LobeLog on Facebook   LobeLog on Facebook











Poll: Three Quarters of Americans Support the Iran Deal

by Derek Davison If Donald Trump succeeds in pulling the U.S. out of the Iran...

Connecting the Dots 32489274735_71943f393c_b

Published on July 11th, 2017 | by Jim Lobe

7

Yikes, Mattis Still Has It in for Iran!

by Jim Lobe

Secretary of Defense James Mattis remains as hostile as ever towards the Islamic Republic of Iran, as he recently made clear in remarks to The Islander, the newspaper of Mercer Island High School. The Pentagon chief, often referred to as one of the few “adults in the room” that presumably makes up the national-security contingent of the Trump administration, gave an extended interview to senior Teddy Fischer, which the Seattle-area school paper published in full on its website. Mattis is a Washington State native, which is one of the reasons he said that he granted the interview to the student.

In Mattis’s view, Iran is responsible for virtually—perhaps even literally—everything bad that has happened or is happening in the Middle East. Among other things, he indicates his hope that the Iranian people “can get rid of this theocracy” and asserts that the European Union imposed tougher sanctions against the regime than the U.S. did. He also suggests that Iran ordered the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and he holds Tehran responsible for all of the mayhem, including setting up camps for “terrorists” (presumably Jabhat al-Nusrah and the Islamic State), that has taken place under Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Granted, the intended audience was high-schoolers, but the analysis seems a little lacking in nuance. The only positive note I could find is the recognition that the Iranian people would rally behind the regime if measures were taken that would put them under pressure. I suppose that would apply to renewed sanctions, let alone war.

Here are the excerpts of the interview related to Iran: 

Teddy Fischer: How can the United States create an atmosphere of trust with the Arab people, especially in Iran?

James Mattis: That’ll be a little tough, since it’s not really an election. It’s the supreme leader decides who gets to run. It would be like having the current American president decide who gets to run in the next campaign, and by the way, when they come in he stays in the White House and the others just kind of rotate through. So the point is that this is a country that is acting more like a revolutionary cause, not to best interests of their own people so it’s very, very hard.

They tried to murder an Arab ambassador in downtown Washington D.C. for example. And so, you can see why President Obama was so anxious to try to block them on getting a nuclear weapon. Until the Iranian people can get rid of this theocracy, these guys who think they can tell the people even which candidates they get a choice of. It’s going to be very, very difficult. This is a regime that employs surrogates, like Lebanese Hezbollah to threaten Israel, to murder the former Lebanese prime minister, murder Israeli tourists in Bulgaria which caused the European Union to put more severe sanctions on Iran than the Americans have ever put on Iran.

Right now, they’ve moved ballistic missiles down to Yemen that were shot into Saudi Arabia from Yemen. It’s going to be very hard to deal with them.

What you have to do eventually is what then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did, which was to move sanctions, economic sanctions, against them and force them to the negotiating table because they want to stay in power.

I think too there’s a way to make certain that we don’t confuse this regime, which is a murderous regime, and remember it has killed a lot of Iranian people and locked up in jail a lot of young Iranians when they demonstrated against them in the Green Revolution a few years ago. You cannot confuse them with the regime. The Iranian people are not the problem. The Iranian people are definitely not the problem, it’s the regime that sends agents around to murder ambassadors in Pakistan or in Washington DC. It’s the regime that provides missiles to Lebanese Hezbollah or the Houthi in Yemen.

So somehow, you don’t want to unite the Iranian people with that unpopular regime because if you pressure them both then they will grow together. We’ve got to make certain that the Iranian people know that we don’t have any conflict with them. I’d start with that.

Fischer: Is Iran the most dangerous country in the Middle East?

Mattis: It’s certainly the country that is the only reason Assad has been able to stay in power. For example, for so long when Russia vetoed the United Nations so they couldn’t do anything about it, the only reason that Assad is still in power and has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people and allowed the terrorists a place to set up camp and millions, literally millions of people, forced out of their homes with nothing but what they could cram into a car or put on their back, it’s all because of Iran.

Iran is certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East and when I would travel to Cairo or Tel Aviv or Riyadh and from Arabs from Jews, all the people in the region, that is their view of Iran. It certainly was my biggest problem when I was the commander of U.S. Central Command. But again, it’s not Iran, it’s the Iranian regime. Most of the Iranian people, I’ve known enough Iranian people or talked to Americans who grew up in Iran and it’s not them, it’s the regime.

Fischer: Are these any lesser known players in Syria supporting Assad in Iran?

Mattis: Nobody. The only reason that Assad is still in power is Russia’s diplomatic veto, Iran’s military power, and now Russia’s military power. Without those two, the Syrian people would have run him out five years ago.

Photo: James Mattis (courtesy Jim Mattis via Flickr)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


7 Responses to Yikes, Mattis Still Has It in for Iran!

Show Comments >



  1. avatar Tony Riley says:

    So, Jim, which bit of what he said about Iran’s terrorist activities, and its lack of real democracy, is factually incorrect?

  2. avatar Khosrow says:

    Mr Mattis’ had the nerve to speak of the “best interests” of the Iranians – didn’t anyone ask: is this not the same America that turned Iran upside down, helped murder Iran’s anti-colonial thinkers and politicians so that for decades America would exploit Iran economically and culturally? Is this not the same America that for decades trained the Shah’s torturers to savagely murder Iranians to silence any voice of dissent? And is this not the same America that left hundreds of thousands of Iranian families traumatised and killed, some still dying a slow death due to the American-Iraqi chemical attacks during the 1980’s!?

