The U.S. backlash to Trump's all-caps Iran tweet continues…as U.S. mounts Iranian propaganda mission. Trump "taunted an aspiring nuclear power with some of the harshest words we've heard from an American president," writes CNN's Chris Cillizza, scolding that "Twitter diplomacy—which is one of the many things that Trump has ushered in as president—isn't a tried-and-true approach to geopolitics."
Trump "won't be able to play [the same] game with Iran" as he did North Korea, writes Jarrett Blanc at Politico. And "despite what Trump may hope, there won't even be a Gulf version of the Singapore Summit: a made-for-TV drama that lowers hostilities without addressing underlying problems. Two obstacles stand in the way: us and them."
But all this focus on Trump-induced Twitter drama ignores what's actually happening in Iran and the actual actions the U.S. has taken there recently: namely, running a massive propaganda mission and once again backing potential terrorists to own the admins we don't like.
The Trump folks have "been ramping up rhetoric about what [the administration] calls Iran's 'malign' behavior in the region," notes NPR. "Administration officials also seem to be trying to encourage Iranians to rise up against their government." More:
Protests have mounted in recent weeks in Iran, as the country struggles with an economic crisis that has grown more severe since President Trump's decision in May to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on the country.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been tweeting about the protests — sometimes exaggerating them. He's trying to show Iranians that the Trump administration backs those opposing the Iranian leadership.
We've also been seeding stories, social media accounts, and other communication vehicles that push America's preferred version of events as well as generally attempt to foment anger and unrest among the Iranian people.
Axios reported earlier this month that Israel and the U.S. had "formed a joint working group a few months ago that is focused on internal efforts to encourage protests within Iran and pressure the country's government. "Nobody is seriously thinking about regime change," an Israeli on the team told Axios, "but this team is trying to see if we can use the internal weaknesses of the Iranian regime in order to create more pressure that will contribute to changing Iranian behavior."
Here's how Reuters put it last week:
The Trump administration has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups, U.S. officials familiar with the matter said.
When Russia tries this with us, we call it "hacking" our elections and charge them with criminally meddling in our politics. But America has always been the queen of do as I say, not as I do. And picking winners and losers in other countries' politics is one of our things, even if this sometimes means giving arms and support to violent extremists who have the same strategic enemies. The situation with the Trump administration and Iran is stacking up to be another one of these.
John Limbert, a former U.S. diplomat who served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran and was trapped there during the Iran hostage crisis, told NPR that "he worries about the influence of an Iranian exile group that advocates the overthrow of the Iranian government and was included on the U.S. terrorist list until 2012."
The group is called the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, which means People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, also known by its initials MEK. "Their message is that the place is on the verge of overthrowing the Islamic Republic, which has been a claim for the last 40 years and that they, in particular, are the logical democratic, pluralistic replacement. Now, if you believe that, I have some Florida real estate I could sell you," he said.
Trump's national security adviser John Bolton is a supporter of the MEK. And U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley retweeted a video posted last week on an official MEK account.
But never mind who MEK is—let's do some destabilizing in the Middle East! It's been so long, and the Iraq War cheerleaders are getting so restless…
"Tariffs are the greatest!"
Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It's as simple as that—and everybody's talking! Remember, we are the "piggy bank" that's being robbed. All will be Great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2018
COMPLETELY EXCLUDED from this conversation, both in the event and in the reporting on it? ACTUAL SEX WORKERS, who know more about what sex workers need than anyone else. But funny how no one ever wants to hear from us while they try to "solve the problem" of our existence. https://t.co/t3RQNPJvTd
— Mistress Matisse (@mistressmatisse) July 24, 2018
- Fact Check: "President Trump tweeted a series of false or misleading claims over four days, ranging from the Russia investigation to NATO funding to North Korea to the price of soybeans."
- Some 463 migrant parents separated from their children by U.S. agents are no longer here, with many having been deported before being reunited with their children, officials admitted Monday.
- Democrats like Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) are ready to resist Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh—until it might hurt them at the polls.
- Florida's stand-your-ground law is at the center of another controversy, this time after one man killed another in a dispute over a parking spot.