Well, he did hold Iran responsible. But the statement was not very menacing. We’ll see what President Trump says and does.
Well, he did hold Iran responsible. But the statement was not very menacing. We’ll see what President Trump says and does.
I’m a little concerned that National Security Advisor John Bolton is looking for a war. But as it stands now, the Iran policy he and President Trump are pursuing is working.
In short, the idea is to try to do something about problems every other administration has kicked down the road: Iran’s nuclear program cannot be permitted to resume and get to a point where they can build ICBMs, all of which they can do under the deal Barack Obama negotiated with them, as long as they wait a few years. Iran’s influence around the Middle East must be rolled back. And Iran must stop killing Americans, something they have been doing for years and that has simply been tolerated.
No more. As this great piece by Marc Thiessen makes clear, the increase in U.S. forces in the Gulf was ordered because while Trump tightens the screws with sanctions – hoping to force Iran back to the negotiating table – the country is about to start attacking Americans, maybe in a big way, as they have in the past.
The message is: We are the superior power, and we will not be threatened by you.
From the Thiessen piece:
When Trump came into office, Iran was on the march across the Middle East — in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen — thanks to the Obama administration’s failure to confront Iranian aggression and the massive infusions of cash it received from sanctions relief under President Barack Obama’s Iran deal. Trump withdrew from the deal, but he did not simply restore sanctions imposed before it; he ramped them up to unprecedented levels. The sanctions have already “wiped $10 billion from Iranian revenue since November,” The Post reported, citing administration officials.
This month, the administration tightened the screws even further, eliminating waivers for eight countries that had previously been allowed to continue importing Iranian oil. The goal, according to American officials, is to reduce Iranian oil exports to “zero.” It’s working. Bloomberg News reports that “Iran’s oil shipments tumbled this month after the U.S. ended sanctions waivers. . . . So far, not a single ship has been seen leaving Iran’s oil terminals for foreign ports.”
The new sanctions are forcing Tehran to cut funds to its terrorist proxies. According to The Post, “Iran’s ability to finance allies such as Hezbollah has been curtailed,” while in Lebanon, the New York Times reports, “Syrian militiamen paid by Iran have seen their salaries slashed” because, to quote one fighter, “Iran doesn’t have enough money to give us.” On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress that “Iran’s proposed defense budget has been reduced by 25 percent and the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’] proposed budget by about 10 percent.”
Iran is obviously unhappy with this, and U.S. intelligence saw signs that Iran was preparing to respond with attacks on Americans using terrorist proxies — just as they did in the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombingand the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, and by supplying Shiite militias in Iraq with armor-penetrating roadside bombs that killed hundreds of American soldiers.
President Trump has some aides, led by National Security Advisor John Bolton, who are hawkish. He has others, including many in the Pentagon, who favor diplomacy.
This gets described negatively in the press as a “divide within the administration.” What it actually amounts to is having a range of opinions in your administration and then making a decision.
If this were Obama, the press would be appreciatively calling it, “Team of Rivals.”
Anyway, Trump is wary of the hawks. Which is a good idea. The policy of putting the economic screws on Iran but trying to avoid war is a good one, because we have to find a way to get rid of their nuclear program. It may take war, eventually. But we should not overreact when they, naturally, respond to the economic pain and the threat to their regime.
According to the Washington Post:
The Trump administration has been on high alert in response to what military and intelligence officials have deemed specific and credible threats from Iran against U.S. personnel in the Middle East.
But President Trump is frustrated with some of his top advisers, who he thinks could rush the United States into a military confrontation with Iran and shatter his long-standing pledge to withdraw from costly foreign wars, according to several U.S. officials. Trump prefers a diplomatic approach to resolving tensions and wants to speak directly with Iran’s leaders.
Disagreements over assessing and responding to the recent intelligence — which includes a directive from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that some American officials interpret as a threat to U.S. personnel in the Middle East — are also fraying alliances with foreign allies, according to multiple officials in the United States and Europe.
Trump grew angry last week and over the weekend about what he sees as warlike planning that is getting ahead of his own thinking, said a senior administration official with knowledge of conversations Trump had regarding national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“They are getting way out ahead of themselves, and Trump is annoyed,” the official said. “There was a scramble for Bolton and Pompeo and others to get on the same page.”
Bolton, who advocated regime change in Iran before joining the White House last year, is “just in a different place” from Trump, although the president has been a fierce critic of Iran since long before he hired Bolton. Trump “wants to talk to the Iranians; he wants a deal” and is open to negotiation with the Iranian government, the official said.
I’m pretty sure National Security Advisor John Bolton wants to have a war with someone. I’m just not sure yet if it’s with Iran, North Korea, or Venezuela. Or a country to be names later.
According to the Washington Examiner:
President Trump acknowledged on Tuesday that he would consider sending 120,000 troops, or more, to the Middle East to deal with Iran, even as he called the report “fake news.”
“Would I do that? Absolutely,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we’re not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we would send a hell of a lot more troops than that.”
The president also blasted the New York Times, which revealed that the White House was considering such a move and that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan unveiled a plan last week which would send the 120,000 troops to the Middle East.
“I think it’s just – where was that story, in the New York Times? Well the New York Times is fake news,” Trump said. The move would come as a response to a possible attack by Iran on U.S. forces, or an acceleration of Iran’s nuclear weapons development.
This is why Republican voters selected Donald Trump instead of Marco Rubio, Jeb, and the rest of them. Voters understood that there was a toughness and a commitment to the man that none of the others had.
Such strengths were desperately needed in a nation drifting from its traditional moorings and facing an increasingly dangerous world that Barack Obama had sought to accommodate.
