By M.A. Saki

Radical evangelical views prevent Pompeo to fulfill his job realistically: ex-diplomat

September 7, 2020 - 11:22

TEHRAN – A former Iranian diplomat is of the opinion that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is dogmatic and that his “radical evangelical political views” are preventing him from doing his job properly and realistically.

In an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times, Kourosh Ahmadi says since Pompeo is an “ideologue”, he wants to propagate his “radical ideological bent” toward certain political issues in the U.S. internationally. 

Ahmadi says, “Foreign policy requires pragmatism and focus on national security, not ideological dogmas.” 

Following is the text of the interview: 

Q: Mike Pompeo said on August 20 the U.S. has activated the snapback mechanism and UN sanctions on Iran will return on September 20. Is the return of sanctions possible when almost all countries at the UN Security Council have resoundingly rejected such a move as illegal? 

A: A big question mark is hanging over the whole process. We’re now facing a war of interpretations. On the one hand, we have the binding wordings of paras 11 and 12 of UNSC resolution 2231, which entail a resemblance of automaticity, meaning when the process is triggered by a JCPOA participant via serving a notification of a “significant non-performance”, the UN resolutions on Iran, terminated by para 7(a) of the same resolution, will automatically snap back in 30 days. On the other hand, it is evident that the US ceased to be a JCPOA participant following the 8 May 2018 Presidential Memorandum formally issued by the U.S. president, thus forfeiting any right to invoke any measure under the JCPOA-relevant documents. Moreover, we have certain qualifiers in resolutions 2231. First, para 10 “encourages” JCPOA participants to address their differences through the JCPOA Joint Commission, which is totally absent in the U.S. move, as the U.S. is not anymore a member of that Commission. Second, in para 11, a mid-step is mandatory, i.e., the submission of a draft resolution “to continue in effect the terminations in paragraph 7 (a).” In the first 10 days no Security Council member-submitted such a draft and the previous and current president of the Council have indicated that they have no intention to take the step. Third, in paragraph 11, the Council “expresses its intention to take into account the views of the States involved in the issue.” Now it is obvious that 13 out of 15 members of the Council hold views contrary to that of the U.S. Thus, we are facing a situation that entirely unprecedented in the history of the Council.

The former Iranian diplomat says the fact the 13 members of the UN Security Council rejected the U.S. move against Iran “are of extreme importance.”Q: The Trump administration has said it will go alone by imposing snapback sanctions on Iran. What will be the consequences of such an attempt on the UN Security Council?

A: the U.S. officials are insisting on the automaticity of the snapback process. And as I said they rely on the binding parts of paras 11 and 12. But it is unclear how the reinstatement of the terminated resolutions on Iran could be effective without the agreement of the Security Council. More importantly, the reinstatement should be followed by certain steps. For example, the Sanctions Committee and Expert Panel should be also reactivated. And that requires the agreement and participation of all 15 members of the Council. The Committee and the Panel should be financed that requires the involvement of the 5th Committee of the UN General Assembly, which is not probable to agree to allocate resources for implementing the reinstated resolutions. The UN Secretariat should be also involved to administer and provide services to them. How could it be done in an unsettled and ambivalent situation?

Q: Within 24 hours of Washington's move to return sanctions, 13 of the 15 of Council - permanent and non-permanent members - in separate letters, opposed the move. What message does this united voice against sanctions carry? 

A: The moves by the 13 members of the Council in rejecting the U.S. action are of extreme importance. It indicates to the utter political isolation of the Trump administration in the world scene. The rejection of the U.S. move by its traditional European allies is more significant. The fact that even the conservative British government refused to align with the U.S. administration shows how ineffective and despicable the Trump policies are. On the other hand, the events in the Council indicate the degree of independence that countries enjoy despite their need to and reliance on U.S. security and financial assistance. Among the Council members who rejected the U.S. move, we see countries that are dependent on the U.S. for economic assistance and security cooperation. It shows that the close relationship of countries with a big power does not necessarily means that they are sacrificing their political independence.

