Trump came into office critical of the bi-partisan foreign policy establishment while promising to end America’s endless wars.
Since then he’s been under relentless pressure, like Obama before him, to follow the “Washington Playbook.” Whether, North Korea or Syria or Venezuela, Trump’s coterie of neocons that includes Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Advisor John Bolton, have been clamoring for war, war, war.
And now it’s Iran, where the neocons are joined with Saudi Arabia and Israel in a maximum push for another Middle-East conflagration.
However, there appears to be an unlikely savior in Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, who’s emerged as a leading media voice against American intervention. Since Trump’s election, Carlson has been a rare, outspoken non-interventionist voice on prime time network news, aggressively questioning US military presence and past regime change actions in places like Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, as well as Washington’s long-time weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. For that he’s faced a barrage of flak for hosting foreign policy skeptics like Tulsi Gabbard, Glenn Greenwald, Rand Paul, and others.
And now, a surprising figure is paying attention. The Daily Beast headline claims that “Tucker Carlson Is Privately Advising Trump On Iran”. The report says “there’s been another, far different voice in the president’s ear: that of Fox News host Tucker Carlson.”
Apparently the president is relying on Carlson as a dissenting voice in the ongoing dispute with Iran. A source familiar with the conversations told The Daily Beast that, in recent weeks, the Fox News host has privately advised Trump against taking military action against Iran. And a senior administration official said that during the president’s recent conversations with the Fox primetime host, Carlson has bashed the more “hawkish members” of his administration.
The popular Fox host has publicly pushed back against the march to war against Iran in recent weeks, saying an escalation and war scenario would likely not be “in anyone’s interest,” while also being a persistent critic of Bolton for his well-known bellicosity towards Iran.
Bashing the neocons is nothing new for Carlson who wrote a book explaining why Trump won the Republican primary by going against them.
“It is possible to isolate the precise moment that Trump permanently alienated the Republican establishment in Washington: February 13, 2016. There was a GOP primary debate that night in Greenville, South Carolina, so every Republican in Washington was watching. Seemingly out of nowhere, Trump articulated something that no party leader had ever said out loud. “We should never have been in Iraq,” Trump announced, his voice rising. “We have destabilized the Middle East.”
Many in the crowd booed, but Trump kept going: “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none.”
Pandemonium seemed to erupt in the hall, and on television. Shocked political analysts declared that the Trump presidential effort had just euthanized itself. Republican voters, they said with certainty, would never accept attacks on policies their party had espoused and carried out.
Republican voters had a different reaction. They understood that adults sometimes change their minds based on evidence. They themselves had come to understand that the Iraq war was a mistake. They appreciated hearing something verboten but true.
Rival Republicans denounced Trump as an apostate. Voters considered him brave.
Trump won the South Carolina primary, and shortly after that, the Republican nomination.
Republicans in Washington never recovered. When Trump attacked the Iraq War and questioned the integrity of the people who planned and promoted it, he was attacking them. They hated him for that.”
With Trump, who appears to have the attention span of a 3 year old distracted by bright shiny objects, it’s hard to tell if heed Carlson’s advice or be pressured into another disastrous war by the neocons. He did, after all, appoint them into his administration.
Let’s hope he listens to Carlson.
Update: This is getting interesting.
Yesterday evening Tucker Carlson, a FOX News host with a direct line to the White House, had two strong anti-war segments on his show (vid). In the second segment Carlson talks with retired army Colonel Douglas McGregor. Both argue for pulling back on sanctions. This was likely a preplanned exchange (at 9:56 min) designed to give Trump cover for his decision:
Carlson: Is there some good reason to maintain this level of sanctions against Iran? Are we getting something out of that?McGregor: Well, I think the idea was to destroy the Iranian economy to bring the nation to its knees. That is really not what we should be trying to do at this point. I think the president senses that there is now an opportunity for diplomacy, for a new approach to Iran that could deescalate this set of conditions and produce a positive outcome.
Look, this will ruin our economy if we engage Iran in a war. Iran will have instantly have support from around the world. They will be the victim of this “limited strike” that is being discussed. The limited strike idea is sheer insanity. It will provoke a war. Everyone, China, Russia, India, many European states will come to the aid of Iran. We will end up with a larger coalition of the willing against us, than we have seen in decades.
I think the president has figured this out. He’s got good instincts. But he needs to get rid of the warmongers. He needs to throw these geniuses and their limited strikes out of the Oval Office. The last thing the America First agenda needs is a stupid pointless unnecessary war with Iran and he knows that and he needs to act.
[Tucker Carlson agrees]