President Trump is deeply confused by Iran's refusal to make a deal.  The Dealmaker-in-Charge has made it clear to the Supreme Leader that if he sits down with The Donald, there will be rich rewards.  Iran will be welcomed back into the community of nations, given full access to international trade and investment, and all that the Iranians have to do in JCPOA 2.0 is pledge to forever forego a nuclear bomb and greatly reduce their arsenal of ballistic missiles, which they have stashed inside Iran, in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

What the President lacks is any understanding of the internal dynamics in the Islamic Republic and the growing power of a hardline faction of clerics and the top leaders of the IRGC.  They are Iran's equivalent of the worst of the American neocons.  They never wanted the JCPOA, they want out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and they believe that they can wipe out the reformist and centrist opposition to their total consolidation of power.  Recently, one of the most hardline former IRGC commanders was elected as chairman of the powerful National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Iranian parliament.  Mojtaba Zonnour's election was a significant step towards the IRGC internal power coup.

In the minds of this apparatus, the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA proved that President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Zarif and all those who backed the negotiations with the P5+1 were naïve and were deceived by those seeking regime change in Tehran.  They believe that Iranians have already suffered greatly under the American sanctions, and things can't get much worse economically.  They also believe that the United States does not have the will to conduct a full-scale invasion and will resort to missile strikes, cyber attacks and other sabotage.  The strategic goal is to survive the Trump presidency with the new regime, led by the IRGC, intact.

President Trump does not understand these critical internal dynamics.  He simply cannot fathom why the Supreme Leader won't bite on the deal of the century.  Sooner or later, barring a change in the dynamic, he will strike.  Whether out of confusion, frustration, or in response to a deliberate provocation by the IRGC, the momentum towards war is accelerating.

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  1. doug says:

    “Barring a change in the dynamic”
    I don’t see anything that’s going to change that. If a decision is made to strike Iran, it will first start with a PR effort painting Iran as the evil doer. Most media reports currently stress Iran exceeding the agreement limits while barely mentioning that this only occurred after the US unilaterally withdrew from it and imposed sanctions including on any other country doing biz with Iran. Agreements are for thee, not for me. The time is shortening when we will no longer be “exceptional.”

  2. frankie p says:

    This is not an analysis that will hold water. It seems to want to blame the current impasse on a clique of hard-liners in Iran and Trump’s failure to understand internal pressures in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I disagree completely.
    This from Alastair Crooke describes the situation much more accurately, a political crisis reaching far back into history, an antagonism that will not be resolved by Iran coming to the table to talk about a JCPOA 2.0. Iran is correct to refuse any negotiation before a significant lifting of sanctions and the US sticking to its promises according to the JCPOA.
    “So, what then is the nature of this Iran crisis? Well, there are two components: Firstly, the crisis between Iran and Washington is only nominally about nuclear issues. It is rather, a political crisis between Iran and America, which reaches back to the humiliation of US President Carter in the context of the US embassy siege in Tehran. The nuclear wrangle is just the pretext for this bitter struggle. When Secretary Pompeo speaks of negotiations being only possible – as and when – Iran were to become a “normal nation”, he plainly means only ‘when Iran abjures its revolution’. Again, this reflects a complete lack of understanding of ‘that’ which makes Iran precisely what it is.
    This US-Iranian antagonism also explains why Iran rejects to negotiate on the JCPOA with Trump. The Supreme Leader understands that the nature of the crisis is one of deep political hostility, rather that of the parties needing to agree some technical download ‘patch’ to the JCPOA software (such as an extension to the ‘sunset clauses’).
    A short term ‘sticking plaster’ applied to the JCPOA solves little. The antagonism remains unresolved. Instead, Iran intends to raise the stakes for Trump by giving him the choice: Risk your Presidential election prospects for 2020 through entangling yourself in ratchetting escalation with Iran, or back-off on oil and banking sanctions. The Iranian leadership will mount its own counter-measures against “regime collapse” pursued by economic strangulation. Trump may find he becomes obliged to choose either the military way – or retreat.”
    Frankie P

  3. turcopolier says:

    frankie p
    What you are missing is that Trump and the other New York business hustlers’ lack any complete inability to deal with men who in the end cannot be bought or browbeaten into surrender of their future.

