Obama’s Former National Security Spokesperson Explains Near-Conflict With Iran | Pod Save the World

Obama’s Former National Security Spokesperson Explains Near-Conflict With Iran | Pod Save the World


A lot of people have been asking me what
the hell is going on with Iran right now so I’m gonna try to give you a short
version that will hopefully explain it. It starts in May of 2018 when Donald
Trump pulled out of the Iran deal. That was the deal we cut with them in the
international community to limit their ability to create a nuclear weapon. This
month the Iranians finally decided you know what if the Americans are gonna
pull out of this deal we’re gonna start enriching uranium again and we’re gonna
do all the things we weren’t supposed to do as a part of this deal. Fast forward
even further the Iranians shot down an American drone flying over the Strait of
Hormuz. Last night the New York Times reported that Donald Trump was ten
minutes away from launching a military strike on Iran but then at the last
minute asks his generals or somebody how many people is this gonna kill because
that’s a thing you asked at the very end of a decision-making process and it was
too many for him to manage. So where does that leave us now? Honestly we don’t know
clearly some of his advisors want him to launch a military strike against Iran.
Clearly Donald Trump himself is pretty worried about the possible ramifications
but we’re gonna figure it out over time and here are some more questions you
guys send in trying to unpack this thing. Yeah this is crazy. I mean we had the
Obama administration had negotiated a diplomatic solution with Iran to prevent
them from getting a nuclear weapon. We pulled out of that deal unilaterally. We
left our European allies and friends holding the bag and started this
campaign of trying to crush Iran’s economy. Now they have responded in ways
that are completely unacceptable. Clearly they shot down our drone in the region
and that’s unacceptable and there should be consequences but to leap to a place
where we are going to take a military strike that reportedly, according to
Trump himself, would have killed 150 Iranian servicemembers is a massive
escalation and it is leaping us into a war with no diplomatic support, no
international support, none of our friends and allies would be with us on
this front to respond to the shooting down of an unarmed aircraft. No American
servicemembers have died – it’s fucking crazy because what could happen next
could kill a lot of people both in Iran, could kill US soldiers and airmen and
Marines and we should think long and hard before we do anything that could
lead to that outcome. So there there is no good argument for why we would start
a war with Iran right now. It does seem like Trump is one of the voices of
reason it sounds like John Bolton, his national
security adviser, is very much in favor of some sort of strike. It sounds like
Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, the guy who you’d normally want pushing for
diplomacy is also in favor of a strike. The Pentagon, the folks in uniform, the
Joint Chiefs they are reportedly cautioning against a strike. We don’t
really have a Secretary of Defense because one of them just washed out
because he had a bunch of fucked up vetting issues and family troubles and
allegations of potential domestic abuse or alleged domestic abuse in his family
I don’t know anything about it but it’s a it’s a pretty big deal that we don’t
really have a Secretary of Defense at a time when we might be bombing Iran but
the folks in the military are urging caution because they understand that
this wouldn’t be a simple thing that it could very quickly escalate and that we
could be in a full-fledged war before we know it. So the scary thing about Iran is they
have a lot of ways they could respond. They support Hezbollah, a terrorist group
that has tens of thousands of rockets pointed at Israel at any given moment
and they can use them as a proxy force to attack us, to attack the Israelis, to
attack other allies of ours. The Iranians have been proficient at striking the
US mostly through proxy forces in Iraq or in Afghanistan. They have proxy
forces in Yemen so there’s a whole bunch of ways the Iranians could respond to us
in the region that you know would not necessarily be their military directly
but it could be through forces that are incredibly well-armed and well-trained,
it could be devastating. Now there’s another scenario where they could
actually start launching missiles of their own, the Iranian military,
or they could engage our fighter jets. There’s a million ways this could
go very bad and the the disconcerting part of the Trump administration
approach and strategy so far is they’ve set out a policy path where you can see
many many ways for it to escalate but they haven’t set up the structures they
need to have dialogue to give everyone an off-ramp and to calm tensions and to
try to negotiate some sort of solution and that’s what we need to get done
immediately. Well John Bolton has written previously
that he wants regime change in Iran. He is using sanctions to crush their
economy in the hopes that that will lead people in the country to try to
overthrow the current leadership and he believes that the only way to stop
Iran’s nuclear program is to bomb them to oblivion so I think the only honest
answer to your question is they don’t have a strategy. They’re looking to start
a conflict and they want regime change. The argument against the Iran deal that
you sometimes hear is that it was time limited so certain limits were
negotiated over a decade or 15 years on Iran’s nuclear program and critics said
after that time they had the green light to go get a bomb. Now what I think that
ignores is the fact that if you’ve negotiated a deal over 10 years or 15
years and you get to year 8 of that deal you start negotiating a follow-on
agreement and if you can’t come to terms on that kind of agreement before the
first deal concludes then you start thinking about what steps you might take
to pressure Iran to negotiate another deal and you started the process over
again with sanctions and all the UN Security Council resolutions and all the
diplomatic tools we use the first time around. But pulling out of it did nothing
to make us safer. We put our allies in a terrible position, the Europeans have
been trying to save the Iran deal since we pulled out of it
and we also tell the world that America doesn’t live up to its word in
negotiations and then that’s a that’s a terrible thing. I think the thing that’s
important for people to know is that while Trump didn’t authorize this strike
last night that doesn’t mean he couldn’t do it tomorrow or the next day or the
day after that and so we need to stay vigilant. We need to make clear to the
White House that he has no legal authorization to go to war with Iran. We
need to make it clear to members of Congress that that’s not the outcome we
want and what Trump and his team should be doing is they should go to the UN
Security Council and our friends in the region and all of our allies and try to
build a coalition to pressure Iran diplomatically to climb down from this
position. So I think the the key thing for people at home listening: call your
member of Congress you know all your elected officials and let them know that
you oppose a war with Iran that President Trump doesn’t have the legal
authorization to go to war and that we won’t accept it if he does.

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