President Donald Trump’s unilateral exit from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) has triggered a frenzied push inside the administration to support color revolution-style regime change operations in Iran.
According to the neoconservative Free Beacon, National Security Director John Bolton has authorized the publication and distribution of an internal white paper urging “a strategy by which the Trump administration can actively work to assist an already aggravated Iranian public topple the hardline ruling regime through a democratization strategy that focuses on driving a deeper wedge between the Iranian people and the ruling regime.”
The white paper was produced by Jim Hanson, a self-proclaimed expert “practitioner of the art of war” who is virtually unknown in Washington. I know of Hanson primarily through his prolific presence on Twitter, where he operates under the handle, “Uncle Jimbo,” generally behaves like a far-right troll, and has eloquently branded me a “#JihaDbag.”
— Jim Hanson (@Uncle_Jimbo) April 8, 2016
Hanson is the director of the Security Studies Group (SSG), a little-known think tank staffed by former employees of Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy. Like Gaffney, who has spilled gallons of ink trying to prove that Barack Obama was a Muslim, Hanson and his colleagues are fervent anti-Islam zealots who emerged from the fever swamps of right-wing online media, touting their military experience and mock scholarship to market themselves as counter-terror experts.
During the 2016 campaign, Hanson and his crew insinuated themselves into the campaign of Ted Cruz before moving into Trump’s orbit thanks to sponsorship from Steve Bannon and his alt-national security council, the Strategic Initiatives Group. Bannon was eventually removed from the White House under pressure from the national security establishment, but the subsequent replacement of H.R. McMaster with Bolton at the NSC has brought Hanson and his SSG back into the fray. The resurgence of these counter-terror cranks suggests that Trump’s Iran policy is heading towards a dangerous and very strange place.