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The United States Should Not Attach Its Interests to Israel

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Iran Review exclusive interview with Ray McGovern
By: Kourosh Ziabari

Someone who has spent nearly three decades of his life in service of the world’s most sophisticated and intricate intelligence agency is perhaps in the best position to comment on some of the most important issues ahead of the U.S. foreign policy.

As confirmed by tens of policy advisers and academicians, the United States sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran’s nuclear program as two of its most demanding and exigent foreign policy challenges. It is also facing the problem of legitimacy in the Muslim world as many people in such countries as Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf consider Washington’s foreign policy as aggressive and unproductive. The continued use of drones to purportedly target the Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, while these drones simply claim the lives of the innocent civilians, and the xenophobic portrayal of the Muslims in the U.S. mainstream media are among the other issues which have caused many people across the Muslim world question the legal basis and expediency of the U.S. policies.

Although Iran and the six world powers (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) have just reached an interim agreement over Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva, the path toward the final comprehensive agreement still seems troublesome and difficult to pass. 

In order to discuss the U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, the growing threats of the phenomenon of Islamophobia in the United States, the War on Terror project launched by the former U.S. President George W. Bush, the U.S. human rights record and the future of Iran’s nuclear program, Iran Review conducted an exclusive interview with former CIA executive and political analyst Ray McGovern. McGovern was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990, and in the 1980s chaired National Intelligence Estimates and prepared the President’s Daily Brief.

Following his retirement from CIA, Ray McGovern became an outspoken critic of the U.S. foreign policy and the War on Terror. Upon his retirement, he received the Intelligence Commendation Medal from the CIA, but returned it in 2006 in protest at the CIA torturing of the prisoners in the Guantanamo bay prison facility and other prisons. In 2003, he co-founded the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He currently writes articles and commentaries on political and intelligence issues for such publications as Alternet.org, Truth Out, Common Dreams and Huffington Post.

What follows is the text of Iran Review’s interview with Mr. McGovern. I would like to acknowledge the American Free Press web editor David R. Gahary for his kind assistance to me in reaching out to Mr. McGovern.

Q: What’s your viewpoint on the emerging phenomena of Islamophobia in the West? We have seen throughout the past years that many mosques have been destroyed in the United States and Europe, the Muslim women have arbitrarily been denied the right to adhere to their special dressing code, the mainstream media have constantly been portraying a biased and unrealistic image of Muslims and Islam and the Muslims have incessantly been subject to a blind prejudice. How is it possible to justify such a discriminatory behavior?

A: Well, it cannot be justified. It’s shameful, it’s unconscionable. 9/11 has been exploited by those who like to portray all Muslims as terrorists, even though George W. Bush himself who gave lip service to warning “do not think that all Muslims are terrorists.” The impression given by our media, government and academicians is that there happens to be something in Muslim theology or etymology that makes them terrorists; at least a small percent of them. When John Brennan, who is now the head of CIA, was asked by Helen Thomas at a press conference when he was trying to explain why the Abdulmutalleb incident had happened, she said, “you never tell us why, Mr. Brennan, you talk about terrorism all the time. But you never tell us why people are driven to commit suicide. Why?” And the best Mr. Brennan could do was to say something very much like, “well, these Muslim extremists are hardwired at birth to be terrorists,” and this is ridiculous. That’s shameful, and that’s a lie. But that’s why so many Americans are deceived into thinking that it’s something peculiar about Muslims.

It’s really quite ridiculous to think about that. Even the Boston bombers, and the brother who survived, said in very loud writings on the side of that boat in which he was hiding until they found him; he wrote on the side of the boat almost a biblical thing about the handwriting on the wall. And what he said was that he will be back. You cannot kill Muslims without expecting some retaliation. We see what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of paying a price for that. I do not advocate retaliation of that kind. I am a peaceful resister. But if you’re trying to understand why people like those young brothers, or Abdulmutalleb, who actually belonged to a high society in Nigeria do these things, you cannot just say that they have a gene in their system that makes them hate Americans. There must be a more cogent, understandable reason, and we know the reason.

The reason is U.S. policy toward places like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and now Egypt where dictatorial regimes oppress Muslims, and its policy toward places like Iraq which is very close to another civil war because of what the United States did. And the other reason, and of course the main reason which is usually unspoken because of the sensitivities in the United States is simply the policy of the State of Israel.

