Matthews, Panel Go Bonkers Over Iran Deal Withdrawal; ‘Chick Hawks’ Giving ‘Moral High Ground’ to Iran

Just like CNN and the major broadcast networks earlier Tuesday after President Trump’s Iran deal speech, MSNBC’s Hardball was beside itself over the President’s decision to withdrawal the U.S. from the nuclear agreement, dubbing it a victory for “chick hawks” like John Bolton looking to draw America into war with Iran while also “surrender[ing] the moral high ground to Iran.”

“It's a move critics say makes us less safe, I think so, and it could lead to war. Remember when Trump campaigned on no more stupid wars in the Middle East? Well, now the neocons have his ear...So much for the argument against stupid wars. He is now heading towards one, perhaps,” host Chris Matthews screeched in a tease for an Iran segment.

 

 

Matthews returned after a commercial to lament that “[f]or a President who came into office decrying the dangerous war talk of the neocon crowd, he’s doing a pretty good job of imitating them.” 

He added that “the dangers of Trump’s decisions are clear: alienating our allies, blowing up a deal that, by all accounts, is working and most ominously, risking some sort of conflict in the Middle East.” And after he brought in his panel, Matthews asked MSNBC national security analyst Joe Cirincione if Tuesday meant that America was “the ones who broke the deal” and Cirincione told him that’s “absolutely” the case.

“[W]e violated the deal and now this gives Iran a way out. They can basically leave the deal, without penalty...They could restart their program in a matter of months and this puts us back now without our allies on our side, without the sanctions...This puts us back on a path to war where we were in 2011 and 2013,” Cirincione opined.

Matthews went next to former Obama State Department official Nayyerra Haq and the two collectively lost their minds over Bolton, just as they did when he was named National Security Adviser.

The MSNBC host proclaimed that Bolton was “banging the drum for war” in 2015 when the deal was announced, “like the Bomb Iran song.” After a package of Fox News Channel clips of Bolton advocating for attacking Iran, Matthews mocked him as “real bold talk by another one of these chick hawks” with “no military experience in his life.”

Here’s the banter between Haq and Matthews (click “expand” to see more):

HAQ: Well, let's be clear, he is the brains behind the operation at this point because President Trump himself is driven by pettiness against Barack Obama. 

MATTHEWS: Right.

HAQ: He calls himself a dealmaker. There’s not a deal he hasn’t pulled the United States out of and he hasn't struck any deals in time of office either. You have John Bolton —

MATTHEWS: He just wants to erase Barack Obama like saying he’s a foreigner who snuck in the country and then get rid of ObamaCare and get rid of this. 

HAQ: — right and John Bolton is the one who has an ideology and its regime change. Regime change appeared in this speech out of nowhere, when this really was a technical deal directed at stopping Iran from a nuclear bomb. This was never a deal intended or even presented as something that was supposed to stop Iran from all of its other nefarious activities in the region.

MATTHEWS: Of course, we all knew that at the time that the deal was about nuclear development. 

NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel went last, fretting that “sometimes, news can be both anticipated and shocking at the same time and I think that's what happened now.” 

He cited sources as having told him that this “decreases trust in U.S. commitments,” “emboldens the hardliners in Iran,” “makes conflict in the region more likely and it surrenders the moral high ground to Iran, none of those positive outcomes.”

In his conclusion, Matthews followed suit from moments earlier when he resurrected his conspiracy theory that Trump wanted former President Barack Obama erased from “history books” as part of his “obsession with getting rid of anything that Barack Obama accomplished.”

Somehow, Matthews argued at the end of the show that Trump betrayed himself as a candidate for arguing he’d fight against what Matthews deemed “stupid wars” by leaving the Iran Deal. However, as CNN’s Dana Bash pointed out, Trump had been against the Iran Deal since it was announced in July 2015, so he didn’t actually betray himself. Facts are stubborn things, Chris!

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on May 8, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
May 8, 2018
7:14 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Breaking the Deal]

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Coming up, President Trump pulls America out of the Iran nuclear deal that we thought that this was the big story all afternoon. It's a move critics say makes us less safe, I think so, and it could lead to war. Remember when Trump campaigned on no more stupid wars in the Middle East? Well, now the neocons have his ear and that's over with. So much for the argument against stupid wars. He is now heading towards one, perhaps. 

(....)

7:19 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: For a President who came into office decrying the dangerous war talk of the neocon crowd, he’s doing a pretty good job of imitating them. In his biggest foreign policy move to date, President Trump today announced he was withdrawing the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and reinstating sanctions related to their nuclear program. 

