May 24th 2019

Trump Must Never Listen To The Warmonger Bolton

by Alon Ben-Meier

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is an expert on Middle East politics and affairs, specializing in peace negotiations between Israel and the Arab states. For the past twenty five years, Dr. Ben-Meir has been directly involved in various negotiations and has operated as a liaison between top Arab and Israeli officials. Dr. Ben-Meir serves as senior fellow at New York University's School of Global Affairs where he has been teaching courses on the Middle East and negotiations for 18 years. He is also a Senior Fellow and the Middle Eastern Studies Project Director at the World Policy Institute. Dr. Ben-Meir hosts "Global Leaders: Conversations with Alon Ben-Meir," a series of debates and conversations with top policy-makers around the world. He also regularly holds briefings at the US State Department for international visitors. Dr. Ben-Meir writes frequently and has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and websites including the Middle East Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Le Monde, American Chronicle, the Week, the Political Quarterly, Israel Policy Forum, Gulf Times, the Peninsula, The Jerusalem Post, and the Huffington Post. He also makes regular television and radio appearances, and has been featured on networks such as CNN, FOX, PBS, ABC, al Jazeera (English and Arabic), and NPR. He has authored six books related to Middle East policy and is currently working on a book about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dr. Ben-Meir holds a masters degree in philosophy and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University. He is fluent in English, Arabic, and Hebrew.



Waging a war against Iran, or even thinking of doing so, is sheer madness. Trump has thus far wisely rejected the warmonger National Security Advisor John Bolton’s outrageous advice. Waging another war in the Mideast, this time against Iran, would have not only disastrous consequences for the US but will also engulf our allies from which they would suffer incalculable human losses and destruction. Bolton was the architect behind the devastating war in Iraq in 2003, which inflicted more than 5,000 US casualties and a cost exceeding two trillion dollars, allowed Iran to entrench itself in Iraq, and gave way to the rise of ISIS.

The Iraq war would be child’s play compared to a war against Iran, who will put up a fight, far worse than all of the wars in the Middle East since 1948 combined. Much of the Middle East will be in flames. American casualties will be many times that of the Iraq war.

Trump should never listen to Bolton, who is being strongly influenced by Crown Prince bin Salman and Netanyahu, who seem to encourage him to attack Iran. They are dangerous men, and want to prevail over Iran at the expense of the United States by dragging it into an unwinnable war. No matter how much death and destruction Iran will suffer, it will be there to stay. To think that regime change in Iran, as Bolton and Pompeo continue to advocate, will usher in a democracy is an illusion that will never materialize.

The US efforts to establish democracies in Egypt and Libya in the wake of the Arab spring offer glaring examples of the US’ dismal failure. To resolve the conflict with Iran by toppling the clergy though the use of force is not the answer. Iran technically will lose such a war, but that in no way guarantees that regime change and democracy will follow. The answer lies through negotiation and only negotiation, until all conflicting issues that separate the US and its allies from Iran are settled peacefully.

Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s concerns that if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon would severely compromise their national security is exaggerated at best and unfounded at worse. Even if Iran acquires such weapons, Tehran will not use them preemptively or in retaliation to a conventional attack on its nuclear facilities and high-value military assets. If Iran is actively seeking nuclear weapons, it is doing so strictly for defensive purposes, just like Israel, Pakistan, North Korea, and India.

No one knows better than the Revolutionary Guard and the clergy in Tehran that using nuclear weapons for either defensive or offensive attacks is tantamount to suicide. Israel as a nuclear power will always maintain second-strike capability and will not hesitate for a moment to respond in kind and inflict unacceptable damage from which Iran can suffer for decades.

Like any other country, Iran wants to live and prosper in peace. Yes, it has been and still is involved in many nefarious activities throughout the region. And yes, it has the ambition of becoming the region’s hegemon. But, in the final analysis, Iran will weigh the benefits versus the disadvantages that it can garner by being a constructive player in the Middle East.