To the degree that the United States is associated, and it is associated, almost a hundred degrees, to the policy of Netanyahu, the oppression of the Palestinian people and crushing of the people of Syria and elsewhere, wherever Netanyahu and the hardliner Likudniks decide they want to strike at, to the degree that Washington supports that, and it almost always does, then you have legitimate grievances on the part of the Muslim Palestinians and Christian Palestinians. And this is one of the reasons why some of these people are ready to sacrifice their life by blowing themselves up and also blowing up other people. I don’t condone that, but it’s necessary to understand these things. And the discussion in the United States is such that it is very very difficult for the ordinary American to understand these things, and the reason for that is that our media is very tightly controlled.

The main TV channels, both broadcast and cable, are controlled by six firms that make profit on wars, and are dominated by folks that are very close to Israel; folks who find great difficulty distinguishing between what they consider to be the strategic needs of Israel, on the one hand, and the strategic needs of the United States, on the other hand. That’s a major problem; a problem that our first President George Washington warned about when he talked about attachment to other countries that make no sense.

Q: So, how is it possible for the Muslims around the world, including the Muslim community in the United States to present the unseen and concealed side of their lifestyle, beliefs, principles and customs to the Western world and acquaint the Western public with the true image of Islam as opposed to what the mainstream media propagate and claim?

A: It’s very very difficult. Let’s be honest about that. The way our media are controlled, it’s almost impossible to get a fair-minded portrayal of the Muslim religion and the ordinary Muslims around the world. I’m a firm believer in the fact that the truth eventually comes out and it’s only the truth that sets us free. We are working very hard on that, but right now we are a minority struggling against this very very rich, wealthy corporations that pretty much own this wars and all the media that profit from this wars and explain and justify these wars. It’s all a very terrible kind of combination. You have a government, you have defense industries, you have the military industrial complex that General Eisenhower warned on, and now you have the military, industrial, security, intelligence, Congressional media complex. That’s awful, but that’s really what we have now in this country. We are fighting against it, and there is right now what we Christians call a Cyrus moment; a moment where things seem to be offering unusual opportunities and I refer, of course, to the revelations that the National Security Agency is spying on everybody in their border. And this is a catalyst toward the thinking that really what kind of country we want.

Do we want to adhere to the United States constitution which was drafted by the very brave founders of our country? Or do we wish to wish away against those rights? Those rights are mostly contained in the first ten amendments which we call the Bill of Rights; the one that the National Security Agency – and this is very important – with the complicity of the Congress and the judiciary [violated] – so all three branches of our government were complicit in this gross violation of the first four amendments of the constitution, which was against and protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures.

There are other amendments which were violated, but the one which is related to this conversation is the first amendment which guarantees our freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, religion and so forth. Now that our media are controlled by one segment of our populous, the corporations, and as I said before, with a very pronounced Zionist influence, then it would be very difficult for people to exercise the first amendment rights and be heard. It’s very nice to come out and demonstrate, it’s very nice to write articles for newspapers, but our demonstrations are not covered and the articles never find their way into newspapers and there’s a real problem. And the bottom line is that the American people are now nourished unreliable information that would permit them to understand why there is this defamatory campaign against Muslims and why it is that so many people in the Middle East do not like America and they [the United States citizens] would not be eventually deceived by these false answers that they hate our democracy and they hate our freedom. Muslims don’t hate our democracy and our freedom. They hate our policies, and they hate the policies of the State of Israel with which we identify.

Q: The ongoing U.S./NATO War on Terror is purportedly aimed at dismantling Al-Qaeda and Taliban and eradicating religious extremism. However, it seems that the White House leaders have forgotten or pretend that they’ve forgotten the fact that it was CIA that funded and aided the Mujaheedin combatants to fight the Soviet forces in Afghanistan and this was what shaped the Al-Qaeda circles subsequently. But now the United States is fighting the same forces it empowered and sent to an all-out battle with the Soviet Union. As a political and military expert, what’s your viewpoint on this dual-track policy?

