A Neoconservative Plan for Punishing Iran

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A Neoconservative Plan for Punishing Iran

Written by Philip Giraldi; Originally appeared at The Unz Review

President Donald Trump makes a point of insisting that he has nothing against the Iranian people and is only interested in opposing what he regards as the dangerous activities of their government, but his own record in office belies that claim. It is clear that what he is trying to do is put pressure on the people of Iran to rise up and force a change in government, a process otherwise referred to as regime change. Indeed, if one is to believe Trump confidant Rudy Giuliani, the White House is now committed to “bring down the Iranian regime.” He added that “The collapse of the Islamic Republic of Iran is around the corner.”

Giuliani was addressing a Paris meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran at the end of June, the political front group for the terrorist Mujahideen-e-Khalq, for which he has been a frequent paid speaker. This dream of an abrupt transition in government is a fantasy project that is widely held within neoconservative and pro-Israel circles in Washington, to include Giuliani, and it very often is invoked as part of what is sometimes referred to as the “Obama betrayal,” which posits that if President Barack Obama had actively supported so-called “green” reformers in the Iranian election of 2013, they might have actually won. That supposition greatly inflates the actual support for the reformers at that time and also currently, confusing a largely civil rights movement with a unified political party.

Obama then went on to sign the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran, which has been a target of joint Israeli and neocon wrath ever since. Trump, of course, has risen to the bait and has withdrawn the United States from the deal, also reintroducing both general and targeted sanctions as well as seeking to ban the sale of Iranian oil worldwide.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, Trump and his advisers, certainly to include National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Senior Adviser for Policy Stephen Miller, are engaging in the wrong tactics to bring about any what might reasonably be regarded positive changes to moderate the grip of Iran’s Supreme Religious Council and are instead hardening domestic popular support for the government through the threats and sanctions which ultimately accomplish little more than punishing the Iranian people.

Oddly, the White House seems unaware of the fact that Iran is neither Libya nor Iraq. It has a strong and historic national identity that means that it does and will resist being bullied by outside powers, including the “leader of the free world” United States. The neocon and pro-Israel script that has evidently taken control of Trump pushes all the wrong buttons as it basically employs an increasing number and severity of sanctions to seek to wreck the economy and create discord in Iran that will eventually bring people out into the streets in large numbers. That means in practice using not only sanctions that selectively targeting “bad guys” like the Revolutionary Guards but also benign institutions that exist to maintain social stability inside the country.

Reports from inside Iran suggest that the renewed and additional sanctions are already hurting the Iranian people while at the same time having little impact on the government commitment to remain in Syria, which is the principal bone of contention at the moment vis-à-vis the joint U.S./Israeli/Saudi grossly exaggerated and self-serving assessment of what Iran may or may not be doing to destabilize the Middle East.

Two organizations which have recently come under sustained attack by the neocons and their allies are the “Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order” (EIKO) and its associated Barakat Foundation. The EIKO’s principal mission is to help poor families in Iran and to perform other charitable works, but it has been assailed as a major economic resource controlled by the Supreme Religious Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s office, which misrepresents how the foundation is organized and functions.

Leading the charge against EIKO, inevitably, has been renowned neocon Canadian import and Iranophobe Mark Dubowitz, Chief Executive of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), who has described how the Iranian leadership controls a vast business empire which must be targeted with U.S. sanctions to punish the government and strip it of the resources available to make mischief.

This campaign, spearheaded by Dubowitz and his associate Saeed Ghasseminejad, has been going on since Trump was elected, with the folks at FDD confident they had a friend in the White House.

Other outlets in the pro-neocon-inclined and friendly to Israel media have also picked up on the theme that Iran must be the target of what amounts to economic warfare. The National Interest recently ran an article advocating the imposition of oil sanctions on Iran in general while also targeting EIKO in particular in order to “change Iran’s behavior,” which is presumed by the authors to be very bad though without any real explanation of why that is so.

And the U.S. Congress is also in on the act. As is nearly always the case, the U.S. House of Representative’s Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s subcommittee on National Security sought expert testimony on how to punish Iran but only looked for speakers who were inclined to take a hard line. They received that kind of enlightenment from the FDD’s own Richard Goldberg, who is hardly a disinterested observer on the subject.

Goldberg begins by making his case for bipartisan ire directed against Tehran, gushing about how “[he] had the privilege to work with many talented people – Democrats and Republicans – who shared a passion for keeping America and our allies safe from the long list of threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Together, we put forward numerous bipartisan bills to increase the pressure on Iran. …It is my sincere hope that we can find a way to resuscitate the bipartisan spirit that once infused this important national security issue.”

