I love it so much, purely for petty political reasons. Imagine the sting of the tears rolling down Lindsey Graham’s cheeks when he heard this news. Imagine the torrents of profanity emanating from John Bolton. Day in and day out, hawks doggedly kiss the president’s ass in hopes of keeping him open-minded about their interventionist ideas. He’s an isolationist by instinct — but he’s also consumed with projecting “strength,” a great asset to hawks in convincing him to abandon Obama’s nuclear deal. There’s no country on earth whom Washington interventionists are more eager to have a showdown with than Iran; at a minimum, they expect their endless sycophancy towards Trump to pay off in presidential resolve to keep up a maximum pressure campaign towards the mullahs.
So now here he is deputizing the most prominent isolationist in Congress, the son and heir to Ron farking Paul, to reach out to Iran’s foreign minister. Not Lindsey Graham. Not Tom Cotton. Not Liz Cheney. Not his own NSA, for cripes sake. Rand Paul. Everyone who tries to toady to Trump for their own reasons eventually gets stabbed in the gut, it seems. (Except Rand?) Which makes it that much more amazing that so many Republicans continue to be eager to toady to him.
Anyway, too bad POTUS doesn’t have a bureau of professional diplomats for something like this. Silver lining, though: At least he didn’t tap Tucker Carlson for the job.
Over a round of golf this past weekend, Sen. Rand Paul asked President Donald Trump’s blessing for a sensitive diplomatic mission.
Paul proposed sitting down with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to extend a fresh olive branch on the president’s behalf, according to four U.S. officials. The aim: to reduce tensions between the two countries. Trump signed off on the idea.
With Zarif in New York City this week for U.N. meetings and private sitdowns with journalists and think-tank experts, the prospect of the dovish Kentucky senator serving as the administration’s chief diplomatic emissary has rankled many administration officials, who are expressing concern that Paul’s intervention threatens to scuttle the president’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran…
The move smacks of desperation, said Mark Dubowitz, head of the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which has pushed for a hard line on Iran.
It does seem a little desperate. Trump’s strategy towards Iran, such as it is, is straightforward: Tear up the nuke deal, slap crushing sanctions on them, and then … cross your fingers and wait. Hopefully the economic toll is so great that they come crawling to the bargaining table, ready and willing to fully denuclearize. If we’re really, really, really lucky, the economy will turn so bad that Iranians will turn restive and an insurrection will start to gather momentum.
And if none of that happens and they decide to wait the United States out, with high tensions liable to cause an incident that leads to war? The White House will get back to you.
That’s why we’re getting Rand Paul, international diplomat. The only way out of this as far as Trump is concerned is talks, and he’s willing to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks towards that end. He won’t go to war unless Iran forces him by launching the first attack, and he won’t — yet — relax sanctions as a goodwill gesture to entice them to talk with him. But he will name one of the most conspicuously dovish politicians in the United States to reach out, in case they’re still unclear that Trump is willing to make concessions in the name of resolving this standoff. This marks the second time in less than three weeks, in fact, that Trump has excluded his hawkish NSA, John Bolton, from diplomacy with an enemy of the United States in favor of a more dovish presence: Remember that it was Tucker Carlson, not Bolton, who was with Trump for the grip-and-grin with Kim Jong Un at the DMZ. Now Bolton and Mike Pompeo are being shoved aside in favor of Rand Paul because Trump needs a new way to signal to Iran that he’s prepared to make nice in the name of peace.
Most leaders would insist that their own White House staff carry out negotiations with an enemy regime, not just as a matter of basic loyalty but to communicate that the administration stands united and that the enemy had better be prepared to make real concessions to persuade reluctant U.S. officials to reach a compromise. Sending Paul instead feels like a concession in and of itself, right out of the box, before anything serious had been discussed. “The one thing that these guys don’t understand is the more desperate they look for a deal the more the Iranian regime will play hard to get,” said Dubowitz of Paul being deputized. If it wasn’t clear enough to Iran before that Trump is truly desperate for a way out of this standoff, knowing that he runs the risk of Iran lashing out and plunging him into a war he doesn’t want if it doesn’t get solved, sending an American who’s more to their liking in lieu of his own guys is it.
By the way, note this tweet from Iran’s foreign minister a few weeks ago:
Bolton & Netanyahu killed Paris agreement between E3 & Iran in '05 by insisting on zero enrichment.
Result? Iran increased its enrichment 100 fold by 2012.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 9, 2019
The “B team” is Zarif’s term for top anti-Iran hawks in the U.S. and beyond: Bolton, Netanyahu, and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, according to the Times of Israel. In other words, Zarif is already pursuing a strategy of trying to divide Trump from his own advisors and international allies by suggesting to him that he’s being manipulated into war by a nefarious cabal that doesn’t have his best interests — a message which the conspiratorial Trump might be receptive to, especially on this subject. “I do not believe that President Trump wants war. But I believe that people are around him who wouldn’t mind,” said Zarif in an interview a few days ago, again trying to turn Trump against his advisors. And now here’s POTUS sending Rand Paul to talk to him instead of Pompeo. Weird but true: America picks Great Britain’s diplomats nowadays, it seems, and Iran picks America’s.
Liz Cheney and several dozen other hawks sent POTUS a letter today begging him to maintain his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, realizing now how much that’s in doubt. It’s gonna be so amazing when Rand Paul negotiates an Obama-level sellout to Iran for Trump and all the Republican hawks in Congress who are terrified of losing Trump’s favor have to stand there and applaud the deal through their tears.