Truth Bombs and Temper Tantrums – Podcast Episode 3

Episode Description: This week, Reza breaks down why chemicals weapons use in Syria is being questioned, why Saudi Arabia acts like a spoiled brat, and why the Trump administration’s professed solidarity with the Iranian people is less than honest. Mana Kharrazi, Executive Director of Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB), chats with Reza about Trump’s travel ban and its roots in Obama’s presidency, its connection to sanctions and threats of war that have long been a staple of U.S. policy toward Iran, and how none of this is in the national interest of the United States.


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About Reza Marashi: With 15 years of experience working in both the U.S. government and Washington DC think tank world, Reza Marashi breaks down American foreign policy, the lack of diplomatic engagement and military restraint that is guiding it, the cast of characters that are making this unsustainable problem worse, and how all of this is firmly not in the national interest of the United States.



Greetings. Good people of the world. Come on in. Sit down. Relax. Put in your fancy iPhone earbuds. You are now listening to The Message a podcast that breaks down American foreign policy, the lack of diplomatic engagement in military restraint that is guiding it, the cast of characters that in making this unsustainable problem worse and how all of this is firmly not in the national interest of the United States. I’m your host. My name is Reza Marashi.

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News Of The Week

Every week, we’re going to do three things for you. One breakdown, three news stories that you should know about to interview Smart, intellectually honest people who deserve to be heard and three. Answer your questions that you email to our mailbag. So, without further ado, enjoy the show to kick things off this week, we’re gonna go beyond the headlines and do a deep dive on three important news stories that the people need to know about. Why do the people need to know about these news stories? That’s a great question. Thanks for asking. The people need to know, because each of these stories highlights the core tenet that this podcast is built upon, which is that the foundations of American foreign policy are firmly not in the national interest of the United States.

Syria, Chemical Weapons

Story number one that the people need to know about this week. Syria. More specifically, the mainstream narrative of the conflict in Syria is imploding, and nobody’s really talking about every day. There are new revelations that the Western backed rebels were in cahoots with both Al Qaeda and ISIS. And now we’re hearing that reports accusing Syrian government leader Bashar al Assad of using chemical weapons were doctored, according to the reports. Own authors. Yes, you heard me right. The authors of the official reports linking Assad to chemical weapons use have now supplied evidence that their own reports were doctored due to pressure from Western governments in defiance of the scientific evidence and therefore exploiting them to push regime change in Syria.

Now, according to these scientists, American officials pressured the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, for short to report that the Syrian army committed a chlorine attack, despite OPCW scientists repeatedly saying the evidence did not support such claims, OPCW scientists said the published report on chemical weapons used in Syria misrepresents their findings, and they also say that most of their scientists colleagues agree. But American officials met with them. Tow Alter the report. Why aren’t mainstream media outlets covering this? It’s a hell of a story when OPCW scientists with no dog in the fight openly state that American officials bullied the world’s premier chemical weapons watchdog in tow, altering their assessment of chemical weapons used in Syria. I mean, this story is important for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, wars are waged on the basis of such reports. So until we have a proper understanding of how people around the world were duped into supporting regime change in Syria, they’ll get duped into supporting other misadventures that are insanely costly to the local populations, insanely costly to global stability and insanely costly to American interests.

So what’s at stake for American interests and more specifically, How is all of this firmly? Not in the national interest of the United States? Well, I’d say that in our quest to overthrow the Syrian government, we risk creating the Islamic state that ISIS envisioned. We risk stumbling into a war with Russia, and we made the humanitarian and terrorism problems around the world exponentially worse. Furthermore, we refuse to acknowledge the negative role we’ve played and continued to play, and thus we will therefore likely continue to back extremists, exacerbate civil wars, spread death and destruction, and increase refugee flows around the world. I mean, what what happened in Syria is, it appears, is that the DC establishment decided that the ends overthrowing Assad and ushering in a more compliant client state in Syria justified the means providing support directly or indirectly to Al Qaeda and ISIS groups that have openly stated their desire to attack the mainland United States.

This isn’t about being pro Assad or pro Putin or pro Iranian or pro American. It’s about being pro-science and pro truth.

