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    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, and national security adviser John Bolton, right, listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the Office of Government Hall, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Hanoi

    US, Iran Diplomacy Requires Removing Washington’s ‘Regime-Change’ Glasses

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    Kevin Zeese, co-coordinator of Popular Resistance, urged people to question the media after US President Donald Trump said Friday he canceled a military attack against Iran 10 minutes before launch after learning it may have resulted in 150 Iranian civilian casualties.

    “There is definitely some kind of divide in the White House. I think we have to take everything we are hearing in the media about the ‘10 minutes till an attack’ with a grain of salt. We have to question almost everything in the media,” Zeese John Kiriakou and Brian Becker, the hosts of Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear, on Friday.

    “This could have been a message, really, to Iran,” Zeese said. “The way that all of the media is telling the story, [it] seems like a very strong series of leaks from people in the White House to get the message out that Iran better start negotiating. Or ‘Look at how close you [Iran] were to being bombed’ and ‘Look at how good Trump was’; ‘He didn’t want to kill any civilians’ … even 150 [civilians], that’s nothing from an American president.’” 

    In a series of tweets Friday, Trump said that the US military was “cocked” and “loaded” to attack Iran after the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced Thursday they had downed a US spy drone because the unmanned surveillance vehicle violated Iran’s airspace - an assertion denied by Washington.

    “The bottom line of this seems to be that Trump realizes a war with Iran would be a major catastrophe. There would be a blowout financially of a trillion dollars or more … [it] would be politically costly for him, legacy-wise, [and] another big war that the US loses. So, I think he’s against doing that, but he’s trying to get negotiations [started] with the Iranians,” Zeese told Sputnik.

    “They are saying ‘no,’ and they are saying ‘no’ for good reason: because how can you negotiate with someone who pulls out of a treaty on false grounds and violates a treaty that has been negotiated for a very long time by multiple administrations? Then you [the US] escalate sanctions, the opposite of what the treaty required, and you try to starve their [Iran’s] economy, and then you say, ‘Let’s talk.’” 

    In May 2018, the United States pulled out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), despite Iran's continued compliance with the agreement by not pursuing a nuclear weapons program, as attested to by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The US pullout prompted the deal's other signatories, including Russia, China and several European powers, to scramble to try and salvage it. Following the pullout, the US reimposed sanctions that had been lifted against Iran under the terms of the JCPOA and introduced new ones.

    “I think it’s a wrong approach. Iran needs to be treated with respect. It is a complicated country with an important economy, 80 million people. It’s much bigger than Iraq and better organized militarily,” Zeese explained. “It would be a disaster for the US if this military action were to occur. I’m glad Trump pulled back, but he needs to really figure out how he can give Iran respect and that requires taking away … sanctions in order to try to move toward negotiations.”

    “I think the lack of understanding of Iran is really common with other countries that the US is antagonistic with. We don’t understand Venezuela either, and it really doesn’t take much to understand them [such countries]. It takes taking off your regime-change glasses ... and looking at the country for what it is,” he said. 

    “Both Iran and Venezuela have a deep, deep desire to remain sovereign and independent countries. Iran has been independent since 1979. It is not going to give that up … they have internally built their economy with less reliance on foreign sources, and they’ll continue to do that,” Zeese said. “They’re not going to give in to US pressure to become dependent on the US … If we start from that analysis, then you can [pave a] path toward diplomacy .. it starts with respect, and that’s what the US refuses to give,” he continued, also noting that a military confrontation with Iran is guaranteed to end disastrously.

    “Once you put your foot in that quicksand, you start to sink. I hope that Trump realizes that. I hope that the [US] Defense Department realizes that,” Zeese said.

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