So everyone, from
The United States has to make a decision about whether it can live with a brutal, terrorism-sponsoring Iranian theocracy with nuclear weapons. Barack Obama decided that this would be someone else’s problem, crafting a deal that would allow the Iranians to develop nuclear weapons a decade or so from now. Trump and his advisors have decided to take responsibility for solving the problem, and of
A new op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal by Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh counsels patience with Trump’s policy and not to overreact to Iranian actions meant to scare everyone. Trump’s policy is not designed to start a war — though that could happen, there are always risks — but to force Iran back to the negotiating table for a deal that will actually prevent them from have nukes. Or, potentially to cause the collapse of the Iranian regime, though I wouldn’t count on it.
The risk of war should not outweigh the certainty under the Obama deal that Iran will develop nuclear weapons, which would not only pose an existential threat to the United States but would prompt a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
From the WSJ piece:
Despite the criticisms from Democrats and Europeans, Mr. Trump’s Iran policy has had considerable success. He abrogated a deficient agreement that was smoothing Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon. He restored sanctions, which many Iran-deal partisans insisted couldn’t be done effectively. The economic pain Tehran feels today is as great as when the Europeans implemented their oil embargo in 2012. Iran’s oil exports have contracted rapidly, denying the regime billions of dollars in hard currency. The key challenge for the Trump administration now is to sustain its strategy as the Iranians start dangling the possibility of a diplomatic opening.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s most important contribution has been to dispense with the once-popular notion that the nuclear issue can be separated from the clerical regime’s regional ambitions. His May 2018 “12 points” speech sensibly posited that the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism shouldn’t possess a nuclear arsenal. The administration has developed a containment strategy that is unconventional and restrained—Iran’s expeditionary forces and allied militias in the northern Middle East haven’t been targeted—but still punishing. As long as Mr. Trump is willing to respond to a direct challenge, conventional or nuclear, and Tehran is convinced of the president’s mettle, time is on Washington’s side.
America’s Iran problem will remain until the theocracy cracks. Given the regime’s inability to escape the contradictions of its own making, that day is drawing closer. The U.S. needs stamina—and a clear understanding of how the enemy sees itself.