General Michael Flynn
© Carlos Barria / Reuters
"I came, I saw, Iran." National security adviser General Michael Flynn should take a chill pill.
Former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency General Michael Flynn, reincarnated as National Security Adviser in the Trump administration, showed he has lost none of his belligerence toward Iran, nor gained any control over his war hawk ways when he threatened that the US is "officially putting Iran on notice," for two recent events. One was not even carried out by Iran, but rather by Iranian-supported Houthi forces who attacked a Saudi warship, while the other was a medium-range ballistic missile test carried out for defensive purposes by Iran. In the myopic worldview of people like Flynn, however, Iran has no right to self-defence. It must sit there like a sitting duck, defenceless, anxiously waiting to be picked off by the US and Israel at a time of their choosing.

Flynn has shown unconditional loyalty to Donald Trump from the start of Trump's election campaign, becoming a trusted confidante and a bottomless pit of knowledge on military/intelligence matters. Trump should strongly consider the value of this loyalty, as Flynn threatens Trump's pledge to scale back US military adventurism and regime change addiction.

Flynn loves Israel. He deliberately lies about Iran's nuclear program. At the end of 2007, 16 US intelligence agencies concluded Iran stopped working on a nuclear program by 2003. Yet 9 years later, Flynn repeats the lie that Iran is still actively working on nuclear weapons. This cloudy thinking totally undermines the good work he did as head of the DIA in revealing the plan for a Salafist principality in Eastern Syria and Western Iraq. But we must take the good with the bad, and in Flynn's case the bad leaves the good in the shade.

Flynn believes in Samuel Huntington's clash of civilisations. He sees the West as at war with radical Islam. He does not distinguish Islam from the radical Islam embraced by terrorists, making him a very dangerous man. He is a die-hard advocate of perpetual war with Iran and Islam, a sure-fire formula for disaster. He is an adherent to the fundamentalist ideology that the west is locked in mortal combat with Islam, making his position of National Security Advisor untenable in any sane, rational foreign policy establishment.

Flynn talks of strengthening the alliances of the US in fighting terrorism. If by this, he intends to increase the support of the prime sponsors of Jihadis unleashed on Syria - Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - his vision of fighting "radical Islam" will engulf the Middle East in catastrophic war, artificially stoking a sectarian Shia/Sunni divide and further fueling the Saudi Arabia-Iran battle for regional dominance.

Flynn suffers from a disconnect: he is determined to wage war without mercy on "radical Islam", until it is eliminated. Quite apart from the fact that he is pursuing a zero sum game, as this goal is unachievable, the thing that should concern us most is that he will embrace the use of Islamists as assets in the fight against what he calls radical Islam. His mission to defeat this scourge makes it a fait accompli that he will weaponize this belief through an expansion of training, financing and arming proxy terrorists to battle his mortal foes on the other side of the fundamentalist dividing line.

The man who has "been at war with Islam" his entire career and said that "fear of Muslims is rational" spells trouble for Muslims domestically, and abroad. The line between "radical" Islam and an acceptable peaceful Islam appears decidedly thin for Flynn and we can expect oppression, harassment and intense monitoring of Muslims in the US under Flynn's watch. In an attitude that should concern all those who hold the First Amendment to the Constitution dear, Flynn says Islam is a political ideology hiding behind a religion. "I don't see Islam as a religion. I see it as a political ideology."

On the matter of the Houthi forces firing on the Saudi ship, this is a totally justifiable action against the Saudi state which has bombarded Yemen without mercy approaching its second anniversary. The war has killed over 10,000 civilians, displaced millions and over 18 million people — 80% of the population — including 10 million children, are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