Truth did not matter at all. We were told that Assad must be overthrown based on chemical weapons reports whose own authors say were doctored to support rebels who were alqaida lead and who are helping Isis. So years from now, when we look back, the Syrian tragedy. Now we won’t only be talking about Bashar al Assad’s well documented brutality. We’ll also be talking about corruption and self inflicted wounds on the part of Western democracies will be talking about false reports of progress in their regime change efforts despite knowingly helping Al-Qaeda and ISIS. I will be talking about their bullying of scientists. The doctor reports on chemical weapons use isn’t newsworthy. If we attacked Syria militarily for chemical weapons used that official OPCW scientists say, probably never happened. But call me crazy, but I think it is. And should we trust the scientists charged with investigating the alleged chemical weapons attack? Or should we trust Western governments who have already launched wars that have set off a generation of death and destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen? On this specific issue?

The answer seems pretty straightforward to me. This isn’t about being pro Assad or pro Putin or pro Iranian or pro American. It’s about being pro science and pro truth.

SAudi Arabia’s Temper Tantrums

Story number two that the people need to know about this week. Saudi Arabia, more specifically, Saudi Arabia’s temper tantrums in the Middle East, so off top, Let’s be clear about one thing. Saudi Arabia. Strategy is a little more than random acts of violence, with two aims number one becoming the unchecked regional Hegeman and number two choking the last breath from the Arab spring in any other kind of pro democracy, pro peace movement. Like what are some recent examples? Number one, the Saudi siege against Qatar number to the Saudi siege against Lebanon.

When you outsource your security, you’re inherently insecure.

Why is all of this happening? Al Jazeera? That’s an independent journalism outlet that Qatar funds dialogue with Iran. Thes air pop those air. That’s a policy that Qatar in Lebanon both supports and Hezbollah’s role in the Lebanese government. They’re all policy disagreements. They’re not tangible or credible security threats to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s temper tantrums really aren’t new there, sparked by other countries in the region pursuing independent policies that the Saudis refused to accept. Lebanon, Qatar aren’t the only examples… Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Iran in addition to Lebanon, a Qatar, they’re all failures. So Saudi Arabia won’t accept any independent actors of any sort, deviating from its maintenance of an autocratic status quo, which unfortunately is fully backed by the United States, all of which is ravaging the middle east. Thus, Saudi Arabia repeatedly bites off more than it can chew, and after it fails, it runs back into the arms of its security guarantor, the United States. This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. For one simple reason. When you outsource your security, you’re inherently insecure.

As former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates both confirmed publicly, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly pushed for war with Iran. But they’re only willing to fight a war with Iran. Down to the last American soldier in Saudi Arabia’s zero-sum approach ignores reality. And that reality is that durable solutions to conflict require the buy in of every country with the capacity to wreck the solution. However, Saudi Arabia feels emboldened by its blank check from the Trump administration, which is why it’s regional temper tantrums have gotten progressively worse and are unlikely to subside. There’s now a Saudi proclivity towards taking reckless and extreme postures because Saudi Arabia has been socialized into thinking, Get away with anything that this kind of behavior delivers results.

The modus operandi of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his cronies didn’t emerge mysteriously from the ether. It is the product of a Saudi Arabia that has long been treated with impunity and indulgence on the international stage. Saudi Arabia’s obsession with Iran can only be understood in the context of the lesson that the world has been teaching Saudi Arabia for decades. Saudi leaders across the political spectrum have built career, snubbing their noses at Western governments and paying no price whatsoever. Consider this this status quo absurdity. Saudi Arabia is on the U. N. Human Rights Council and received awards from Western countries for counterterrorism while being among the worst human rights abusers and foremost state sponsors of terrorism and rarely being called on it. Each Saudi escalation is more reckless in the previous, and it’s in denial as to the consequences of its increasing extremism. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, America must massively rain in the Saudi crown prince before his foreign policy and domestic policy debacles risk imploding the Kingdom and, by extension, American interests.

