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‘Regime instability’ in Iran is aim of leading Israel advocate’s memo to White House

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After meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu today in New York, Donald Trump told the press, “You’ll see very soon” what he will do with the Iran deal. Meantime, neoconservatives are lobbying the president to decertify Iran’s compliance with the deal, and launch a new era of sanctions against Iran.

A leader of this effort is a young operative from the heart of the Israel lobby, Richard Goldberg, who has worked with Stand With Us and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and is now pushing “regime instability” in an influential confidential document.

A report at Foreign Policy by Jana Winter and Dan De Luce, which of course says little to nothing about the Israel lobby, says that opponents of the Iran nuclear deal in Congress and the Trump administration are relying on a Goldberg memo that calls on the president “to threaten an unprecedented economic embargo designed to rattle the regime.”

The memo demands access to Iranian “military sites”– something that has nothing to do with nukes, and something Iran would never agree to.

The document, which has been circulating on Capitol Hill and in the White House, says the president should declare to Congress next month that the deal is no longer in the national security interest of the United States. Then the president would make clear his readiness to hit Iran with a “de-facto global economic embargo” if it failed to meet certain conditions over a 90-day period, including opening military sites to international inspectors.

“This would be a 21st century financial version of [John F.] Kennedy’s Cuba quarantine,” according to a copy of the proposal obtained by Foreign Policy. The embargo would involve reimposing sanctions lifted under the deal, as well as additional measures including restrictions on oil exports.

The unsigned memo was written by Richard Goldberg, a former Republican congressional aide who has long advocated tough action against Iran. The document has been shared with officials in the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers in Congress, sources familiar with the memo told FP.

“This is a hand grenade thrown into the middle of the Iran debate,” said a source who has discussed the proposal with congressional offices.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is feeling the pressure. Even he is making the bridge from Iran’s nuclear capabilities to Iran’s supposed threats in the region:

“President Trump has made it clear.… We must take into account the totality of Iranian threats, not just Iran’s nuclear capabilities.”

The Goldberg memo offers a “global economic embargo” that could bring about regime change. Oh excuse me, the words are “regime instability.

“The President is looking for a path to ‘decertification’ that can build consensus among his national security advisers, especially those who fear the question: what next?” the memo states. “Establishing a credible threat of a total U.S. financial embargo in-waiting would enhance U.S. diplomatic leverage to curb Iranian illicit behavior and allow for a period of further evaluation at the end of the next 90-day period.”

The memo also argues that the threat of a massive economic embargo would need to persuade Iran that it would not have enough time to “break out” and build a nuclear weapon in 12 months before sanctions strangled its economy and threatened the regime’s stability.

“Iran must believe that if the U.S. pursues an immediate global sanctions embargo, the timeline of regime instability and economic collapse could be faster than nuclear ‘breakout,’” it notes.

Goldberg comes out of the pro-Israel community. He worked with the Israel lobby group Stand With Us to oppose BDS, boycott, divestment and sanctions. This profile at the Jewish Federations site in Chicago says Goldberg is about 33 now and that Israel has been at the center of his political activity, from working for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to serving Sen. Mark Kirk, famously called the Senator from AIPAC, to getting Israel new weapons systems.

This spring [2015] he helped Illinois become the first state to pass binding legislation countering the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Asked how he imagined Chicago’s Jewish community in 2025, Goldberg said: “A community that remains united in strong bipartisan support of the U.S.-Israel relationship and continues to lead the global fight against anti-Semitism.”

Four years ago he undertook another secret memo campaign, trying to demolish Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be Defense Secretary. From Rollcall:

A top aide to Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., has been distributing anti-Chuck Hagel emails to a large, undisclosed listserv of staffers — including Democrats — beginning as early as Dec. 20, according to the more than a dozen emails obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Richard Goldberg, a deputy chief of staff in Kirk’s office who also focuses on foreign policy issues, has been sending as many as three emails a day to the list, which CQ Roll Call confirmed includes reporters, Republican policy staffers and some Democrats.

At the time Goldberg tweeted:

This headline says it all: “Hagel nomination cheers Iran, worries Israel”

Goldberg was a fellow at the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and has worked closely with that organization to come up with a “lethal weapon” to fight Iran, says Clifford May of the Foundation:

Eventually, [FDD director Mark] Dubowitz, working with Sen. Kirk’s then-deputy chief of staff Richard Goldberg, came up with a “financial bomb”: a Belgium-based financial firm called SWIFT, “which hosts the international computer network that facilitates virtually every banking transaction in the world through an extensive messaging and financial tracking system.” The Obama administration opposed expelling Iran from SWIFT but “Congress once again overrode the White House’s concerns and unanimously passed” legislation in 2012 that “de-SWIFTed” Tehran.