Saudi Arabia is enforcing a crushing naval blockade on Yemen, which before the war was already the poorest country in the Middle East. Yemen imports 90% of its food and medicine, leaving it easy prey to a calculated blockade designed to starve Houthi rebels into submission. The devastating cost of this blockade is borne most heavily by children, eternally the innocent victims of greed-driven wars. Edward Santiago, Save the Children's Yemen director, notes:
"Even before the war tens of thousands of Yemeni children were dying of preventable causes. But now, the situation is much worse and an estimated 1,000 children are dying every week from preventable killers like diarrhea, malnutrition and respiratory tract infections."
Even after granting some relief from the blockade, Saudi Arabia has shown its cruelty, its willingness to target civilian infrastructure and its use of state terror to impose its will on the Houthis. Mark Golding of Oxfam said:
"Yemen is being slowly starved to death. First there were restrictions on imports including much needed food. When this was partially eased, the cranes in the ports were bombed, then the warehouses, then the roads and the bridges. This is not by accident. It is systematic."
The perverted logic of reinventing a legitimate strike on a nation destroying its neighbor is summed up by Brandon Turbeville:
"Still, one must pay attention to the logic: "We supported a country in a war of aggression against a ragtag group of rebels and those rebels attempted (possibly) to fight back. Therefore, we must threaten a third party whom we cannot even prove supports the rebels."
The Saudis have used their financial muscle to coerce the United Nations into relative obsequiousness, although the killing is so egregious it has tried to save face by condemning acts such as the Saudi/US airstrike on a funeral which killed over 150 people.

The US, never burdened by the moral conscience to comply with international law or opinion, showered Saudi Arabia with over $100 billion in arms sales between 2009 and 2015. Ostensibly the weapons sales are to aid Saudi Arabia to achieve dominance over its regional rival Iran, but they are being applied on the battlefield in Yemen, with the masses of dead bodies testimony to their effectiveness.

In relation to the Iranian missile test, the US reinvents the text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the P5+1 agreement, to justify its own threats, which has escalated to a fresh round of sanctions against 13 individuals and 12 businesses. Iran swiftly responded, imposing its own sanctions on the US, and correctly indicating it is the US itself that is breaking resolution 2231 of the U.N. Security Council that endorsed the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the P5+1.

Flynn claims the missile test violates the P5+1-negotiated and UN-backed Iran nuclear deal. But as Daniel McAdams points out, UNSC Resolution 2231 calls on Iran to not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. It does not prohibit Iran from testing ballistic missiles completely.

Iran has tested several ballistic missiles since the nuclear agreement was signed, all of which were met with hostility by the Obama administration. It must be remembered that Barack Obama constantly intimidated Iran by saying "all options are on the table" prior to the signing of the deal. Israel's threats to "take out" Iranian nuclear facilities never met with disapproval in Washington.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Obama, did not allow Russia's deal to deliver the S300 missile defense system to deter him in his aggressive posturing, saying, "The military option that I owe the president to both encourage the diplomatic solution, and if the diplomacy fails to ensure that Iran doesn't achieve a nuclear weapon, is intact."

The EU sent a clear signal that it intends to stand by the agreement when Nabila Massrali, spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs, and Security Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, said the deal did not include Iran's missile program, and therefore such tests do not violate the deal. It also sends a signal to the US that the EU intends to make life uncomfortable for the new Trump administration in ways it did not with the Obama administration.

Iran has no intention of succumbing to pressure or threats in pursuing the weapons systems required to defend the Iranian people from foreign aggression. The Iranian foreign minister has been explicit in stating that missile tests are purely defensive in nature, designed to protect against and deter potential aggressors. Iran's words are backed up by the fact it has not engaged in a war of aggression since the 1979 revolution. The US, ceaselessly engaged in direct and proxy-sponsored war could never make such a statement.

Take 3 minutes to listen to the Iranian Foreign Minister here:

Iranian Defence Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehgan also firmly answered US accusations, dismissing the idea that Iran has violated the nuclear deal: "The recent test was in line with our programs and we don't allow any foreign party to interfere in our defense affairs," Dehgan told reporters in Tehran. He emphasized the missile tests violate neither the nuclear deal nor UNSC Resolution 2231.

Iran vowed to respond in kind and announced sanctions against American individuals and entities helping "regional terrorist groups." It pushed ahead with weekend defence drills. Commander of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Amirali Hajizadeh said, "If the enemy sets a foot wrong, our roaring missiles will pour on them," a message surely intended for US ears. Iran, like Russia, grows weary at constant unfounded and fabricated US claims of transgressions. It sacrificed a large part of its nuclear program — a right afforded to all sovereign states — to agree to a lopsided deal which leaves Israel sitting atop a large nuclear arsenal with no concerted push to disarm it. Flynn said Iran is feeling "emboldened" by a "weak and feckless" Obama administration. It's more likely, however, that it is Israel that will feel emboldened to pursue the military option if Flynn's threats are a sign of things to come.