  4. In middle and and high school I was hounded by Robert Farnsworth a WASP.
    Finally, as a HS junior I had enough. When he accosted me walking home, I finally did what my father and my adult mentors advised…. I hit him with all my might between the eyes flattening his nose. He came back for more…. I hit him….
    and hit him… and hit him….
    The police came and ordered me to leave…. I told them I wasn’t leaving he was…
    He came at me then and I pounded him into the dirt again and again…. until…
    he ran away….
    He never bothered me again… and my classmates finally gave me respect…
    Bolton, Pompeo etal… are nothing but Robert Farnsworth writ large.
    The Iranians are, if anything, too timid…

  5. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    You’re right on the steadfast intransigence on the Iranian side, but it goes back beyond the Carter era to the 1953 coup engineered by the CIA at Britain’s behest.
    Crooke also sees a strong element of Shiism on the march throughout the area while the autocratic kingdoms and principalities of the Sunni-dominated areas are losing their legitimacy.

  6. Pacifica Advocate says:

    The “exceeding the limits” nonsense is a direct & unavoidable **CONSEQUENCE** of the US sanctions.
    Under the JCPOA, Iran was to export certain byproducts of their enrichment process to Russia, which would then use them for its own purposes and in return provide enriched, non-weaponizable uranium for use in Iran’s electrical plants.
    The sanctions made that transaction impossible, so as a result these byproducts have simply been stored for later use–which is exactly what the JCPOA was created to avoid.
    In other words: the US created a situation where this buildup would happen, it KNEW it was causing a situation where this would happen, and now it’s prancing around like a schoolyard bully blathering on about how it’s all Iran’s fault this happened.
    Pure propaganda–nothing less.

  7. Mathias Alexander says:

    Iran understands that America wants to do to Iran what it did to Syria and Libya.

  8. Bill H says:

    Another comment that makes me wish we had a “like” button. I have nothing to add to it, but am glad to see that it was posted.

  9. Pacifica Advocate says:

    The post-WWII US leadership was divided into two groups:
    * Those who supported Roosevelt’s plan for decolonization and recognition of a multilateral order negotiated among traditional, preindustrial superpowers like Persia, China, Indonesia, Egypt, etc.
    * Those who believed the US was the natural inheritor of the British/French/Spanish Empires, who believed that nothing wrong could possibly be done to the indigenous peoples of the Americas–the US genocide had been so successful in replacing indigenous peoples with Europeans, why not keep on keeping on?
    The latter group won out, but not until the 1960s–Kennedy, Malcolm X, King, Kennedy (and quite a few other smaller leaders during that period as well: AIM/Leonard Peltier, Attica, etc).
    This latter group adopted the British Empire’s perspective towards the entire world–and in that world view, Persia was an enemy that must either be controlled, or beaten into submission.
    Read up on “The Great Game.” It’ll tell you a lot about why it has been so hard for Iran to trust Russia, this last decade.
    Kissinger, I have read, warned that after the detente with China, in another 30 or 40 years or so the US would need to make nice with Russia, and pull it away from an alliance with China.
    What we’re seeing is a gradual emergence of an alliance between China, Russia, and Iran. India is a bit spooked, but if this pan-Asian alliance works as each party hopes it will, India will join in.
    Now you know why the US fought a war in Afghanistan:
    Because certain people in the leadership elite decided that “making nice” with Russia wasn’t what they wanted. Profits were more important, and anyway: the US and Russia have MAD in place, no? So OF COURSE the Russians will never attack the US.
    But what about a country that has no nuclear weapons–eh?
    What happens if Russia says “Use nuclear weapons in this theater, and we will interpret it as an attack on our own soil.”
    And then, if that country attacks–
    the “no nukes” rule is in play, no?
    Or is it?
    It’s up to that imperialistic US leadership to decide, no?

