Foreign Policy

If Trump Doesn't Want a War With Iran, He Should Stop Pushing Iran Towards War

Demanding capitulation from Tehran is a recipe for disaster

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Four tankers off the Emirati coast were damaged last month by what investigators concluded were explosives attached to the ships' hulls. The Trump administration immediately pointed to Iran or Iranian-directed proxies as the perpetrators of the attacks. Yesterday, two more ships were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz. And for the second time, Trump administration officials blamed Tehran for the incident, citing a grainy, black-and-white video of an Iranian vessel purportedly approaching one of the ships to remove an unexploded mine hours after the attack happened.

While the circumstances remain murky, we should not be surprised if investigators prove that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps conducted or ordered these strikes. Why? Because U.S. economic sanctions against Iran are crushing an already cash-poor economy, and retaliation was inevitable. If the Trump administration continues its policy toward Iran, we could very well find ourselves in a war nobody wants.

To a wide cross-section of the Washington foreign policy establishment, Iran is the source of all mischief in the Middle East. Iran sponsors terrorism, leverages proxies around the region to keep its opponents on the defensive, threatens to use crude oil as a weapon, and continues to develop the region's largest ballistic missile arsenal. Foreign policy pundits frequently talk about Iran as if it's building another Persian Empire, or is just a whisker away from becoming a regional hegemon.

While those are impossible ambitions considering Iran's limited economic, political, and military power, the Trump administration's "maximum pressure policy" is rooted in these beliefs. In an attempt to force a significant change in Iran's behavior, the White House has wielded the stick almost exclusively through an increasingly complicated sanctions architecture, an increase in military assets to the Persian Gulf, and threats of military action. If President Trump does call for dialogue with Iran, it's prefaced on the Iranian government capitulating to every American demand.

The problem with this approach, however, is that Iran was never going to throw up the white flag. No Iranian leader worth his salt would even consider surrendering to a country hellbent on toppling the Islamic Republic. From the Iranian perspective, the U.S. is not to be trusted in any way, shape, or form; indeed, to do so would be reckless and irresponsible.

Any realist could have predicted how Iran's government in Tehran would respond to Washington's sanctions campaign. Throughout its 40-year history, the Islamic Republic has known mostly war and rivalry with stronger and wealthier adversaries; these experiences have given the country's leaders a virtually unlimited supply of paranoia. Add to that picture Washington's withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, and it's no wonder Tehran has concluded that cooperation invites more aggression.

Instead of coming back to the negotiating table in a weakened position, as Washington assumed, Iran is lashing out and sending a message to the United States—if you continue the economic and military pressure, expect more incidents like what happened this week in the waters of the Persian Gulf.

The question now is what the administration should do. Trump has dug into a hole he must find a way to get out of. He can continue digging, piling on even more sanctions in the hope that Iran's current regime will collapse or give up. Or, he can put down the shovel and offer Iran a diplomatic exit-ramp before the situation gets irreparably worse.  

President Trump claims he doesn't want a war with Iran, but rather a negotiation. This is a welcoming and promising goal. But if the president actually wishes to put this goal into practice, he needs to ignore his more hawkish national security advisers.

It's time to stop the war games and start talking. War with Iran would make Washington's years-long war in Iraq look like a walk in the park.

NEXT: His Father Was Murdered. He Helped End the Death Penalty Anyway.

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  1. >>>already cash-poor economy

    i wasn’t consulted re: budget for the pallets of cash

  2. Everyone knows we should be at war with Russia, not these poor guys.

    1. I say Germans. Put the gerries back on the other side of the fence where they belong. That was an enemy worth fighting!

    2. No no

      Because nobody ever wins a war with Russia.
      And
      Never get involved in a land war in Asia

      Not sure if Iran is Asia exactly Asia Minor perhaps.

      1. No – Iran is exactly the part of Asia you don’t do the land war in. In all seriousness, I’ll bet that’s why our threats are targeting their navy so far. We could hit their navy really easily. A land invasion will be Afghanistan x1000.

        1. Even then what they have is perfect for the gulf whereas we have mostly a big water navy. They have small subs, small fast boats with missiles and torpedos, lots of mines, anti ship missiles, that stuff. I think we would go after the Air Force which would be pretty easy. Air defenses, radar, and naval bases. I think a lot of what they have in naval stuff would be pretty easy for them to disperse and hide.
          They have been preparing for this for a long time and built everything they have around it.

          I don’t think it would be as easy as some people think.