The United States and other governments in the West shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking that they’re being helpful to Saudi Arabia by encouraging the self defeating antics on display from the crown prince. Encourage Mohammed bin Salman today and don’t be surprised if the result is a future Saudi Arabia even more delusional and dangerous to global security. American interests are not tied to Saudi Arabia. Let me repeat that American interests are not tied to Saudi Arabia. But the interests of American weapons manufacturers, PR firms and energy companies sure are. So Iran has grown up enough to know that it can’t exclude Saudi Arabia from the region. Saudi Arabia needs to grow up, too, and realize that it can’t exclude Iran.

Trump Administration, The Chumpions Of Iranian Rights

Story number three that the people need to know about this week. Iran. More specifically, a variety of Trump administration officials have attempted to piggyback off the recent protests in Iran and champion themselves as defenders and allies of the Iranian people. I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Most folks in the Trump administration do not give a damn about the Iranian people. Allow me to explain if I could be afforded to tell you a little bit of a story. Eerily familiar drumbeat of war is intensifying across Washington, DC As the Trump administration continues its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. The ghosts of America’s neo conservative past are dusting off their Iraq playbook to make the case for war with Iran. Their formula is simple but effective.

The ghosts of America’s neo conservative past are dusting off their Iraq playbook to make the case for war with Iran.

Portray the Iranian government as an existential threat.

Insist that a chain of catastrophic events will result from inaction and minimize the costs and risks of war that is necessary to facilitate their regime change efforts. If one looks back, however, neoconservatives weren’t alone in their push for war with Iraq. A crucial aspect of selling the war to the US public was a modicum of support within the Iraqi American community. Iraqi exiles living abroad, such as Ahmed Chalabi as well, a supposed whistleblowers turn known fabricators like the infamous curveball let a contention of vocal Iraqis who pushed for more steadily aggressive actions to topple Saddam Hussein’s government there promised that the invasion would be a cakewalk, and that U. S soldiers would be greeted with candy and flowers didn’t quite pan out. Now the fruits of their labor clear for all to see…

A broken country devastated by war with no discernible end in sight, fast forward to today, and most Iranian Americans opposed Trump’s push for a war. My 15 years of working in the sealed is crystallized. One key takeaway. Iranian Americans deeply resent the Iranian government, but they prefer a U. S policy that emphasize engagement in de-escalation. For four decades, Iranian Americans have grappled with the paradox of wanting to make Iran a better place. But fearing successes, Much as defeat, some worry that contributing the positive changes inside Iran will only strengthen a draconian system, thereby extending its lease on life.

For many Iranian Americans, this dilemma was resolved by their disastrous to historical experience with revolutionary upheaval. Rather than laying the groundwork for democracy, Iran’s 1979 revolution simply replaced one authoritarian government with another. As a result, Iranian Americans strongly prefer to use the rule of law to alter not only the Iranian government’s behavior but also the thinking of Iranians inside Iran. Efforts by Iranian Americans to promote engagement and oppose war have pretty much been consistent in cohesive.

For example, overwhelming Iranian American support for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign is a telling indicator of Iranian American political attitudes for every $1 raised by GOP nominee John McCain from Iranian Americans. Obama, who ran on a platform that promoted diplomacy with Iran raised $5. Iranian Americans understand from personal experience that abrupt political changes unlikely to produce the desired result. Liberal Iranians were unable to contain the 1979 revolutions excesses, and they lack the stomach for the brutality that wins revolutions. And despite the fact that most Iranian Americans favor a more tolerant, pluralistic and democratic system in Iran, they see little evidence that US toppling the current government would bring Iranian Democrats to power within Iran.

Rampant popular dissatisfaction has yet to evolve into a sustainable, coherent challenge to the system. The Iranian government’s monopoly on violence has prevented such challenges but has not ended. The desire for change. Ongoing death and destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen with no end in sight makes Iranian Americans even warier about foreign efforts to quote unquote liberate their ancestral homeland. Right, a wrong. Many Iranian Americans see these U. S. Military invasions as less about democracy, and more as a gambit to seize resource and conspiracy theories may seem absurd, but behind them lies a deeper reality that is very powerful in the minds of Iranian Americans. Look no further than Trump instructing the U. S military to illegally occupy Syrian oil fields. I think few Iranian Americans would welcome the prospects of US war under the auspices of quote unquote democracy promotion. That, in turn, shattered any semblance of stability and ignited a destructive cycle of conflict. The long unmet political, economic and social aspirations of Iranians inside Iran keep Iranian Americans searching for new ways to help foster peaceful indigenous change.