  10. Jack says:

    No matter the manufactured casus belli, I don’t believe that Trump has the ability to strike Iran militarily despite the howls of Bibi, MbS and our neocon fifth column in his administration. Unless of course he intends to lose his re-election which right now he seems likely to win.
    Yes, he craves a ratings win with a made for TV show with Khamenei. Of course just like Rocketman Kim, Khamenei would not have to give up anything.

  11. Fred says:

    I ran has zero electric power plants that use refined uranium. They are unlikely to have any for decades to come.

  12. While it might be propaganda most of the audience will never know this stuff, all they will know is what they are told and they will think what they are told to think.
    As we already know, lies are as good as truth when it comes to manufacturing consent for war.

  13. I agree with this and, in addition, an Iranian friend who has recently returned from the country told me that although many people (and her ‘many people’ are the relatively wealthy, but not rich, who are not government supporters) think the government and power structure are thieves, support for the government against the USA is a given.They have a pretty good idea about what is going on.
    It is likely that the misunderstanding of the Trump regime includes a lack of understanding of the will of the Iranian people. They will not roll over for a regime change because they understand what such a change will mean and their recent history tells them that the outcome will not suit them well.

  14. casey says:

    Well said, Mr. Colonel. But surely the Malignant Manatee and Yosemite Sam have some idea of what they are doing, and whom they are doing it for, by which I mean the Bibies.
    Also, hardliners or not, what exactly is the point of “negotiating” a JCPOA2 with proven liars, thieves, cheats and — lest we forget the U.S. Vincennes shootdown, for which the skipper won an award, no less — murderers?
    Wasn’t it Einstein who said doing the same thing over and over and expecting the “non-agreement capable” US to suddenly become agreement capable to be the definition of insanity?

  15. Pacifica Advocate says:

    Iran is looking to sell its oil, and bank its electricity on nuclear generators.
    Taiwan, like Japan, has one of the lowest electrical rates on the planet–and it’s entirely due to nuclear power generation.
    Japan’s record isn’t so hot–they built their power-plants on fault-lines.
    Iran’s fault-lines are far less active than, say, Yosemite–or the San Andreas fault. Their pursuit of nuclear energy is entirely understandable, both economically and in terms of safety.
    Iran’s strategy is clear:
    A) Let’s not use our oil to generate expensive electricity
    B) Let’s export it, and earn big $$$$
    C) Let’s use Nuclear Generation to save on both $$$$ and environmental degradation
    The US’ strategy is also, equally, clear:
    A) Let’s use Iran’s plan to use nuclear energy to boost its international standing as a means of forcing it to acquiesce to surrendering to the Petroleum Conglomerates, represented & enforced by the US military.

  16. prawnik says:

    You are correct in that the JCPOA is not and never was the real issue.
    However, there can be and will be no “better deal” because no deal can be written that will give Saudi Arabia and Israel what they want.
    Saudi Arabia objects to the fact that Iran is Shia. No deal can be written that will change this.
    Israel objects to the fact that Iran exists. No deal can be written that will change this.

  17. Fred says:

    Planing on using nuclear power plants is not the same as having them in current operation. Even Wikipedia lists the power outputs.
    If they want to stop burning oil to generate electricity they should cut a deal with Trump to trade oil for coal and solicit bids for clean coal plant construction instead of nuclear. Then they can play off the greenies against the coal industry while claiming to be nuclear free.

  18. JamesT says:

    I just read The Great Game. It is fascinating how the anti-Russian headlines in London two hundred years ago were practically identical to the anti-Russian headlines in London today.
    But with respect to Iran – they need to wake up and realize that time have changed. Two hundred years ago Russia would have been happy to absorb them into the Russian empire, Putin has no such desire to do so today. Iran needs to temper her narcissism and stop pretending that she is a great power on par with Russia or the USA.