        2. A land invasion will be Afghanistan x1000.

          That really depends on what our goals were. If we were try to do nation building again, that would definitely be the case. However, Iran is more highly developed than Afghanistan, and if we limited it to a punitive expedition, they have a lot infrastructure that can be trashed fairly easily. It wouldn’t be like Afghanistan where all we’re doing is making rubble bounce.

          Iran has a lot more to lose, especially since destroying that infrastructure would severely damage their actual cause, which is to become the dominate power in that region.

          That being said, I am not advocating for a war with Iran, because it hasn’t gotten to that point yet, and even if it does I don’t trust our politicians not to turn it into another cluster fuck nation building exercise.

          1. Iran has a lot more to lose, especially since destroying that infrastructure would severely damage their actual cause, which is to become the dominate power in that region.

            True, that, which makes me optimistic that it could turn into more of a Japan-style situation than an Afghanistan-style situation.

          2. Huh. I’m not advocating for war with Iran because they aren’t a threat to the USA. If they are a threat to an ally, well, reach out and see if we can help with intel or somesuch, or pull a Carter and negotiate a treaty.

      2. “Because nobody ever wins a war with Russia.”

        Japan says what?

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo-Japanese_War

        1. Ok maybe one.

          1. To be honest, everyone else was surprised too.

        2. Yeah, the correct saying is that you should never invade Russia from the west (especially in winter).

  3. Foreign policy pundits frequently talk about Iran as if it’s building another Persian Empire, or is just a whisker away from becoming a regional hegemon.

    And they’re not wrong. But it isn’t going to happen without a return to the more liberal attitudes of the Persian Empire of old – the fear of an Islamist Empire arising from Iran are unfounded.

    those are impossible ambitions considering Iran’s limited economic, political, and military power

    No, they’re not. Those who study the longer threads of history can see quite clearly that there should be nothing any more surprising in the resurgence of Persia than in the resurgence of Turkey, China and India – for many centuries these were the world’s four superpowers. Mark my words – one day within the next 100 years, Baghdad will again be under Persian rule (they did build the city, after all!).

    if you continue the economic and military pressure, expect more incidents like what happened this week in the waters of the Persian Gulf.

    And the US response to this expectation was “we figure it will take us about two days to destroy the Iranian navy” – i.e. negotiating postures have already begun.

    I agree that the attempt to ‘contain’ Iran is misguided, and will ultimately not lead to a good outcome, and the only reason we are even considering going to war with them is to defend Saudi interests. But let’s acknowledge those elements of their argument that aren’t bullshit.

    1. >>”we figure it will take us about two days to destroy the Iranian navy”

      exactly. can’t see Iran wanting to cross the shooting threshold.

  4. If the Iranians won’t yield to the pressure of international sanctions, Trump will have little choice but to break out the big guns and start saying nasty shit about them on the twitters.

  5. Trump was wise to reimpose sanctions. Trump was wise to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and Trump was wise to send the U.S.S. Carrier Group Abraham Lincoln to the Persian Gulf.

    It is foolish of the Iranians to remain in defiance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. If the Iranians wanted the sanctions to end, all they’d need to do is comply with the NPT–like they did for decades before 2003.

    If the Iranian’s desire were only to enrich uranium for civilian use, then why are they willing to subject their economy to so much pain?

    The fact is that they’re a belligerent nation, they’d be a belligerent nation no matter what Trump has done, and Trump’s efforts to push the Iranians back into compliance with the NPT is the long term alternative to war.

    Anybody who thinks that MAD with a nuclear armed Iran (which has already successfully launched satellites with multi-stage rockets), would lead to peace has a tough case to make.

    The fact is that the Cold War was an era of horrific proxy wars brought about because of the fear of provoking a direct nuclear conflict between the US and USSR. Especially conspiring that Iran already has active proxy armies fighting in Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, it’s absurd to think a cold war with Iran would go any better in that regard than it did with Soviets–or that our cold war with Iran would end as peacefully as it did with the USSR.

    The path to peace is paved with Iran’s return to compliance with the NPT, and there is no good reason other than Iran’s naked belligerence for them not to come back into compliance.

    1. This, a thousand times this. The they’re-just-reacting-to-US-sanctions is one of those idiotic zombie notions that keeps coming back no matter how many times everyone watches it bite someone’s head open.