    “Iran is certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East and when I would travel to Cairo or Tel Aviv or Riyadh …”

    Good Lord, why Cairo?! How many 1000s were killed during the American backed military coup in Cairo? Why Tel Aviv!? How many Palestinians have been savagely slaughtered by this Apartheid ‘democracy’?! And Riyadh!? I can’t help laughing my sides out! Why places where hands are so bloodstained, Mr Mattis – used to the stench?! The laugh gets louder when I look at “How can the United States create an atmosphere of trust with the Arab people, especially in Iran?” So, Iran is an Arab country and we Iranians didn’t even know that! Halleluiah! What a genius! Margaret Thatcher used the same strategy; using women with little schooling to argue with in order to boost her political agenda in Britain! How pathetic.

    And what a zealous missionary, where he stresses “We’ve got to make certain that the Iranian people know that we don’t have any conflict with them. I’d start with that” He must have been educated at a seminary! Hitler also played the same trick when first made peace with the Soviets! From Mattis’ view, if the Assad regime and the “terrorist” anti-Zionist resistance groups in Lebanon and Palestine were done with, then Israel and other ‘pro-democracy’ ‘freedom-fighter’ mercenary groups from his civilised world could ‘bravely’ attack Iran, and the mafia boss in Washington with his Arab marionettes could quickly join in to run over the country and kill at least half a million Iranians to install another puppet as a king or president and claim the country, only then would the Western ‘civilization’ be protected! In other words: IF ONLY the Iranians would HOLD their hands UP to be shot at closely by the Zionists and American then the peace would prevail! Not so bad, Mr Mattis – but this is the only sweet dream that would turn bitter once you open your eyes. Haven’t you learned anything from years of pursuing black propaganda to pave your abominable ways for military invasions? How much blood, how much carnage would satisfy you? Just look at your records in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, now Syria and Yemen – to name a few! Your American ‘values’ have turned ghastly, Mr Mattis!

  3. avatar John j says:

    @Tony Riley the following is factually wrong
    Mattis: It’s certainly the country that is the only reason Assad has been able to stay in power. For example, for so long when Russia vetoed the United Nations so they couldn’t do anything about it, the only reason that Assad is still in power and has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people and allowed the terrorists a place to set up camp and millions, literally millions of people, forced out of their homes with nothing but what they could cram into a car or put on their back, it’s all because of Iran.

  4. avatar madams12 says:

    Mattis speaks in his Neocon voice their talking points…to destroy Iran as well as the others on their hit list….the propaganda/lies never cease…Mattis’ reference to..”they tried to murder an Arab amb in downtown Washington D.C..” was a loaded bit of nonsense..debunked a few years ago….the claims that Hezbollah lives to “threaten israel”. When in reality, israel has clearly been a continuing theatening powerful aggressor many times to southern Lebanon (they’ve always sought Litani river as their northern ‘border’-) but HEZ has been a stalwart defender of Lebanon arising as a phoenix from the ashes that Israel left in 80s..Hez militia devoted to protecting their homeland especially the south, after Leb.army failed to protect s aggressions of IAF/IDF. Hezbollah steadfastly defended /protected & overcome vastly greater military power from the south. The zionist (Yinon) plan for a greater ‘eretz’ not withstanding. …Iran is & never was a regional threat that Israel was and is. (Isr.targets and US obliges).

  5. avatar Don Bacon says:

    Jim Mattis, who famously said: “Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling. You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”
    –In the interview, Mattis: [on Iran] “it’s not really an election . . run in the next campaign” — What is it, a non-election campaign?
    –“It would be like having the current American president decide who gets to run in the next campaign” — e.g. Hillary not Bernie, by Obama
    –“They tried to murder an Arab ambassador” — The alleged perp had mental problems, and the US murders people all over the world, most notably Gaddifi, recently.
    –“they’ve moved ballistic missiles down to Yemen” — there’s no proof of that. The missiles probably belong to Yemen army units which have defected.
    –“economic sanctions, against them and force them to the negotiating table” — There’s no evidence of forcing, as opposed to Obama finally doing the right thing.
    –“that unpopular regime” — like the US government is popular with anybody, foreign or domestic.
    –“[Syria is] all because of Iran.” – no mention of US involvement illegally supporting anti-Syria radicals.
    –“Iran is certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East” — No, obviously the US has been, mainly via Operation Iraqi Freedom which is widely recognized as America’s largest foreign policy mistake ever, with widespread death and destruction.
    –“The only reason that Assad is still in power is Russia’s diplomatic veto” — Check the UN Charter, Jimbo.


About the Author

avatar

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



Back to Top ↑
  • Named after veteran journalist Jim Lobe, LobeLog provides daily expert perspectives on US foreign policy toward the Middle East through investigative reports and analyses from Washington to Tehran and beyond. It became the first weblog to receive the Arthur Ross Award for Distinguished Reporting and Analysis of Foreign Affairs from the American Academy of Diplomacy in 2015.

  • Categories

  • Subscribe

    Enter your email address to subscribe to our site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Popular Posts

  • Comments Policy

    We value your opinion and encourage you to comment on our postings. To ensure a safe environment we will not publish comments that involve ad hominem attacks, racist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory language, or anything that is written solely for the purpose of slandering a person or subject.

    Excessively long comments may not be published due to their length. All comments are moderated. LobeLog does not publish comments with links.

    Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing from you!