According to Josh Rogin, writing in the Washington Post:
About one year after the United States decided to leave the Iran nuclear deal, the State Department is set to announce that all countries will have to completely end their imports of Iranian oil or be subject to U.S. sanctions. This is an escalation of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, which seeks to force Tehran to end its illicit behavior around the world.
Iran has been treated like a “rogue” nation where “moderate” elements in the regime need to be “encouraged.”
What it is, is a nation of good people governed by a group of well-armed, well-financed fanatics who have killed many American troops through their proxies and are spreading terror and their malign influence throughout the region.
Trump is at least determined to cut off the financing and end the charade that Iran has agreed to give up its nuclear weapons. According to Rogin, the president is having an effect:
There are some signs the pressure is having an effect. Iran has been unable to deliver oil to Syria since January due to international enforcement of the sanctions, the Wall Street Journal reported last month, which has increased pressure on the regime of Bashar al-Assad. In March, Pompeo pointed to Hezbollah’s reported cash shortages as additional evidence that Iran’s coffers were being squeezed, with positive results for regional security.
It’s unlikely the Iranian regime will ever sit down with the Trump administration to negotiate a better deal or fundamentally change its behavior. Starting next month, though, it will at least have less oil money to spread terrorism and mischief around the Middle East and the world.
Everyone knows that Jeb and Marco would be negotiating with these people and refusing to “risk” angering our allies, who think only of cheap Iranian oil and not the larger, long-term, strategic perspective.
Trump, schooled in the rough and tumble, Darwinian world of New York business, understands people and motivations much better than he is given credit for. I’m sure he gets the mullahs better than many in academia and the bureaucracy who have spent a lifetime studying them.
They are a threat that must be defeated. Maybe Trump can do it.
What happened to all the talk about the Logan Act, now that Democrats are conducting foreign policy as private citizens?
From the Logan Act:
Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
Trump officials were threatened with the act, which is never enforced, for actions taken after the election but before the inauguration. But they were the incoming administration. It would be foolish of them not to have some contact with foreign leaders. Kerry is the administration that just left power. There’s a big difference. Evidently, he thinks he is still secretary of state.
Kerry admits he’s been engaging in chats with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in which Kerry appears to be trying to extract good behavior from the Iranians in order to mitigate the case for President Trump’s moves to scuttle the Iran nuclear deal. Other countries that are party to the deal so far have not gone along with Trump.
Kerry admitted in an interview this week that he is conducting foreign policy:
What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better. You know, how does one resolve Yemen? What do you do to try to get peace in Syria? I mean, those are the things that really are preoccupying, because those are the impediments to people, to Iran’s ability to convince people that it’s ready to embrace something different. I mean, and I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen. You’re supporting you know, an ongoing struggle there They say they’re prepared to negotiate and to resolve these issues.
The actual secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, Friday blasted Kerry for playing dress up:
“It’s inconsistent with what the foreign policy of the United States is, as directed by this president, and it’s beyond inappropriate,” Pompeo said during an appearance at the State Department. “I’ll leave the legal determinations to others, but what Secretary Kerry has done is unseemly and unprecedented.”
From a statement by the president issued by the White House:
Today, the United States is taking action to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions with respect to Iran that were lifted in connection with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of July 14, 2015 (the “JCPOA”). These actions include reimposing sanctions on Iran’s automotive sector and on its trade in gold and precious metals, as well as sanctions related to the Iranian rial. These measures will take effect on August 7, 2018.
All remaining United States nuclear-related sanctions will resume effective November 5, 2018. These include sanctions targeting Iran’s energy sector, including petroleum-related transactions, as well as transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran . . .
My actions today – including my signing of an Executive Order entitled “Reimposing Certain Sanctions with Respect to Iran” – are consistent with National Security Presidential Memorandum-11 of May 8, 2018, announcing the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA.
The JCPOA, a horrible, one-sided deal, failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, and it threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos.
Since the deal was reached, Iran’s aggression has only increased. The regime has used the windfall of newly accessible funds it received under the JCPOA to build nuclear-capable missiles, fund terrorism, and fuel conflict across the Middle East and beyond.
To this day, Iran threatens the United States and our allies, undermines the international financial system, and supports terrorism and militant proxies around the world.
Iran threatened the United States. President Trump told them not to do that.
To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018
“America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani had told a meeting of Iranian diplomats.
While it certainly feels great to respond so forcefully, I’d like to know if Trump is ready for a war with Iran. I’m certainly not. Unless Iran is on the verge of making nuclear weapons, there’s no reason to start a war at the very moment protests within Iran are gaining strength.
The difference here is that Iran makes idle threats we can ignore. The United States should never make idle threats, because doing so undermines the legitimacy of what we say and destroys our ability to influence world events.
I assume Iran will shut up, because they don’t know what Trump will do. Because if we don’t know what Trump will do, then they don’t.
But Trump should not be threatening war in any case. Now that he has ended the Iran nuclear deal, let the sanctions have their effect, step up propganda toward average Iranians, and see if the Ayatollahs are overthrown.
The Obama administration repeatedly lied to Congress about whether Iran would be able to access the U.S. financial system as Obama officials completed, and the Senate vote on, a nuclear with the rogue nation. According to the report, released Wednesday by Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Iran was desperate… Continue Reading
Actually, no. Hillary Clinton complained Wednesday that nobody’s going to trust the United States anymore now that President Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. As Secretary of State, I helped negotiate the crippling international sanctions that brought Iran to the table. It would be much harder a second time, now that our credibility… Continue Reading
Here’s a short part of a very long Facebook lecture by Barack Obama on President Trump’s decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal: There are few issues more important to the security of the United States than the potential spread of nuclear weapons, or the potential for even more destructive war in the Middle East.… Continue Reading