21 June 2019   Leave a comment

US President Trump ordered a military strike against Iran but called it off at the last moment, ostensibly because there would be many casualties. I am happy that he made that decision, but my relief is tempered by my certain knowledge that this crisis was entirely the result of President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

I am not certain about what Mr. Trump was trying to accomplish by pulling out the JCPOA. He made the argument that he thought that the JCPOA did nothing about Iran’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah or the Iranian missile program, neither of which were covered by the JCPOA. But it did halt Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon for at least ten years. It now appears as if Iran will restart its enrichment program, although I am not convinced that it wishes to develop a nuclear bomb. And I am certain that Ian will continue to support its allies and continue with its missile program, no matter how severe US sanctions might become. I am also certain, moreover, that if the US did attack Iran, then Iran would have little choice but to develop a nuclear bomb. In other words, Mr. Trump has changed nothing for the better and has likely weakened the US position tremendously.

The Iranian strategy has been evolving since the US decision to leave the JCPOA. Iran actually waited an entire year under serious sanctions before it decided to act. Its objective now is to reproduce the pain it has endured onto the rest of the world by making the export of oil through the Persian Gulf very expensive or impossible. What it learned from President Trump’s decision to cancel the military strike is that it can succeed in this mission as long as no one is killed. Thus, the tankers were attacked above the water line and no sailors were killed. And Iran attacked the drone and not the manned airplane accompanying it.

Obviously, the Iranian strategy is dangerous because it will alienate the rest of the world by raising oil prices. But the Iranians will try to persuade the world that the price for stopping the chokehold on the export of oil is for the rest of the world to no longer allow the US to enforce its extra-territorial sanction strategy. But if the world believes that the US will not use its military power to open up the Strait of Hormuz, then the cost of alienating the US is less than the cost of supporting the US sanctions.

The Iranian strategy is an intelligent response of a weaker power to a superior power that does not understand the dynamics of power. I think that President Trump proved the point today.

Posted June 21, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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