In an interview with Muslimpress.com, Jean Bricmont, an anti-imperialism activist, said: "Israel is fanatically opposed to Iran and the pro-Israel lobby in the United States puts constant pressure on all politicians to follow an anti-Iran line."
Here's the full text of the interview:
Muslim Press: In his UN General Assembly speech, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea. What’s your take on Trump’s harsh tone against North Korea?
Jean Bricmont: Before answering your questions, one has to understand the situation in the United States, which is complicated and does not resemble the situation during the Vietnam War for example: a lot of what passes for the left, and of course the entire Democratic Party, is totally in favor of “democracy promotion” or what I call humanitarian imperialism. Most of the Republican Party is on the same line. Where hot wars are impossible because of the relationships of forces, for example with Russia or China, hostilities take the form of constant threats and support for domestic opposition in those countries.
There is a nationalist and semi-isolationist tendency in the population that refuses this permanent war policy. It is best represented by libertarians like Ron Paul and Justin Raimundo of the site antiwar.com. To some extent, Trump was their candidate, but he is rather inconsistent and the pressure of the pro-war establishment pushes him constantly in a direction opposed to his campaign promises.
Trump did say that he would totally destroy North Korea, but only “if it is forced to defend itself or its allies”, namely not as a first strike policy. Now, although I think that the United States position in Korea is indefensible (their militaristic policies are an hindrance to reconciliation and reunification of that country), I am not sure that Trump's policy represents a radical change with respect to traditional United States policies in that unfortunate peninsula. Of course, Trump likes to speak in an aggressive way, which horrifies the liberal elites who prefer to speak with a soft voice while carrying a big stick, but that is a difference of style not of substance.
MP: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un hit back at the U.S. president, saying Trump will “pay dearly” for his remarks. Do you think such high level of tensions could lead to a war?
Jean Bricmont: Yes, I think they could, but so could the provocative United States policies with respect to Russia, China, Iran or Syria, which are not specific to Trump. I certainly find the reactions of Russia, Iran and China with respect to the United States far more reasonable than that of North Korea, but the latter country has been subjected to such violence in the past and has been so isolated that its reaction is to some extent understandable. In any case, Kim Jong Un also speaks of retaliation, not of a first strike. These verbal escalations do not mean much in themselves, but it’s always possible for an accident to happen that would trigger a nuclear war.
MP: Since assuming office, Trump has shown himself to be a rash warmonger. How could that threaten the world?
Jean Bricmont: I am not sure that he is such a warmonger in his heart. His campaign was based on detente with Russia, which was an unpopular theme among the elites; so, why campaign on that theme if you don't believe in it? The fact is that, since he has been elected, he has been subjected to constant and enormous pressure from the liberals to show that he can be tough on Russia, Syria etc. Since he does admire power including military power, the easy solution for him was to surround himself with generals and adopt a more aggressive tone, especially with respect to Iran and North Korea. But whether his words will be followed by actions (I hope not of course!) remains to be seen.
MP: The U.S. president has also strongly criticized the nuclear deal. Is he likely to exit the nuclear deal? What’s your analysis on this?
Jean Bricmont: Again, I have a “wait and see” attitude with respect to that question. After all, Trump also promised to put Clinton in jail and she is as free as a bird to go around the country complaining that her defeat is the fault of everybody except herself. It is certainly not in the interest of the United States to exit that deal, since the other partners of that deal would not exit it and they would probably be sufficient for Iran's trade needs. But Trump has always been terrible in regard to Iran (and Palestine), even during his campaign. That again reflects his inconsistency, since detente with Russia also means better relations with Iran. But there is also, as always in the United States, the Israel factor. Israel is fanatically opposed to Iran and the pro-Israel lobby in the United States puts constant pressure on all politicians to follow an anti-Iran line. That again is the source of the problem, not the idiosyncrasies of Trump.
In other words, there are many things that are wrong with the United States, both domestically and (mostly) internationally. The liberal intelligentsia, which includes the mainstream media, likes to blame everything on Trump, but the problems go much deeper than Trump. After all, Trump is the product of the United States, not its creator.
Jean Bricmont teaches physics at the University of Louvain in Belgium. He is author of Humanitarian Imperialism.