Our ideas remain diverse, but there is near unanimous consent. That chain should occur without bloodshed. I think Iranian expatriates want to change their government. It is their methods that differ. A majority of Iranian Americans would welcome an improvement of relations between Washington and Tehran because it increases the positive prospects for peaceful change from within. The watershed moment in U. S. Iran relations over the past 40 years, particularly the J. C. P. Away, an intensive, sustained direct US around diplomacy that required all occurred at the height of Obama’s mutual interests and mutual respect initiative. Engagement with the Iranian government understandably spurs many moral dilemmas for Iranian Americans. Most, however, understand the alternatives particulate early when juxtaposed with the rock. America’s war has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, millions of displaced Iraqis and decades worth of lives that have been destroyed for those still living in a perpetual war zone.

And sanctions came before that. Are Iranians really supposed to prefer this over the status quo? Let’s not kid ourselves. Ah, Minority of Iranian Americans support US Back regime Change American neoconservatives have their kindred spirits, some long established, some coming of age. But most Iranian Americans distrust anyone who welcomes military or economic warfare on Iran.

Bottom line. There’s no arguing that Iran must change. Few Iranian Americans favor sitting idly by and waiting for the situation in Iran to improve on its own. But only Uncle Tom’s by the deceit the Trump Administration is selling.


And now it’s time for this week’s mail bag, where you ask me any questions you have about with going on in the world today. And I try to answer to the best of my ability. If you have a question, don’t be shy. Email them into info at Iranian dot com with your name and location, and I’ll do my best to answer as many questions as I can on the next episode of the podcast. So without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Question number one from this week’s mail bag come from Mehdi in McLean, Virginia. Shout out to McLean, Virginia. Lots of a cello have all about their METI says Hi rez off. Amnesty International said this week that it’s documented death toll from Iran’s recent anti government protests has risen to at least 300 or four demonstrators. While I don’t question the regime’s brutal crackdown on protesters, I am generally skeptical of human rights organizations as propaganda tools of the Western governments that fund them. What are your thoughts behind the work’s coming out of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others? Are they credible?

It’s a great question. Maybe thanks for writing in and asking, you know, Human Rights Watch Amnesty International kind of stand out above all other human rights organizations as the two that air universally, almost universally respected. Nothing or nobody is universally respected, I guess. But I’ve seen Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International get criticized from all sides from the American government, from the Iranian government, from the Chinese government. You name it, and if you’re getting criticize, I speak from experience. If you’re getting criticized by everybody. It usually means you’re doing something right. So I’m not saying that they’re perfect 100% of the time. But I do think that they do as good of a job is possible. And, you know, I think that they’re doing important work and keeping track of important things that you know are difficult to keep track of by any stretch of the imagination.

Now, that being said, there are some bad apples out there. Not every human rights organization is legit. Not every human rights organization is calling balls and strikes fairly. Not every human rights organization is trying to apply their standards evenly, so I think it’s important to keep that in mind. I think it’s important to look at the range of options as it pertains to human rights organizations, and the message is that they’re putting out and noticed the consistencies and inconsistencies because unfortunately, when you have some organizations, I’m not saying most. But when you have some organizations out there that are using human rights as a political tool or a political weapon against some but not doing it against others, and you have those kinds of double standards it really cheapens the concept of human rights, and it weakens the cause.

Question number two from this week’s mail bag is from Farhad in Kansas City. Shout to Kansas City. He says: Hello, Reza. Yet another think tank, this one called the Quincy Institute, which is funded by Charles Koch and George Soros, opened its doors in DC this past week. Despite the track record of their backers, Quincy claims to be anti war, which is fine. But my question is this:

Would US foreign policy be better served without so many think tanks? Aren’t think tanks basically outlets for wealthy individuals, interest groups and nations to influence U. S. Foreign policy?