Trita Parsi in Huffington Post says the effort to destroy the deal has shifted the focus from Iran’s nuclear activities to its actions in the region, and that this represents a bait and switch on the “existential” threat Iran supposedly poses:

Now, Washington’s hawks and Netanyahu are complaining about the nuclear deal’s singular focus on Iran’s nuclear activities. The real threat is Iran’s regional “expansion,” they suddenly claim. Allowing the nuclear deal to restrain the U.S. from confronting Tehran in the region, or allowing sanctions relief to proceed under these circumstances, would not serve U.S. national security interests, the Trump administration argues.

It is not invalid to point out that the sanctions relief put an end to more than three decades of U.S. efforts to completely isolate and contain Iran. That argument, however, cannot be combined with the central assertion made by Netanyahu and Washington hawks in the past: That Iran’s nuclear program constitutes an existential threat.

If the hawks truly believed in that contention, they would not complain about the nuclear deal’s singular focus on this existential threat. They would celebrate it.

Today’s Times has a story about yet another aspect of the neoconservative push: the effort to use the Holocaust Memorial Museum as a means of citing Syria, Iran’s close ally in the region, for “genocide.” The influential actors here are Elliott Abrams and Leon Wieseltier. They got a report the museum had made on the Syria case pulled because it argued that President Obama would not have helped the situation by taking military action against Syria.

Update: Annie Robbins was on to Richard Goldberg’s importance five years ago, when he was running Senator Kirk’s foreign policy at a time when the senator was incapacitated. He had teamed up with AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group, and given a speech to graduates of a Jewish school in his home town, Skokie, IL, describing his recent trip to Israel:

After meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Gantz and many others, I can tell you one thing for certain – Israel needs you now more than ever.


Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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37 Responses

  1. Kay24 on September 18, 2017, 2:30 pm

    So once again, it seems Netanyahu/Israel is trying to push the US into attacking Iran. The cartoon bomb did not work, and the many efforts by Nutty to persuade President Obama to attack Iran failed, so now Wile e. Coyote, is taking advantage of America’s buffoon, to get the US to pay for, and fight another war. I guess the Israel and the US are not satisfied that millions of Muslims have been killed, injured, and made refugees, by the nations they have already destroyed. Goldberg must be the loyal foot soldier who the zionists use for their dirty work.
    Despicable man.

    • Bandolero on September 18, 2017, 6:03 pm

      Oh yes. And while Goldberg makes an argument for publicly suggesting that Iran violated the deal, Netanyahu had just said this about the deal:

      “I said in the past that the biggest problem I see isn’t if Iran violates the agreement, but if it upholds it,” he said.

      So gross Israeli duplicity is again openly on public display, but almost no one cares to notice.

      • Kay24 on September 19, 2017, 6:51 am

        It is obvious that the zionists can get away with anything, even murder.

        No Western nation will ever tell them to go jump into the Dead Sea.

    • jonjames on September 24, 2017, 12:45 pm

      The last thing the world needs is Iran with nuclear weapons. They are allied with North Korea.
      See: Paul Begley – “North Korea”

      • eljay on September 24, 2017, 2:01 pm

        || jonjames: The last thing the world needs is Iran with nuclear weapons. They are allied with North Korea. … ||

        The last thing the world needs is Israel with nuclear weapons: It is allied with Saudi Arabia and, like, North Korea, it has threatened the use of nukes.

      • Mooser on September 24, 2017, 2:28 pm

        “I don’t know about moving the embassy, but plans are proceeding to build the third temple in Jerusalem. Exciting !” “jonjames”.

        Say hello to Wyatt Earp for me, “jonjames”

        Did you know Wyatt Earp was married to a Jewish woman?

      • annie on September 24, 2017, 4:56 pm

        See: Paul Begley – “North Korea”

        he’s an end of timer and your bio claims you are a pragmatist.

      • RoHa on September 24, 2017, 10:30 pm

        “The last thing the world needs is Iran with nuclear weapons.”

        Then you will be pleased to know that Iran does not have, and seems never to have had, a nuclear weapons programme. The top leadership explicitly denounces nuclear weapons as evil, and Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty.

        ” They are allied with North Korea.”