A: It’s the utmost obscenity here. Great powers are in habit of creating, fostering, arming, equipping and putting in place movements that serve a purpose at a certain given time and then discarding them, walking away from them when they no longer serve that purpose. And that of course is the situation with respect to Al-Qaeda. The ironic thing here is that Al-Qaeda is not a problem.

The problem is U.S. policies with regards to terrorism which are symbolized by Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is pretty much the base; it’s the base of the grievances that still many people in the Muslim and Arab world and also other parts of the world have faced as a result of the avaricious apartheid of the U.S. corporations and military to work its will against its people, and so it was three years ago that our Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted that, well, maybe 50 to 100 Al-Qaeda members are still in Afghanistan, and a couple of hundreds are maybe there over the border in Pakistan. If that’s the case, it seems a little bit incongruous that the United States would at that time have had around +100,000 troops in Afghanistan to hunt down or capture 100 Al-Qaeda members. That doesn’t make sense, and there are other reasons why the U.S. might enter into Afghanistan and Iraq and that has to do with natural resources like oil and natural gas, in Afghanistan’s case. Most people don’t realize that the natural gas deposited in the country called Turkmenistan, which is northwest of Afghanistan, is worth more than all the oil in Iraq. Ok! Now, that’s the problem.

There’s an intricate engineering project to take that natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, Pakistan and a little sliver of India to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Now, what is that pipeline called? It’s called TAPI, the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India pipeline. It was on the books that when George W. Bush was visited by the Taliban in Texas as he was the governor there, the Taliban was going to implement this plan. What I’m saying is that the U.S. presence in Afghanistan has very little to do with the Taliban or Al-Qaeda since the very beginning and the first few months that they began looking for Osama Bin Laden.

Also on Iraq, there are oil deposits which are very valuable and its strategic location is especially important particularly to the state of Israel which is supposed to profit from our invasion and occupation of Iraq, because Tel Aviv and those who persuaded our defense people to attack Iraq hoped that they might be able to come back to Iraq and remain there and pacify the whole area. It didn’t quite work out that way. So, we have a situation that Al-Qaeda affiliates, sympathizers, imitators or whoever you call them, are many, perhaps thousands in Iraq now, whereas before we invaded Iraq, there was zero Al-Qaeda there. So is Israel more secure now by virtue of the invasion of Iraq? I would say, not at all. These things do not have a way of working out, particularly when you dissimulate, when you prevaricate and induce reasons for attacking other countries that don’t dare close scrutiny.

Q: In your article about the Boston marathon bombings on April 15, you talked of the objections of Muslims around the world toward the U.S. administration’s foreign policy, especially in supporting such tyrannical regimes as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan and also Israel as Washington’s client state. Do you see any chance that the United States may revise its foreign policy and repair its image in the eyes of the world Muslims?

A: Yes, I see the possibility that the United States could do that. The problem is what we call in the United States the Israeli lobby or the Likud lobby and the undue influence exerted by people like Prime Minister Netanyahu from Israel on the United States’ political scene. In Congress, many representatives and senators are so afraid and so fearful of the Israeli lobby that they will vote in accordance with their wishes almost every time. Why are they so afraid? It’s been proven that unless the representatives in the Congress and the Senate vote for Israeli interests, they can be removed from the office.

Representatives are elected every three years. It’s very easy for the Israeli lobby to put millions of dollars into the local campaigns and defeat people like Cynthia McKinney, for example, and there are several representatives and senators who have been defeated by money from the Israeli lobby. So it makes it very difficult for the Congress to be objective about these things, and therefore you get much sided congressional votes favoring whatever the state of Israel intends to do, whether it’s fostering a war against Iran or supporting the illegal settlements in the West Bank or Gaza.

We have a very effective Israeli lobby here in this country that actually tightens the President’s hands in some key respects and it’s just a matter of media, as well, that are heavily influenced by the Israeli lobby. Now, I can say that very objectively, because I don’t want to be a representative, a senator, professor or a major media figure. I don’t need those things. I’m very happy for just being an analyst of what’s going on in this world. I feel blessed being able to speak to whoever is willing to listen.

