Here we go Again: Trump Admin Threatens Iran

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

National Security Advisor Mike Flynn came out on Wednesday to make a brief statement putting Iran “on notice.” Flynn complained about Iran’s ballistic missile tests, about a Yemeni Houthi attack on a Saudi naval vessel in the Red Sea (maintaining that it was ‘Iran-backed’) and about “weapons transfers” and “support for terrorism.”

The Iranian press pointed out that that the JCPOA or nuclear deal only bans ballistic missiles designed to carry a nuclear warhead, and said that Iran had done no such thing. The ballistic missiles it has been testing don’t have warhead capability and so are not covered in the JCPOA. Visiting former French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, had affirmed the nuclear deal but warned Iran to be meticulous in observing it.

The Iranian press, at least, reported that Ayrault, now in Tehran, was not bothered by the ballistic missile test.

Although the Saudi government and his allies view the Zaydi Houthi movement of northern Yemen as an Iranian puppet, there is not very much convincing evidence of such a relationship. Rather, the Houthis are indigenous and have received, if any, very little monetary support from Iran.

Inasmuch as Trump supports Russian efforts in Syria, and inasmuch as those efforts are aided by Hizbullah, the Lebanese party-militia, Trump is de facto allied with Hizbullah. Likely that is the group to which Flynn refers when he speaks of Iranian weapons transfer.

There was no indication that Flynn had an actual war plan for Iran, and apparently the career Pentagon personnel were livid that Trump would have Flynn announce a major strategy statement on matters of war and peace, but have no specific planning in place:

Trump seems to be the opposite of Teddy Roosevelt, who is said to have quipped, ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick.’ Trump and his people speak loudly but carry a tiny stick.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has already accused Trump of being an amateur and a bull in the china shop. Iran’s government has ceased issuing visas to Americans, in retaliation for Trump’s Muslim ban.

BBC Monitoring translated from the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network, Tehran, in Persian 0554gmt 01 Feb 17:

President Hasan Rouhani said of Trump’s Muslim ban,

“Today is not the time for creating division. May be a person can think that he can restrict visas for a couple of months for seven countries. Well, he is an individual who is new in the political arena. He has been living in another world, now he came to the political world. This is completely new for him. It will take long before he and his associates understand what is going on in the world and what should be done. He will cause damage to his own people and possibly others. . .

“For years, they [USA] have been chanting slogans that they oppose the Iranian government, but support the Iranian people. They had been saying untrue things for years by saying one thing behind the curtains and the opposite in public. This man, [Donald Trump] who is a specific person, tore the image of hypocrisy and now is displaying [everything] they have had in their hearts.

“They are taking measures which are in particular against a number of our compatriots or Muslims from other countries. Their slogan in the world was against discrimination and they said that the age of discrimination has ended. What does this mean? This incorrect act is based on wrong and unfair discrimination. They used to say that they respect human rights; this is a violation of human rights. They used to say that they adhere to their commitments. How come your embassy has issued a visa and approved it, and now you are saying that you do not accept it and they [Muslims] are not allowed to travel to your country? They [USA] have violated all international principles and commitments. . .”

Speaking about the implementation of the JCPOA, the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 countries and Iran, Hassan Rouhani said that negotiation is the most important method to resolve problems.

Meanwhile, Russian pundits continue to entertain some hopes that Russia can mediate betwee Iran and Washington:

BBC Monitoring reports for Wednesday,

Izvestia: Andrei Ontikov report “Moscow to offer Trump to look differently at Iran” says that Russia intends to find a compromise on the Iranian nuclear programme with Trump’s administration. According to experts, Moscow can persuade Trump to keep Washington’s signature under the previously reached agreement on the issue as this will allow the USA to improve relations with Iran in terms of solving other important problems in the Middle East . . .


Related video added by Juan Cole:

National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn on Iran (C-SPAN)

30 Responses

  1. Meanwhile Captain Queeg continues to rage on Twitter in the early hours of the morning about various and sundry. In addition to threatening Iran, he’s on a new rampage about “bad hombres” again and sending troops south of the border to take care of business. Oh, and he’s insulted Australia – which is only one of our historically best friends. But he’s “outraged” over threats to freedom of speech at Berkeley – because Fox News is playing up the cancelation of a racist Breitbart editor. In the playbook, that’s called “changing the topic.”