        Seems doubtful, but there are a couple of similarities. In 1994 the US and North Korea made a deal intended to freeze and then dismantle NK’s nuclear weapons programme. But the US broke the deal.

        In 2015 a deal was made with Iran. The deal was intended to stop Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons programme. The US wants to break that deal.

  2. festus on September 18, 2017, 3:03 pm

    Criminal behavior.

  3. Bandolero on September 18, 2017, 3:28 pm

    If Trump would go with this plan that could become a major embarrassment for the US. I think it would lead to the complete international isolation of the USA.

    Virtually nobody is going to comply with another round of US secondary sanctions on Iran, neither the EU, nor China, and of course not Russia. Is the US really willing to cut off all it’s trade with the EU and China? That would be big, big fun.

    And while the US would impose secondary sanctions targeting the EU, China, Russia and others, Nikki Haley will sit in the UNSC begging China and Russia to help the US with the DPR Korea, because the DPRK has nukes so there is no military solution for Korea.

    • RoHa on September 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

      “If Trump *would go* with this plan …”

      If Trump went with this plan …


      If Trump were to go with this plan …

      • Talkback on September 25, 2017, 9:58 am

        Grammar Nazi.

      • Mooser on September 25, 2017, 12:26 pm

        “Grammar Nazi.”

        Nah, just a guy who makes helpful suggestions and gentle corrections ( and only when bad grammar or syntax obscures meaning or sense)
        from time to time.

  4. MalcolmLeftly on September 18, 2017, 4:10 pm

    With all the anti-Bush talk Trump had used to get the GOP Nom’, I would think he’s less likely to pay attention to the NeoCons. The one thing that the Goldberg types have going for them is Obama worked so hard on the Iran deal towards the end of his second term and Trump would like to trash it for that reason alone.

    While the Iran deal was only adequate (not good), from all indications Teheran is adhering to the content. Perhaps the fact that there are others involved –like all the security counsel members– will hold Trump back from listening to AIPAC?

    • Emory Riddle on September 19, 2017, 6:34 pm

      Only adequate? How is a deal whose goal is to stop non-existent nuclear weapons program to be judged?

      • RoHa on September 20, 2017, 1:06 am

        If the Iranians shut down their non-existent nuclear weapons program then we will know the deal is a success.

  5. annie on September 18, 2017, 7:01 pm

    re the “de-facto global economic embargo” against iran. it’s not going to work, iran announced on saturday china was giving iran a 10 billion dollar credit line!

    A Chinese state-owned investment firm has provided a US$10 billion credit line for Iranian banks, Iran’s central bank president said on Saturday.
    Iran is vital to China’s trade ambitions as it develops its trillion-dollar “One Belt, One Road” strategy aimed at dramatically boosting its ties to Europe and Africa.
    China is already Iran’s biggest oil customer and accounts for one-thirds of its overall trade.

    there’s no way the US will be able to break the deal and get everyone else in the p5+1 to follow suit, much less the world. not going to work this time, we’ll only be isolating ourseves.

    this is the same richard goldberg who was running sen. kirk’s office after he had a stroke:

    i’m not so sure goldberg was “serving Sen. Mark Kirk” — more like kirk who was doing the serving.

    goldberg was the person who inserted the legislation seeking to cut the number of recognized Palestinian refugees (sponsored by kirk although i’m sure kirk didn’t write it, since he was still in recovery at the time) — known as the Kirk Amendment — which was seeded by a member of the israeli knesset:

    After Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Ron Dermer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign-policy adviser, gave their approval to Wilf’s efforts, she returned to AIPAC staffers and also approached Steven J. Rosen, a former foreign policy director for the organization who now works for a Washington think tank, to get things rolling on Capitol Hill.

    In April Wilf and Rosen met with Kirk’s deputy chief of staff, Richard Goldberg. Kirk is recovering from a stroke he suffered a few months ago, and Goldberg is promoting the senator’s legislative efforts.

    After a preliminary draft of the bill was worded, AIPAC officials went on board in an attempt to pass it, holding meeting with many of the senators on the appropriations committee in an attempt to sway them into supporting the legislation.

    wrote about him heading up the campaign to oust hagel, here

    so now that mark kirk got voted out i guess goldberg is somewhat of a freelancer. from the first link, don’t miss the speech he gave to the Ida Crown Jewish Academy. preaching to the kids:

    Al tikra banaich ela bonaich. Do not call them your children, call them your builders. Take with you what you learned at the Academy – and together, build a life filled with Torah, chesed, yiddishkeit and an undying commitment to the safety and security of the State of Israel

    make no mistake about where his loyalties lie.