A number of points are worth pointing out in illustrating that Flynn's remarks are pure sabre rattling and have no validity.
  • The nuclear deal doesn't explicitly forbid missile testing
  • Iran has an inalienable right to self-defense
  • The US is threatening to tear up the deal, a rhetorical threat, given that it is just one of seven signatories
  • Iran has been constantly threatened with military strikes by the US and Israel
  • Israel will feel emboldened by the words coming out of Washington. It will work to scuttle the deal and presents a very real military threat to Iran
  • Iran said the missiles were not capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
  • Even if the missiles were capable of carrying nuclear warheads, Iran has signed and is fulfilling its side of the deal
While the US can't unilaterally dismantle the accord, it can attempt to do so by provoking Iran into a response which it can then use to attempt to rally the other parties to the deal in terminating it. Successive US governments' longstanding disdain of international law means unilateral military action can't be ruled out.

The more cynical among us may believe the US signed the JCPOA as an elaborate ruse to create a pretext in the future that Iran is breaching it, thumbing its nose at the international community and that military force is justified, albeit 'reluctantly'. The US then undermines the deal, intimidates international banks into steering clear of doing business with Iran, introduces new sanctions and makes threats such as "officially putting Iran on notice." The two discussed incidents are feeble attempts at both provoking Iran and falsely accusing it of hostile actions.

Tony Cartalucci explores the sinister plotting to draw Iran into a trap as set out in a Brookings Institution 2009 policy paper titled, "Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran":
"In it, Brookings explicitly revealed how a "superb offer" would be given to Iran, only to be intentionally revoked in a manner portraying Iran as ungrateful:
"...any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer—one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians "brought it on themselves" by refusing a very good deal."
The so-called "Iran deal," introduced during the administration of US President Barack Obama, represents precisely this "superb offer," with Flynn's accusations serving as the "turn down" ahead of the "sorrowful" war and attempted regime change the US had always planned to target Tehran with."
Flynn's provocative comments, including the ludicrous statement that Iran should be "thankful" to the US for the deal, make sense when placed in the context of the Brookings regime change formula. The comment was so offensive, but it does have its own internal logic to it.

Cartalucci, in a 2013 article, provides a credible explanation for the ruse of the nuclear deal:
"The West has no intention of striking any lasting deal with Iran, as nuclear capabilities, even the acquirement of nuclear weapons by Iran was never truly an existential threat to Western nations or their regional partners. The West's issue with Iran is its sovereignty and its ability to project its interests into spheres traditionally monopolized by the US and UK across the Middle East."
The path to Persia may be the path to Moscow, a fact Moscow is all too aware of. Donald Trump has reached out to Russia, enthusiastic to crush ISIS in joint operations which may involve a joint assault on Raqqa. Threats to Iran do not bode well for improving relations with Russia. Unless Trump can tame the war beasts in his new administration, Iran moving up on the "chopping block" may lie ahead.

While the US' goal was originally to topple Syria in the same way that Libya was destroyed previously, before moving on to Iran and then to Russia, it appears now that perhaps, with Syria so significantly weakened, the country no longer provides an immediate military resistance to the NATO war machine and Iran, having been weakened by its necessary involvement in the Syrian crisis, can be moved up on the chopping block.

An underreported event which no doubt sent shock waves through the halls of the White House was Iran announcing it will ditch the dollar in conducting financial and foreign exchange transactions from the new fiscal year that begins in March.

How likely is this to precipitate aggressive US actions against Iran? Certainly when Iraq and Libya turned their backs on the dollar as the currency of choice they felt the wrath of US military power. Martin Jay comments that ditching the dollar in favor of a "basket of other international currencies for its central bank reserves is almost a greater enticement than taking a pot shot at a US warship in the Persian Gulf. "

To illustrate the imperative of Iran developing weapons systems to protect against attacks and highlight the poverty of the argument of rabid anti-Iran war hawks like Flynn that Iran is the aggressor, take note of the words of Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, (in the video above) responding to a reporter's question on the development of ballistic missiles:
"You were not the subject of eight years of war, where your cities were showered with missiles carrying chemical want us to get a few dollars into Iran, to abandon defending our people......we will never use them against anybody, unless in self defence, and be sure that nobody has the guts again to attack us."
As a final point of illustration, the map below, which shows 45 US military bases surrounding Iran, could not give a clearer picture of the threat the US poses to Iran. Ask yourself the question, who is threatening whom?
iran bases