      The fundamental choice in foreign policy is not between happily leaving everyone alone or propping up evil third world dictators. It is between ugly but necessary involvement in small wars, or waiting on our side of the ocean for the next world war to brew up and blow in. If you think that’s the right way to go, fine, but understand the reality of the situation.

      1. That’s a great way to look at it. It’s so much more fun fighting endless non stop wars when at least you can be confident in the fact that you are preventing wars.

        1. ^what he said^

    2. News Flash:

      The nations who determine what constitutes “compliance” with the NPT, are the same nations which consented to the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.

      So it’s not that big of a stretch to conclude that those same nations deemed Iran to be in “compliance” with the NPT when they willingly agreed to the terms of the Iran deal in 2015.

      1. I’m not shocked you were stupid enough to believe in the Iran Nuclear Deal, even after the openly flaunted regulations often afterwards.

        1. No one is, it’s jeff. He’s one of those people who is so stupid that explanations of WHY he is stupid go over his head and confuse him, so he ignores them.

          1. If karma is real then Pedo Jeffy will one day be violently raped to death by cartel thugs, over a long period of time.

            1. Where do I donate to that?

            2. You’re lust for death of people you don’t agree with is breathtaking.

              How Christian of you, Shiteater.

                1. No Tulpa, he is correct. I AM in fact ‘lust for death’. At least that was my nickname back in college.

              1. Here Petey, news flash, I’m not Christian. I’m Agnostic. Although Jesus was real, and had special abilities and access to a time/space machine. He travels through time and space, thwarting alien invasions, saves people from disasters, and stops evil progtarded plots.

        2. JesseAz : “I’m not shocked you were stupid enough to believe in the Iran Nuclear Deal, even after the openly flaunted regulations often afterwards.”

          What “openly flaunted regulations often afterwards” ? Please be specific what part of the Deal you claim was violated.

          Of course no one will be shocked when it turns out your “point” is empty bullshit you can’t back up. From you, we’re all used to it……

      2. “The nations who determine what constitutes “compliance” with the NPT, are the same nations which consented to the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.”

        There are a number of factually incorrect statements you’ve made about this. This one takes the cake, for a number of reasons. Foremost among those is that the United States itself didn’t consent to Obama’s Iran nuclear deal. In fact, Obama didn’t subject his nuclear deal to the U.S. Senate for ratification specifically because he knew that the Senate wouldn’t ratify it.

        Here’s The Hill trying to explain to people like ChemJeff what the rest of us already know:

        “There are reasons why the Founders specifically limited the power of a single person to bind the entire nation in perpetuity to such treaties—not the least of which was to avoid the bitter political controversies we’ve seen in recent weeks regarding Iran. A worse consequence still is that foreign countries, whose representatives may not be aware of the U.S. constitutional requirement, or the ramifications of signing on to a mere “presidential agreement” subject to nullification by a future president, are now asking how they can trust the U.S. to abide by future treaties. The answer is that they could trust the U.S. to abide by its treaties if the constitutional process has been complied with.

        If the Iran Nuclear Treaty had indeed been submitted to the Senate for approval, certain aspects of that treaty would no doubt have been more closely scrutinized, particularly the provision that effectively gave Iran carte blanch to continue its nuclear bomb program in only a few years. If a treaty with South Africa had promised that country $150 billion dollars and an end to sanctions in return for its promise not to engage in apartheid for a period of 86 months, after which South Africa would be free to re-instate apartheid, how many self-respecting senators would have signed on to such a treaty?

        https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/388685-senate-approval-would-have-prevented-iran-deal-uncertainty

        The question isn’t just how you can pretend that the United States consented to an agreement that allows the Iranians a special exception to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty without the ratification of the Senate. The question is also why you imagine that Obama can subject us to such a deal without Senate approval by his discretion as president alone but Trump can’t walk us back out of it for the same reason? Why do you imagine that one president’s prerogative on this deal is more constitutional than another’s?

        You know what treaty does have the full authority of the United States’ consent?

        The correct answer is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and Obama’s discretion doesn’t count for shit. We’re not obligated by any treaty the Senate didn’t ratify–no matter how much you like the agreement in question. If you want to amend a treaty to allow Iran to flaunt the NPT, then there’s a way to do that. Obama didn’t do it. Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was never consented to by the United States, and your claim that we did is, at best, factually incorrect.

