From Consortium News
White House adviser Jared Kushner, who is also President Trump's son-in-law.
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President Trump's foreign policy is sliding toward neoconservative orthodoxy on the Middle East because White House insiders are aligning with Israeli-Saudi interests and vowing undying hostility toward Iran, which they falsely insist is the chief sponsor of terrorism.
I'm told that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, privately at least, recognizes that Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-led Gulf state allies are the prime backers of Al Qaeda and Islamic State -- with Iran actually fighting these major terror groups -- but close advisers to President Trump, including son-in-law Jared Kushner and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, appear wedded to Official Washington's "group think" blaming Iran for pretty much everything that's gone wrong in the region.
This "group think" requires that everyone who wants to be taken seriously in Official Washington must repeat the mantra that "Iran is the principal sponsor of terrorism." The reason is that Washington's establishment is locked into saying just about whatever the extremely rich Saudis and the extremely influential Israelis tell it to say.
Ironically, Flynn -- when he was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency -- oversaw an insightful 2012 analysis that accurately traced the rise of the vicious Sunni jihadist movement in Syria to support from the Gulf states and to the Obama administration's policies. The report explicitly warned of the possibility of "an Islamic State," which indeed emerged in 2014 with high-profile decapitations of U.S. hostages.
In a 2015 interview, Flynn expanded on the analysis, saying that the Obama administration and its allies made a "willful decision" to back what the report called the creation of "a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria" with the goal of pressuring or overthrowing the Syrian government. Flynn said the intelligence on this extraordinary point "was very clear."
Yet, now Flynn -- like almost everyone else in Official Washington -- focuses his rage at Iran for the mess in the Middle East.
This blame-Iran "group think" has remarkable similarities to the one that rationalized the disastrous war in Iraq, i.e., that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Al Qaeda and was likely to give the terrorists his hidden WMDs. That fake analysis ignored the fact that the secular Hussein was a sworn enemy of Al Qaeda's fundamentalists and they hated him, too.
So, although the Saddam-allied-with-Al-Qaeda lie was obvious to anyone who knew anything about Middle East politics, it was repeated endlessly by supposedly in-the-know Washington insiders to justify President George W. Bush's bloody invasion of Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis along with nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and spread chaos across the strategic region.
The Iran-Terror Deception
Now, we see a similar self-deception about which country is the principal sponsor for terrorism and other troubles. The truth is that Iran as a Shiite-governed nation is on the opposite side of the region's sectarian divide from Al Qaeda and Islamic State, the two major Sunni terror groups that have taken aim at the United States and Europe.
Journalist James Foley shortly before he was executed by an Islamic State operative in August 2014.
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Indeed, Iran has committed troops to neighboring Iraq and Syria to help fight Al Qaeda and Islamic State. Yet, the misguided consensus citing Iran as the principal sponsor of terrorism continues, leading the Trump administration off into a new round of misjudgments.
For instance, Trump received an embarrassing slap-down from the U.S. judiciary because he excluded Saudi Arabia and other countries that actually have produced terrorists who have struck the United States, including the 9/11 hijackers, from his seven-Muslim-nation travel ban.
Some Trump officials may realize the ugly reality about these left-off-the-list "allies" and their support for Al Qaeda and Islamic State but still lie anyway for political convenience. Others may have repeated the lie so often that they have come to believe it.