  6. RoHa on September 18, 2017, 9:23 pm

    1. Access to military sites.

    The Iranians should reply “We’ll show you ours if you show us yours.”

    2. Regime instability.

    The wise words of Hilaire Belloc come to mind:

    “And always keep ahold of Nurse
    For fear of finding something worse.”

    • Bandolero on September 18, 2017, 9:52 pm


      ‘The Iranians should reply “We’ll show you ours if you show us yours.”’

      Well, just imagine if Iran demands the UN should inspect Israel’s military bases. Iran could argue chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons could be hidden somewhere there.

    • JeffB on September 19, 2017, 7:20 am


      The USA conducts regular public and classified inspections of their military sites as well as has high levels of congressional oversight. We do show the world ours.

      • RoHa on September 19, 2017, 8:42 am

        So teams of Iranian inspectors can enter any US military site and poke around into everything there?

        “as well as has high levels of congressional oversight. ”

        I expect that the Iranian Parliament keeps an eye on what the Iranian military are doing.

      • JeffB on September 19, 2017, 3:38 pm


        So teams of Iranian inspectors can enter any US military site and poke around into everything there?

        No but there representatives from the UN and other permanent security council members like Russia can.

        I expect that the Iranian Parliament keeps an eye on what the Iranian military are doing.

        Then when they start publishing those results in their equivalent of the congressional record it will save everyone a lot of time doing physical inspections.

      • RoHa on September 19, 2017, 10:58 pm

        Nice to know that the US has no secret military establishments (not even Pine Gap) and that Russians can go through them and see everything they want to see. But Iranians can’t.

      • oldgeezer on September 20, 2017, 8:35 am


        Jeffb is lying through his teeth. The IAEA inspections are limited to a small preapproved/agreed sample of commercial nuclear operations. Any facility which has a national security impact are off limits. The sites to be monitored are changed every couple of years.

      • Talkback on September 20, 2017, 9:07 am

        oldgeezer: “Jeffb is lying through his teeth.”

        Seems to be a chronic condition. Or even compulsive.

      • JeffB on September 20, 2017, 9:43 am
      • JeffB on September 20, 2017, 9:48 am


        Pinegap was an intelligence site not a military site. Intelligence oversight is exclusively through the intelligence committees in Congress. The USA intelligence community does not (at least as far as anyone can know) have independent nuclear capabilities. Bush and Obama remilitarized the Intelligence services (reversing the policy of the 1970s away from this) but I highly doubt they have gone anywhere near that far.

      • RoHa on September 20, 2017, 9:56 am

        “Jeffb is lying through his teeth. ”

        No! Say it ain’t so! How can I cope with this disillusionment, this assault on my youthful innocence?

      • RoHa on September 20, 2017, 10:10 am

        Did the Russian inspectors write those reports in English, or are the reports translated from Russian?

  7. JosephA on September 18, 2017, 11:00 pm

    When I was in Iran about a year and a half ago, there was a huge summit where many business leaders from Korea were present. In Tehran, there were so many cranes in the air building skyscrapers, it was an incredible sight.

    Sadly, I fear that the United States is more against Iran for economic reasons than for political or philosophical differences. We attacked Iraq for similar reasons (oil was to be traded in Euros, not dollars), and we attacked Libya for similar reasons (they were going to create a gold-backed dinar). We must end economic warfare. By the way, “confessions of an economic hitman” is a chilling, eye-opening, disturbing book.

  8. Paranam Kid on September 19, 2017, 8:12 am

    For anybody who had any doubts about the stranglehold the Israel Lobby has over Congress, it is worth reading The Israel Lobby by John Mearsheimer & Stephen Walt.

    • Marnie on September 20, 2017, 12:28 am

      Make it stop!!!! The israelis have been the puppet masters for decades – how can the u.s. remove this thorn in the side of it’s people permanently? Highly unlikely that Dump would go all North Korea on netanyahoo; and not that he should either, I think it’s against the law or something to threaten annhilation of another country, so what else? There is something that isn’t being used wrt israel. Why not?

      “U.S. assistance to foreign armed forces comes from two different budgets; therefore, two separate versions of the Leahy amendment have been enacted into law. One covers assistance to foreign forces funded through the State Department foreign assistance budget, and another covers assistance funded out of the Department of Defense budget.

