Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) said during a Wednesday interview with CNN host John Berman that Iran's recent attacks on Saudi Arabian oil fields were triggered by United States sanctions. Berman then wondered whether Kaine was "victim-blaming" by saying the attacks were provoked.
The exchange began when Kaine told Berman that he worries President Donald Trump will take military action to "protect Saudi oil," which he said could begin a war that would be based on "fundamental mistruths."
"What mistruths?" Berman said.
Kaine said that the United States is "provoking Iran" because of sanctions. He added that this was just the latest provocation in a pattern of United States aggression against Iran, most notably pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.
"We are provoking Iran every day with the sanctions and with military action, and they're responding," Kaine said. "We need to stop the provocation, and the United States needs to return to trying to be a diplomatic broker."
"Are you suggesting that Iran had to do this attack?" Berman said. "When you're saying the attack was somehow provoked, are you somehow victim-blaming here for this?"
"I have voted for sanctions on Iran in the past and they're a bad actor," Kaine said.
"But when the administration says the attack was unprovoked, that's what LBJ said about the Gulf of Tonkin back in Vietnam, and it was a lie," he continued. "And the administration is lying to the American public by saying this was an unprovoked attack."
Berman continued to push back. "But, the Iranians didn't have to do it," he said. "Yes, believe me, I understand the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. But that in and of itself doesn't mean that Iran had to do this."
Kaine said he was not "excusing" Iran's behavior, yet continued to argue that the United States was causing violence in the Middle East because it pulled out of the nuclear deal.
"We need to return to diplomacy in the region," Kaine said.