    This is not Trump as an agent of change, the phrase his supporters use. It’s an erratic and incoherent to foreign policy. The Donald’s done the impossible: He’s made me miss Dubya.

    • Del, yet another yet more scary thing, I think, is that he’s not changing the subject- he just can’t stick to one. He’s not jumping to a topic to change the topic. He’s forgotten the last one.

  2. IF any of the readership here has children or grandchildren of DRAFT age, there are sad times just ahead.

    Multi-front wars need a lot of meat.

    • I’ve had the same feeling getoffmedz. Somehow I can picture a Trump presidency putting a national drafte (boys & girls this time) to issue a lesson in life to the Bernie youth (who the right likes to refer to as ‘snowflakes) and have these young waiters and hairdressers march in unison lock step, while passing the grand masters podium on their way to die for their country. This executive action will be applauded by those who insist on making ‘America Great Again’.

      • There’s simply no use for a mass draft in modern warfare.

        However, the suppression of domestic dissent is another matter.

        We could see the logic for this forming during the campaign, where Trump was seducing gullible antiwar people with attractive crumbs, saying some particular war was stupid. But for his actual supporters, the promise was a Fortress America, a greatly enlarged military that was brought home from overseas. Of what use would these legions be? Stateside bases act as a subsidy for the dead-end towns next to them. Bases are usually in Red States because the land is cheaper there, and maybe because having them targeted by ICBMs was more acceptable there. That has helped bind rural White America to the military, which they’ve come to see as their special province and proof that they’re better Americans than the rest of us.

        Recall that when the time came for Beijing to crush Tiananmen Square, it called in Army units from rural areas, who were expected to be loyal.

        • super390 -There is no better way to keep a discontented population in line than a pointless war and a general conscription,

          History is an irrelevant source as an analog for this on-going coup.

        • Your argument for no draft makes sense, plus I don’t think the Pentagon wants to deal with the civilian recruitment…but would now be a good time to invest in duct tape, and yellow ribbon?

  3. One of the truisms that I have uncovered during a longish life is that right-wing types are generally stupid and uncreative. Not only don’t they learn from history, but their repeat mistakes are very unoriginal. They simply lack any kind of creativity. It partly explains why they hate actors, musicians, writers and journalists so much.

    So, Putin thinks that Trump will make a good ally that he can manipulate and betray later. Stalin thought the same of Hitler. And that didn’t work out too well, did it?

    I have no doubt that the neo-Nazis who now run the US government will need to start wars to rally and distract their neo-Nazi supporters back home.

    We are on track for the Republicans (neo-Nazis) to destroy the economy with their “enrich the rich” policies so that an overseas war adventure will become necessary to distract everyone as well create an ongoing condition for domestic oppression. Pretty standard right-wing stuff.

    All of this is to get to the point of who to invade: Iran? Russia? North Korea? China?

    I have a better prediction.


    Sort of Trump’s boyhood dream to incorporate all of North America into a giant , expanded United States of North America. Of course the Canadians and Mexicans won’t like it and will fight back. So we will need to kill a lot of them and oppress and enslave the survivors.

    Which is really the point.

    Sounds like real right wing fun, doesn’t it?

    I just can’t wait!!

    • In one respect I hope to God you’re right- Mexico doesn’t have nuclear weapons.

      And we here in Canada stand on our single impassable line of defense: we’d vote Democrat. And tip the balance forever.

      • “we’d vote Democrat. And tip the balance forever.”

        … I think the $65B question is will they haul Trump out in a straightjacket before or after he starts a shooting war?

    • Quick “win”* that will really give the hardcore some thrills – Mexican Invasion Tour ’17.

      *(“win” is in PR terms only; the appearance of vengeance is enough for endless TV coverage, and it sends a message to other nations to get in line…)

    • The USA LOST in Vietnam, then Afghanistan (as did most of the other invaders over the centuries), then Iraq.