And the truth is that George Washington was absolutely right, when he warned against the “passionate attachment” of one country to the interests of another when these interests are not compatible or even identical to our country. He saw that way back 200 years ago and people wanted to get involved helping France against Britain because France had helped us with our independence from Britain. He said “no,” it’s not needed. If another country’s objectives are not exactly the same as ours, we need to keep our objective reasoning here and passionate attachment to the interests of other countries gets countries into a great deal of trouble. Other people had warned about that, but none as what George Washington had said, and we should pay heed to that. It’s very difficult, because of the wealth, political influence and fear instilled by the Israeli lobby into our body politics.

Q: The United States usually blasts other countries for violating human rights, while there are critics who accuse the United States of limiting the social and political freedoms of its own citizens and violating human rights across the world. The U.S. officials call on such countries as Iran or Russia to improve their human rights record. Are these calls fair and logical?

A: The United States used to have a pretty good reputation in defending human rights not only at home, but also abroad. In that respect, we had a certain amount of credibility when we compare it to the abuses of human rights in such places like the Soviet Union and China and other places where oppressive regimes did not give their citizens that kind of rights. Now, the United States has lost much of that credibility because of the things it did both abroad and at home. At home, we have a constitution that is almost a secret document which guarantees human rights to our own citizens.

The constitution which has been drafted in our country more than two hundred years ago, protects the right of assembly, the right of free speech, the right of freedom of religion, the right not to be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right not to be deprived of life liberties and properties without due process of law. The Bush-Cheney administration started to push away at these rights and the Obama administration has gone still further and so we have a situation in this country when human rights is in more jeopardy and not being respected than any time in the my 74 years of life. Similarly abroad, when the United States criticizes Russia, China or Iran for not respecting human rights, it’s seen as a hypocrite. It’s seen as a person accusing others of doing type of things that are not happening in our own country. When we think about all of this, I don’t agree that Iran is an enemy.

So I don’t agree, despite the media portrayal of Iran, that Iran is enemy, nor do I think any other country is an enemy of the United States right now, because no war has been constitutionally declared. And again, that declaration has to happen by the House of Representatives and this has not happened and the recent wars are a violation of our constitution and regulations, and the wars the U.S. President has supported in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and others are illegal. The question is that sadly, the United States is no longer in a position to criticize human rights violations in other countries, when it’s guilty of human rights violations itself.

Q: Another controversial issue which needs attention is the U.S. policy of using drones against civilians in such countries as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The drone attacks have cost the lives of hundreds of innocent citizens while the United States claims that it plans to eradicate terrorism and dismantle Al-Qaeda through its drone attacks. Why hasn’t the UN Security Council taken any practical step to prevent the U.S. from continuing to use the drones and kill the civilians?

A: The drones are an example of how technology permits the rules of war to really change. If the government has the power to change it, then they will violate the international law. Now, we just discussed Guantanamo, and there’s a link between Guantanamo and the drones. Guantanamo was long ago recognized as being a real blight on the American conscience and a real scandal to everyone respecting the rule of law. And so, the mission to send still more people to Guantanamo was something that our policy-makers wished to avoid; and how to avoid it? Instead of capturing these so-called terrorists, let’s just hang them. It’s much cleaner!

You don’t have to take my word for this. Take the words of the lawyer who used to justify these things at the National Security Council and the White House. He was later made the chief legal advisor for the State Department. He has said pretty much what I said. It’s much easier to kill people rather than to capture them in particular in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Another decision was made since the technology allows us to do this: to get supremely accurate photography and imagery and have supremely accurate missiles. So, we can kill people and don’t have to worry about taking them to Guantanamo. That is not an overstatement. The question is whether the drone strikes are effective, and whether they are precise. As I just said, imagery and hellfire missiles are extremely precise. What is not precise?

What is notoriously imprecise is the targeting information. You need people on the ground to distinguish terrorists or so-called terrorists from non-terrorists and that information is notoriously unreliable, and so what is done apparently is few people who wish to make so money are given the little harming devices and they’re free to put them on whatever homes and the Pakistani villages they would like to; they will target whoever they detest and consider their enemy, and the next thing is that, the hellfire missiles, with great accuracy, destroy those homes. Now do those homes belong to terrorists? Who knows? The information is very very unreliable.