        This whole episode exposes your weak critical thinking skills and your weak commitment to intellectual honesty. The partisanship is obvious in your thinking–Obama’s discretion makes things legitimate but Trump’s discretion doesn’t? The honesty question comes into play when your perception of the facts is tainted by your desired outcome: You seem to imagine that because you don’t want a) sanctions against Iran, b) war with Iran, etc., that means the facts change to support your desired outcome. They don’t. And your continued insistence that they do, across months and across threads, is why people treat you as if . . .

        If people think you’re intellectually dishonest, it may be because your thinking is consistently dishonest. Opposing the Vietnam War didn’t require Jane Fonda to pretend that tortured POWs were lying–she could have opposed the Vietnam War even if the North Vietnamese were torturing our POWs. Supporting an agreement with Iran doesn’t require you to pretend things that aren’t true either, Jane Fonda. All you’ve doing with your “noble” lies is hurting your own cause.

        1. It’s as if no one here has a memory which extends beyond five minutes. Well I do, and so offer help :

          (1) We were told Iran’s nuclear program was an existential threat to the United States and world.

          (2) We were told the U.S. couldn’t assembly a broad coalition to force negotiations, but they did.

          (3) We were told the Iranians wouldn’t negotiate seriously, but they did.

          (4) We were told the Iranians wouldn’t come to an agreement, but they did.

          (5) We were told they wouldn’t agree to hard constraints or real verification, but they did.

          (6) We were told the Iranians wouldn’t follow the accord, but they did.

          Then Trump sabotages the deal. Why? Despite some of the bullshit I’m reading here, there was no issue over the Iranian regime obeying the restrictions they agreed to. Therefore all the excuses for blowing-up the agreement had nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program. The most common ones given were : (a) Iran’s missile program, (b) their destabilizing mischief in the region, and (c) childish rage over Iran getting benefits from the agreement. In short, the “existential threat” of Iran’s nuclear program had suddenly vanished. Every excuse under the sun (except that program) instantly became more important.

          So what’s the end vision of the board-game strategists in these comments?

          War prevents a nuclear Iran only thru total regime change, which would be the Iraq fiasco cubed. Anything less ensures a nuclear Iran after maybe buying a year or two of delay.

          Negotiations? Really ?!? The Iranians now know our word isn’t worth shit. The Russians, Chinese and Europeans aren’t going to follow us given (a) we destroyed the last deal out of toddler-level pique, and (b) we’re led by a cartoonish buffoon. And even if negotiations took place, the odds they’d produce some magic deal which recreates the old pact AND remakes the Iranian leadership into George Washington-reincarnated are nil.

          So what was Trump thinking ?!? Two answers :

          (1) Trump doesn’t think; he has no foreign policy except pandering, posturing, and tweets. In the case of the Iran deal he hit the trifecta, pandering to his political base by destroying Obama’s deal, pandering to the Saudi’s – who see Iran as their regional rival, and pandering to the Israelis – who see see Iran as their biggest foe.

          (2) Trump probably thought he could open “negotiations”, change a coma in the accord, and then declare victory. He’s already pulled that trick over & over, knowing just how lackbrain stupid his supporters are. Now his clownshow may blunder us into a useless war…..

      3. “News Flash:

        The nations who determine what constitutes “compliance” with the NPT, are the same nations which consented to the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.”

        —-ChemJeff

        In addition to the other reasons why this is factually incorrect (see above), ‘the nations who determine what constitutes “compliance”‘ is a misleading statement–or simply wrong. Compliance is determined by the IAEA. The IAEA is not a nation, and the IAEA is not part of the UN–although it does report its findings to the UN Security Council.

        There are 177 nations that nominate members to the IAEA’s 35 member Board of Governors. It was the 35 member Board of Governors who determined that Iran had broken the safeguard provision of the NPT–led by Baradei, an Egyptian. At that point, the IAEA reported the violations to the UN Security Council as required by treaty.

        The Security Council imposed the sanctions against Iran.
        China and Russia, like the other Permanent Members of the Security Council, each have a veto over all Security Council votes. They consented to the sanctions against Iran, and the sanctions were imposed.

        Nothing about your “News Flash” appears to be true.

        1. So just another day ending in ‘y’ then.

    3. “The path to peace is paved with Iran’s return to compliance with the NPT”

      Some people never learn. It’s a pretext, or excuse for continuing hostilities. The US intelligence agencies have determined that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. If you have information to the contrary, report it immediately to your authorities. Your nation’s future is at stake. Of course you have no such information but are just parroting the war mongers of FOX and CNN.

