The US Will Soon War With Iran (Daniel 7-8)

President Donald Trump speaking at CPAC, Maryland, February 24, 2017. (Gage Skidmore, CC 2.0)The mask is off: Trump is seeking war with Iran

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By Trita Parsi

President Donald Trump speaking at CPAC, Maryland, February 24, 2017. (Gage Skidmore, CC 2.0)

Something extraordinary has happened in Washington. President Donald Trump has made it clear, in no uncertain terms and with no effort to disguise his duplicity, that he will claim that Tehran is cheating on the nuclear deal by October — the facts be damned. In short, the fix is in. Trump will refuse to accept that Iran is in compliance and thereby set the stage for a military confrontation. His advisors have even been kind enough to explain how they will go about this. Rarely has a sinister plan to destroy an arms control agreement and pave the way for war been so openly telegraphed.
The unmasking of Trump’s plans to sabotage the nuclear deal began two weeks ago when he reluctantly had to certify that Iran indeed was in compliance. Both the US intelligence as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency had confirmed Tehran’s fair play. But Trump threw a tantrum in the Oval Office and berated his national security team for not having found a way to claim Iran was cheating. According to Foreign Policy, the adults in the room—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster — eventually calmed Trump down but only on the condition that they double down on finding a way for the president to blow up the deal by October.
Prior to the revelation of Trump’s Iran certification meltdown, most analysts and diplomats believed that Trump’s rhetoric on Iran was just that — empty talk. His bark was worse than his bite, as demonstrated when he certified Iran’s compliance back in April and when he renewed sanctions waivers in May. The distance between his rhetoric and actual policy was tangible. Rhetorically, Trump officials described Iran as the root of all problems in the Middle East and as the greatest state sponsor of terror. Trump even suggested he might quit the deal.
In action, however, President Trump continued to waive sanctions and admitted that Iran was adhering to the deal. As a result, many concluded that Trump would continue to fulfill the obligations of the deal while sticking to his harsh rhetoric in order to appease domestic opponents of the nuclear deal — as well as Trump’s allies in Saudi Arabia and Israel.
But now, assessments are changing. The tangible danger of Trump’s malice on the Iran deal — as well as the danger of the advice of the “adults in the room”  —became further clarified this week as tidbits of the reality TV star’s plans began to leak.

How to Wreck a Deal

An IAEA expert demonstrating how the safeguards Next Generation Surveillance System (NGSS) works, March 20, 2015. (Photo: Dean Calma / IAEA)An IAEA expert demonstrating how the safeguards Next Generation Surveillance System (NGSS) works, March 20, 2015. (Photo: Dean Calma / IAEA)

Recognizing that refusing to certify Iran would isolate the United States, Trump’s advisors gave him another plan. Use the spot-inspections mechanism of the nuclear deal, they suggested, to demand access to a whole set of military sites in Iran. Once Iran balks — which it will since the mechanism is only supposed to be used if tangible evidence exists that those sites are being used for illicit nuclear activities — Trump can claim that Iran is in violation, blowing up the nuclear deal while shifting the blame to Tehran.
Thus, the advice of the adults in the room — those who we are supposed to restrain Trump — was not to keep the highly successful nuclear deal that has taken both an Iranian bomb and war with Iran off the table. Rather, they recommended killing it in a manner that would conceal Trump’s malice and shift the cost to Iran.
According to The New York Times, the groundwork for this strategy has already been laid. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Corker (R-TN) calls this strategy “radical enforcement” of the deal. “If they don’t let us in,” Corker told The Washington Post, “boom.” Then he added: “You want the breakup of this deal to be about Iran. You don’t want it to be about the U.S., because we want our allies with us.”
This is a charade, a rerun of the machinations that resulted in the Iraq war. It doesn’t matter what Iran does or doesn’t do. If it were up to Trump, he’d never have accepted that Iran was in compliance in the first place. He admitted as much to the Wall Street Journal. “If it was up to me, I would have had them [the Iranians] non-compliant 180 days ago.”
Sounding supremely confident of the “radical implementation” strategy, Trump added that “I think they’ll be noncompliant [in October].” In so doing, he further confirmed doubts that the process is about determining whether Iran is in compliance or not. The administration is committed to finding a way to claim Iran has violated the accord, regardless of the facts—just as George W. Bush did with Iraq.
Potential for Backfire
But Trump’s confidence may be misplaced on two levels. First, abusing the inspection mechanisms of the deal may prove harder than Trump has been led to believe. The inspections are the cornerstone of the deal, and Iran’s ability to cheat on the deal is essentially non-existent as long as the integrity and efficiency of the inspections remain in tact. But if Trump begins to abuse the mechanism to fabricate a conflict, he will end up undermining the inspections regime and actually enhance the ability of those in Iran who would like to pursue a covert nuclear program. Precisely because of the commitment of Europe and others to non-proliferation, they are likely to resist Trump’s efforts to tinker with the inspections.
Second, by revealing his hand, Trump has displayed his duplicity for all to see. That includes the American public, whose anti-war sentiments remain strong and are a key reason they supported the nuclear deal in the first place.
The American public knows the Iraq playbook quite well. Trump’s own supporters remain enraged by the disastrous war with Iraq. They know how they got played. It’s difficult to imagine why they would allow themselves to get played again by a president who has left little doubt about his intent to deceive.
Trita Parsi is the president of the National Iranian American Council and author of Losing an Enemy – Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy. This article was first published in LobeLog.

