By Hassan Daei, an Iranian human rights activist residing in the United States known for his revelations of the Iranian regime’s lobbies, particularly NIAC, in Washington D.C. and across the U.S.
From the Aftabkaran website, translated from Farsi by Iran Probe
Friday, 23 May 2016
The recent New York Times magazine report on Ben Rhodes, the skipper of U.S. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy in the White House, has been astonishing and very important. This report sheds light on the behind-the-curtain relations between the Obama administration and appeasement lobby, including the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), to take control over the media, deceive the public and justify Obama’s pro-appeasement policies. This report is a document reflecting the moral and political failures of the lobby in favor of appeasing the Iranian regime.
The New York Times magazine reporter David Samuels has published an in-depth article on Ben Rhodes, the U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor in Strategic Communications, known as the foreign policy skipper in the White House, revealing the behind-the-curtain details about White House decisions. This report, portraying a very negative image of Ben Rhodes and Obama’s foreign policy team, has become one of the main subjects in the media and Washington political circles. The Samuels report, including an interview with Rhodes and his colleagues, describes him as a frail and conceited individual that considers the journalists and foreign policy experts’ community as non-educated and stupid, and praises his own efforts for deceiving the public. A segment of Samuels’ long report refers to the nuclear appeasement with Iran, the efforts placed by Rhodes and his team to sell it to the public, and his cooperation with the appeasement lobby circle.
Ben Rhodes, with no experience or college education in U.S. foreign policy, entered this field work nearly ten years ago with the help of family relations. He experienced his first real job in the Wilson Center back in 2007, and was a member of the team preparing the renowned Iraq Study Group report. In this report the White House has been advised to seek a path of friendship and cooperation with Iran. The Wilson Center is one of the main appeasement think tanks in the U.S. and Hale Esfandiyari has for years been in charge of its Middle East branch. Trita Parsi and his friends are all on the Center’s payroll.
Rhodes’ cooperation with the pro-Iran appeasement think tanks and his writing skills paved the path to enter and rise the White House ranks in the Obama administration. This was no coincident. Despite the fact that all U.S. administrations in the past 37 years have relentlessly been searching to appease and establish a friendly relationship with the Iranian regime, the Obama administration actually elevated appeasement with the Islamic republic to a much higher standard, theorized the practice and turned it into a main foreign policy pillar. Therefore, they gathered the most experienced appeasers in the White House and U.S. State Department for this very purpose. It is no coincident that Valerie Jarrett, born in Shiraz, is a senior Obama advisor in the White House described as “the president’s working wife.” It is no coincident Obama’s special secretary is an Iranian, and that former NIAC employee Sahar Norouzzadeh is the Iran bureau director in the White House National Security Council.
Effectively, the White House has crossed all moral red lines and recognized U.S. foreign policy principals for the sake of friendship with Iran. This practice has not only been criticized by Obama’s opponents. In fact his friends and allies including former U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton, two former defense secretaries Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, his ambassadors in Iraq and Syria, and senior Pentagon officials and foreign policy experts in Washington close to the Democrats are all jointly attacking Obama’s pro-appeasement policies vis-à-vis Iran, his inaction and failures in Iraq and Syria, and his silence in the face of the Syrian people being massacred.
One of the most shameful examples of Obama’s pro-appeasement policies was witnessed during the 2009 Iranian uprisings. At a time when millions of people had poured into the streets and risen against the regime, and the mullahs responded with their lethal crackdown, Obama was only concerned of his friendship strategy with Iran. Therefore, he adopted the policy of silence and indifference. To justify his practice he described the Iranian people’s uprising as a dispute between former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi in their rivalry during the highly disputed and controversial 2009 presidential elections in Iran. Obama said there is not much of a difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, and therefore silence is the best policy option in the face of developments in Iran.
The New Yorker magazine, known to be in the Democratic Party circle, published a report in 2011 on Obama describing one of Obama’s behaviors during the Iranian people’s general uprising. This report quoted a White House official saying in 2009, at the climax of the popular movement, that Twitter had decided to upgrade its program. This would result in Twitter being temporarily cut-off in Iran. A State Department official, who had not understood the depth of Obama’s pro-appeasement policies, made a call to Twitter asking them to postpone the upgrade since demonstrators in Iran used that program and disconnecting it would not be in the Iranian people’s interests. Obama, considering the State Department official’s measure as meddling in Iranian affairs, ordered him to be fired. Finally, the individual was spared from being fired through mediation by senior State Department officials. It is interesting that according to the New Yorker, the White House sought to justify its behavior by apparently claiming U.S. support would allow the Iranian regime to describe the demonstrators as pro-American and launch a fierce crackdown. However, White House officials told the New Yorker that in fact, Obama was seeking to compromise with the Iranian regime and considered even a minimum support of the demonstrators would displease the mullahs’ regime and block the path of conciliation.
