TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - “The USA is an empire that cannot tolerate the existence of regional powers which follow an independent foreign and economic policy or which might rise to challenge the US unipolar world,” Ken Stone, a member of the Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War, said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
“Trump's recent comment… lies in the fact that the USA is the chief architect of terrorism around the world due to its use of terrorist mercenaries as its foot soldiers in wars of conquest since the 1980's in Afghanistan right up to today in Syria,” he noted.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: As you know, US President Donald Trump, in his first address to a session of the UN General Assembly, claimed that Iran’s “support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing.” In your opinion, what are the reasons behind such harsh remarks and what geopolitical objectives is Trump pursuing? Is Iran the one that supports terrorism?
Stone: Anyone who pays attention to foreign affairs knows that Iran is a strong supporter of counter-terrorism. Iran has contributed significant resources to aid the government of Syria in resisting the predations of Al Qaeda and ISIS (also known as Daesh). Iraq has likewise helped the government of Iraq. Of all the countries of the world, there are few that can compare with Iran's support for the Palestinian people in their struggle against the state-sponsored terrorism of the Israeli government. Iran itself has been the victim of terrorists from the earliest days of the Islamic Revolution, through the eight years of war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, right up to the recent attack on the Iranian parliament. The hypocrisy of Trump's recent comment that Iran’s “support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing” lies in the fact that the USA is the chief architect of terrorism around the world due to its use of terrorist mercenaries as its foot soldiers in wars of conquest since the 1980's in Afghanistan right up to today in Syria. The neighbors of Iran referred to in Trump's statement include the Saudi Arabian monarchy which is the chief agent for the USA in recruiting and financing Wahhabi terrorists as those foot soldiers for US wars of conquest.
I believe that Trump slandered the Islamic Republic of Iran at the UN because his administration is now following the same warlike and hegemonic policies of previous US administrations, despite his campaign promises to the US electorate to the contrary. The USA is an empire that cannot tolerate the existence of regional powers which follow an independent foreign and economic policy or which might rise to challenge the US unipolar world. This is why, since the demise of the Soviet Union, that the USA has intervened militarily in the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and several other countries. It is also why Iran, China, and Russia have been encircled by US military bases and missile launching sites. If I were in the Iranian government, I would be worried.
Tasnim: According to media reports, the US has recently agreed to continue for now to exempt Iran from nuclear-related sanctions but imposed new embargoes on 11 Iranian people and companies, accusing them of trumped-up charges like involvement in cyber-attacks against the US financial system. Do not you think that the new sanctions are in violation of the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the Group 5+1, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)? What would the move signal to the public opinion on Washington’s commitment to its international agreements?
Stone: With every diplomatic or economic pact signed, there is both the letter of the agreement and the spirit of the agreement. In the case of the JCPOA, the USA is content, for now, to leave the letter of the agreement in place, but the spirit is lacking. Obama negotiated the JCPOA (The Iran Nuclear Agreement) because he was not in a favorable position to attack Iran but rather hoped to engage Iran in a long-term strategic process that would eventually bring Iran back into the US sphere of influence. Even after the document was signed and ratified, however, the Obama Administration failed to honor the letter of the agreement, namely to remove all of its economic sanctions against Iran and return all the Iranian funds it had illegally seized. This failure was due to the fact that the spirit, of treating Iran as a respected partner with equal status to the USA as a sovereign state, was lacking.
Now that Trump has come to power, the spirit of honoring the JCPOA is even more lacking. Trump is more openly aggressive towards Iran than was Obama because he is closer to Israel (an important US client-state) and to Netanyahu than was Obama. Both Trump and Netanyahu share the “go it alone” approach to international politics. Neither seems to care if their allies follow them into their proposed foolhardy adventures or not. So definitely, the new sanctions announced by Trump are in violation of the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the Group 5+1 and are a clear message to the people of the USA that the Trump Administration is not satisfied with the JCPOA and will try to undermine it. And that brings us to the key point here of Washington’s commitment to its international agreements. In actuality, it now appears that Washington is incapable of living up to any of its international commitments, whether political or economic. The Russian government, which has been betrayed time after time on agreements made with the USA over Syria in particular, but also concerning Eastern Europe and strategic missiles, has concluded publicly that it is not possible to come to any consistent agreement with the USA on anything. It appears that US policy has entered an era of instability with many competing interests for the direction of the US Empire undermining any and all moves of their competitors in various power centers within the US power structure. The Empire is unstable, unreliable, and therefore dangerous. US presidential administrations apparently now ask for, work on, and get various agreements which are promptly undermined by other US political bodies. The JCPOA is one of these agreements. If I were in the Iranian government, I would be worried.
Tasnim: US House of Representatives recently voted to block sales of commercial aircraft to Iran. This is while, a number of Iranian airlines, including Iran Air and Iran Aseman Airlines, have signed deals with US plane-maker Boeing to buy nearly 180 airplanes. What problems can the decision by the US House of Representatives create for the agreements?
Stone: The counter-intuitive move by the Republican-dominated US House of Representatives, which recently voted to block sales of commercial aircraft to Iran, is a case in point. The proposed sale would have been good for business in the USA and would have created the kind of “made in America” jobs that Trump harped on during the presidential election campaign. However, the House of Representatives preferred political obedience to good business sense and clearly wants to scuttle the agreement.
This kind of treacherous behavior by institutions of the US government, of course, sends a message to all other governments in the world that the USA cannot be trusted. This behavior causes special pain and discomfort for US allies who are parties to the JCPOA and other US-initiated agreements and treaties. In the place of statesmen, the US has shallow and unprofessional negotiators. And with a novice to politics such as Trump, who uses gangster language and who has the attitude of “It's my way or the highway!”, I believe that Iran is dealing with a dishonest and aggressive superpower. I don't believe the JCPOA will endure. If I were in the Iranian government, I would be worried indeed.