A Very Disappointing Segment on Fox News from Tucker Carlson

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Source: Iran Bulletin, by Christopher W. Holton, 5/2/2018

On 1 May, Tucker Carlson of Fox News Channel interviewed retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor on Fox News about Iran’s relations with the U.S.

Macgregor endorsed the horribly flawed Iran nuclear deal and essentially inferred that the U.S. is but a puppet for Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Disappointingly, Carlson made no effort to challenge Macgregor’s statements and contributed with some straw man arguments of his own that appeared to back up what Macgregor was saying.

The straw men start to appear at the :45 mark of the 5 minute video below when Carlson asks the question of Macgregor, “Is it in our strategic interests to have a conflict with Iran?”

This implies that the only choice is between accepting the flawed Iran nuclear deal or going to war.

Carlson then essentially accuses U.S. U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley of calling for war with Iran, something that she never said. Carlson goes on with this line of reasoning by claiming that “many Republicans in Congress and a lot of Democrats believe that it is essential that the United States goes to war with Iran.”

Carlson is either profoundly confused or he is dishonest. No one in Congress has said or written anything close to approaching that it is essential that we go to war with Iran. Some members of Congress, almost all of them on the Republican side, believe in dealing with Iran from a position of strength, but no one is offering the false choice that is offered in this interview, namely that we either accept the Iran nuclear agreement or we go to war.

At the 1:30 mark Macgregor states clearly that opponents of the Iran nuclear deal seek its demise to clear the way for “direct military confrontation.” Carlson neither questions this statement nor challenges Macgregor that there may be other possibilities besides war.

As an aside, at the 1:58 mark, Macgregor gives total credit to the thawing of relations with North Korea to China, offering no evidence to back that claim up and ignoring the role that President Trump’s single-minded toughness likely played in the whole scenario.

Macgregor’s remark at the 2:32 mark is particularly troubling to those of us in the counterjihad movement because he claims that the Europeans see the threat from “Sunni Islamists” and not Iran.

First of all, there is scant evidence that the Europeans have truly recognized the threat from Sunni Jihad in all its forms. But most importantly, Macgregor (in my opinion purposely) ignores the fact that the threat from Iran to Europe is unique in that Iran has an active, robust ballistic missile program and, clearly, a secret, illicit nuclear weapons program. If that’s not a threat at least on a par with the Sunni Jihadist attacks that are plaguing Europe, I don’t know what is.

The biggest straw man that Carlson set up was creating a whole new standard for terrorist attacks against the U.S. and its citizens…at the 2:40 mark of the interview Carlson states that he does not recall any Shia terror attacks “on our soil.” (Emphasis added)

This certainly appears to be a rather amateurish, contrived softball on the part of Carlson for the benefit of Macgregor’s agenda, because by adding the qualifier “on our soil,” all of the Hezbollah attacks in which U.S. citizens were killed are suddenly erased.

Never before has the threshold for determining whether a Jihadist organization was our enemy been whether or not they have launched attacks within the U.S. I’m not sure what Carlson’s motivation could possibly be for this sleight of hand, but it can only be described as misleading and dishonest.

Until the Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001, Hezbollah had killed more U.S. citizens than any other terrorist organization. Those attacks go back to the early 1980s when a Hezbollah Islamikaze bomber blew up the U.S. embassy annex in Beirut, Lebanon. A short time later, another Hezbollah Islamikaze bomber killed 241 U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors in a huge attack. But Hezbollah’s attacks on Americans didn’t end there.

In June 1985, Hezbollah terrorists hijacked TWA Flight 847 and murdered U.S. Navy sailor Robert Stethem.

Also in the 1980s, Hezbollah took several Americans hostage, murdering two, U.S. Marine Colonel William Higgins and CIA officer William Buckley.

Hezbollah continued its terror into the 1990s and has been identified as taking part in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 U.S. airmen.

In the 2000s, Hezbollah took part in the insurgency in Iraq targeting U.S. forces. According to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Hezbollah created Unit 3800, whose sole purpose was to support Iraqi Shiite militant groups targeting multinational forces there. According to U.S. intelligence, Unit 3800 sent a small number of personnel to Iraq to train hundreds of fighters in-country, while others were brought to Lebanon for more advanced training. Hezbollah also provided funds and weapons to Iraqi militias, but its most dangerous contribution was in the realm of special operations. According to a 2010 Pentagon report, the group gave these militias “the training, tactics and technology to conduct kidnappings [and] small unit tactical operations,” and to “employ sophisticated improvised explosive devices (IEDs), incorporating lessons learned from operations in Southern Lebanon.”