      What makes trump and his minions think that the USA would not lose in Mexico, Iran and any other place trump feels needs a whipping?

      At one time the USA had weapons superiority,

      BUT . . .

      That is no longer the case. The rest of the world has “caught up” with the USA in both war toys and tactics. In fact, the rest of the world has far surpassed the USA, because they have developed weapons that are equal to anything the USA has, BUT COST as little as a tenth as much as the USA. The USA WASTES over 50% of the money it spends on the military with most of the money going to private companies (in many countries the government runs the weapons factories so there is no profit motive).

      Given that there has been several simulations that show that the USA would be humiliated in a war with Iran and that most, if not all, USA general officers have seen these results, it is surprising that Flynn would make such hollow threats.

      While Iran has NOT built any offensive weapons, they have designed and built an impressive array of defensive weapons that would make any invasion very, very deadly even if Russia and/or China didn’t intervene.

      For example, China has developed a “carrier kill” with a 1000 mile range. The USA has NO DEFENSE for this missile, except stay 1000 miles form China. There are numerous reports that Iran has acquired this technology from China.

      In conjunction with China, Iran has developed an antiaircraft system equivalent to the Russian S-400 and deployed it.

      Iran is NOT going to back down. While they do not want war, they will protect themselves and humiliate the USA in the process.

      The cost of a war with Iran on the USA will be so high, that the USA could end up bankrupt.

      This will NOT go well for the USA.

      • Upon entering WWII the Selective Service Act (SSA) required that all men between ages 18 and 65 register for the draft. The oldest actually conscripted was 45 years-old, a doctor. During a tactical nuclear exchange military and support personnel die or become contaminated in great numbers requiring many replacements.

  4. Apparently our U.S.foreign policy is going to be a ball of confusion. Kiss up to Russia while at the same time give the finger to Russia’s valued friends. Is this not well thought out thinking, or is it a trick of somekind? Who knows, but I’m sure Sheldon loved Flynn’s Roman Empire like dictate, and that’s all that counts in their world.

    Trump should seriously start reading Putin’s speeches, where he will discover how much the Russian President values a nation’s sovereignty. Trump must reject any plan where Russia is to be played the dupe, in a sqeeze play maneuver that is designed to use Russia as a wedge to jam between China, and the Middle East Shia countries, which he may think is a beautiful idea, and a huge opportunity…hey Donald they are on to us.

  5. Rouhani makes sense. Like most politicians, Trump campaigned on a platform of simple solutions to complicated problems. In the real world, simple solutions have consequences, as we are already finding out as trump pumps out his executive orders.

  6. Flynn’s notice appears to be a continuation of Obama policies: Israel has a right to defend itself, but others don’t – in this case, Iran. If Iran is attacked, the US fleet in Bahrain and closing of the Strait of Hormuz will be Iran’s first targets. General Flynn, you are on notice.

  7. All part and parcel of the tyranny of superficiality that afflicts Trump and that menaces to engulf, at the very least, the entirety of the executive branch. A curious effort at the de-dimensionalization of the world through extreme insistence on the transcendentality of surface differences. Capitalism itself evinces this same schizoidality relating to surface and structure by seeking to structure the psychological imaginary or, at least the perceptive representation of it, as pure surface, concealing no divinity, no sacredness, and, to be sure, no class tension, conflict, or inexorable expropriation of surplus labor. Consequently Trump is the Disney version of Mussolini (Mouse-olini one might call him). A daft Donald Duck with a very nefarious streak indeed. Like a projector-emitted cartoon he glides on to surfaces and disappears without a trace; this tracelessness is an essential product of his seemingly studied, or least psycho-defensively necessary, mindlessness. The structures that will leave a trace are the ones that always do, they produce or, at the very least, project Trump on to political (social and ideological) reality and, in turn, make economic and democratic justice unreal. Trump is not to blame, his rule is purely figural (the outsized Platonic shadow on the cave wall), the true structures (the genuine Platonic “forms”) hermetically recede further and further into inaccessibility and unaccountability under the coruscating theatricality and superficiality of the farcical/satyr(ical) regime. Richard III’s Shakespearean speech is inversely apropos in a world mysteriously, forsooth seemingly magically, turned upside down: “Now is the winter of our discontent”–says the chorus-like liberal media, which histrionically likens Trump to all the worst villains of old, in lieu of celebrating the coronation of Clinton-Macbeth, who would have been so much the better at concealing the plung(der)ing depths of the piratical hyper-militarized neoliberal state. All the world’s a stage, it takes a pillage, and Trump is but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: [truly] a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

