon at all," Porter added. "The Iranian government is the one government in the history of humankind that has had religious strictures against weapons of mass destruction. There is very solid evidence from the Iran-Iraq War that it was not allowed to have weapons of mass destruction, that has been a consistent policy that remains in place today."
"I think that what we see today is a behavior that President Trump is actually fronting," explained Shakdam. "It has a lot to do with him preparing for campaigning for his second term. He's existing in a vacuum where geopolitical reality has very little sway over his decisions, and all he's looking at is the media, this type of Kardashian-like lens where he understands everything as being a social media exercise."
"I think that Trump thrives on this idea that he's being so unconventional and so special in his own way, that he conducts his policies, that he's willing to say and do anything — even if it means leading the world towards World War III — just to remain relevant in the media. I think that it's almost a disease in this case, where every decision that he has made so far has been not only contrary to reality, he's actually acting against America's own interests."
Kiriakou brought up that the JCPOA was a deal signed by seven countries, and even if the US were to withdraw from it and reinstate sanctions against Iran, the other five signatories would not, leaving the US sanctions without much weight behind them. Furthermore, the implosion of the JCPOA would harm the American companies that have inked deals with Tehran since the lifting of sanctions.
"This is an interesting case study, isn't it, of how for once the interests of the military industrial complex are at odds with the interests of those who want to pursue a much more aggressive policy toward Iran," Porter said. "Normally they are aligned with one another, but this is a good case study of of where there is a conflict between the two. The policy is emphasizing domestic political interests over the interests of the military industrial bureaucracy, which normally holds a great deal of sway over US policy toward Iran."
"I think that we're talking here about a policy that is self-defeating diplomatically because the Europeans are very solid in their continued support for the nuclear agreement, they believe this is the way to most effectively block what everyone seems to assume is an Iranian desire for nuclear weapons. In fact, the Iranians never really intended to have nuclear weapons. They merely intended to find a way to give the United States an incentive to sit down and negotiate with them to end the extraordinary policy of hostility or enmity that the United States has pursued for decades toward Iran."
But while the US once enjoyed great international support for its hostile relationship with Tehran, the JCPOA has changed the equation — perhaps for good. "Of course, that then led to an agreement that has other implications — among them is the opportunity for Iran to at least reduce the level of conflict, and in fact have some degree of greater economic interaction with European countries," said Porter. "I think Germany is is definitely committed to it. The French, who have in the past supported some of the strongest anti-Iran policies, are now clearly on the side of supporting the Iran nuclear deal and will oppose what Trump has in mind."
"It's certainly a self-defeating policy in terms of sort of traditional power politics, and Trump is leading us down a road that, in terms of the normal definition of US interests in the Cold War and post-Cold War period, this is something that is going to help Iran more than it does the United States."