The most prominent example of how this training helped the militias was probably the January 20, 2007, attack on the Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, which resulted in the deaths of four American soldiers. That well-executed operation was thoroughly planned with the help of the Qods Force and Hezbollah, as determined later through the capture of one of Hezbollah’s best trainers in Iraq, Ali Musa Daqduq. Daqduq was heavily involved in training tactical units of Iraqi Shiites and even took part in some of the operations they conducted. He was also responsible for planning other operations such as the aborted kidnapping of a British soldier, and gave specific instructions to those he trained about the use of IEDs.

While it is true that none of these attacks that killed Americans occurred on U.S. soil, there is no doubt that Hezbollah has a major presence in America. In fact, Hezbollah’s presence in the U.S. was detailed in the excellent book Lightning Out of Lebanon: Hezbollah Terrorists on U.S. Soil.

This excellent book details the takedown of Hezbollah cells in Charlotte, North Carolina and Dearborn, Michigan. It provides information on 8 global incidents that show that Hezbollah continues to prepare to target Americans around the world. Moreover, it makes it clear that Hezbollah is Iran’s “primary funnel” for Iran’s support of terrorism.

The idea that Tucker Carlson posits at the 2:55 mark in the 1 May interview that the terror threat is “all Sunni” is flat out wrong. But even if his theory was correct, it wouldn’t necessarily insulate America from terrorist attacks directed from Tehran. Iran has a long history of allying itself with Sunni Jihadists whenever convenient or advantageous.

Iran has long been the primary sponsor of HAMAS, the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization. Iran has conducted joint training operations with Sudan, which is ruled by the Sunni Jihadist Omar al-Bashir. Finally, and most importantly, despite what Tucker Carlson and Douglas Macgregor would have you believe, Iran has worked extensively with Al Qaeda, as I detailed years ago in an article for National Review:

The shadowy relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda was first revealed in the report issued by the bipartisan, independent 9/11 Commission back in 2004.

In compiling that exhaustive report, the 9/11 Commission interviewed over 1,000 people from at least 10 countries. Among the conclusions that they reached regarding Iran and al-Qaeda:

‐ In late 1991 or early 1992, in meetings held in Sudan, Iran agreed to train al-Qaeda operatives. Not long afterwards, al-Qaeda terrorists traveled to Iran and received training in explosives. Subsequent to this, al-Qaeda terrorists also traveled to Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, where they received training from Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

‐Once Osama Bin Laden moved from Sudan to Afghanistan and established terrorist training camps there, Iran facilitated the transit of jihadists to al-Qaeda training camps via Iran. Among other things, Iran did not stamp their passports when they passed through Iran on their way to Afghanistan. This made it impossible for countries to know when someone had attended a training camp in Afghanistan because there was no record. This policy particularly benefited Saudi members of al-Qaeda, and the Commission reported that 8 to 10 of the Saudi 9-11 hijackers had transited through Iran.

‐The Commission said that intelligence reports indicated continued contacts between al-Qaeda and Iranian officials after Bin Laden had moved back to Afghanistan and it recommended that the U.S. government further investigate the ties between al-Qaeda and Iran.

Other reports have reinforced the 9/11 Commission’s findings of al-Qaeda/Iran cooperation in Iraq:

‐ In November 2006, England’s Telegraph newspaper reported Western intelligence agencies as saying that Iran was training al-Qaeda operatives in Tehran and also that Iran had “always maintained close relations with al-Qaeda” despite differences between their Shiite and Sunni philosophies.

‐ In January 2007, Eli Lake reported in the New York Sun that U.S. forces had captured documents detailing Iranian activities in Iraq, including the fact that Iran’s infamous Revolutionary Guards Quds Force was working with al-Qaeda there.

‐ In May 2007, as reported by Bill Roggio at The Weekly Standard’s website, coalition forces captured a courier carrying messages from al-Qaeda in Iraq leaders to senior al-Qaeda leaders who have long been in safe haven in Iran, including Osama Bin Laden’s son, Said Bin Laden.

‐ Also in May 2007, England’s Guardian newspaper reported that Iran was secretly forging tieswith al-Qaeda elements in Iraq in an attempt to launch a summer offensive that would prompt Congress to vote for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

‐ In July 2007, the Financial Times reported that “western officials” said that Iranian territory was being used as a base by al-Qaeda for terrorist operations in Iraq.

‐ In October 2007, the Dallas Morning News reported on warnings from Kurdsin northern Iraq of Iranian support for an al-Qaeda affiliate, Ansar al-Islam, in their region of Iraq.

‐ In February 2008, Muhamad Abdullah al-Shahwani, the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, and Tamir Al-Tamimi, an advisor to the Iraqi Awakening Councils (a key component in the success of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy), told the Iraqi news service, Azzaman, that Iran was targeting the Awakening Councils with al-Qaeda.

Most of the skepticism over Iranian involvement with al-Qaeda has centered around the fact that Iran is ruled by a Shia Islamic theocracy, whereas al-Qaeda is a Sunni Wahhabi Islamic group. Many are under the mistaken belief that Shiites and Sunnis are irreconcilable arch enemies and will never work with each other. This quaint notion flies in the face of reality.