      And what is Iran’s naked belligerence? Fighting ISIS and al Qaeda in Yemen, Iran and Syria, upsetting our dear friends among the Saudi royals?

      ” then why are they willing to subject their economy to so much pain?”

      It’s the Americans who are behind the economic sanctions, something a Libertarian would take exception to, I would have thought.

  6. Can we please put Stash Bolton out to pasture? That fucking guy never met a country he didn’t want to bomb into oblivion.

    NO WAR

    1. Stash Bolton is indeed a good nickname for Ken.

      1. You beclown yourself in so many ways–none of them any more interesting than you are.

    2. Bolton’s presence on Trump’s staff is a function of trust. Bolton supported Trump during his 2016 campaign when hardly anyone else in the Republican establishment would. That gave Bolton a lot of personal credibility, and the need for loyalty was enhanced during the Mueller investigation. Trump needed to be able to trust that his advisers wouldn’t throw him under the bus in a potential impeaching hearing, and Bolton fit the bill for that. Bolton wasn’t tapped because of his neoconservative philosophy, or, if he was, I fail to see how it’s had any impact on Trump’s decisions on foreign policy. Everything Trump has done–including going to the wall for a UN based treaty–flies in the face of what neoconservatives believe.

      Bolton hasn’t had the power to do anything neoconservative any more than Sessions had the power to raid recreational marijuana shops in California. Because of never-Trumpers in the Republican party, especially, Trump has been reduced by circumstances to pick aids he wouldn’t pick otherwise and whose ideologies he doesn’t support. Larry Kudlow is another example. Kudlow’s views on free trade are well known. Trump didn’t pick him because of that, and Kudlow’s ideology has had little influence on Trump’s trade policy. Trump picked Kudlow because he needed to be able to talk about Russia, etc. with someone he trusted not to throw him under the impeachment bus, and Kudlow supported Trump back when hardly anyone else in the Republican establishment would.

      1. ” Everything Trump has done–including going to the wall for a UN based treaty–flies in the face of what neoconservatives believe. ”

        Nonsense. Aside from cancelling ‘military exercises’ deemed too provocative for their worth, the asshole has been a neocon’s dream. He’s actually increased troop levels in Afghanistan and Syria after lying about cutting and running during the campaign, vetoed a congressional move to put an end to the rape of Yemen, much to the relief of neocons and our Saudi friends. He moved the embassy to Jerusalem, a long time neocon dream, without wringing a single concession from Israel. He also put Bolton, of all people, in a highly visible position of responsibility, exactly what one would have expected of someone sympathetic to the neocon agenda of war and conflict.

        “Bolton hasn’t had the power to do anything ”

        Trump doesn’t need Bolton’s power to add more troops to Syria and Afghanistan. The asshole can do it because he’s president and commander in chief.

      2. “Bolton’s presence on Trump’s staff is a function of trust”

        Jesus, there’s a whole universe of stupid in those few words. Newsflash : Most presidents DON”T appoint a national security adviser 180-degrees opposed to their supposed core foreign policy principle because of kind words from the campaign.

        Most presidents are much more serious about their own first principle of world affairs. You do understand that, don’t you?

        So why did Trump appoint Bolton, despite the latter’s lifetime devotion to the exact opposite of Trump’s supposed central foreign policy aim? Two reasons : (1) Bolton’s appointment was Grade-A red-meat pandering to his Fox News base, and (2) No Trump “core belief” will ever take precedence over empty pandering.

        Is it possible you don’t get that ?!?!?

  7. we should not be surprised if investigators prove that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps conducted or ordered these strikes

    I would actually be quite surprised.

    1. Who do you think it was?

      1. The three entities with a direct and compelling interest – a motive – to attack those tankers and the ones last month are Saudi, Israel, and the warboner crowd inside the US.

        Even now with the blame Iran PR campaign, I don’t see what their motive is supposed to be. Cuz they’re belligerent? That’s not a motive. Iran sank tankers in the 80’s but they had a motive then. They were at war with Iraq and Iraq was also sinking tankers – and far more significantly those attacks were done INSIDE the Persian Gulf where Iran has a geographic advantage – not outside in the Gulf of Oman where the advantage shifts to someone who controls or can exit via the Arabian Sea.

        1. If you knew anything about anything you would know that Jask, one of the biggest ports for the Iranian navy, was just barely over the horizon (12 nautical miles at sea) from the Kokuka Courageous when it was struck. 28 miles from Jask. And there were little IRGC dipshit small boats trawling around near it. And Iran has threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz before. And Iran is currently mad at the US. And the IRGC, which swears loyalty to the Ayatollah and not the state of Iran or government, is only nominally under any formal control and does what they want. A state within a state. And the sailors were taken to Jask.

