Guest post by Ted Malloch
President Trump has a number of advisors who have seemingly very has different strategies on how to deal with the longstanding radical fundamentalist nemesis, Iran.
Trump has shown insight and deliberation on Iran as he attempts to renegotiate what was a horribly bad deal brought forward by the Obama team and his Secretary of State, Kerry in particular.
It was a sellout.
That deal did not achieve what it sought, failed on many areas and sent money to a terrorist state without getting sufficient benefits.
It was in other words, what Trump has termed, “a very bad deal.”
Let’s face it, Iran has been a thorn in the side to America and the West since it overthrew the Shah in 1979 and went down a path of radical political Islam of the Shia sect and put into place what is unquestionably a terrorist state and one that exports that terrorism everywhere in the region and around the world. The facts are well documented.
It has repeatedly chanted “Death to America” since it first stormed the US Embassy in Teheran and seized the American hostages. Things never got better and through the years Iran has become synonymous with the very word — terrorism. It spews hate at Israel and all who refuse to accept its evil regime.
Not only has it engaged in terrorizing its own citizens, but it has become the prime exporter of terror against its neighbors and in the Middle East. It has funded and extolled the Hamas radicals in the Palestinian territory against Israel, the Houthis against Yemen, the Hezbollah armies in Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and literally as much terror as possible.
The Quds Force is important to point out. It is a unit in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) directed to carry out unconventional warfare and intelligence activities and responsible for extraterritorial operations.
It is commanded by Major General Qasem Soleimani. The Quds Force supports non-state actors in many foreign countries that include Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Yemeni Houthis, and Shia militias in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. The United States has designated the Quds Force a supporter of terrorism since 2007. This has been reaffirmed by the United States when the IRGC as a whole was designated as a terrorist group in April 2019.
Analysts do not know the Quds’ exact size but estimate it at about 20,000 members. The Quds Force reports directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei.
One approach to Iran of the US hawks is military engagement and a counterstrike policy that could escalate and embroil the region and American once again in a long, costly, and devastating war, as was the case in Iraq.
John Bolton, the Trump National Security Advisor, supposedly “never met a war he did not like.” He seems belligerent and ready to bomb or even use troops to bring about regime change. His hands were all over the Iraq strategy, recall.
On the other hand, people like dovish Republican Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian who opposes the use of American force and its military industrial complex, have Trump’s ear. They don’t want America engaged in Iran or elsewhere and don’t see any cost benefit analysis that suggests there are sufficient upsides to risk war.
In the middle, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has straddled the options and suggested a halfway approach that lists 12 conditions Iran must meet if it is to be welcomed back into the community of nations and uses maximum economic sanctions to bring them to that negotiating table. He sees a proportional use of strength and has argued for more sanctions as well as crypto actions against the radical Iranian regime, its foremost armed forces, and its’ economy.
Trump, after the incident involving sea mines or torpedoes of two foreign tankers and the downing of an American unmanned drone, decided to take the Pompeo route and stopped short of retaliatory measures involving the death of many lives and instead opted for more thorough and damaging sanctions.
This wise and measured response has been well received by the international community but roundly criticized by the neocons and some Democrats as showing a lack of American resolve and decisiveness.
What Trump is doing on Iran is trying to fix decades of bad policy and deflect their atrocious behavior in the region and as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism. The Mullahs are reluctant to change their evil ways even if there are variations in their political views. Allolalias may come and go but Iran is stuck in the grove it alone created.
But the pressure Trump has applied and the persistence to stay the course is increasingly likely to achieve another outcome. It is something Trump would applaud, and his advisors would all support, namely: regime collapse.
That is not military based regime change but it would mean Iran could become a civilized nation again. Here is what it means: the Iranian economy suffers and suffers and then suffers some more. Inflation is out of control; the currency falls precipitously; goods are hard to find and dearly expensive; oil revenues plummet; and GNP continues to decline. All of this, in time could cause implosion—or regime collapse.
If Trump keeps his nerve and implements measures that cut off Iran’s last foreign economic lifelines, Iran’s prospects remain grim. Iran’s population is already languishing under the incompetent rule of an oppressive theocracy. That explains its silly brinksmanship.
But the country’s leaders also know that blowing up the nuclear accord, as they continually threaten to do, will only push the Europeans reluctantly into Trump’s arms and further worsen Iran’s economic plight.
A patient course gives Iran no option but to play Trump’s game and at no cost or bloodshed for America.
Another potentially winning strategy. Trump is good at tough talk and bold diplomacy, but he does not seek war.