  19. JamesT says:

    Timing is everything. It takes a while for the electorate to sour on war – for the first couple of months they enthusiastically rally around the flag (and the president).

  20. Procopius says:

    The thing that frightens me is that there seem to be a clique in the defense establishment that thinks nuclear weapons are just “big bombs.” They seem to be behind Obama’s trillion dollar “modernization” program and the development of lower yield warheads. They apparently believe that if the destructive power is less than some amount then nobody will care if the warhead uses nuclear fission or fusion. I believe that they are wrong, and that if even one nuclear weapon is used, the other possessors of nukes will feel they must use theirs. These are the same people who advocated a “bloody nose” attack on North Korea, arguing that if the attack was limited to, say, the missile testing area, the North Koreans would accept the bloody nose and be grateful we didn’t hurt them worse. Lunatics like Bolton, and less well known.

  21. Pacifica Advocate says:

    Iran already cut a deal with the US, under Obama. The US reneged. Simply put, henceforth any US president is a liar and a thug who cannot be trusted, and will be treated as such by any country who isn’t afraid of its military–until something is done to rectify the underhanded double dealings the US is so clearly guilty of.

  22. Pacifica Advocate says:

    As usual, Fred is wrong.
    Iran has one operating generator, and is in the process of building 2 more:
    The Iranians will not deal with Trump, who has proven he cannot be trusted–he broke the initial agreement, so how could he possibly be trusted (or any other US president, for that matter) to any future agreements?
    The US must return to the original agreement. Of course, Trump dances to Adelson’s tune, so that’s not going to happen. So it’s a standoff.
    I thought it rather pathetic that the White House begged Iran to allow the US to bomb some unimportant stuff so Trump could save face.
    Your support for this puffed up orange-colored thug may well bring about the complete destruction of the US’s imposed order.

  23. rf says:

    The Iranians are not hounded by Robert Farnsworth. They are hounded by Mike Tyson and friends from the gym.
    IMHO Bolton, Pompeo etal are used by Trump as a negotiating device. It is their job to push hard and create this atmosphere of seeming inevitability of war. If the other side blinks first, then it is a job well done.

  24. Pacifica Advocate says:

    Yap. That’s 5tragedy of it all–good, brave men and women recognize the charade, but are ignored because…money, power, and fear.

  25. Pacifica Advocate says:

    Putin is a breath of fresh air, compared to Stalin–who, let us not forget, was of the same ideological and political stock as the current Ukrainian, Georgian, & Israeli governments.
    Persia suffered a lot as they struggled to withstand the Russo-Ottoman onslaught. Syria has always been a hotspot in that struggle.
    It’s totally understandable that Iran is moving forward hesitantly. Central Asia is traditionally “Greater Persia.” The Soviet Union changed that–and now, there’s the “New Silk Road”, OBOR.
    Iran is isolated and fearful with good reason. It is moving forward with one eye on the step to be made, and the other on what might pop out from behind.

  26. Pacifica Advocate says:

    Our host at this site–the Goox Colonel–has repeatedly indicated he shares that fear.
    I think that might be the one thing that enables us all here, to communicate so politely, even when we might disagree.

  27. BraveNewWorld says:

    There are enough holes in to make it almost invisible, but don’t be surprised if this is exhibit 1 or 2 when some one is picked to play the role of Colin Powell v 2.0.
    IMO war with Iran is now unstoppable, not just because of this but because the disinformation war as a whole has succeeded. Nicely played Bibi.

  28. Pacifica Advocate says:

    Typo. I was on my phone. Should have been “Good”–I was appalled at how it came out. I also missed comma, and somehow “the” in another post got changed to a “5”.
    Autocorrect. Predictive typing. Bah.

  29. Pacifica Advocate says:

    Always a bad idea, in this world where people suspect sources, and sources are likely to be suspect.

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