In such situation, many people are killed, including the civilians that populate these homes and other places, including young boys collecting firewood, including people going to funerals of those already killed by the drones, including wedding parties, including anybody that these people from five-six thousand miles away consider who might be terrorists or militants or insurgents, etc. So, to ramp up on the drones, they violate the sovereignty of nations such as Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen; that doesn’t bother some of these governments who give a wink to the United States, saying “yes, go ahead; kill these people because they are opponents as well.” It doesn’t, however, violate international law. The supreme irony is that drones, as well as cyber warfare, are bound to become the leveling factors. In other words, the United States, because of its power, its economy and its willingness to invest as much money in defense as the rest of the world put together, says, we can buy aircraft careers, we can buy stealth bombers, the most sophisticated fighter bombers. But you know what? Once other countries get drones – and drones are relatively inexpensive and it doesn’t cost a lot of money to build or buy a drone – and once they get the proper people educated on cyber warfare, then it will cost very much less.

How much money do the Americans waste on arms production? Because there will be cheaper ways to cause wars; cheaper ways to retaliate for attacks in this sense, and this is my own speculation. But this is the big changer in how the wars will be deducted and conducted in the future, and it will be a lot cheaper and simpler and much more accessible for countries without the economic power of the United States to develop and use drones. Who is going to say at this point, it’s illegal to use drones, you shouldn’t use a drone? Drones have already been used, not only by the United States, but by Israel and other countries.

So, this is the supreme irony. We have more drones and modern imagery and more accurate missiles than others. But it’s just a matter of time before other countries catch up, not only with drones; the precedent has been set in using drones in an illegal way that has been banned by the UN and various international charters and treaties. So it’s much more dangerous for the United States, just as for everybody else, if more people get these drones and the same goes for cyber warfare, or the fact that we have already used cyber warfare; we and Israelis have worked on the Stuxnet virus and actually not only sabotaged the electronics of the cyber in Iranian nuclear production facilities but also have harmed many centrifuges.

I know that because Edward Snowden released information pertaining to that, together with the many other NSA official documents which everyone, including NSA technologists has confirmed. So, drones and cyber warfare, I believe, will be the method of warfare in the future, and the bottom line for the United States is that they will longer be a supreme advantage for the United States by virtue of its incredible economic power.

Q: I would like to know your idea about the U.S. support for the terrorist cult MKO (Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization). You know that this organization is responsible for the killing of more than 40,000 Iranians as well as tens of Iranian politicians and leaders and the United States has offered financial aid and military training to it in the recent years. The U.S. Department of State has removed its name from the list of foreign terrorist organizations. What’s your take on that?

A: Of course this is hypocritical. The group we call MEK or Mujahedin-e-Khalq is a terrorist organization. It was listed on the State Department’s book of foreign terrorist organizations as such. But because many powerful politicians in our country, the United States, insisted that they want to fund this group so as to cause problems to the Iranian government, they were able to get its name removed from the list of terrorist organizations. It would be funny, if not so tragic and so hypocritical, and now MEK is able to pay huge amounts of money to the current and former officials in the U.S. to get support from them, while it’s recognized as a terrorist organization with a long record of trying to cause regime change in places like Iran.

There are other sinister aspects of MEK including its long history of defamation of the Iranian government. I refer specifically to the incident of the bombing of the Israeli installations in Buenos Aires. I just recently learned where the prosecutor in Argentina got the information that Iran was responsible. He got it from MEK! There are suspicions all along and Gareth Porter, one of the best reporters on these matters, has long ago suggested that it wasn’t Iranians who did the bombing because they didn’t have any incentive to do it. I mention that simply because it’s the most recent reflection I’ve seen in the news. The cynical use of MEK is intended to support the aims of those in the United States who are interested in making things worse, in terms of relations with Iran, rather than making them better.

Q: My next question is about the U.S. approach toward Iran’s nuclear program. You mention in one of your articles that National Intelligence Estimate of 2007 confirmed that Iran does not pursue a nuclear weapons program and that President Obama should strike a deal with Iran and put an end to the decade-long controversy with the Islamic Republic as soon as possible. Also in Iran, people know that their government doesn’t have an intention to produce nuclear weapons. What do you make of that?