Goldberg, who is a bit vague on exactly what kind of “long list of threats” Iran represents, was senior foreign policy adviser to Israel-firster hawk former Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. He celebrates in his FDD bio how “[he] was instrumental in the deployment of a U.S. missile defense radar to the Negev Desert – the first-ever full-time deployment of U.S. forces in Israel. In the Senate, Rich emerged as a leading architect of the toughest sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was the lead Republican negotiator for three rounds of sanctions targeting the Central Bank of Iran, the SWIFT financial messaging service and entire sectors of the Iranian economy.”

There has been some pushback against the war-by-sanctions approach currently being advanced by the Trump Administration. Robert Fontina of Counterpunch has rejected the depiction of EIKO as anything but a charitable foundation. The truth is that EIKO engages in major social projects, including rural poverty alleviation, empowering women, home and school building, and provision of healthcare. American sanctions against it and similar entities hit ordinary Iranians’ lives by producing food insecurity while also restricting the supplies of needed medications. Ahmad Noroozi of the Barakat Foundation claims that numerous Iranians have already been affected by U.S.-initiated sanctions directed against his country, restricting access to cancer treatments and other pharmaceuticals. And it is all aimed at fomenting social unrest and ultimately regime change.

Iranian writer Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, no friend of the Iranian government, has declared that American sanctions directed against the Iranian economy and people are little more than “sanctioned terrorism.” Her assessment is undeniably correct.

It is indeed disturbing that the abandonment of the rule of law by the Trump Administration and its allies in the media has meant that Washington is resorting more and more to sanctions as an extreme form of punishment in order to enforce its geopolitical demands. Countries that oppose Washington’s policies are now routinely subjected to financial and trade penalties. Cuba, North Korea, and Iran have recently been joined by Russia and Syria as targets of the U.S. Treasury Department. Even America’s European allies and friends are being threatened if they seek to buy Iranian oil or cooperate with Russian energy initiatives.

The sad fact is that the pretense of U.S. global leadership now consists of a basket of new “rules” that are both arbitrary and basically illegal supported by pretexts that are essentially fabricated. Consider the frequent fallacious designation of Iran as “the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism” and the repeated false assertions from U.S. and Israeli government sources that Tehran is secretly building a nuclear bomb. Trump has become effectively the mouthpiece of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, with the latter calling the shots. Shortly after Trump had announced American withdrawal from JCPOA, Israel mounted a series of deadly air strikes against Syria, specifically targeting Iranian military personnel present by invitation in the country to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups. It was an incident that could have rapidly escalated into a broader war, which was clearly the Israeli intention.

There are deadly consequences to following the Israeli and Saudi lead into a possible major war with Iran. If sanctions produce desperation inside Iran, an apparent breakdown in order could easily invite a hypocritical U.S. and Israeli “humanitarian” intervention, possibly escalating into an international conflict, something that the White House appears to not understand. As is often the case, the Trump Administration has not developed sufficient maturity to appreciate that if one pushes hard against a certain country or group of countries there will be an equally strong reaction, and the results might not be pretty. Punishing the Iranian people without any real understanding of what might emerge in pursuit of nebulous political objectives just might not be a good idea.

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  • Rob

    The end of child butchers Israel and ISIS have arrived. Netanyahu and Avigdor both feel fear and worry for their fake state Israel.

    • Zionism = EVIL

      That is the only CERTAINTY! Tel Aviv will make the ruins of Daraa look like a developed city after Iran and Hezbollah are through with Zionists if provoked.

  • Pave Way IV

    “…The neocon and pro-Israel script that has evidently taken control of Trump pushes all the wrong buttons as it basically employs an increasing number and severity of sanctions to seek to wreck the economy and create discord in Iran that will eventually bring people out into the streets in large numbers…”

    It’s called economic terrorism. In case ANYONE reading this is the least bit confused, this is the exact same plan the neocons/pro-Israeli crew are pushing within the U.S. government in Cold War v. 2.0 against Russia. Blowback, anyone?

    “…Punishing the Iranian people without any real understanding of what might emerge in pursuit of nebulous political objectives just might not be a good idea…”

    Political objectives are a secondary matter to the U.S. government. Psychopaths are all about control and punishment. They are secretly delighted when they see the Iranian people suffer – THAT IS the objective regardless of their claims otherwise. They have ZERO ability to understand the consequences of years of sanctions on the Iranian people. If the Iranians get pissed, then double-down and punish them more.

    Same dimwit neocon/pro-Israeli obsession in Washington with ‘punishing’ a (to them) disobedient Russia… except Russia has liquid-fueled, MIRV-equipped, super-heavy thermonuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missiles pointed at us (and our NATO pals in Europe).