Nuclear Appeasement and Selling It Off in a Pacifist Gift Wrap
The most interesting part of Samuels’ report in the New York Times magazine refers to the nuclear appeasement and Ben Rhodes’ efforts to deceive the public and sell this policy as a pacifist measure to prevent war. According to Samuels, administration officials said Oman hosted significant tête-à-tête negotiations with Iran for nuclear conciliation began back in the summer of 2012, meaning during Ahmadinejad’s tenure. This was confirmed in the past by Jake Sullivan, a senior Clinton advisor and head of the American team in the negotiations, along with other U.S. officials. According to Samuels, former White House officials informed him that three months prior to Rouhani’s presidency, the United States had already presented its main framework for nuclear conciliation to the Iranian regime envoys in Oman. This proposal was the basis of future negotiations and signed three years later under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by the P5+1. Samuels concluded by citing remarks made by White House officials that nuclear conciliation was the result of America sealing an agreement with representatives of Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei in Oman, and had nothing to do with Rouhani’s presidency.
Last year Khamenei in his speech on 23 June 2015 speech referred to the beginning of secret negotiations for the nuclear agreement.
“The issue of negotiating with the Americans is related to the former government and a mediator being sent to Tehran and requesting negotiations. At the time, a respected official in the region came as a mediator and specifically said the U.S. President had requested from him to travel to Tehran and express the American’s request for negotiations. The Americans had told this mediator we would like to recognize Iran as a nuclear power (accept uranium enrichment in Iran) resolve the nuclear issue and raise the sanctions in a matter of six months. Of course, we told the mediator we don’t trust the Americans and their words. Yet considering the insistence of that mediator, we accepted to once again test this issue. And so the negotiations began,” he said.
In fact, the duty placed on the shoulders of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has been to finalize the details of this conciliation and gain the utmost concessions as possible under the nuclear agreement that had already been sealed beforehand. However, under the framework of this plan, Obama would provide a significant amount of concessions to the Iranian regime that were in complete contrast to his public positions and the opinions of U.S. foreign policy experts, and the public would hardly accept. This included allowing uranium enrichment, maintaining nuclear facilities intact, Tehran allowed to upgrade its nuclear program, and enrichment for a 10 to 15 year period.
Ben Rhodes and his team in the White House launched a widespread propaganda/media/political campaign to please the public and prevent any opposition by Congress regarding this agreement, parallel to justifying the concessions provided by Obama to Iran. All political allies of the White House, with the pro-appeasement lobby leading the pack along with a flock of reporters and experts, were rallied for this specific campaign. NIAC, led by Trita Parsi, led a special role in this campaign. This is a report published last year on a tele-conference held between the Rhodes team and nearly 100 other groups, mainly allies of NIAC, explaining their campaign to explain to the public and lobby the Congress in this regard.
According to Samuels, the Rhodes team gained control of the cyber and media airwaves and launched the propaganda policy sought by the White House aimed at selling the nuclear agreement. This campaign was comprised of two main themes: first, describing conciliation with Iran as the pacifist option and a step to prevent war, and thus tagging all critics of the agreement and those opposing providing any unjustified concessions to Iran as opponents of diplomacy and advocates of war. The second pillar of the Rhodes propaganda campaign was to describe nuclear conciliation with the Iranian regime as the fruit of negotiating with Hassan Rouhani as the representative of the moderate and reformist branch of the Iranian regime. Through such a line the public was set to more easily accept the agreement and American opponents of nuclear conciliation would be described as in line with hardliners in Iran. The truth is, however, the nuclear agreement was never the result of Rouhani’s presidency and the agreement framework was sealed in 2012 between the U.S. and Khamenei representatives.
If we take a look at this NIAC propaganda video clip (1) published months before the nuclear conciliation to lobby Congress, we can see the main pillars of Ben Rhodes’ propaganda campaign: describing nuclear conciliation as a pacifist measure, introducing appeasement critics as warmongers and in line with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and highlighting the role of Rouhani in the nuclear agreement. This documentary (2) was published last year by the Iranian Forum describing the propaganda campaign led by NIAC and its allies in the White House in order to sell-off the idea of nuclear conciliation.
Ben Rhodes, in his interview with New York Times magazine David Samuels, expresses his delight on being able to lead his secret propaganda campaign to take control of cyberspace and the media to sell the arguments sought by the White House. Rhodes is also ecstatic in being able to giftwrap the nuclear conciliation as a pacifist measure and again sell the entire idea to the public alongside Rouhani and Iranian reformists. Describing the media and foreign policy experts’ community as generally stupid, Rhodes feels victorious in being able to advance the White House policy through his deceptive and demagoguery tactics.
Finally, one must say that experience gained in the past three decades, especially the 8 years of Obama’[s presidency, shows very well how appeasement vis-à-vis the Iranian regime has not only been against the interests of the Iranian people, peace and stability in the Middle East, and in contrast with the strategic interests of the West and United States, in fact closing one’s relationship with this regime and attempting to form a bond with the mullahs is so repulsive and utterly revolting that one is forced to deceive the public to advance such a policy, and to describe it as a pacifist measure. Ben Rhodes became an expert in this regard and NIAC, led by Trita Parsi, has completed this campaign.