A: I think this is very transparent that people in Washington and especially people in the media are really determined to portray Iran in the worst light. Politicians, journalists almost always neglect to mention that the United States intelligence community and all the 16 agencies involved in the U.S. intelligence decided as a result of a study in 2007 that Iran stopped working on a nuclear weapon 10 years ago, that is at the end of 2003 and had not resumed work on a nuclear weapon. This assessment is agreed by all the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. That estimate which was published in November 2007, took out the basis that George Bush and Dick Cheney wanted to use in justifying joining with Israel and attacking Iran the following year; the last year of the George Bush and Dick Cheney administration, that is 2008.

The movement toward war had already begun. George Bush and Dick Cheney kept saying that Iran was determined to build a nuclear weapon that it would get very soon, and this was a danger to the United States and the rest of the world. Those were lies! Now, if they had doubts on that score that the National Intelligence Estimate published in November 2007, they could no longer doubt that if they continue saying those things, the world will recognize them to be lies; and so what happened?

When the key parts of that estimate were published, George Bush said – we know this because he wrote it in his memoir, that this deprives me of the military option against Iran. He said, again in his memoir, I don’t know why the intelligence community said this. I mean, could it be because some honest people came in, and looked at the evidence, and decided to tell the truth? Could that be apparently beyond George Bush’s ability to understand? In any way, he said, I don’t know why the intelligence community was saying these things. And then, in the same paragraph, he says this, in his memoir, “Decision Points”, how could I justify using our armed forces against the nuclear development facilities of a country that the intelligence community says has no active nuclear weapons program?

People would say, if I justified the war by saying that Iran was working on a nuclear weapon, they would that “Mr. President, don’t you read the estimates of your own 16 intelligence agencies, who with high confidence, unanimously decided that they stopped working on a nuclear weapon by the end of 2003 and have not resumed that work? Don’t you read what the intelligence tells you?” And so, Bush and Cheney had to leave office without doing what they intended to do in 2008, that is attacking Iran. Now, the insignificant point here is that the people who did that estimate implied intelligence analysis in a way that I continue to be proud of; it’s a way that I used to do when I worked in intelligence from 1960s to 1990, showing that the intelligence agencies can do what they are supposed to do and tell the truth, and in this case, which is the only case that I know after 50 years of very close experience, in this case, the intelligence assessment, because it was honest, helped immensely, and was a huge factor in preventing a war.

Now, I need to say this, that over the last couple of years that estimate has not been mentioned at all in the press, or very rarely and most of the ordinary people are still convinced that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon as opposed to just a nuclear power structure. And so, the situation continues to be very dangerous, because the people in the Congress in particular, and the President himself, have said things that make the people believe that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon.

The New York Times is perhaps the worst of the worst in commenting on Iran, partly because the NYT is dominated by people who are clearly Zionists as is much of our U.S. media. And they rarely mention that Iran stopped working on a nuclear weapon at the end of 2003 and has not resumed that work. However, just yesterday, the editor who was supposed to be watching the accuracy of the New York Times reporting, said that to say Iran doesn’t pursue of a nuclear weapon is not quite correct because it’s questionable as to whether Iran is still pursuing a nuclear weapon or not. So, that may not seem such a big thing to the common reader, but it’s an acknowledgement that the New York Times reporting has been incredibly biased and has much been in tune with the Jerusalem Post than with the U.S. intelligence community, and so there’s some movement toward recognizing that there are all lies out there.

I just wish that more people would read George W. Bush’s own memoir and would see he spelled out in black and white in a couple of pages that he must have written himself how the things were going on because it’s so transparent that he Cheney wanted to make war on Iran in 2008. Honest people came up with an estimate about Iran and what it was not doing in the nuclear area beginning in 2003. Again, that’s 10 years ago. We are not out of the world yet, but there are signs that people are beginning to recognize that Iran should be addressed as a country with a very distinguished culture and past and there should be negotiations, not threats, sanctions or that sort of things. My hope is that the new administration in Tehran and particularly the United States take part in talks and work out an agreement and I hope that there is the chance for making a very sensible agreement on this question since there’s no evidence, that Iran is actually working on a nuclear weapon at this point in time.

Q: What’s your practical solution for helping Iran and the United States get out of the current standoff, solve the nuclear controversy and find a viable and comprehensive solution to end their disputes and reach a long-term agreement?