Yeah, there’s a good question, Farhad. Thanks for writing in. I don’t know anything about the Quincy Institute, so I can’t speak on that. You know, I could see why some people might think that there’s too many, but I could see why some people might think it’s a double edged sword. But I do think that think tanks are necessary now I have my own. Christ, this is from someone who worked for a think tank for a long time. Um, I thought that I was always intellectually honest and trying to do the right thing and play by the rules and things of that nature. But I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a great many number of people at a great many number of think tanks that absolutely do not, and especially on Middle East issues. It’s super corrupt and by corrupt. I don’t mean like they’re breaking American loss per se, at least not to the best of my knowledge. But I do think that there’s a conflict of interest when you’re working on Iran, for example, and you’re getting funded by the Emirati’s or the Saudis or the Israelis. So I do think that there’s a certain level of corruption like or maybe I should say, the process has been somewhat corrupted on a variety of issues that think tanks, some of the more prominent ones, perhaps, but for all intensive purposes.

I don’t want to paint with a broad brush strokes. I don’t want to say that every single person working at a think tank is, you know, super corrupt, and you shouldn’t pay attention to what they have to say, because you know that one day I’m gonna go back or we could think, think. And I would very much like people to take seriously what I have to say and listen to what I have to say. So rather than lament the existence of think tanks or or ask about whether or not there should be more think tanks or less thinkings, I think what we have to do is listen to whoever might be talking about a particular issue from a particular thing. Take and decide whether or not you rock with that person. If you like what they have to say, dig in a little more. See what? See what they have to say on more issues and see if this is somebody that you want to continue to pay attention to. If you don’t like what they have to say, nobody’s forcing you to listen. Nobody’s forcing you to read their tweets. Nobody’s forcing you to read their articles. Nobody’s forcing you to watch their interviews. But rest assured fatty, I feel your pain because I spent eight years working at a think tank, and during that time when I was in D. C. I felt like an honest man amongst thieves.

Question number three from this week’s mail bag is from Mike and Rockville, Maryland. Shout out to Rockville, Mike says, Hey, Reza, I’m frustrated as fuck. Why are most Americans so hopelessly apathetic to the destruction and death? Tus causes people of the world to hit list of US coups and wars is long and the human suffering very real. Despite this, most Americans continue to live in a bubble completely indifferent to the U. S. Foreign policies. If they passively support through their tax dollars in warmongering politicians, they elect, What will it take to get a majority of Americans to care about the lives of people living abroad and demand from their elected officials? A stop to these forever wars and foreign meddling? When is enough enough?

It’s a good question. Thanks for writing in Mike. That’s a tough question to answer, and I don’t know if there’s ah hardened, fast solution to the problems that you point out. But there is something that’s always kind of stood out to me, you know, I serve for for five years in government, and I think that really got me in tune with what our country is doing, both in terms of foreign and domestic policy, and got me Maur invested in trying to figure out ways to make sure that my country is actually pursuing its interest properly and doing right by its citizens. And I think for more people to get engaged in that kind of way for more American citizens to get engaged in that kind of way. I do believe that the United States government should require all American citizens to revive two years of service to their country and in the quid pro quo would be that if you do that, you get a free college education, and by doing that, it helps create national unity. It teaches young people a trade, and it’s gonna help people get out of debt from college loans. And I really don’t think that it could be voluntary. I do think that it needs to be mandatory. So everyone who graduates high school, he turns 18. They give two years to his or her country. It could be the military. It could be the Peace Corps. I mean you could plant trees. I don’t care. And for that your college education is paid for period. Full stop. And here’s the beauty of it. Everyone who is older than 18 and past age of eligibility, they’d be for it. It creates national pride. Give the kids an education and they don’t have to partake in it. But if you’re not 18 yet, you can’t vote. You’re too young, so you’re kind of being forced into it and you get the benefits from it on the back end. So this, I think, is the best and perhaps most pain free way of getting more of our citizens engaged in the decision making process as it pertains to our foreign and domestic policies.

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