By Javad Heirannia

Pro-Israel sentiments are well entrenched in U.S. policy circles: Fitzpatrick

September 21, 2019

TEHRAN - Mark Fitzpatrick, Associate Fellow of International Institute for Strategic Studies says that the pro-Israel sentiments are well entrenched in U.S. policy circles. “Bolton's departure will not change this,” Fitzpatrick told the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: What is your assessment of John Bolton's dismissal? Will the militant faction become a minority with this layoff?

A:  The Trump Administration has been divided between what might be called interventionists and isolationists.  John Bolton was the most senior and effective member of the interventionist wing of the Republican Party. But there are many others with a similar mindset, particularly in the Congress, such as Senator Tom Cotton.  It is too early to say whether they will become a minority with Bolton's departure. But we can say that his departure further consolidates power in the president himself.  So I expect that Trump's isolationist impulses will be strengthened.

Q: What effect will Bolton's dismissal have on U.S. foreign policy toward Iran?

A: Ever since Secretary of Defense Mattis left, there have been few differences within the Administration over Iran policy.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, among others, is a strong advocate of the maximum pressure policy.  But Bolton was inclined toward use of force, whereas Trump is wary about becoming bogged down in another war in the Middle East.  So with Bolton gone, it is somewhat less likely that the U.S. will attack Iran.

Q: With Bolton fired, it was speculated that Trump would be on a diplomatic course with Iran. On the other hand, Yemeni attacks on Aramco have prompted Washington to declare that it is ready to fight Iran. What is your assessment of this situation?

A: The attacks on Aramco make it politically impossible for Trump to pursue a diplomatic course right now.  Given that he seemed inclined to support French President Macron's proposal for a $15bn trade credit, the timing of the attacks is curious.  I wonder if it was conducted by a group that does not want to see Iran engaging with Trump.

Q: Since Pompeo has a Bolton-like approach, can Trump change Pompeo as well?

A: Although Pompeo has similar views about Iran, he is more willing to bend his views to align with those of President Trump.  Pompeo has been very successful at staying in Trump's good graces. I doubt he will leave.

Q: Given the change of person like Bolton, are Israeli policies in the U.S. State Department going to fade or shift?

A: The pro-Israel sentiments are well entrenched in U.S. policy circles.  Bolton's departure will not change this.

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