A: I think that Iran has many advantages right now in this public debate as to what would be the best solution. You have a new government, you have professionals who know what to do about arms control and you have a new credibility that was not there for whatever reason during the previous government. You have on the other side a Western reality; the United States and the Great Britain’s record shows, first and foremost, that their credibility has been diminished by the new revelations by Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. Most people in the outer world were interested in the truth, and I still have the faith that most people are interested in the truth.

We begin to compare the American pronouncement on the perceived danger of Iran’s nuclear program with what the U.S. intelligence itself says, and what the Iranians are willing to open up to the UN inspections and to continue to cooperate and respond to some of the outstanding questions that the UN has. But I think, generally speaking, that first, the Obama administration does not wish, as Bush and Cheney did, to launch a war against Iran, and secondly, the Obama administration does not wish to get involved in a very virulent contest with Iran. But it is a situation that the Congress, dominated largely by the Israeli lobby, has created. The Congress is much in favor of what they call “regime change” disguised under the rubric of stopping Iran’s nuclear program. Now, this is a very important factor.

The President has to deal with the Congress. Congress has imposed all these sanctions. So, the prescription in my view, would be for Iran to bend over and take steps to show not only to the United States, but the whole world that it is not working on a nuclear weapon. Then, if the U.S. pursues a violence approach toward Iran for purposes of regime change, then it would be clear for the rest of the world what’s really going on here. That it has very little, if anything to do, with Iran’s nuclear program, and that it has everything to do with Israel’s desires to make sure that Iran has regime change and make sure that Iran is neutralized and cannot pose any kind of threat to Israeli and American dominance on that part of the world. Those are the facts.

The U.S. foreign policy can be much more sensible were it not be made by people, the so-called neo-cons, who didn’t go away when Bush and Cheney went away. But still making policy in the State Department and the White House, things would be much more different if they weren’t there, but they are there; who are they? They are people who have great difficulty distinguishing between what they consider to be the deep strategic interests of Israel and the strategic interests of the United States of America on the other hand. They have a pernicious influence. They are the kind of people which our first President George Washington warned against when he talked about alliances that do not make sense from the perspective of the U.S. interests. He called them entangling alliances. At those days, there were people who wanted to join the French in war against the English. Why? Because the French had helped us in the War of Independence and our revolution; but George Washington said, no, we don’t want them to get involved; we do not share the interests of France here; you may not have this passionate attachment to France, because that would color the way you look at their policy.

So we kept the way of entangling alliances, the way of passionate attachment of one country, namely America, to those of another country, in this case, Israel, where Israel’s desires and its strategic approach differs from the United States’ strategic approach and should not be conflated and regarded as identical. We don’t share many of what Israel stands for, a racist country conducting an apartheid system, very much like South Africa, where the people who used to live there, which is known as Israel, or the Occupied Territories, are deprived of equal rights. We don’t share that, and we should it make it quite clear, to our own government and to everyone else that is not right to link the United States together with Israel and when Israel does something to oppress the Palestinians or to attack Syria or to foster what’s happening in Egypt right now, or fomenting what’s happening in Syria.

The United States has its own independent policy and that pertains not only to those crises which I just mentioned, but also to Iran because the American people need to know that Iran is not a threat to the United States of America, it’s no threat to its neighbors just as Iraq was no threat, and that the people who still want war on Iran, it’s not only irresponsible, stupid but also violates the policies laid out by our first President George Washington who warned us against becoming involved in those kinds of relationships that make no sense to America or the rest of the free world.

Q: You know that one of the promises made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was to start a constructive engagement with the international community, especially the United States and European governments so as to resolve the nuclear crisis. What’s your viewpoint on the international responses to the election of President Rouhani and the way his election will contribute to finding a resolution for Iran’s nuclear standoff?

A: I welcome what happened and I think that most states in the world are very happy with the outcome of your free elections. The only people who are unhappy are those people who would like to realize the regime change plan that would please the government of Israel, and this is the bottom line. The international relations would be in favor of President Rouhani if he continues to pursue the policy that he has presented, and I think there are very good prospects that this standoff can be solved.

Key Words: United States, Israel, Middle East, Islamophobia, Iran’s Nuclear Program, US/NATO War, Human Rights, Al-Qaeda, MKO, President Hassan Rouhani, McGovern

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