Monday, 15 October, 2018

The world won’t support Trump’s Iran policy

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By Tom Rogan, WashingtonExaminer

The Trump administration will not succeed in unifying the world around its Iran policy.

President Trump, however, seems to believe otherwise. In one of his more presidential tweets on Friday morning, Trump sounded triumphant.

Trump wants this meeting to forge a consensus on cutting off Iran’s access to the global economy. But it won’t work. For a start, America’s closest allies with interests on Iran (the British, French, and Germans) all want to avoid Iran’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement. While these nations are reducing their economic footprints in Iran so as to avoid U.S. sanctions, they do not support the Trump administration’s broader pressure campaign. China and Russia are even less amenable to the U.S. demands. Indeed, far from backing away from Iran in face of new U.S. sanctions, they have actually reinforced their Iranian investments.

So where does this leave the U.S.?

Well, on its own with Israel. But the Trump administration’s ambition here cannot be underestimated. After all, Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo aren’t simply pressuring Iran to change its behavior, they are trying to implode the regime.

We know this because of the demands that Trump has issued to Iran in return for the U.S. to rejoin the JCPOA nuclear agreement. Because those demands are designed to be impossible for Iran to accept in its current regime formation. The more telling signal of U.S. ambition is what will happen in November when U.S. sanctions are applied to Iran’s oil export economy. While some major importers of Iranian oil such as India are reducing their imports, these sanctions will cripple the Iranian economy. Iran will almost certainly respond with aggression of some kind. I would support this policy if it was calibrated to extracting more reasonable concessions from Iran (such as in regards to Iran’s ballistic missile program and the activity of the revolutionary guards), but Trump’s present ambition is too great and carries too much risk for too little obvious reward (it is not at all clear that a collapse of the existing regime would mean more-moderate forces taking power).

Regardless, we shouldn’t delude ourselves here. The U.S. is not going to get international buy-in for regime change.

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