Seth Abramson @SethAbramson @Newsweek columnist. Analyses @BBC. NYT bestselling author of Proof of Conspiracy (bit.ly/2kP6FkZ). Next: Citizen Journalist (Macmillan). Professor. Attorney. Jun. 21, 2019 6 min read

(THREAD) This feed has since 2016 been focused on rule of law issues, not public policy debates⁠—on making the nation safe from a common danger (a compromised POTUS), not on the sort of partisan bickering that pre- and post-dates Trump. I'm redoubling my efforts to stay focused.

1/ If a different president (or either party) were now weighing whether to go to war with Iran, I might have an opinion, but at this point in my life I don't know if I'd share it here; I'd more likely try to point readers to those who've been studying the Middle East for decades.

2/ But this situation is very different. It's different because I spent the last year reading hundreds and hundreds of news reports from around the world and going back decades on a single subject: the origins of Donald Trump's policy agenda (such as it is) with respect to Iran.

3/ I tend to think media rises to the occasion in wartime more than at other times. But even in wartime⁠—which America may enter (i.e., in a new country) in the next 24 hours⁠—reporters do what any human being does: make mistakes while trying to fill in gaps in their knowledge.

4/ Tonight I heard great reporters saying they don't "believe" Trump wants to go to war; that they think he may "stumble" into it; that his policy in the Middle East has always been to withdraw⁠—not add⁠—troops. These are people who haven't researched Trump's history with Iran.

5/ Because I get heated when rule-of-law issues arise, and because I'm a curatorial journalist rather than a reporter, it's going to be easy over the next six months for certain people to ignore my public records research on Trump's Iran policy on the assumption it was/is biased.

6/ PROOF OF CONSPIRACY will be the first US book to comprehensively analyze the history of Trump's Iran policy. That hit me tonight, and it suddenly felt like a weight⁠—a responsibility. My upset at Trump's admission about foreign donations blinded me to that reality for a bit.

7/ If I'm not sober about the responsibility of knowing a ton about *Trump's* history with Iran policy⁠—if I slip into partisan-battle mode—I worry we'll be at war with Iran this summer and when made-up narratives about Trump's Iran policy dominate news, I won't be able to help.

8/ The reality, taken from public records, is Trump has anticipated conflict with Iran since 2015⁠—indeed has taken steps to precipitate it, most of them private. If he pulled back on a strike tonight, it was a question of timing/method, not the agenda of regime change in Iran.

9/ Tonight was the first night many folks in media realized that we're likely to go to war with Iran. Many of them were on-air or about to go on-air when they realized it. So they spun up narratives about how and why Trump got here⁠—Bolton pushed him into it!⁠—that were false.

10/ The only thing worse than being lied into war by a pol is having the media⁠—because it needs to fill air; because it doesn't have an answer on the question; because it doesn't want to ask the guy who's done the most research on it⁠—tell false stories about what the pol did.

11/ People need to understand that the chance of a war with Iran is *high*⁠—and it has nothing to do with drones. The chance of a war with Iran is high because that was the foreign policy agenda the Trump campaign discussed with foreign nations aiding the Trump campaign in 2016.

12/ This is what *Israeli* media says about one of the nations (Israel) responsible for Trump's Iran policy:  https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-if-iran-u-s-trump-war-israel-netanyahu-will-be-prime-suspect-1.7249974 

13/ And this is what the leader of Israel (Netanyahu) says about what he wants and his efforts to secure it by allying Israel with Saudi Arabia and the UAE:  https://www.newsweek.com/israel-wants-war-iran-netanyahu-1330704 

14/ Jared Kushner—inexplicably, Trump's go-to adviser on the Middle East—was being closely advised on foreign policy by three foreign nationals from spring '16 onward: the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., the Emirati ambassador to the U.S., and a man Putin describes as a "friend."

15/ As a way of underscoring that my research on this is sober and unbiased, I will note that the plan Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the Trump campaign originally had on Iran did *not* involve war. Rather, it involved economic sabotage, psy-ops, and Russia abandoning Iran.

16/ Israel, Saudi Arabia, and UAE figured crippling economic sanctions; persistent cyberattacks; a lack of regional allies; a budding nuclear program in Saudi Arabia; and other clandestine maneuvers would convince Iran to capitulate—indeed, prostrate itself before Saudi Arabia.

17/ Such a plan would have appealed to Trump because it was a scheme that allowed him to please powerful people in *four* significant markets for his businesses: Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Russia (by way of dropping sanctions on Russia in exchange for Russia abandoning Iran).

18/ But as the development of Trump's Iran policy shifted toward his NatSec rather than foreign policy advisers—during the campaign, I mean—and began to increasingly draw in foreign nationals, it would have been clear to any reasonable person that *war* was a more likely outcome.

19/ So reporters are correct to say that war with Iran was not Trump's top option. But per usual, his venality and corruption was leading him by the nose—and per usual, that led him to a degree of recklessness about global disaster that we have never seen in a U.S. head of state.

20/ Bolton is a *very* late entrant to this story—as is Pompeo. The key figures here are Kushner, Flynn, Barrack, Dermer, al-Otaiba, MBS, MBZ, Netanyahu, McFarlane, Broidy, Nader, and others people aren't mentioning because they *don't know* and Bolton/Pompeo are closer to hand.

21/ Without question, Bolton and Pompeo are pushing for military conflict. But Pompeo is SoS because Trump fired Tillerson—and Trump fired Tillerson because the Saudis and Emiratis wanted him to, and they wanted him to because Tillerson didn't believe in the "grand bargain" idea.

22/ I'm not speaking abstractly: the Emiratis literally sent an agent to the White House and that agent—a friend of Trump's—convinced him to fire Tillerson and *told him* that that's what his Saudi and Emirati allies wanted. We have the emails to prove it.  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43281519 

23/ If media accepted that people they might not expect have done public records research on Trump's Iran policy, I wouldn't have to do most of the talking about PROOF OF CONSPIRACY. But media is asking experts on the Middle East who haven't done this *specific* research—so I do.

24/ As media tries to do its best work on an impending war, it'll focus on Bolton, Pompeo, limpet mines, the Strait of Hormuz, drones, and everything *right in front of us*. But what's happening now—in this as in all things—is always a product of a past many forget or never knew.

25/ This summer, I'll try to do my best to *responsibly* work through (publicly) the evidence of how we got here, though—and no, *not* for marketing purposes—the *reality* is that I can't summarize a 600-pg. book with 4,325 citations that's coming out on 9/3 here on Twitter. /end


You can follow @SethAbramson.



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