During an interview that aired on Channel 1 (Iran) on November 3, 2018, IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said that America has failed to achieve any of its political goals in the Middle East and that it is strategically confused. He claimed that there is no evidence to support President Trump’s claims that U.S. foreign policy has affected Iran’s behavior in the region, and that it has been Iran – not the U.S. – that has succeeded in affecting political, strategic, religious, and cultural developments that have benefited it in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, and Yemen. Salami said that Iran has military response capabilities on par with those of the United States and that Iran can quickly threaten vital American interests and cut off American control of the Middle East. In addition, he said that America does not have the political unity or economic ability to carry out a war against Iran, which he said would extend beyond the region. Salami added that the American aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf are within range of Iran’s accurate ballistic missiles, and he asked: “Can they withstand such weapons?”
Following are excerpts:
Hossein Salami: The America that we are facing today has failed to accomplish any of its political goals in the region. America is confronted by strategic confusion and by a lack of regional strategy, including vis-à-vis Iran.
Interviewer: But they claim otherwise. Mr. Trump has said many times that since his rise to power, Iran's behavior in the region has changed. What is this claim based on?
Hossein Salami: He needs to prove this claim and show what behavior of ours in the region has changed. Has he succeeded in tipping the balance of the political developments in Iraq in favor of American policy? Or is it the Islamic Revolution that is the standard-bearer of the recent political developments in Iraq? Has he managed to influence the elections in Lebanon, or was it the Islamic Revolution that changed the elections in Lebanon in favor of the resistance movement? Has he managed to bring about new developments on the ground in Syria to bring about new political benefit? Has he managed to change the unjust Saudi war against Yemen in order to benefit the American policy, or did he have to shamefully go back on his positions and declare the failure of the policy of the U.S. and the Saud clan in that war? Has the U.S. succeeded in curbing the political, spiritual, cultural, and ideological influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region? Has America succeeded in stopping or curbing our effort the increase our defensive and deterrent powers? By what parameters has our national, regional, or global behavior changed? By what percentage has our influence diminished? Has he succeeded in changing our political behavior by means of the economic sanctions? He declared that ultimately the Iranians would return to the negotiations table. Has he succeeded in persuading the Iranians to give up and [engage] in new negotiations with America? Has he succeeded in implementing the oil sanctions against us?
Today, we have the capability to launch an effective response on par with that of America. We can threaten their vital interests if the necessary conditions arise. Even Trump himself said that if it were not for him, Iran would have taken over the Middle East in 12 minutes… Obviously, we claim… Twelve minutes may be a bit of a stretch, but we can quickly cut off America's control of the Middle East.
The Americas do not have the political conditions to attack any country, and especially not the Islamic Republic of Iran, because they cannot carry out any military operation without a coalition. Otherwise, they will lack the political conditions and legitimacy for the operation.
By no means is the U.S. economy capable of supporting a new war. The Americans have spent seven trillion dollars [in Iraq]… Seven trillion dollars equal Iraq's oil revenues in 100 years. But the [Americans] did not have the vehicle that would turn all that spending into political gain in the region. They only spent money. Why would they want to repeat this? Can the U.S. economy support a much larger and much more devastating war? Naturally, a war against Iran would extend even beyond the region.
America's military infrastructure has been eroded. The Americans have almost completely left the Persian Gulf. Aside from several old patrol boats, they've got nothing.
They themselves announced that their aircraft carriers are like gunpowder storage [boats] inhabited by thousands of people. Those aircraft carriers are within range of our accurate ballistic missiles, which are capable of hitting moving targets at sea. Can they withstand such weapons?