Nuclear Winter Will Come Soon (Revelation 16)

In a March 23 news story in The New York Times, the general in charge of our nuclear arms arsenal, Jack Weinstein, called for “…a strengthened and modernized nuclear deterrence force in this country.” Why? Because nuclear deterrence has worked in the past and it will work in the future. On that premise, General Weinstein said, “I sleep very well at night.”
Many of us don’t. We recall that four or five times during the Cold War, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union had over 60,000 nuclear missiles on hair-trigger alert, there were accidents that came close to triggering a catastrophic exchange of nuclear missiles. For example, in 1979, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) computers showed that 200 Soviet missiles were streaking towards U.S. targets. “It took us several days to ascertain that an operator had mistakenly installed a training tape in the computer, “ said William Perry, in his book My Journey at the Nuclear Brink.
The unavoidable fact is, no plan of defense is perfect and the leadership of any country is not always reliably rational. What’s more, the belief in failsafe deterrence does not take into account the lightening fast response required in the face of a perceived nuclear missile attack—with only 15 minutes to decide whether to respond.
Nine countries now have nuclear weapons, and that in itself makes the current risk of mishap or misbehavior even higher than it was during the Cold War. What if an unstable commander in chief is seized by a maniacal sense of humiliation, depression, fury? History is replete with unlikely events spinning out of control. For example, the assassination of an Austro-Hungarian prince in 1914 triggered a concatenation of events that exploded into the horror of World War One-–a horror magnified because all countries were armed to the teeth. .
Contrary to General Weinstein, nuclear deterrence does not mean we can sleep more peacefully. It means rather that we had better start taking a closer look at the possibility of nuclear winter.
Recall that nuclear winter was the subject of a major scientific paper called TTAPS published in Science Magazine in December of 1983, so-named for the initials of the authors on the project, Robert Turco, Owen Toon, Thomas Ackerman, James Pollack, and Carl Sagan, the most famous of the group. Although there was a flurry of media for a short time, the subject evoked a vigorous backlash from industrial and military interests, and then vanished from attention once the Cold War collapsed at the end of the decade. Between 1990 and 2003 no new scientific papers on the subject were published.
However, after 9/11 and our headlong plunge into a misbegotten “war on terror” came a resurrection of interest . A number of leading climatologists and physicists returned to their laboratories to re-investigate the subject, only this time with new computers and advanced modeling tools, including NASA’s latest climate models. Within the last decade or so these scientists have produced at least five notable scientific papers in prestigious scholarly journals, each of which has been subject to peer review by reputable scientists. These studies not only confirmed the soundness of the basic physics but also showed a nuclear war could be even more devastating than previously thought.
One of the most riveting examples was a scientific paper published by the American Geophysics Union in the journal Earth’s Future in April, 2014. Four scientists, Drs. Owen B. Toon, Michael J. Mills, Julia Lee-Taylor, and Alan Robock studied the likely effects of a regional nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, assuming each side would detonate 50 bombs of the same size as the one dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The immediate result would be 20 million deaths. This would be followed by massive firestorms which would send millions of tons of smoke and black carbon into the stratosphere, higher than the cleansing effects of rain, where a layer of particles would then form and circle the globe. The earth’s temperature would drop to the coldest average surface levels in the last 1000 years—and killing frosts would reduce growing seasons by 10 to 40 days, producing a 30 to 40 percent reduction in agricultural yield over five years and cause massive human starvation.
What’s more, the bombs used in this computer study were only 15 kilotons, whereas the actual bombs in the present nuclear arsenal are seven to eight times more powerful. Dr. Steven Starr, director of clinical laboratories at the University of Missouri, declares that “Nuclear Winter would cause most humans and large animals to die from famine in a mass extinction event similar to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.”
These scientists are saying, in effect, that a war fought with nuclear weapons is a game of Russian roulette with bullets in all chambers. Nuclear war, in short, is tantamount to mass suicide. If we choose to believe this science has any credence at all, and if we wish to bequeath a habitable planet to our offspring, then we had better start mounting a much louder cry to abolish these dreadful weapons.