Will U.S. Respond to Iran’s Act of War on Saudi Arabia?
Barry Nussbaum: Hello and welcome to ATP Report. I'm Barry Nussbaum. Before we get started with our very special guest, Clare Lopez today, I want to remind viewers to text "truth" to 8 8 2 0 2. You'll get signed up to be on the American Truth Project's mailing list. You'll get episodes and articles like what we're doing now on your cell phone, and it's always free. Or you can go to our website by typing in FindBarry.com. You'll go right to ATP. You'll be able to sign up there. And again, it's always free. So today, Clare Lopez is back formerly of the CIA, and for the last decade or so, the vice president of research at the Center for Security Policy. Clare, welcome back.
Clare Lopez: Thank you, Barry. Good to be with you.
Barry Nussbaum: Ok. We have got an amazing topic. You and I were just talking, and I'm shocked about this news. I'm shocked because it is huge news that is not front-page news yet. But you have written an article breaking this story that we have on our website. People go to our website, and they're going to see your article that you are now going to explain. And what I'm referring to is this massive attack on the Saudi oil processing facility, the likes of which have never been seen before. Clare, this is an unabashed, clear, act of war.
Clare Lopez: Yes, it is.
Barry Nussbaum: One country against another country, Iran against Saudi Arabia with incredibly damaging results. What is the appropriate response? From the U.S., from the Saudis, and anyone else with an interest, i.e., Israel.
Clare Lopez: Well, a few things. One, because the attack was against, and it was such a devastating attack against these Saudi facilities, it really affected the global flow of the incredibly vital supplies of oil. And as I've mentioned, some of our East Asia allies do not produce oil, do not have any access to oil themselves; they must import. Others of our allies around the world depend on oil. Oil makes the modern world go round. We are all wherever we are in the world, dependent on the free flow of hundreds of millions of barrels of oil per day to power everything from electricity to cars to airplanes to everything else. So this was an attack on the global system, the global supply of oil. That's number one. Number two, the attack did take place directly on Saudi soil. And it is up to the Riyadh government. It is up to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, first and foremost, to decide how they think they want to proceed with a response. But the third thing I'll say, and of course, this has been taken to the United Nations Security Council so that that also is appropriate and we'll see what happens there. But the other thing that I would say is that Iran has been pushing and pushing and pushing the limits with its aggressive behavior throughout this year of 2019 up to where we are now September, mid-September, 2019. And of course, this follows on the decision by President Donald Trump, United States to withdraw from the July 2015 nuclear deal, or JCPOA, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action reached 2015 with Iran and the P 5 plus 1, as they call them, permanent five members of the Security Council plus one, that's Germany. The United States pulled out of that one year ago or a little more in May of 2018. And Iran then was placed under renewed and very tough and incrementally increasing the harder, tougher and tougher sanctions. It has had a devastating effect on their economy. But here's what I will say, that sanctions alone debilitate the Iranian regime in Tehran, infuriate the Tehran regime, but cannot by themselves change their behavior or really, if we want to talk about it, most importantly, and from the perspective of the brave Iranian people in the streets demonstrating, protesting, really since the end of 2017. Now we're coming up on two years. Regime change is what they want. That is what they say when they go to the streets. Sanctions alone can't do that. Sanctions can prepare. I don't know. What would you say? The preparation of the battlefield or preparation of the environment, I think is what they call it now, intelligence preparation of the environment. It can set the stage for what is to come. But along the way, because that regime in Tehran is so infuriated at the sanctions and the financial devastation really that they have wreaked on the Iranian economy and their own ability to do what they want with their money, to access their money, to move their money around the world, to pay their terror proxies, Hamas, Hezbollah, Houthis, etc. They are becoming more and more aggressive. And so they've been pushing, pushing. You know, we saw them attack through proxies, their preferred way of operating the Saudi oilfields before we've seen them use limpet mines in the Persian Gulf and down through the area of the Strait of Hormuz, seize ships outright, seize commercial ships and their crews. And we've seen now these attacks both from the Houthis out of Yemen, the Hashd-Al-Shaabies out of Iraq, and now a direct, just as you say, an act of war out of Iran itself. They are pushing to see how far they can go before there is a hard response. And by hard, I mean, it has to be kinetic, it must be kinetic, it must be hard, and it must be pretty soon.
Barry Nussbaum: You predict it will happen?
Clare Lopez: I think it must in some way. Obviously, this is the topic, and I don't know if anybody in Washington, D.C. or Riyadh has gotten much sleep since this past Saturday night. I expect that they have been discussing this intensely. Now we are, of course, without one of the most clear-sighted and hard-nosed advisers to President Trump since a week ago. And that is the now-former National Security Adviser, John Bolton. That post remains empty as we speak, as does. By the way, the position of Director of National Intelligence and the Deputy Director of National Intelligence all vacant at the moment. I guess, occupied by acting officials, but not the same thing. So a heck of a time to be without John Bolton.
Barry Nussbaum: Couldn't agree more. I think the next couple of weeks, Clare, are going to be incredibly active, both in terms of intelligence and strategic planning by both the United States and Saudi Arabia. And eventually and I think you're right. Militarily, by our fleet supporting a probably a support role, something coming from Saudi Arabia. Because what I'm most concerned about at this point. If a declaration of war wasn't issued, but an act of war took place, and there is no, as you said, kinetic response, it will embolden them for more crazier, outlandish acts of military interference with the security and normal operations of that side of the world. And I'm afraid the next one may actually be worse.
Clare Lopez: If I might add, one very quick note. I don't know much time we have left but think about this. Iran has agents operating inside the United States. There is also an extensive cell network of Hezbollah operating inside the United States. I think we need to be mindful of that and mindful of the fact, just as you said, exactly right, Barry, that without a hard kinetic response, this will only escalate.
Barry Nussbaum: Clare, we will leave the United States security to the next Clare Lopez appearance. I'm dying to ask you about that. But for now, thanks for joining us.
Clare Lopez: Thank you.
Barry Nussbaum: Thank you for visiting us on the American Truth Project. Remember, you can find Clare on her website, the Center for Security Policy. And you can sign up on our website: AmericanTruthProject.org. Type in FindBarry.com, and it'll take you right to it. Or send the word "truth" to 8 8 2 0 2 and sign up. All of our stuff is always free. Thanks again for joining us today. I'm Barry Nussbaum.