Is Donald Trump “afflicted by mental disability”? That is what Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said after Trump raged against Iran while supposedly calling off a planned military strike at the last minute on June 20. The alleged US strike plan would have killed an estimated 150 people and could have triggered a wider war. It was supposedly in retaliation for Iran’s shooting down a $240 million US drone that had violated Iranian airspace (as this article was being prepared on July 18, the US had just claimed it shot down an Iranian drone. Iran denied the claim and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard showed a video of the drone filming the US ship USS Maddox both before and after the time at which the US allegedly shot it down).
Trump’s erratic behavior, notably his habit of issuing wildly hyperbolic threats followed by apparent walk-backs, makes him a highly dubious prospective negotiating partner. The Iranian president has pointed out the obvious, “No sane person” would behave the way Trump does. In offering this diagnosis, President Rouhani is in good company. The book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President argues that Trump is pathologically narcissistic. One of the authors, Bandy Lee, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, has briefed Democratic lawmakers on the president’s mental state. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi thinks the president is criminally insane, saying that Trump “needs intervention” and “should be in prison,” while 70,000 self-described mental health professionals have signed a Change.org petition entitled “Trump is mentally ill and must be removed.” And it isn’t just political opponents who say such things. According to Michael Wolfe’s book Fire and Fury, most of the people around Trump think the president is some combination of crazy and stupid.
Trump begs to differ. He has repeatedly bragged that he is a “very stable genius” — a self-diagnosis so insistently exaggerated that it sounds delusional. Arrogance is often a sign of insecurity, and Trump has good reason to be insecure about his own mental capacity and stability.
Though Trump’s Twitter threats suggest personal pathology, they also recall the theatrical “madman theory” of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. In the late-1960s Nixon and Kissinger developed what they called a “secret plan to end the Vietnam War.” That secret plan was a key factor in Nixon’s 1968 election victory. What Nixon and Kissinger weren’t telling the public was that their secret plan was for Nixon to pretend to be a madman who might use nuclear weapons against North Vietnam (had Nixon told the public the truth — “my secret peace plan is to pose as a homicidal lunatic” — he probably would not have been elected!).
Trump — who gets advice from the mummified Kissinger through First son-in-law Jared Kushner — has taken the “madman theory” to new highs, or lows, with his maniacal behavior on Twitter. He has threatened Iran with “great and overwhelming force” adding that “In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.” A year earlier, Trump had tweeted to President Rouhani, “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!” Other Trump statements suggest he doesn’t know the difference between the current Rahbar, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, and the founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Ruhollah Khomeini. Can such a delusional, ignorant buffoon really be leading the most powerful nation on Earth?
Trump’s Twitter lunacy has elicited little fear, and lots of unmitigated contempt, from Iran’s leadership. The Rahbar has pointedly refused to respond to Trump’s threats and walk-backs, saying that the American president “does not deserve a reply” and tweeting: “We do not believe at all that the US is seeking genuine negotiations with Iran; because genuine negotiations would never come from a person like Trump. Genuineness is very rare among US officials.”
Meanwhile, a possibly somewhat genuine US politician, Rand Paul, may be trying to carry out an intervention against the insane Iran policy of Trump and his extremist advisors, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo. According to Politico, Rand Paul went golfing with Trump during the weekend of July 15 and 16 and “proposed sitting down with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to extend a fresh olive branch on the president’s behalf, according to four US officials. The aim: to reduce tensions between the two countries. Trump signed off on the idea.” According to Politico, the neocon hawks are not pleased.
Trump’s floating Rand Paul as a possible new Iran emissary is a sign that the Bolton-and-Pompeo-driven “madman policy” has failed. If the administration’s “maximum pressure” policy was designed to coerce Iran into negotiating away its deterrent rockets and reducing support to its regional allies, it was doomed to failure from the beginning. Of all nations, Iran is the least susceptible to threats. It is one of the planet’s oldest and most venerable civilizations; Trump’s absurd threats to “obliterate” Iran will not cow a people with a 3,000 year-old history and an intense love for Imam Husayn (a), who stood up to tyranny regardless of the odds and became an inspiration for all who pursue difficult struggles for truth and justice.
Will Rand Paul help Trump ratchet down tension with Iran? Probably not. As long as the cruel and obnoxious US sanctions are in place, Iran’s leadership has no good reason to even talk to anyone who has anything to do with Trump. Why should Iran help Trump’s re-election campaign while Trump continues to try to strangle Iran’s economy?
If Trump really wanted to score a major diplomatic success, he would not only have to back off from his absurd claim that the JCPOA is too pro-Iran, but he would also have to reverse four decades of US policy aimed at containing and quarantining the Islamic Republic. Such a bold move would require breaking the Zionist stranglehold on US Mideast policy. If Trump is interested, there are several Republicans who could serve as better emissaries to Iran than Rand Paul: former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense Michael Maloof; former CIA Operations Officer Philip Giraldi; former US Army officer and State Department coordinator for counterterrorism contractor Scott Bennett; and former State Department official Michael Springmann. All four ex-US officials attended the May 2018 New Horizon conference in Mashhad and let it be known that they would like to see the US declare its independence from Israel and end its shameful 40 years of hostility to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Does Donald Trump have the courage and vision to break with his predecessors’ failed policies and admit that the Islamic Republic is here to stay? Almost certainly not. Trump has been surrounded by Zionists throughout his career in the hotel-and-gambling business. His mentor was Kosher Nostra criminal Roy Cohn, and his enterprises have laundered enormous sums of money for the Meyer Lansky and Russian-Israeli mobs. He was inserted into the oval office by the Sheldon Adelson syndicate and its pro-Netanyahu associates. He has likely been compromised by the likes of Mossad pedophile pimp Jeffrey Epstein.
In the criminal underworld, to understand who someone is and what they are up to, the first question is: “Who sent him?” The people who “sent” Trump are relentlessly hostile to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The chances that Trump could break with those people, even if he wanted to, are remote. So Trump will in all likelihood continue to hurl lunatic threats followed by empty words of cajolery in the direction of Iran, tweet-storms of sound and fury signifying nothing, for as long as he remains president of the United States.