      The law covering State Department funded aid is found in Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (as amended most recently in January 2014).[7] It states:

      “ (a) IN GENERAL. – No assistance shall be furnished under this Act or the Arms Export Control Act to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.
      (b) EXCEPTION. –The prohibition in subsection (a) shall not apply if the Secretary determines and reports to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, and the Committees on Appropriations that the government of such country is taking effective steps to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice.

      (c) DUTY TO INFORM. – In the event that funds are withheld from any unit pursuant to this section, the Secretary of State shall promptly inform the foreign government of the basis for such action and shall, to the maximum extent practicable, assist the foreign government in taking effective measures to bring the responsible members of the security forces to justice.

      (d) CREDIBLE INFORMATION. The Secretary shall establish, and periodically update, procedures to

      (1) ensure that for each country the Department of State has a current list of all security force units receiving United States training, equipment, or other types of assistance;

      (2) facilitate receipt by the Department of State and United States embassies of information from individuals and organizations outside the United States Government about gross violations of human rights by security force units;

      (3) routinely request and obtain such information from the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, and other United States Government sources;

      (4) ensure that such information is evaluated and preserved;

      (5) ensure that when an individual is designated to receive United States training, equipment, or other types of assistance the individual’s unit is vetted as well as the individual.

      (6) seek to identify the unit involved when credible information of a gross violation exists but the identity of the unit is lacking; and

      (7) make publicly available, to the maximum extent practicable, the identity of those units for which no assistance shall be furnished pursuant to subsection (a).

      The Department of Defense Appropriations version of the Leahy Law (10 U.S. Code § 2249e) reads:[8]

      “ (a) In General.—
      (1) Of the amounts made available to the Department of Defense, none may be used for any training, equipment, or other assistance for a unit of a foreign security force if the Secretary of Defense has credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.

      (2) The Secretary of Defense shall, in consultation with the Secretary of State, ensure that prior to a decision to provide any training, equipment, or other assistance to a unit of a foreign security force full consideration is given to any credible information available to the Department of State relating to human rights violations by such unit.

      (b) Exception.—The prohibition in subsection (a)(1) shall not apply if the Secretary of Defense, after consultation with the Secretary of State, determines that the government of such country has taken all necessary corrective steps, or if the equipment or other assistance is necessary to assist in disaster relief operations or other humanitarian or national security emergencies.

      (c) Waiver.—The Secretary of Defense, after consultation with the Secretary of State, may waive the prohibition in subsection (a)(1) if the Secretary determines that the waiver is required by extraordinary circumstances.

      (d) Procedures.—The Secretary of Defense shall establish, and periodically update, procedures to ensure that any information in the possession of the Department of Defense about gross violations of human rights by units of foreign security forces is shared on a timely basis with the Department of State.

      (e) Report.—Not later than 15 days after the application of any exception under subsection (b) or the exercise of any waiver under subsection (c), the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report—

      (1) in the case of an exception under subsection (b), providing notice of the use of the exception and stating the grounds for the exception; and

      (2) in the case of a waiver under subsection (c), describing—

      (A) the information relating to the gross violation of human rights; (B) the extraordinary circumstances that necessitate the waiver; (C) the purpose and duration of the training, equipment, or other assistance; and (D) the United States forces and the foreign security force unit involved.

      (f) Appropriate Committees of Congress Defined.—In this section, the term “appropriate committees of Congress” means—

      (1) the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and

      (2) the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.”

      Leahy Law – Wikipedia

  9. Kay24 on September 19, 2017, 9:05 am
  10. Marnie on September 19, 2017, 11:04 am

    Hey Dick –
    Feel free to fly to Iran and attempt a one man destabilization project. Please! What could possibly go wrong? You’ll be a hit with your smooth skin and high voice, or am I confusing you with Jarhead Kushner?

    Amerikkka is always at the ready to fight a proxy war for its BFF. Amerikkkan blood isn’t precious at all – only worth 2 zionist toenails according to the latest exchange rates.

  11. Sulphurdunn on September 19, 2017, 12:39 pm

    Goldberg’s face is a restrained smirk with lifeless eyes.

  12. Talkback on September 20, 2017, 8:55 am


    “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars”

    says former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the CIA Philip Giraldi:

    And his article was published on Unz Review website who is Jewish.

  13. Ms. Reality on September 25, 2017, 8:42 pm

    What makes Unz Review a Jewish website? I read Giraldi’s article on a neo-Nazi website, where Giraldi’s articles are frequently featured.

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