However, Iran will fight with all its might against regime change imposed on it by a foreign power or otherwise. The Iranian government, led by the clergy, has every right to govern itself in any manner it chooses. Its current military preparations are only in response to the United States’ threats to use force to effect regime change. Tehran has in no way any offensive designs in mind, and Bolton cannot fool anyone otherwise. I give credit to Trump for being in fact the one who is resisting Bolton’s and Secretary of State Pompeo’s adventurous streak.

Certainly, Iran’s behavior is not acceptable. Iran must stop threatening Israel and other countries in the region, and disabuse Netanyahu in particular of the notion that Tehran is out to destroy Israel. A resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will also disabuse Iran from using that conflict to justify its enmity toward Israel.

There is no better or more urgent time than now for the EU to interject itself in an effort to ameliorate the growing tension between the United States and Iran. The EU should initiate behind-the-scenes negotiations with Iran and agree with the US on a joint cohesive strategic plan to mitigate the conflict with Iran. The new negotiations should be based on quid pro quo aiming to achieve a comprehensive deal in stages that could lead to a permanent solution.

Every conflicting issue should be placed on the table. Iran must stop meddling in the affairs of other states, freeze its research and development of ballistic missiles, and end its support of extremist groups such as Hezbollah and waging of proxy wars in Yemen and Syria. In return, the EU and the US should offer Iran a path for normalizing relations and removing sanctions, and assure it that the West will not seek regime change.

This kind of cooperation and high level of transparency will serve the objective of reaching regional stability from which Iran can benefit greatly, instead of continuing its nefarious activities which invite even more severe sanctions, and potentially a devastating war.

Neither Tehran nor Washington want war, and every party directly or indirectly affected by the conflict with Iran—especially Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf states—will greatly benefit from a new, peaceful agreement with Iran.

Trump must not engage the United States in another war in the Middle East. We have and continue to pay dearly for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and we are still fighting the latter. Of all the promises that Trump made in his political campaign for the presidency, preventing another war is the one promise he must keep.

