Trump Offer for Talks A Distraction; War with Iran Suicidal: American Prof.

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An American scholar and political commentator said US President Donald Trump’s offer for “unconditional” talks with Iran could be just another attempt by him to “distract the American public from negative news coming out of his administration”.

“…it could also just be that Trump wants to distract the American public from negative news coming out of his administration,” Sarah Marusek told the Tasnim news agency.

She also said, “As bad as the Trump administration is, American military and intelligence agencies will know that the US cannot defeat Iran militarily. They could not win in Afghanistan and Iraq – fighting one of the region’s largest militaries would be suicidal.”

Marusek is a political analyst from New York but works at the University of Leeds in the UK. She focuses on Islamic activism, Islamophobia and decoloniality.

Following is the full text of the interview.

Tasnim: US President Donald Trump has said that talks with Iran are imminent and could happen “pretty soon,” a day after he expressed willingness to meet with the Islamic Republic's leaders without "preconditions”. Do you believe that Trump is genuine?

Marusek: President Trump is genuine and sincere only at the historical moment he is speaking; in the following seconds, hours and days he can change his mind completely, and without any consistent logic or rationale. He epitomizes the innocence and naïveté of a child because his mind and life are completely cut off from the real world, where words and actions have very particular consequences.

Tasnim: Washington on May 8 unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. Other parties have stressed that they would continue to remain committed to the agreement. What is behind this abrupt shift in tone?

Marusek: Two things: 1) Israel and its powerful lobby and 2) Trump’s pathology against former President Obama. Don’t forget, Trump was one of the most vocal proponents of the ridiculous (and racist) idea that Obama was not American. He wants to undo everything that the Obama presidency stood for: improving health care; negotiating the Iran deal; pressing Israel on the settlements... This strengthens the Israeli right wing. If you look at how Trump is handling North Korean diplomacy, it shows that he has no idea how difficult agreements are to reach and what a fantastic coming together there was between John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif, how hard they worked for a deal that was productive and sustainable. Trump treats the world like his fiefdom – he has no respect for other peoples and cultures and also is, as noted above, very naïve.

Tasnim: Do you believe that European members of the deal would favor a new round of talks between Iran and the US?

Marusek: The Europeans appear quite reluctant when it comes to Donald Trump. We are facing a crisis of Western liberal democracy – growing inequality, increasing right-wing fascism, the closing of borders, the denial of rights to Muslim minorities etc. The world is no longer bipolar and the US is no longer the sole superpower. A new multi-polar system may allow the Europeans, Russia, China and others to bypass the US altogether.

Tasnim: Donald Trump issued a threat of all-out war against Iran recently. Later, he softened his tone. Do you believe this has anything to do with US midterm elections looming on the horizon?

Marusek: It could be that; however, it could also just be that Trump wants to distract the American public from negative news coming out of his administration. But I do think that these are empty threats. As bad as the Trump administration is, American military and intelligence agencies will know that the US cannot defeat Iran militarily. They could not win in Afghanistan and Iraq – fighting one of the region’s largest militaries would be suicidal.

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