          But hey, some false flag scenario is much more likely than the IRGC doing stupid shit like they have before (like supplying cruise missiles to dipshits in Yemen to shoot at international trade traveling through the Bab al-Mandeb near Hudaydah. Go Google it, I know you do not know what these are). When presented with the likely, go with the much more stupendously complicated. Makes much more sense.

          1. If you knew anything, you would know that both ships were hit on the starboard side. Which AIN’T the side facing Iran. And 28 miles is international waters – which is not where all them fast little Iranian speedboats like to wander – and especially not with ships between them and home water.

            Further, if Iran wants to shut the Straits of Hormuz, they would do so AT Hormuz (where the entire strait is 21 miles across) or WEST of the strait in the Persian Gulf where Iran has islands that actually bisect the shipping lane. At the strait there are no international waters. A ship has to pass through either Iranian or Omani water. THAT is how the Iranians would “shut Hormuz”. Because Iran and Oman are cordial and Oman is not likely to go along with some BS war. Shutting the strait there would also force Combined Task Force 150 to fight its way to Bahrain – and would force carriers into extreme vulnerability if a carrier task force decided to enter the Gulf. And if Iran wanted to sink tankers, why did they wait an entire freaking year for the US to show up and start waving sabers and planting stories in the media?

            The only effect of a tanker attack where/when it ACTUALLY happened is to raise insurance rates – which is irrelevant to Iran.

            1. “At the strait there are no international waters. A ship has to pass through either Iranian or Omani water.”

              Not true. Any ship anywhere in the world from any country in the world can conduct safe passage through any international strait anywhere in the world. Neither Iran nor Oman nor UAE nor the USA nor Saudi Arabia owns and never will own the rights to transit the Strait of Hormuz.

              1. You’re a fucking moron. That transit is part of the legal disputes between the US and Iran. UNCLOS is the treaty that grants that right and expands the military transit right slightly beyond the 1958 Geneva convention that defined it as ‘innocent access’. Iran has signed UNCLOS and agreed to extend that right to other signatories (as has Oman, Yemen, Egypt) – but to retain only the 1958 Geneva ‘innocent access’ definition to those who haven’t signed. US has NOT signed UNCLOS (for reasons that have nothing to do with Iran) but as usual pretends to be the world’s enforcer of intl law that it doesn’t itself comply with. The US does not tolerate a hostile navy prattling on about ‘freedom of navigation’ wandering around north of Long Island or Nantucket either (both of which are roughly the width of Strait of Hormuz distance from mainland US).

                THAT is the main legal reason why the US is aggressively posturing now. That posturing clearly is designed to eliminate the 1958 ‘innocent access’ that is the usual reason the US navy transits the strait. ‘Battling piracy’ is deemed ‘innocent access’ by Iran. ‘We want to overthrow your regime’ is NOT innocent access by anyone’s definition.

                And the Iranians view this as identical to the US posture re NPT. Where the US is attempting to enforce the NPT on Iran not by the actual terms of the NPT (which both Iran and US have signed) but as a diplomatic lapdog for the three non-signatories that HAVE nuclear weapons and have thus violated NPT (Israel, Pakistan, India). Iran sees those three non-signatories very differently and a look at a map indicates WHY they would. And they do not trust any of the ‘nuclear-haves’ of the NPT to enforce the NPT fairly – which would mean trying to also bring the other KNOWN non-compliers (Israel, India, Pakistan) into compliance because the nuclear-haves themselves don’t comply with their own obligations under NPT (to reduce their own nuclear weapons).

                Rather than view any of this as ‘normal’ legal disputes that need rationality to resolve, we paint this all as some uniquely Islamist violation of intl law. And in so doing, we MAKE them more Islamist. And chickenhawk assholes like you just compound that shit cuz you clearly don’t give a shit about intl law either. To YOU it is all just some perpetual religious war.

                1. Well now I know you are just googling things and pretending to know what you are talking about. The stuff you are going on a out is in one of the top google searches on UNCLOS and Iran/USA where in almost word for word echos your argument. Now that we have that established…

                  Anyways I will simply put. I have no interest in war with Iran, I have no interest in being in the Middle East at all, and I think Trump has shit advisors in Pompeo and Bolton. But you have made a number of patently dumb and inaccurate statements that you have only attempted to paper over by googling random shit and then pretending to be informing me of something. Don’t bullshit a bullshitter. You are a bullshitter.