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Aug 15th 2019
EXTRACT: "Gaslighting typically refers to intimate relationships. It’s a way of controlling someone by creating false narratives – for example, that they are irrational or crazy. If such lies are repeated constantly, victims may get confused and start believing there really is something wrong with them. Confusion, diversion, distraction and disinformation can similarly be used to gaslight an entire society. So how can you tell if you are being gaslighted, and how do you avoid it in the first place?"
Aug 14th 2019
EXTRACT: "Trump has once again painted himself into a corner. Since the latest massacres, he’s been at pains to present himself as a reasonable fellow who can get behind gun reform (and perhaps mollify suburban women, his most dangerous foes on this issue). But he’s also noticeably (and typically) anxious to maintain the loyalty of the rural voters who form an important part of his base. Trump has also taken the gamble of using racial politics and white supremacy as instruments for winning in 2020. When faced with the dilemma of trying to assuage suburban voters or keeping the base close, time after time his instinct has been to shore up the base. (That didn’t work very well in 2018.)"
Aug 5th 2019
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Jul 31st 2019
Extract: "I admire the US for its culture, entrepreneurialism, and universities, and I have many American friends. Furthermore, I know how grateful the rest of the world has to be for US leadership after World War II. Never before had a victorious power behaved so generously toward others, including the defeated. We owe so much to US policy in the second half of the twentieth century. But although I am no declinist regarding American economic, intellectual, and military power, the country’s soft power has certainly decreased, and its positive influence around the world has declined. The reason for this is simple: US President Donald Trump is a bad man surrounded by a bad team of incompetent and dangerous ideologues."
Jul 30th 2019
Extract: "This pattern holds true in every extremist movement I have studied, whether from the past or the present, or the West or the East. This abuse of religion that provides security and certainty to those who are experiencing a loss of control is a universal phenomenon. If merely left there, it would not be a danger. But when it masks a political agenda or when it justifies violence either by groups or state actors, it becomes a danger."
Jul 30th 2019
Extract: "......the day before Mueller testified, the current FBI director, Christopher Wray, told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “The Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections.” And the day after Mueller testified, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report stating that Russia would be involved in the next presidential election, and that countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China have the capacity to interfere in US elections as well. Despite these warnings, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Senate consideration of two bills aimed at strengthening US election security,....."
Jul 15th 2019
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Jul 6th 2019
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Jul 6th 2019
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Jul 3rd 2019
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Jul 1st 2019
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Jun 25th 2019
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Jun 19th 2019
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Jun 19th 2019
Extract: "Abe has reportedly nominated Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize – at the request of the US – for opening talks with North Korea. And he has offered to mediate in America’s dispute with Iran. (His recent visit to Tehran – where he reportedly asked Iran’s leaders, at Trump’s request, to release detained Americans – made clear that, even squeezed by sanctions, Iran has no interest in negotiating with a serial violator of signed agreements.) What Trump calls an “incredible partnership” is, in reality, a largely one-sided relationship. But, for Abe, appeasing Trump is not so much a choice as a necessity: he must prove to Japan’s people and their neighbors, particularly the Chinese, that he knows how to keep Trump on his side."
Jun 17th 2019
Extarct: "We know well the damage that corrupt leaders do to their people. We should therefore have much more to say about the quintessential corruption entailed by tolerating lies. Such tolerance allows the poison to spread through the body and soul of democracy, undermining democracy’s institutions by attacking the invisible norms and tacit understandings that support them."
Jun 11th 2019
Extract: "I noticed this dynamic firsthand a few years ago in Blagoveshchensk, on the Siberian border, just a half-mile from the Chinese town of Heihe. A century and a half ago, Blagoveshchensk was part of China. Then the Cossacks took control of it, along with many other territories in Chinese Outer Manchuria, on behalf of the Russian czar. Blagoveshchensk’s local history museum presents the development of the town after the Cossack takeover as a civilizing mission. The Russians, it seems, still view themselves as superior Westerners. As for Heihe, it got rich a quarter-century ago, after capitalizing on Russia’s post-Soviet disarray to sell cheap goods to then-starving Russians. Its own history museum presents the Cossacks as “hairy barbarians” (Lao Maozi) and lists the towns of Russia’s far east by their historical Chinese names: Blagoveshchensk is Hailanpao, Vladivostok is Haishenwai, and Sakhalin is Kuye. Local behavior reflects these perspectives. At the ferry port, the Russians sneer at the Chinese traders who bring Russian vodka and chocolate to Heihe, while the Chinese move past the Russians as if they do not exist."
Jun 5th 2019
Extract: "....the Constitution, which established the impeachment process as a check on the president’s behavior between elections, says nothing about using it only when politically convenient. Moreover, given the results in 2018, Democratic Party leaders might well discourage making the disposition of the president the key issue in the next election. Most important, a decision not to initiate an impeachment process against Trump could set a terrible precedent. If Trump isn’t impeached for his numerous criminal acts and abuses of power, would impeachment remain a viable check on the presidency? "
Jun 3rd 2019
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May 24th 2019
Waging a war against Iran, or even thinking of doing so, is sheer madness. Trump has thus far wisely rejected the warmonger National Security Advisor John Bolton’s outrageous advice. Waging another war in the Mideast, this time against Iran, would have not only disastrous consequences for the US but will also engulf our allies from which they would suffer incalculable human losses and destruction. Bolton was the architect behind the devastating war in Iraq in 2003, which inflicted more than 5,000 US casualties and a cost exceeding two trillion dollars, allowed Iran to entrench itself in Iraq, and gave way to the rise of ISIS.
May 24th 2019
The private Tasnim news agency reports from Iran that in a speech to thousands of university students, Iran’s clerical leader Ali Khamenei made an unusual and extraordinary criticism of president Hassan Rouhani and foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif over their handling of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or deal on limiting Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.