On Wednesday morning, President Trump took to the podium at the White House to finally address the Iranian missile attacks on America’s al-Asad airbase in western Iraq. The president’s speech was bland and predictable, consisting mostly of forced bravado, empty posturing, and a seemingly inevitable partisan attack on his predecessor.
After single-handedly creating this crisis by tearing up President Barack Obama’s historic nuclear peace deal with Iran and then assassinating their highest military general, President Trump had the gall to try to blame President Obama for Iran’s missile strike by arguing that the munitions were paid for with funds “made available by the last administration:”
“Iran’s hostility substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013, and they were given $150 billion not to mention $1.8 billion in cash… Then Iran went on a terror spree funded by the money from the deal and created hell in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq. The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration.”
President Obama’s former National Security Advisor Susan Rice went on MSNBC this afternoon and fired back at the president: “This is another series of despicable lies by President Trump. The fact that … three years after taking office he remains obsessed with President Obama, just shows President Trump’s extreme weakness and insecurity.”
Rice went on to make it clear that the current crisis is entirely the fault of President Trump and reminded the nation that President Obama worked tirelessly to prevent a conflict like this from breaking out:
“The facts about the Iran nuclear deal are that it effectively halted and rolled back Iran’s nuclear program. In the years since the signing of the deal in 2015 up until President Trump’s unilateral withdrawal, abandoning our allies against the advice of his advisers, there were no proxy attacks by Iranian proxies on U.S. personnel in Iraq. There were no efforts by Iran to attack our drones in the Persian Gulf or attack shipping,” she said.
“Everybody, including the American intelligence community, validated that it was being upheld and our forces and our presence in the region was secure. President Trump decided, recklessly, to withdraw unilaterally from the nuclear deal and impose so-called maximum pressure, crippling sanctions, and it was in the wake of that that we found ourselves in this escalatory cycle that’s led to where we are today, a very dangerous moment.”
The “$150 billion” is one of the right-wing’s favorite lies about President Obama and the nuclear peace deal and has been a constant theme in the president’s rhetoric. The $150 billion in question does not exist and is entirely a figment of the president’s imagination.
The $1.8 billion payment did occur but was the reimbursement of funds that had been paid by the Shah of Iran to the United States in the 1970s — some $400 million — for fighter jets that were never delivered after the Iranian Revolution deposed the US-installed dictator. As a show of goodwill towards Iran, President Obama arranged for that money to be repaid, along with the $1.3 billion in interest it had accrued over the past 40 years.
For Trump to try to pass off the blame for this self-inflicted crisis is an appalling show of cowardice that wrongfully demeans the one man who heroically did everything he could to try to strike peace. President Obama put everything on the line in his efforts to try and make sure this kind of crisis would never happen, bravely taking on the hordes of jackal pundits and defense lobbyists and neocon extremists in Congress and coming out victorious — and now that it’s all been undone by Trump, for him to put the blame on him is truly the lowest of the low.
Watch her remarks here:
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.