In all of my discussions of geopolitics, whenever someone begins to bring up Iran as a bunch of savages, parroting the neocon talking point, I remind them that they are Persians.
And the Persians invented chess.
Lumping Iran in with the dregs of the Arab world – ISIS, al-Qaeda, etc. – is not only ignorant but also dangerous. Because by doing that you underestimate your enemy. And that, my friends, is always the first step on the path to defeat.
Donald Trump better learn this quickly or his administration will be marked with one foreign policy blunder after another until we find ourselves approaching another Saigon Moment, most likely in Afghanistan.
Over the weekend Iran let it be known that the U.S. approached Iran for a secret meeting between Trump and President Hassan Rouhani the day after Trump made one of the most ignorant speeches in the history of the United Nations.
And Rouhani flatly rejected the meeting. Now last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a public demand of Iraq to oust Iran’s Revolutionary Guard now that the war against ISIS was won.
Iraq told Rex in no uncertain terms to go stick it.
Has anyone noticed how little has been said about Turkey buying S-400 missile defense systems from the U.S.? Oh, sure, this weekend a NATO General made some noise, but here’s an important NATO ally buying near state-of-the-art Russian missile defense systems and there is no real retaliation from Washington that caused Turkey to change its mind about this.
The Heart of the Deal
Trump’s extreme ‘carrot and stick’ form of international negotiations hasn’t worked once yet against anyone not already our satrap, i.e. Saudi Arabia. It hasn’t yielded one result that could be considered a victory on the geopolitical battle field.
And there’s a reason for this. Trump is playing poker while his opponents are playing chess. Bluffing in chess is fundamentally different than poker. And that’s why Trump can’t crack Putin in Russia, Jinping in China or Rouhani in Iran.
They see his moves coming a mile away and have already decided on what to do next, if anything.
Trump’s speech at the U.N. was a clarion call that we would begin aggressive monetary policy while maintaining belligerent diplomatic rhetoric and military posturing. The strongest part of that three-pronged attack is the monetary one.
Iran is not scared of this. Unlike in 2012 it has more allies to assist it in any further economic isolation – Russia and China. But, it also has a surprising new ally in this, the European Union. The EU is in such bad shape economically it welcomes new business with Iran, especially in partnering to rebuild Iran’s oil and gas output to pre-sanction levels.
Russia and China are better prepared to support Iran in its standing up to Trump’s bullying. Both economies are far less dollarized than in 2012. So many Russian banks have been sanctioned by the U.S. that it won’t cost them anything to do business with Iran.
China will simply ignore the sanctions now that the gloves have, in effect, come off.
While Trump barks at Iran, China is quietly trying to subvert Saudi Arabia by offering to buy that stake in Saudi Aramco they’ve been trying to IPO for nearly two years now.
Qatar, another of Iran’s new allies, just told the world what we already knew, that the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar (and Israel too) conspired to destroy Syria by arming Wahabi Sunni headchopping animals; killing and displacing millions of Syrians who were then used as cynical pawns in European politics to destroy its culture as well.
Russia said no. Iran said no. China said no.
And now Trump thinks he’s going to use the Nuclear Deal as a bargaining chip to force things back to the way things were?
Rouhani’s Check Mate
By admitting they turned down a meeting with Trump Iran told the world they are no longer afraid of the U.S. With the collapse of Plan B in Syria and Iraq to create greater Kurdistan, ISIS getting routed around the world and Russia running the table diplomatically at the same time, why should Rouhani take a meeting with someone who brazenly lied to the world about what was going on in Syria.
All of the things I’ve mentioned in this article are pawns and knights moving into position for the win.
Winning here is exposing the U.S’s duplicity ahead of political negotiations in Syria to ensure the removal of U.S. troops from the region. In exchange for that Iran may be willing to give up its ballistic missile program. More likely, once the U.S. troops are gone, the Republican Guard will exit Syria and Russia will be the policeman of Hezbollah and/or Hamas.
This is what the Russia/China/Iran alliance wants. And now, they are in a position to get it.
Trump’s speech at the U.N. was so one-sided it ensured that Iran would rebuff his overtures to talk. Sure, I know to never take Trump at his word and so too does Rouhani. But, that doesn’t mean that he has to take Trump’s call when the phone rings.
More and more that speech at the U.N. looks to be an act of utter desperation, written by the Israeli wing of the Republican party, to force Trump into a policy stance that he would have to back up or lose what’s left of U.S. credibility in the Middle East.
And Iran saw it for what it was. Now, it can go for the win. Check and mate.
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