Q: While the Council rejected to extend arms embargo against Iran, Washington fired back that it "will use all available diplomatic means" to prevent the lifting of the arms embargo on Iran. In your opinion, what does Pompeo mean by using the term “diplomatic means”?

A: It is obvious that they have lost in diplomacy in the exact sense of the word.  I believe that the word “diplomatic” here is used to simply disguise the coercive measures that the U.S. in general and the Trump administration, in particular, are addicted to. On the eve of the election in the U.S., it is important for Trump not to lose entirely in the Security Council, otherwise he will be ridiculed in the domestic political scene and run-up to the election. Therefore, I can predict that they will resort to any means possible for imposing their will to the international community. Whether day will win or lose, we have to wait and see.

Q: In an opinion piece on August 30, The Washington Post said “Mike Pompeo is the worst secretary of state in history”. It said Pompeo’s position, especially toward Iran, has driven U.S. policy into blind alleys. In view of such a commentary, do you see Pompeo as a diplomat, a bully, or a spymaster leading U.S. foreign policy? 

A: I can't agree more. Pompeo is the worst ever choice for serving as a U.S. secretary of state. Simply because he is an ideologue, and has radical ideological bent towards certain views in domestic US politics and decided to propagate them internationally. His Christian right and radical evangelical political views prevent him from fulfilling his job in proper and realistic way. In comparison, Trump himself is much much more pragmatic than his secretary of state. Foreign policy requires pragmatism and the focus on national security, not ideological dogmas.  

Q: Even U.S. European allies at the Security Council – Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, and Estonia - have three times rejected U.S. moves against Iran. How such a repudiation of Washington’s Iran policy is viewed in the U.S. and the world at large? 

A: Absent a crisis at the international level, U.S. domestic politics is usually focused on economy and other domestic issues and these issues are currently dominating the debates in the run-up to the November election. Nonetheless, always certain foreign policy issues could be resorted to by opponents to denounce and embarrass each other. The Democrats have always been more bent towards multilateral foreign policy than the Republicans. The repudiation of Trump’s policies towards Iran will be certainly used by the Democrats against him and they will embrace and emphasize coalition-building with allies against Iran. If the Trump administration fails in its bid to extend arms embargo and reapply the terminated Security Council resolutions against Iran, that will be a big point of weakness for the Republicans in the forthcoming elections.

Q: Before the U.S. tabled a resolution to extend arms embargo against Iran, analysts and former diplomats said the intention behind such a step is not that the U.S. is really worried about purchase of weapons by Iran from Russia or China. Rather, they said, the U.S. is using this a pretext to completely destroy the JCPOA. What is your opinion?

 A: I agree with this assessment, especially when it comes to the ideological branch of the Trump administration, led by Pompeo. This approach is initially originated from such hawkish elements in Congress as Ted Cruz and the like. Initially, the pressure on their part led to the formulation of the policy favoring the snapping back of the terminated resolutions. Pompeo, aligning with them, gives priority to destroying the JCOPA in a way that a possible future Biden administration won’t be able to resuscitate it.
 
Q: Neocon Fred Fleitz, a strong Trump ally who formerly served as a staffer at the National Security Council, talking on the Fox News, described the UN as “useless” and suggested that the U.S. should “go it alone” on Iran to defend what he called “national interests”. He also claimed that Iran “cheated on the JCPOA”. What message such remarks convey?

A: A wing of the Republican Party has always been extremely isolationist, including against the UN. Patric Buchanan, a Republican candidate in the primary election in 2004, promised, if elected as president, he would send 5000 American soldiers to New York to help the UN pack up and leave. They believe that the U.S. has levers of power, such as the strongest military and economy, dominance over the international financial system, a weaponized dollar, outsizd presence in the Breton Woods institutions, military presence all over the world and the like and, therefore, they don’t need the UN. They also believe that the UN is serving the U.S. enemies much more and, thus, seeing it destroyed is more in the interest of the U.S.

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