The recent media speculation over U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s alleged precarious employment status has given rise to a cottage industry overnight of second-guessing by various talking heads and analysts over what a potential change at Foggy Bottom might look like in terms of future US policy.
The Iran lobby, specifically the National Iranian American Council, was swift to jump on the bandwagon and raise the specter of a push by “neocons” to put one of their own into the seat and go to war against the Iranian regime.
The focus of that smear attack was Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) who has been a vocal critic of the Iranian regime, especially the nuclear agreement.
It serves the Iran lobby’s purposes to push the narrative that Trump administration’s primary focus is to somehow foment a war with Iran; even though no administration official—from the president on down—has never even hinted at such an outcome, let alone advocated it.
The narrative though helps the Iran lobby by feeding into the fear factor it has long used in warning against taking any aggressive actions to restrain the mullahs in Tehran. Remember how during the run up in negotiations over the nuclear agreement how the NIAC and its allies pushed the image of a war between Iran and the US as the reason for completing the deal?
The Iran lobby has always used fear mongering as a PR tactic and in the case of Secretary Tillerson, it is going all out to push it again.
The best example was an editorial authored by Trita Parsi and Ryan Costello of the NIAC on its website with the provocative headline of: “Cotton, Pompeo and Trump are a Recipe for War with Iran.”
Hyperbole aside, Parsi and Costello argue a scenario where Tillerson is replaced by current CIA director Mike Pompeo and he is replaced at the intelligence agency by Cotton. Of course Parsi and Costello offer no proof for such a scenario other than a vague “reported plan.”
There is no better example of trolling fake news than what Parsi and Costello are doing.
They go on to recite a history of Pompeo and Cotton’s record—which is already well known—of their doubts about the Iran nuclear deal and of the ability to rein in Iranian extremism, but couch it in a way to convey the idea that both are some crazed blood thirsty war mongers.
“What of the man that Pompeo would replace, Rex Tillerson? It is indisputable that Tillerson has been a disaster on many fronts, in particular, his campaign to gut the State Department which will do untold damage to American diplomacy for years to come. Yet, on the Iran nuclear deal, Tillerson has actually allied with Secretary of Defense James Mattis to urge Trump against ripping up the deal. The loss of Tillerson, combined with Cotton’s elevation, would mean that Pompeo and Cotton could face little resistance in their campaign to unravel a nuclear accord that is working and downplay the likely alternative ― war,” Parsi and Costello write.
In the twisted little world that Parsi and Costello are trying to fabricate, they stick to the logic that unraveling the nuclear accord can only lead to war; a preposterous idea when considered alongside the reality of since the deal was passed.
In the wake of the Iran nuclear deal, the Middle East has devolved into a region-wide war zone due largely to actions by Tehran, including the bloody civil war in Syria that sent four million refugees flooding across Europe and another sectarian uprising in Yemen that now threatens to bring Saudi Arabia into direct conflict with Iran.
Far from producing a peaceful world, Iranian regime has been at the epicenter of some of the worst conflicts taking place now; a far cry from the absurdist claims made by Parsi and Costello.
Of course, neither ever takes Tehran to task for supporting those wars, nor for its North Korean-like fanatical support for developing ballistic missiles; a point reinforced by a regime spokesman in denouncing comments made by French president Emmanuel Macron criticizing the missile expansion program.
“French official, other officials, who want to speak about Iran’s affairs need to pay attention to the deep developments that have come to pass in the region in past decades and the big changes between the current situation and the past,” said Bahram Qassemi, regime foreign ministry spokesman, according to state media.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will definitely not negotiate on defense and missile issues,” he added.
Tension between Iran and France increased last month when Macron said that Iran should be less aggressive in the region and should clarify its ballistic missile program. His foreign minister also denounced, during a visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran’s “hegemonic temptations.”
France’s criticisms only echo those made by then-candidate Donald Trump and his current administration’s positions, and yet Parsi and Costello avoid criticizing the French on the same issue.
The hypocrisy of their positions is readily apparent as they fabricate Tillerson’s potential demise in order to create a false narrative, but not apply the same standard in criticizing the much-more revealing truth behind Iranian actions over the past four years.
Pompeo and national security adviser HR McMaster spoke at length about Iranian expansion in “weak states” in the Middle East at the 2017 Reagan National Defense Forum in California this weekend.
Pompeo confirmed he sent a letter recently to Maj. Gen Qassem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s foreign operations arm or Quds Force.
“I sent a note. I sent it because he had indicated that forces under his control might in fact threaten US interests in Iraq,” Pompeo said.
“He refused to open the letter. It didn’t break my heart to be honest with you. What we were communicating to him in that letter was that we will hold he and Iran accountable for any attacks on American interests in Iraq by forces that are under their control. We wanted to make sure he and the leadership in Iran understood that in a way that was crystal clear.”
Far from being a call to war, Pompeo’s effort to reach out to Soleimani only illustrated the focus of the Trump administration to rein in Iranian expansionism, not start a shooting war.
If there are any real war mongers here, they live in Tehran, not Washington.