By Philip Giraldi
Any university course in international relations 101 would define a foreign policy as a coordinated series of actions intended to either bring some benefit to one’s country or to mitigate a potential or imminent threat. By that definition, it would appear that the United States has not had anything qualifying as a foreign policy over the past 20 years.
The current intervention into the Russia-Ukraine fighting does not benefit the American people in any way, nor does the provocation of China over an essentially irrelevant Taiwan. The U.S. also has illegal military bases in Syria placed there to support rebel militias and to steal and sell Syrian oil. Venezuela is another prime example where meddling in that country’s internal politics brings no benefit of any kind, quite the contrary as thousands of Venezuelan would be “immigrants” stream over America’s unsecured southern border.
And then there is the case of Cuba where 60 years of brutal sanctions have only delivered economic pain and suffering on the ordinary Cuban people, not on the country’s political leadership, which continues to be Communist.
But the most bizarre U.S. policy, such as it is, has to belong to the bilateral relationship with Iran, which has been on the receiving end from Washington ever since the 1979 revolution in that country brought down the Shah and turned the government into an Islamic Republic ruled by a Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, commonly referred to as the “Mullahs.” To be sure, if one goes back to the Iran hostage crisis that followed in 1979-1981, there was plenty of justified anger over the way the situation was eventually prolonged and finally resolved. I can recall participating in CIA station briefings in the 1980s where other officers would be discussing issues completely unrelated to Iran but nevertheless felt compelled to vent their anger by somehow inserting a comment expressing how much they hated Iranians.
To be sure, U.S. policy has since that time become both contradictory and more intent on meting out punishment than actually fixing what has gone wrong. Former President Barack Obama’s successful promotion of U.S. participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015, which would have inspected and monitored any possible Iranian nuclear research, provided a slight reprieve. But that step forward was undone by then-President Donald Trump in response to a shower of Benjamins coming from the late Israel firster Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and some very bad advice from neocons John Bolton and Mike Pompeo.
Israel and its neocon friends in government and the media have been the drivers of the apparent confusion at the State Department and on the National Security Council. And deliberately misleading public statements from Israel’s leaders about Iranian weapons developments as well as the alleged malign intentions of the Mullahs have done little more than muddy the waters and actually prevent any actual policy formulation.
The top cheerleader in Israel’s drive to have the United States bomb Iran has been none other than Benjamin Netanyahu, who is now set to become prime minister for the third time. Back in 2015, he sought to block initial U.S. participation in the JCPOA by getting himself invited to address Congress, which he did, receiving 27 standing ovations. One suspects that Netanyahu could kill half the pathetic sycophants in the room and the other half would continue to cheer him, so immune is Israel to any kind of censure from the U.S. government. Bibi, as he is affectionately referred to, has been denouncing Iran and claiming that it has a secret nuclear weapon program for over 20 years, without producing a shred of evidence apart from fabricated intelligence produced by Mossad. Famously, a laptop “discovered” by the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), opponents of the Iranian regime prior to 2002, containing notes on an alleged nuclear program turned out to be a clever forgery which the Israelis subsequently tried to exploit to induce the U.S. to start bombing.
Currently, self-described Zionist President Joe Biden has predictably folded before Israeli pressure and has pledged that he will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, also stating that he would use American military resources to stop such a program. He has also said that he will “free Iran,” whatever that is supposed to mean. And this is where all the contradictions start to come in. Israel persists in its claim that Iran has a secret program at a secret military base, but even some senior Israeli military officers have in fact privately denied that Iran poses a threat to the nuclear armed and always ready-to-strike Jewish state.
One would logically assume that if Iran has even a vague intention of doing the precursor work for going nuclear the best remedy would be to renew U.S. participation in the JCPOA to set up an intrusive monitoring system that covers Iranian technical and military facilities, but instead the U.S. is walking away from the negotiations in Vienna. Why? According to White House sources, apparently it is because of blowback from Iran’s response to the recent wave of protests and because of its backing of the Kremlin in its war in Ukraine. One senior US official opined that, “Even if Iran came back to the table today and said it wanted a nuclear deal, the U.S. was unlikely to move forward.”
It is yet another example of how the Biden administration has become adept at getting things backwards. And there’s more. Uberhawk John Bolton recently revealed that the United States is arming the protesters in Iran, suggesting a more active role in regime change than is being acknowledged by the White House. If that is true, it comes on top of an already existing full battery of warnings, assassinations, sabotage missions, and devastating sanctions against Iranian targets, often carried out jointly with Israel.
The absurdity of what is playing out is best demonstrated by the Defense Department’s recent admission that it does not think Iran is working on a nuclear weapon and is therefore not a strategic threat to the United States. That revelation was delivered on October 27th, after a long delay, when the Pentagon finally released its Nuclear Posture Review. The review includes an assessment that, “Iran does not currently pose a nuclear threat but continues to develop capabilities that would enable it to produce a nuclear weapon should it make the decision to do so.” It concludes: “Iran does not today possess a nuclear weapon and we currently believe it is not pursuing one.”
The White House is living in a fantasy world where the addition of enemy after enemy to the roster of foes is considered business as usual, also promoted by the empty slogan “keeping America safe,” which it does not do—quite the contrary.
The federal government will discover someday that the resources to fight multiple wars globally are running low and young Americans no longer want to put on a uniform and die in places that they cannot even find on a map. And as for a foreign policy that works for the American people, it is time to get back to basics and do what it takes to restore stability and apply good common sense to mend the way that a seemingly clueless Washington has been interacting with the rest of the world.
Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.