  8. But, I must admit that, because he is an unknown , erratic commodity, he has already been able to get away with behavior and comments that would have caused major international incidents for any other American President. Perhaps it is because the rest of the world still considers him primarily an entertainer and no one takes his statements seriously.

  9. This “missile incident” reminds me of the run up to the Iraq War. During that time all sorts of fake claims were made about Iraq of course. Among them was a claim about Iraq possessing a dangerous missile that was in violation of a restriction imposed after the Gulf War. We later found out that this “dangerous” missile had a range of about 100 miles and didn’t violate anything. War mongers just keep using the same lies over and over again since they can get away with it. As many predicted, Obama’s failure to prosecute war criminals has opened the door for future folly and criminality.

  10. Not only Iran has been put “on notice” but now there is this – Quoting 45 at the National Prayer Meeting where he promised the obliterate the boundary between church and state. Adding this – ”the world is in trouble, but ‘we’re’ going to straighten it out.” . . . . . Will someone please throw a net over this guy?

    link to

    Apparently, the 45 EGOMANIA knows no bounds? He does not rule the entire planet except in the broken minds of Herr Bannon and our Commander-in Twitter, tool of the The Seven Mountains of Societal Influence Dominionists.

    link to

    We haven’t seen anything yet!

  11. On Morning Joe this morning (Thursday) Joe, Richard Haas, Ambassador Nicholas Burns were all beating the let’s go start a war with Iran drum. Beating up the Iran deal, pounding on Iran’s involvement in Iraq, Syria etc. As if the U.S. has not had its bloody hands deep in the disasters in those countries.

    On Wednesday evening Greta on MSNBC was repeating the “Iranian leaders said they want to wipe Israel off the map” falsehood again.

    Ambassador Nicholas Burns seems to be making the rounds on Msm outlets banging on the let’s go get Iran drum. Yikes

  12. Wow, he has been able to make so many people mad in 12 days, threatened 2 countries (Iran and Mexico) and was nasty to Malcolm Turnbull of Australia. Cowboy politics have made a comeback. Shoot and don’t ask questions. He is showing his toughness to the world. Imagine the next few years….

  13. Someone needs to sit trump down and explain the real world to him before he screws the USA.

    – The China International Payment System (CIPS), which is an alternative to the US controlled SWIFT network, is on-line and growing. It will allow any company on earth to freely trade with any other company on earth in several different currencies (but NOT US dollars) without any USA interference. Even if a company is “delisted” from SWIFT, they can easily do business on CIPS. Not only will this blunt USA sanctions, but also reduce the number of dollar transactions. Note that no matter how trump huffs and puffs, China will just politely tell him to go f*** himself and keep implementing CIPS.

    – Iran has been paranoid about a USA invasion for over 35 years, so during that time, they have meticulously studied USA weapons and tactics, then they put together an extremely deadly defense network. The anti-aircraft network is mutilayer with S-400 type systems, BUK type systems and lots of other “fun stuff.” In addition to the air defense systems, they have implemented anti-ship systems that the USA has no defense against other than to stay away form Iran. IF (big IF) Americans were to actually land on Iran, they would be slaughtered because Iran has a huge, well trained army, plus there are several million citizens that are armed and ready to defeat the USA.

    – Sure, trump could nuke Iran, but it would lead to the end of the USA because the rest of the world would retaliate economically.

    The bottom line is attacking Iran is a fools errand and most USA military leadership KNOWS this as does Iranian leadership, so trumps threats will snot achieve what he thinks they will. trumps threats will simply make him look more foolish.

  14. “The bottom line is attacking Iran is a fools errand.” Which is precisely why he will do it, the new POTUS is Bannon’s fool.

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