                2. And it is nice to know you think there are legitimate legal grounds for Iran to claim ownership over the Strait of Hormuz. Nice one there champ, who the fuck needs freedom of commerce anyways?

                  And I will reiterate, the USA requires zero approval from Iran to transit the Strait. You made the asinine claim we require some approval to transit the SOH. We do not and we never have requested permission from Iran to transit the SOH and never will because they do not own international seaways, especially those that open from one sea (Persian/Arabian Gulf) to another (Gulf of Oman). But please go ahead and google some random shit again to try to make some smartly worded point with technical details that glosses over the fact you have made a number of patently bullshit claims.

    2. surprised if *investigators* prove?
      surprised if investigators *prove*?
      surprised if “investigators prove”?

      1. If you say that in the mirror two more times, does the ghost of Hans Blix appear to you?

    3. Need a link to the history of the RGC?

  8. The poor Iranian government, being forced to commit acts of war by the big mean old USA who won”t let them build weapons to murder their neighbors with.

    1. Like the old adage says, “Good ABM systems make good neighbors”

      Or something like that.

    2. I’m waiting for Rob Misek to show up and blame it all on the Jooooossssss.

  9. So Trump made the Iranians bomb tankers, or are we saying the tankers bombed themselves? I’m unclear.


    While the circumstances remain murky, we should not be surprised if investigators prove that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps conducted or ordered these strikes. Why? Because U.S. economic sanctions against Iran are crushing an already cash-poor economy, and retaliation was inevitable.

    Blaming the United States for Iran bombing tankers is pretty fucking rich.

    1. BOTH SIDES!! are at fault, one for making the bombs, the other for making the tankers

    2. I think the notion is something along the lines of “a predictable outcome can’t be called unintentional.”

      Iran has been threatening to do this for years. The Trump administration has intentionally goaded them into doing it (if, indeed, they did do it and we’re not being gas-lighted Tonkin-style).

      The political reality is that Iran will soon have nuclear weapons. The other members of the NPT are navigating what that relationship is going to look like once that happens.

      1. They were threatening to do it even when Obama was capitulating to them. How did Trump goad them exactly?

        1. They were threatening to do it even when Obama was capitulating to them if they were sanctioned again. Trump re-instated the sanctions, and (if they in fact did this) they did exactly what they said they would do. Each party called the other’s bluff.

          In the background, there’s an international play-acting drama going on in which the parties to the NPT pretend that they are managing the process by which Iran obtains nukes. Trump sabotaged that process by pointing out that it was bullshit.

          Do you think any of this is going to prevent Iran from obtaining nukes?

          1. No, they were playing the Nork game of claiming that they wouldn’t if they got sanctions relief. Did you think that agreement actually changed anything?

            You’re not this naive.

        2. Jesse, by ‘goad’ he means Trump not getting on his knees and begging them not to. As opposed to calling Iran on their bullshit.

      2. That’s… a pretty stupid fucking take.

        1. Thank you for your valuable input.

          1. Wow that’s the same thing your mom said.

            1. I guess that job at the nursing home has it’s benefits, no?

              1. Was that supposed to not be stupid?

  10. It’s nice to see Sheldon Richman posting on Reason again.

    Daniel Depetris? Who’s he?

    1. Daniel Depetris is the new Neville Chamberlain.

      Of course it’s in America’s interests to cower down to a nation attacking shipping lanes, building nukes, and exporting terrorism on 3 continents.

      It’s peace in our time!

      Appeasement does not work Daniel. Starting wars does not work either, but Iran cannot play nice with the rest of the World and has given the USA decades of casus belli.

  11. While the circumstances remain murky, we should not be surprised if investigators prove that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps conducted or ordered these strikes. Why? Because they’re capable, they’ve threatened to do it, and they’ve done it in the past. U.S. economic sanctions against Iran are crushing an already cash-poor economy, and retaliation was inevitable. If the Trump administration continues its policy toward Iran, we could very well find ourselves in a war nobody wants.

    FTFY

  12. Iran is claiming it was the Mossad in a false flag operation.

    Using those trained Israeli sharks no doubt.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/8185915/Shark-sent-to-Egypt-by-Mossad.html

    1. Joooosssss!!!!!!

  13. I suspect the tail is wagging the dog. And I hope too many people don’t have to die or have their lives ruined for freedom this time.