    Everyone has a plan… until they get punched in the face.

    • as

      Exactly. I keep getting amazed of how cry they cried foul for terrorism happening in their territory. Terror bombing shouldn’t be connected with the collateral damage in the middle east.

      • Zionism = EVIL

        This is more or less a pipe dream article. Iran is not that easy to destabilize. And most importantly one bullet fired towards Iran will result in smoking ruins for Tel-Aviv, Haifa and Ashdod. The Zionist scum have been testing Iran for 40 years now and no avail. Keep dreaming child killers!

        • Joe Kerr

          Not forgetting Dimona, a couple of dozen missiles hitting it will make Israel regret its construction.

          • Zionism = EVIL

            100% True. People forget that Iran is large mountainous country of 83 million people with a military that has been fighting non-stop wars for the past 40 years. It has a combat tested military and the Zionists will find that fighting Iranians and the legendary Hezbollah is not like killing and beating up unarmed quarantined Palestinian old men, women and children. According to their own polls, 90% of IDF are pot smokers and druggies. Attack Iran and find out Zionist scum cowards!

    • Terra Cotta Woolpuller

      Trigger warning is in effect: Putin and Trump meeting will see some major US concessions as this will hurt the Neocons and Zionists severely leaving them suffering from Putin-Trump Stress Disorder (P-TSD)!!

  • New Israel is Muslim

    So after Trumpstein resurrects the zombie whore of Babylon, for there is general consensus among many Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox that the whore of Babylon was in fact not pagan Rome but the zionist held seven hilled city of Jerusalem, and the fall of the whore of Babylon was the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD when the Romans conquered the zionist racist jews – jews that were pissed off their Messiah did not make everyone worship the jew. The same zionist jews who view the goyim as sub-human slaves, now have their Jerusalem given by Trumpstein. So Trumpstein single-handedly with the support and help of zionists worldwide, brought back the monster, the harlot, the whore of Babylon.

    Trump bombs Assad in 2017 and 2018 over neo-con lies, now with trump’s dead zombie whore (the jew) is wanting war with Iran. I am not surprised, but so many far right alt-righters believe trump can do no wrong.

  • Rob

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOGK57xs5Ro
    Click on Youtube for better view.
    Listen to US senator John McCain and Hillary Clinton what they say about child butchers.
    US and European regimes managing these all Israel, ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Palestine, Syria and other countries.

  • Angelo Cinarelli

    Americani di merda!! USA and ISRAEL terrorist n. 1 and cancer of this World.

  • Merijn

    BlahBLaAHBlahblaHAHAHA… The U.S., The U.K., NATO, IsraHell, France & Wahhabbistan Combined haven’t got the Army to tackle Iran .. yeah maybe… but start Ordering some Extra Body Bags..It is just North Korean DPRK Bullshit again..Like We are used from the U.S… Not Even Worth Listening too…they became Irrelevant…Just Like May & Johnson Have Become Irrelevant…and Sure People in Iran want Change… But Americans are Praying for CHANGE MORE THAN ANYONE….Gimme some Change In Holland…Perhaps We Need a Regime-Change?

  • Ariel Cohen

    Let’s rearrange the sentence to reflect the actual reality: “. . the Israeli leadership controls a vast business empire which must be targeted with worldwide sanctions(BDS) to punish the government and strip it of the resources available to make mischief.”

    • Merijn

      That is almost all Multinationals…

      • Ariel Cohen

        Let’s start with Caterpillar

        • Terra Cotta Woolpuller

          Then after that Navistar (Formerly International)!

  • Real Anti-Racist Action

    ‘neo-con’ haha. What they mean to say is the Jewish designed plan to eliminate these Goyims.
    Both parties are owned and controlled by only Jewish interest.

    • Sinbad2

      Neo-cons and Zionists, have the same fascist beliefs, that is they are the master race, the rest are inferior races and should be slaves of the fuhrers, sieg heil.

      • Joe Kerr

        “Assad will be gone in 6 months”- Shimon Peres, 2011. Well, Assad is still there and Peres is gone. The arrogance in believing in the superiority one’s master tribe/race results in mistakes, and the biggest mistake of all is Trump’s trade war with China. When China pulls the plug on the war-indebted U.S. economy, the “master race” will scramble for tickets to Argentina.

  • Lena Jones

    I hope people by now realize that neoconism is just zionism wearing an American flag. I suggest we drop the use of the word ‘neoconism’ and just call it what it is: zionism. After all, the word ‘neocon’ is but a distraction away from the warmongering jewish fingerprint.