There are at least three other major examples of Iranian cooperation with militant Sunni organizations besides al-Qaeda:

‐ Hamas is a Sunni Palestinian jihadist terrorist organization. Both Hamas and Iran have acknowledged publicly that, at the very least, Iran funds Hamas. The most recent reports out of Israel indicate that Hamas has personnel training in Iran.

‐ In January 2007, Iran and Sudan, a mostly Sunni nation, exchanged military delegations and subsequently announced a military accord for mutual training, education, and technical cooperation. At the signing ceremony, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, said that Iran’s and Sudan’s mutual enemies were “focused on a strategy of disintegrating the Islamic states by stirring up sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims” and that “the only way to foil the satanic plot is strengthening unity among Muslim nations.”

The Sudanese delegate, Sudanese defense minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, responded that he appreciated Iran’s role in helping foster solidarity among Muslim nations and said that the Islamic Revolution under leadership of the late Imam Khomeini was the greatest event of the century in the Islamic history, because it opened the way for unity between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

‐ Finally, in November of 2006, a United Nations report included information that Iran had provided the Sunni Islamic Courts in Somalia — a group that has since been linked to al-Qaeda — with “shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, grenade launchers, machine guns, ammunition, medicine, uniforms and other supplies.” The U.N. report also said that Iran may have sought uranium in Somalia.

Virtually nothing that Tucker Carlson and Doug Macgregor passed off as conventional wisdom in their conversation is true.

For example, at the 3:10 mark in the interview, Macgregor points out that the 9/11 terrorists came to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia and North Africa. What he conveniently omits, but which the 9/11 Commission report detailed, was that at least some of those terrorists transited through Iran and were facilitated in their travels by the Iranians:

Iran hosted operational meetings to coordinate activities, facilitate travel by telling its officers not to stamp al Qaeda passports, and even placed surveillance on the hijackers upon return from their training in Iran for a large operation in America to assure confidentiality of the plot was not breached.

At the 3:21 mark of the video, Tucker Carlson creates another straw man when he makes the specious claim that “everyone” is saying the “opposite of what is so clearly true,” namely that the threat is from Sunni Jihad.

I’m not sure who “everyone” is and I am not sure why Tucker Carlson has not been paying attention, but the U.S. has been actively engaged in fighting Sunni Jihadists from Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and Al Shabaab, to name a few, for decades now. While I certainly would not maintain that American policymakers are doing enough to address all aspects of the threat from Sunni Jihad, both violent and civilizational, the problem is most definitely not what Tucker Carlson identifies, that “everyone” is focused on Iran and the Shia threat, which I guess he thinks is non-existent.

At the 3:45 mark of the video, Macgregor makes another inaccurate statement, that Iran’s influence is confined “largely to Syria and Iraq.” This flies in the face of the reality that Iran has, as an article in its shariah-based constitution the requirement that it export the Islamic revolution around the world–and it has done so, not just in Syria and Iraq, but in Latin AmericaEuropeAfricaAsia and, yes, in North America as well. These activities have been well-documented from a variety of sources.

Macgregor then claims that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was solely responsible for Iranian influence in Iraq, as if the Iranians themselves had no hand in the matter. Macgregor elevates “blame America first” to a whole new level with that one.

At 3:57 of the video, Macgregor credits Iran and Russia with defeating the Sunni Jihadists in Syria, completely ignoring the chief role that U.S. forces played in decimating ISIS–in areas of Syria in which the Russians and Iranians had no operations at all. Macgregor then goes on to say that the war in Syria is “effectively over,” something that is not supported by the facts at this time at any rate.

Then Macgregor creates yet another straw man at the 4:08 mark when he says that Israel and Saudi Arabia want America to reverse the “strategic outcomes of the last 15 or 16 years,” something that isn’t possible “without a major war.”

What Saudi Arabia and Israel–and the United States as well–are chiefly focused on is preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Believe it or not, Mr. Carlson and Colonel Macgregor, that is a desirable outcome and opposition to a nuclear-armed Iran is NOT the same as calling for a major war. Nor should it require reversing the “strategic outcomes of the last 15 years.”

The straw man creation truly hits a crescendo at the 4:23 mark when Macgregor shamelessly calls the Iran nuclear agreement the “last obstacle” to war because it “proves we can achieve our strategic aims without going to war.” Carlson does not challenge this statement, much less disagree with it.

Macgregor clearly believes that the Iran nuclear agreement will achieve America’s strategic aims.

Only if those aims include Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, evidently.

Below, please find an example of one of the worst media interviews dealing with U.S. national security that you are likely to ever view. I would expect something like this from MSNBC, not Fox News. Watching it, I learned a lot about Tucker Carlson that I didn’t want to believe.