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. [SCREEN WIPE] It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement. The Iran deal is defective at its core. [SCREEN WIPE] America will not be held hostage to nuclear black mail. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction and we will not allow a regime to chants “death to America” to gain access to the most deadly weapons on Earth. 

MATTHEWS: Well, the dangers of Trump’s decisions are clear: alienating our allies, blowing up a deal that, by all accounts, is working and most ominously, risking some sort of conflict in the Middle East. In fact, French President Emanuel Macron told a German magazine withdrawing from the deal would have dire consequences. Here's Macron: “That would mean opening up Pandora's box.” It would mean war, it would mean war. The deal was implemented to curtail the nuclear program and for all the President's tough talk today, he offered no evidence it wasn't working. In fact, the IAEA, which monitors Iran’s program, said as recently as March Iran was complying. 

IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL YUKIYA AMANO: As of today, I can state Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments. We have had access to all the sites and locations which we needed to visit. 

MATTHEWS: Joining me now from London is NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Joe Cirincione is president of the Ploughshares Fund and an MSNBC national security analyst and Nayerra Haq is a former State Department official in the Obama administration. I want to start with Joe. There was no violation claimed by the United States even Trump with his full cry of neoconism today and crazy regime talk and the whackiness of what he had to say, never once said Iran broke the deal.

JOE CIRINCIONE: No.

MATTHEWS: So, obviously, they haven't. 

CIRINCIONE: Right. Just last week, the State Department says they are in compliance and the Secretary of Defense —

MATTHEWS: We are the ones that break the deal? 

CIRINCIONE: — absolutely. We — we violated the deal and now this gives Iran a way out. They can basically leave the deal, without penalty, without consequences. They could restart their program in a matter of months and this puts us back now without our allies on our side, without the sanctions that we are able to put on globally. This puts us back on a path to war where we were in 2011 and 2013.

MATTHEWS: Exactly. Nayerra, before we got this deal, thanks to Obama and John Kerry and the rest of them that put it together, Zarif and all the people around the world that put it together, the Russians, the French, everybody, who are for the deal. People like John Bolton were out there banging the drum for war and they were — and we got the quote. He was actually out there saying we got to go bomb Iran. We have to bomb Iran. Like the Bomb Iran the song. Bomb Iran, bomb Iran. Let's take a look at him. This is John Bolton before. If you want a clue to what could come next, look at the man who President Trump recently chose to be his next National Security Adviser, John Bolton, has been one of the loudest advocates of regime change and has endorsed a military strike here. Let's watch Bolton here in action. 

GRETCHEN CARLSON [on FNC’s The Real Story, 03/30/15]: You've written an op-ed in The New York Times and here's a headline, an eye catcher. “To stop Iran's bomb, bomb Iran.” What do you mean? 

JOHN BOLTON [on FNC’s The Real Story, 03/30/15]: Just as Israel twice before has struck nuclear weapons programs in the hands of hostile states. I'm afraid, given the circumstances, that's the only real option open to us now. 

JEANINE PIRRO [on Justice with Judge Jeanine, 03/28/15]: You want to bomb them, really? 

BOLTON [on Justice with Judge Jeanine, 03/28/15]: Well, I'd rather we weren't in this position. But we have followed policies for close to 30 years now that have left us with no other option. [on Fox & Friends, 01/01/18] There is a lot we can do and we should do it. Our goal should be regime change in Iran.

MATTHEWS: Okay. Regime, real bold talk by another one of these chick hawks. I mean, big on talk, you know, no military experience in his life. Here we go and now they're doing it again, he said the only alternative to something, to — well, he didn't say there was an he said the alternative was to attack Iran. Now that there’s no deal, what’s to stop this character who’s now in the President's ear from pushing for an attack? 

NAYYERRA HAQ: Well, let's be clear, he is the brains behind the operation at this point because President Trump himself is driven by pettiness against Barack Obama. 

MATTHEWS: Right.

HAQ: He calls himself a dealmaker. There’s not a deal he hasn’t pulled the United States out of and he hasn't struck any deals in time of office either. You have John Bolton —

MATTHEWS: He just wants to erase Barack Obama like saying he’s a foreigner who snuck in the country and then get rid of ObamaCare and get rid of this. 

