By Martin Love

Dignity, smarts and grace: that’s Iran’s performance of late

January 13, 2020 - 13:45

NORTH CAROLINA - Who does Donald Trump and his gang of incompetents think they are kidding? One might suppose, or at least hope, that the only people are the “whites only” Bubba crowd who wear red hats with “MAGA” printed above the brim. These are the folks who show up at Trump rallies and get to hear the embarrassing 45th President blather like Robert DeNiro in his first big film hit, “Taxi Driver”.

DeNiro played a young, disgruntled, lonely psychopath preparing to do some mayhem and psyching himself up in a narcissistic swoon while he stood in front of a mirror. Like the acting DeNiro, Trump likes to hear himself talk unsubstantially, he thinks he’s still handsome assuming he ever was, claims he’s a genius, etc. Joke of the century, maybe, but now that the immediate “crisis” is sort of over between the U.S. and Iran, it’s time to survey the residual landscape.

One need not go over exactly what happened, what Iran did or did not do, what the U.S. did or not. Everyone in the world knows who was to blame, who started a close call with regional war if not worse, and it was not Iran.

In fact, Iran conducted itself with tremendous intelligence, thoughtfulness, dignity and sophistication under dire threat…whereas Trump and gang did exactly the opposite, in particular threatening to bomb Iran’s plethora of cultural and historical sites (which to many ranks first in the world for quality, significance and often sheer exquisite beauty – part of the heritage of all of humanity).

 By January 7th, it was over and at least in America, it felt like nothing had happened: the stock and bond market futures after a deep fall were blasting higher, Trump was blathering to a national audience and claiming he was going to impose yet MORE sanctions on Iran and somehow get NATO involved in the pressure on the Islamic Republic.

As for Iran, aside from the tragic plane crash that took scores of lives at Tehran, much actually had changed and no wider war had developed.  In fact, one could argue that Iran handled itself so well that it got exactly what many Iranians, and particularly the government, wanted. 

It received the likelihood that American troops are going to have to leave Iraq given the vote in Iraq’s parliament. They will have to leave sooner or later There is no welcome any longer after the U.S. slaughtered Soleimani and al-Muhandis and others. (And if U.S. soldiers depart Iraq and the gargantuan U.S. embassy is forced to close, the U.S. troops in Syria are going to be awfully lonely in the oil fields east of the Euphrates. They will be forced to abandon Syria.)

Limits on Iran’s nuclear program, given the crisis, were mostly dropped. No one was really adhering to the mandates of the JCPOA anyway, except Iran and the Europeans have been cowardly at best telling the Trump Administration to take a hike and also maintain their part of the quid pro quo for the deal.

After the protests resulting from the gas price hikes, the entire country, under grave threat and in the context of burying Soleimani with great honors, rallied behind the government and stopped for the time being worrying about whether women had to wear the hijab or who could attend sports contests in Azadi Stadium, and other issues. Given that Trump has just threatened yet more sanctions, it’s quite likely that the ‘assabiya’ inside Iran and even with Iraqis, to use an Arabic word championed by the great Ibn Khaldun centuries ago, is not going to diminish anytime soon.

And no one is ever going to forget, in East or West, how Iran stood by its word and did exactly what it said it was going to do in retaliation. And it was done with such awesome precision and technical expertise that the missiles that hit at ‘Ain al-Asad military base in Anbar Province and at Erbil in the north of Iraq apparently took no lives, which is almost a miracle.

 It would seem that the American defense establishment over the past year now has some confirmed understanding about just what damage Iran could do around the Persian Gulf and out to the Mediterranean. And Iran barely used its most advanced defensive missiles.

The only disappointment remains with Trump: he should have dropped the sanctions and the threats and asked for renegotiation of the JCPOA…and apologized. He still claims his primary aim is no nukes for Iran, but this hardly is believable because he dropped the JCPOA and it had been a success because Iran had been faithful to it from the beginning.


 

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