President Donald Trump has chosen as advisers warhawks eager to instigate military action in Iran and force regime change, according to a new report, which notes that more moderate voices in the administration are now gone.
> Senior members of the US administration, which has pulled out of the nuclear deal with Tehran unilaterally, have vocalised its desire to destroy the agreement and cripple the Iranian economy in the process, the document prepared by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) points out.
> The report holds, however, that there is a chance of averting a violent scenario following the American midterm elections, which have given the Democrats control of the House of Representatives. There are Republicans as well as Democrats who are wary of the hawkish approach of some of Mr Trump’s advisers, and a bipartisan approach may pave the way for the deal to be saved and even for Washington to rejoin it in the future.
> NIAC, an independent organisation which studies issues involving the US and Iran, reminds readers that the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China, the other signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have all said repeatedly that Tehran is living by its obligations, as have the United Nations. The Trump administration’s stance, it has pointed out, has caused a serious rift with western allies who are now taking legal and commercial measures to protect international companies from US sanctions.
The two loudest voices on the international stage arguing for U.S. military action against Iran continue to be Israel and Saudi Arabia — two countries successful in convincing Trump to walk away from the JCPOA.
Previous administrations also faced pressure from these American allies but in those cases, Israeli and Saudi influence had little effect.
> “Every leader I met with in the region,” John Kerry, secretary of state under Barack Obama, recalled, “said, ‘You have to bomb Iran, that is the only thing they understand and that is the only way you will stop them having a nuclear weapon.’” Robert Gates, defence secretary in both the Bush and Obama administrations, said these leaders were hoping to “fight the Iranians to the last American”.
Trump officials who took a moderate stance toward Iran have since left the administration, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser Lieutenant General HR McMaster, only to be replaced with hardliners such as National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
> The NIAC report states: “While Trump himself routinely pillories the 2003 decision to invade Iraq, he has surrounded himself with hawks who seek the same fate for Iran. National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have in the past openly called for regime change and bombing Iran.”
> Mr Bolton, like Mr Trump, is a Vietnam draft-dodger but has always been a strong advocate of US military action and remains a firm defender of the Iraq invasion. He has stated in the past: “To stop Iran’s bomb, bomb Iran... The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attacks on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required.”
The report urges Congress to step in as soon as possible to ensure the nuclear deal does not fully collapse:
> “Given the risks of President Trump and his administration fully collapsing the JCPOA and instigating war with Iran, the work needs to begin now in order to rein in the White House and prevent a disastrous war. In this context, a top priority must be to signal that there is political will in Washington to re-enter the JCPOA.”