HAQ: — right and John Bolton is the one who has an ideology and its regime change. Regime change appeared in this speech out of nowhere, when this really was a technical deal directed at stopping Iran from a nuclear bomb. This was never a deal intended or even presented as something that was supposed to stop Iran from all of its other nefarious activities in the region.

MATTHEWS: Of course, we all knew that at the time that the deal was about nuclear development. Anyway, President Trump's predecessor Barack Obama has here issued a rare statement rebuking today's announcement as misguided. Well, that’s understated. Barack Obama wrote: “The reality is clear. The [agreement], is working – that is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current U.S. Secretary of Defense....I believe that the decision to put the [agreement] at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake. Without the [agreement], the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East.” In a joint statement, the leaders of England, France, and Germany said: “It is with regret and concern that we...take note of President Trump’s decision to withdraw...This agreement remains important to our shared security.” On the other hand, leaders of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates all publically backed President Trump’s decision. And now let's go to Richard Engel on this. Richard, what do you make of this amazing — we saw this coming. It's been coming for a long time. But here we are, breaking in the pottery barn, we’re breaking something that we will now have to fix. 

RICHARD ENGEL: Well, sometimes news can be both anticipated and shocking at the same time and I think that's what happened now. People that I have been speaking to think that there were several consequences that are going to come from this. It decreases trust in U.S. commitments. It emboldens the hardliners in Iran. It makes conflict in the region more likely and it surrenders the moral high ground to Iran, none of those positive outcomes. 

MATTHEWS: Do you think it's possible that they will re — re — resume their nuclear program?

ENGEL: It's possible. I wouldn't say that is going to be their first action. If you heard Rouhani, the President of Iran, who was standing by at the podium. He was ready to go with a statement. The Trump's speech was broadcast live in Iran even though it was almost midnight and then it switched right into Rouhani's statement, he said that Iran was going to stick with the deal, that it was a five — P5+1 deal, meaning the permanent members of the UN Security Counsel plus one, plus Germany. He said now it's just five, but we’re going to stick with the deal and we’re keep ahead and our economy is strong and he added this threat. But if there is no benefit for Iran and the deal effectively collapses entirely, then we could restart our industrial nuclear program, as he called it, but I think that was really a sign to the hardliners because he now faces a serious problem within the country. There are many people in Iran who told him and told the people, never trust the U.S., don't do a deal with the United States, that they're never going to commit to this deal. They'll never honor it and now they will go back to Rouhani and say we are, we were correct. So if he can continue to have money coming in and have some sort of deal functioning with the other signatories of this deal, then I think he stays on. But if that start to wither and it starts to fall apart and the hardliners get more and more of a voice, then you’re going to see internal conflict within Iran. You’re going to see this entire structure breaking down and I think over time, maybe not even over a large period of time, we’re going to see increased tensions and the risk of conflict in the Middle East. 

MATTHEWS: And part of this just looks like Trump's obsession with getting rid of anything that Barack Obama accomplished. It just smacks of pettiness, getting rid of the Paris agreement, getting rid of ObamaCare, getting rid of Obama in the history books. Thank you, Richard Engel, Joe Cirincione, and Nayerra Haq. Much more of you fellas when we come back as we’re going to be talking about this, unfortunately, for a long time.

(....)

7:58 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Trump Watch, Tuesday May 8th, 2018. The big thing is he promised just the opposite. Donald Trump, the candidate, railed against stupid wars. We all — even those who didn't vote for him — cheered that one candidate in 2016 saw the stupidity of the Iraq War. The terrible nature of this push for regime change and in every case where we didn't like the government. We wanted someone to blow the whistle on this American arrogance. Trump did. He railed against the Iraq War and the stupidity and arrogance that went with it and today, he moved to kill the deal with Iran that promised to be an alternative to the hawks pushing for an American attack on that country. What do we expect now? Well, this we know. Prior to the deal President Obama struck with Iran, people like John Bolton were all out there pushing for an American attack on Iran's nuclear sites. Now that same John Bolton is sitting in the White House directing U.S. security policy. Does anyone not think he's hoping that Trump will join him in his goal of the U.S. strike? John Bolton doesn't change like Dick Cheney and those like him. He's always for the war option, always ready to cry bombs away knowing that others will be the ones in the air and in the fields facing the enemy. I think all of the people voted for Trump believing he would stop this endless call for war should take notice. The President who spoke today at 2:00 p.m. Eastern was not the candidate who promised so loudly and relentlessly he would stop this endless push for stupid wars. And that is Hardball for now.


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