On Trump: US Lying Its Way to War (again)?

The recent January 29, 2017 missile test by Iran is not in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions as many members of congress and certain media claim. The 2015 Iran nuclear agreement has no binding provisions about missile tests. Before the day of implementation of the agreement on January 2016 the Iranians were bound by UN Resolution 1929 (2010) which did forbid the development of missiles and the conducting of tests. But this resolution was rescinded in the 2015 nuclear deal as embodied in UN Resolution 2231 (2015) and a quite different phrasing now covers Iranian missile tests.

Whether congressmen and the White House know this and deliberately lie is an important question as their allegations and reaction with sanctions is a definite step towards conflict and the world will have to be extremely vigilant that the US is not creating conditions again to go to war on false premises. 

There are democratic senators siding now with the White House and they will have to be challenged. On February 2 a bi-partisan group of twenty-two senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee signed a letter to the White House making the claim that,

“If it is confirmed that Iran tested a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon, Iran will have again violated both the letter and spirit of its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015) not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”[1]

The Democratic Senators signing the letter were Ben Cardin (Md.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Chris Coons (Del.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Bob Casey (Penn.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), and Ron Wyden (Ore.).

That the senators are in error can be established by contrasting the paragraphs in the two relevant UN resolutions covering Iranian missile tests.

UN Resolution 1929 (2010), article 9 (p. 5), spells it out as follows:

“[The Security Council] Decides that Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities.”[2]

UN Resolution 2231 (2015) in Annex B (p. 99):

“Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology, until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.”[3]

Nuclear non-proliferation expert Daniel Joyner recently pointed out that the legally binding, prohibitive language of Resolution 1929–“Iran shall not undertake”– had changed to the “invitational yet legally nonbinding phrase” of Resolution 2231–“Iran is called upon”.[4]

His conclusion of the analysis of 2231 is that, “Iran’s ballistic missile tests cannot accurately be said to violate UN Security Council resolutions.  The most that could be said about them is that they are not in harmony with the UN Security Council’s legally nonbinding exhortation in Resolution 2231.”

Fortunately many media and experts are on board with this analysis and see the Trump administration as dealing in dangerous “threat inflation” and “an eagerness to stir up tensions with Iran over relatively innocuous issues”.[7] Members of congress will have to be challenged on these points and further research into the ideological, political and commercial forces resulting in these incorrect and dangerous positions will have to be engaged in.

According to Joseph Kishore in  a WSWS article, the bi-partisan playbook, if you will, by which the Iranian problem is perceived in Washington is formulated by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.[6] Iran is an immanent strategic threat to the economic world order as it holds a unique geostrategic position in the middle east directly adjacent to very important shipping lanes and is developing missile capacities which could hit Israel, Egypt and other US allies.[5]

But assessing Iran as a military threat and dissatisfaction with the nuclear deal are not sufficient reasons to engage in  making false allegations about the legality of its missile tests and some verbal sable rattling by the White House. As being defensive and diplomatic might be the wiser attitude here, the US becoming aggressive and mendacious will compel people to question underlying motivations, which might well be for the west to solidify its hegemonic position in the middle east for the sake of global corporate interests, i.e. imperialism.

Or, as Kishore stated, “The initial actions of the Trump administration make clear that the US is preparing a major escalation of military aggression in Central Asia and the Middle East. Fifteen years of the “war on terror” under Bush and Obama—including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the bombing of Libya, the US-backed civil war in Syria, and the Saudi bombardment of Yemen—have killed over one million people. American imperialism, however, has failed to secure its aim of establishing unrivaled domination over the oil-rich region. Now, under Trump, a new and even bloodier chapter is opening”.[6]

Is the US driven by classic imperialist motives and the aim is economic advantage, or is it driven by opposed civilizational dynamics aiming at subjugation as presidential strategic advisor Steve Bannon seems to think? Or is the latter merely a rationalization for the former?

[1]. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Cardin, Corker Lead 20 Bipartisan Colleagues in Iran Letter to President Trump“. Press Release. 2 Feb 2017.

[2]. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929 (2010).

[3]. United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015).

[4]. Joyner, Daniel. “Iran’s Ballistic Missile Launches Do Not Violate UN Security Council Resolutions“. 11 Mar 2016. Arms Control Law. Blog.

[5]. Cordesman, Anthony. “Iran, Mattis, and the Real Threat to U.S. Strategic Interests in the Middle East“. Center for Strategic and International Studies. Commentary. 10 Jan 2017.

[6]. Kishore, Joseph . “Democrats back Trump administration’s new sanctions against Iran“. World Socialist Web Site. 4 Feb 2017.

[7]. Glaser, John. “Trump Administration Begins Threat Inflation on Iran“. The Libertarian Institute. 2 Jan 2017.


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