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Below is a partial transcript of a recent interview with Jim Rickards

HOST: Jim, thanks for joining us on short notice. Can you get everyone caught up on what's happening over there in the Middle East?

Jim Rickards: Well, there's a little bit of a backstory. You're absolutely right, Matt. Over the course of late Saturday day, we learned that Iran had fired, you know, different estimates, but 200 or more drone missiles, but also cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. The drones are what they call “drone swarms,” where an individual drone, I mean a military drone of the kind we're talking about, is not necessarily a lot bigger than the guy you can buy on Amazon for kids or whatever. They're a little bigger than that. There are drones that are the size of airplanes. But an attack drone can be relatively small. Iran makes very good ones, a lot of the drones that Russia is using in Ukraine are made by Iran. That's a sidelight, but just to make the point that Iran makes some of the best drones in the world. But when you send, and I don't know how many there were, but 50 or 100 of them, that's called a swarm, where you might be able to hit one or hit two or, turns out they hit a lot more than that, but it's kind of hard to hit them all. But also, as I understand the ballistic missiles which Iran has very good technology on, and cruise missiles as well. So, this was a very large attack.


It didn’t hit Iranian territory, yes, it was in Damascus, but they can say you hit Iranian territory because that's our consular office. That little plot of land, however big it is, is Iranian, and technically that is how international relations think about it. So when Iran was planning, and every—and by the way, that strike killed three top Iranian generals within the Iranian military, there's something called the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). That's sort of a military within the military. They're elite troops that guard the leaders, they do international operations, whether you want to call them terrorism or commando-style operations. They work overseas, they liaise with other military groups, so they're sort of an elite group but a large group within the Iranian military. They're the best soldiers and the best operators that they have. Israel killed three of the top generals of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in that attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus. So, what a military term was called a decapitation strike. They chop the head off the leadership. It wasn't the head guy of the whole IRGC, he was back in Tehran, but it was the head of their overseas operations and two others. They really, in effect, decapitated IRGC. Very, very successful strike, but they crossed the red line which is they hit the Iranian consulate.

Now, everyone in the world knew that Iran was going to retaliate. That was not a mystery. You can't let something like that happen to you and not strike back. So, the Iran retaliation was coming. The question is, what form would it take, when would it happen? Everyone thought sooner than later, and what form would it take? Those are the big issues. As it turns out, Iran attacked Israeli territory. Now, on the one hand, that's crossing a red line. It's no secret that Iran and Israel are bitter enemies. They hate each other. The Iranians yell death to Israel, kill the Israelis. I don't think there's a lot of sympathy in Israel for the Iranians. Israel has had a long stream going back years, if not decades, of assassinating top Iranian nuclear scientists and others in Iran, which is not easy to do. Obviously, there's good intelligence and operations going on there. So, these two countries basically hate each other, and that goes back a long way.

But they've never actually directly attacked each other. Israel has never fired a missile at Iran until Saturday. Iran had never fired any missiles at Israel. They operate through proxies. The proxies could be Hamas, Hezbollah, Syrians, Iraqis, Houthis in Yemen. Israelis have their commando teams, they get basically spies in Iran who tip them off. So a lot of going back and forth, but they had not directly attacked each other until Saturday. Now, Iran took the view that they're within their rights. They say, “Hey, you attacked us, meaning the consulate in Damascus, so we can attack you.” Israel crossed that red line first, so we're just responding to you in kind. A lot of people view it differently. They go, well, a consulate in a third country, Syria in this case, is not quite the same as in Iran, but legally it is. So Iran felt that they were within their rights to attack Israel.

At Paradigm, we don't do conspiracy theories, we don't guess; we either know exactly what we're talking about, or we use reasonable imprints. We're always grounded in the facts, even if the facts are, you know, pretty daring in themselves. But here's what appears to have happened. I have several different sources, not just one source—you could kind of take it with a grain of salt—but this is coming in from multiple sources in the Middle East, in Europe, and to some extent, the States.

It looks like the following happened, and you've got to put everything in the context of the fact that this is an election year in the United States. And I can tell you that the people at the White House care more about the election than they do about war and peace. That's too bad, that's sad. You should always put national policy and the national security of the United States ahead of your election considerations, but with Biden, Blinken, and Jake Sullivan, that's not what they do. They're thinking about how this is going to play out in terms of the election. Ukraine is already a disaster for Biden. Biden has a lot of other problems. The last thing he needs is a war in the Middle East that would pretty much seal his fate as a guy who either isn't going to get the nomination to begin with or, maybe if he does, not win.

So, what the United States did is, we basically called up Iran, operating through intermediaries. The information I have is the intermediary was Oman, which is, of course, right across the Straits of Hormuz from Iran, physically very close to Iran, but they also have a good dialogue with them. Even though they're Arab, the Iranians are Persian, but they talk. So, the US, operating through Oman, said to Iran, “Hey, we know you're going to strike back, everybody gets that, we know you probably have to. You can't just let this assassination of these generals go. But why don't you do something that the Israelis can defend against? Number one, number two, give us a heads up—you know, let us know about when and what—and then go ahead and fire missiles. But if we know what they are and when they're coming, Israel can fend them off, and you'll get your—you'll be able to satisfy your own people, ‘Hey, we struck back,' but not actually kind of go further down the path to where's World War 3.”

And the Iranians agreed to that. Now you say, wait a second, everyone knows that Biden's weak, he's mentally incapacitated, he says, “Don't do this or don't do that,” then people do it anyway, they don't really care what he says. Why on Earth would the Iranians listen to Joe Biden on a proposal like this? The answer is, don't forget, Biden has given the Iranians tens of billions of dollars. He's released funds that were frozen. He took, most importantly, he took off the oil sanctions. Iran was subject to very severe sanctions on the export of oil. Biden removed those sanctions, so now Iran is making tens of billions of dollars more by exporting oil without fear of US sanctions. And, of course, the price of oil is up to, uh, Brent crude, which is the European Middle East price, is over $92 a barrel; it's not, you know, $60 where it was not that long ago. So, Iran has, um, probably 20 billion reasons to work with Joe Biden, and that would be $20 billion that he's given them, either in releasing assets or taking away the sanctions. And this goes all the way back to the Obama administration. Remember, Obama landed a plane in Tehran, and they dumped off, uh, I think about $202 billion of cash in gold. They had to call the Netherland Central Bank to print up a bunch of euros, 500 euro notes at the time, 200 euro notes also, and gold. So, we've been—I say “we,” the United States, yes, but really the Obama-Biden administrations—have been doing everything possible to help Iran.

So, Iran would have listened to that, not because they think Biden is strong, but because, um, he's—as they say, given them tens of billions of dollars of relief. Okay, so the Iranians say, “Okay, it's a deal.” Then the US calls Israel and says, “Look, they're attacking you. Probably know when. It'll be drones and, uh, cruise missiles, and simplistic missiles, but you have what's called the Iron Dome. You have anti-ballistic missiles…

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