Richard Higgins is the senior fellow at Unconstrained Analytics. He is an expert on irregular warfare and the nexus between theological doctrines and Information Age unconventional warfare. A U.S. Army veteran, Higgins has advised Congress and the White House on terrorism-related matters. In Liberty Nation’s exclusive interview, we sought his opinion on the growing issues between the U.S. and Iran, and what could be behind this sudden increase in hostilities.
Liberty Nation: Richard, my first question is what’s happening with the Iran situation? Other than the main events that we hear on the news, is there an undercurrent that’s really bringing these things to the fore right now?
Richard Higgins: I think the understanding of events taking place in the Middle East, along with events taking place in wider South West/South East Asia, has to be viewed through the prism of the economic realignment that’s attempting to be put in place by the current administration with China. Any thoughts about Iran that don’t incorporate the Chinese economic angle and their One Belt, One Road strategy are inconclusive to events.
The same is true in the North Korea situation. I think the maximum pressure campaign has been underway for a long time now, but one has to ask oneself, “Why are the Iranians acting out now?” My personal belief is that it’s largely due to the fact that the G20 meeting is coming up and I’m sure the G20 meeting is driving a lot of these events. Far more so than the average strategist needs to be thinking about.
LN: I’ve been looking through the Ayatollah Khamenei’s social media accounts, and he seems to be trying to build up more international support with the European Union, and most especially with Japan. Is this to see if they’ll take up the slack that’s left by President Trump pulling away from the Iran Deal, or is there more at play?
RH: I think you can understand the Ayatollah’s actions in trying to break our united front, right? Which is to peel off the Japanese, peel off the European Union. The Chinese strategy would be to isolate the United States. The United States’ strategy will be to hold China accountable for the actions of their own and their surrogates. But the Chinese have a strategy, I mean, it really goes back to Sun Tzu, which is: Operate through surrogates. Don’t be directly attributable for these different events.
And so, when you look at the Ayatollah’s statements, and I haven’t seen them myself, so I’ll cautiously apply … you need to understand that their goal would be to enhance the isolation of the United States. Not necessarily to do something directly with Japan, per se, but on behalf of the Chinese. The Chinese operate through economic pacts, like the Shanghai Cooperative Organization, the One Belt, One Road Initiative, China 2025, China 2049, and they do it through irregular warfare; what they call unrestricted warfare. It is not something that Western strategists are familiar with.
LN: It seems as though there’s an information war that’s already taking place that involves a lot of persuasion, narrative, and attempts to isolate. Is this making more of a move right now because of the sunset clauses or provisions in the Iran deal? Is it heading towards an inevitable conflict or a complete reorganization once the sunset clauses start kicking in?
RH: I don’t think you necessarily have to have conflict. By that I mean, there is going to be disagreement, there is going to be, “conflict,” and I think that the president recognizes that and what he is offering up to the leadership of Iran, right now, is the opportunity to do this short of war. For example, lets come up with a different way that doesn’t result in the deaths of untold hundreds of thousands of people. It’s an important moral stand that the president has to take and I think that the president is operating, not that he’s afraid of power, per se, but he recognizes that you look at America and the United States and our history, we’ve always been able to maintain a moral high ground in our actions … when war came, we did everything we could to avoid it. Sometimes they beat you to a brick, sometimes that drove our allies nuts, right? Because we would wait, and wait, and wait to get into war.
I think that the president reflects that sort of Christian base; deliberative action, recognizing the monumental nature of war in and of itself. And you saw that in his decision to pull back on the strike because he thought 150 casualties was inappropriate for shooting down some drone.
My personal opinion on that is, I think the president did two things: Number one, he showed that he is able to be a moral man, number two is that he is the commander-in-chief and he demonstrated that very clearly to the entire chain of command: “I’m in charge, nobody else.” I think he’s putting in a really strong position in terms of his ability to negotiate and you know, I’m amazed we have all these generals and all these millions of talking heads, who talk about the president, on and on and on; none of them have read his books. None of them have read The Art of the Deal. Because if you’ve read The Art of the Deal, you understood exactly what he was doing yesterday in pulling back from that attack. And now he has leverage.
Liberty Nation will be providing more analysis and coverage of the developing Iran situation over the coming days.
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