    • Joe Kerr

      Spot on, as PNAC with its “new Pearl Harbour” was scripted largely by zionists.

  • Lena Jones

    Touch Iran like that and it’s bye-bye tel aviv. Oh and bye-bye Empire! You can then just go home yankee and be a good Republic taking care of your own instead of mass-murdering gentiles on behalf of the evil jews.

  • Drogba

    The Synagogue of Satan and it’s money changers will pay dearly for this lying,despicable agenda against the Iranian people.

  • S Melanson

    Excellent article. There is one thing missing though and that is why? While Israel sees Iran as a threat to the point of hysteria, this fear and loathing does not extend to Russia or China. Yet the US is targeting all three. Could this have anything to do with transacting in currencies other than the US dollar? US actions against countries that have attempted to do so tell the story – Libya and Venezuela for example.

    What is different though is that Russia and China can hit back hard. Iran can also hit back but it is the Straight of Hormuz that is critical. Iran can prevent shipping from traversing the narrow straight and oil prices will reach levels unimaginably high. Taking out countries with limited capabilities to fight back has meant low casualties for the US and so the public has tended to tolerate the interventions. This time, it will be very different in so many ways.

    When you play with fire you get your fingers burned, although in this case, more like 3rd degree burns covering 80% of the body.

    • Joe Kerr

      China won’t bow to the zionists’ wishes to isolate Iran, and it seems neither will Putin. Trump’s trade war with China was a foolish mistake as China has the capacity to send the U.S. economy over the cliff and end its international bullying and blackmailing power, resulting as well in the zionist leach losing its biggest and dumbest host.

      • S Melanson

        I agree. Russia knows its next after Iran so I would expect Russia to stand by Iran. China most likely will as well. The problem is that Trump and company may have deluded themselves into believing that (1) they can pick off Iran without interference as has happened many times before in US interventions and (2) Iranian military capabilities pose little threat to the US or US strategic interests in the region.

        • Joe Kerr

          The importance of never underestimating one’s enemy seems to have by-passed the thinking of the self-proclaimed exceptionals, who can thus expect more surprises. That Trump seriously believed NK would give up its nukes to a bankrupted warmonger that can’t be trusted is another sign of how deluded the U.S. has become.

  • Rob

    Oil producing countries should reduce the export of oil and gas then itself oil and gas prices will go up. Trump will never reduce the prices of their F-16, F-22 junck fighters or Europe will never reduce their defence equipment prices. So Trump cannot force the Middle East countries to reduce their oil and gas prices. It is not water. These precious natural recsorces are reducing as much it is taken out. So reduce its production for their future generations. Similarly stop imports of luxury cars. Use their old cars to save money. Instead of that increase industries.

  • Joe Kerr

    Signs of desperation in the zio-con camp are everywhere, from their stupid attempts to smear Russia with another Novichok event, to Trump’s ill thought out trade war with China and the equally futile attempts at regime change in Iran. Trump is addicted to upping the ante and doubling up, even with a bad deck, and while his previously declared bankruptcies may have worked inside the U.S., sending the U.S. into bankruptcy won’t.

  • James

    This situation is ENTIRELY about the Neocons being so angry and so frustrated, they are out of control and looking from a victim to take it out on, which is Iran. They think they were the most conniving and will try to isolate them as much as possible, including strikes I have no doubt, but this will be no walk in the park for them and will end up like another Vietnam, if it doesn’t fizz out sooner with diplomatic pressure from Iran’s neighbours.

  • Olayinka Abdulgafar

    “…are engaging in the wrong tactics to bring about any what might reasonably be regarded positive changes to moderate the grip of Iran’s Supreme Religious Council and are instead hardening domestic popular support for the government”

    The ‘white man’s burden’ exceptionalism entrapment that almost all western writers and journalists have continued to fall victim of ignorantly or hypocritically. So because French people are protesting in France over Macron’s economic policy French highest political hierarchy is not democratic bit dictatorial and needed to be influenced through outside interference to lessen the grip of their dictatorship. Who the he’ll do this westerners think they are to tell every society how to live their life?! Smhh

    • S Melanson

      I had read that part but I realize that I misread as saying to the effect the US planners had wrong tactics to bring about what they thought were positive changes…

      But it in fact is the author interjecting his own opinion that basically is saying the tactics are wrong but the intent is correct – in contradiction to his main thesis that Iran is being targeted unfairly period. Thank you also for pointing out the arrogance of that position.

      I just find it very strange the disconnect of that statement with the rest of the article. That is why I think I misread at first. Bizarre.