    1. I suspect the tail is wagging the dog.

      What the fuck does that even mean? This sock-puppet is the worst. Go back to one of the Jeffs. You tend to at least say something that can be refuted with those.

      1. You’re an angry little piggy aren’t you. Pretend it’s Obama or another Democrat as POTUS and then tell us what you think about who’s responsible.

        1. That tail has been wagging for decades at this point. God you’re ignorant.

          1. Ignorant of what exactly? You just acknowledged my point.

            1. “Ignorant of what exactly? ”

              That actually looks like you admitted he was right about you being ignorant

          2. (Whispers) (I think he means the sharks)

        2. “tell us what you think about who’s responsible.”

          That they should stop bombing oil tankers and kidnapping the crews

          1. Who’s “they” though? Seriously? You simply buy the story that it’s Iran. What do they have to gain by doing this?

            1. To gain.

              The attacks on tankers and shipping were very well done. No loss of life. No sinking of ships. They were hits on engines above waterline and no direct evidence on munitions used so far. Perhaps mines, torpedos or missiles or some combination. Capable of no verifiable launch detection in a place heavily guarded, monitored, radar, drones all that and by top men.

              There is a short list of any entity capable of that.

              Plus it is a shipping point with major economic consequences.

              The question is what would Iran or IRG have to gain? They have the capability to attack shipping in their backyard and this is a demonstration which you cannot prove.

              The US and Gulf States are the enemy. This is the tip of the spear. That is why we were merciful this time.

              It is a fuck you way to say back off.

              I have no proof of that. Just a theory.

              1. Torpedoes are water borne weapons. they blow holes at or below the waterline.

                1. The ones last month were hit below the water line but could have been mines like these. That is what they are saying now.

              2. It just seems so convenient that the Iranians are so nicely providing the neocons in this administration a gift wrapped casus belli. Especially before they can develop the nuclear weapons that would ensure their defense were we to act.

                1. Iran has been threatening this exact thing for decades. Iran has the capability to do so.

                  What do they have to gain? Sanctions have crippled their economy and inflation is up 50% over the last year. Threats, a few attacks, and the prospect of war. Now you have US political pressure (see: this very article) to just drop sanctions.

                  A few years ago, Iran got everything they wanted without really giving anything up because the US president sold it as “this deal or war” – the clear implication being that the US was so afraid/reluctant to go to war that it would sign any deal to avoid direct action.
                  Why do it before they have nukes? The regime might not be confident that they’ll get nukes before the economy completely collapses and/or they face revolution.

                  Motive + opportunity.

                  Do I know Iran attacked these ships? No, but – unlike the gas attacks in Syria attributed to Assad or the assassinations attributed to Russia – Iran is the only party that clearly has something to gain, the ability, and the longstanding threat to commit such acts.

                  It’s a sign of desperation. I’m willing to consider actors other than Iran, but you’ll have to present plausible alternatives and arguments for them.

                  1. “Iran has been threatening this exact thing for decades.”

                    Threatening to do something for decades, and not doing it, doesn’t bolster your case.

                    “Why do it before they have nukes?”

                    They don’t need nukes. They can cripple the world economy and destroy Israel and other nearby enemies with conventional weapons.

                    “A few years ago, Iran got everything they wanted ”

                    Actually, Iran wanted the lifting of sanctions, but the US never delivered. Much the same situation exists in North Korea where sanctions remain in place with no end in sight despite ongoing talks.

                    1. Desperate flailing, m, not a counter argument.

                      You’re going to need more than that to prop up your “only America and the Jews do bad stuff” position

                2. Iran conducted a similar operation a few weeks back. It just didn’t get any coverage, and the State Dept. was quiet about that one.

                  Iran is certainly guilty. If you’re saying they are not, then lay out more than speculation.

                3. It is rather accommodating of them. They even waited a full year until we moved our fleet into the Gulf of Oman so that we could have all our intelligence assets in place to ‘investigate’ shipping attacks before they chose to attack.

                  Kind of like waiting to start a war until you’ve made sure the other side has had their potty break and is back at the guns.

                  1. You are dumb as fuck if you think the USA is not flying intelligence assets EVERY SINGLE DAY over the Gulf.

                    And we have Fifth Fleet headquartered out of Bahrain while the Air Force has a humongous as fuck air base in Qatar called Al Udeid. And we have had a long standing policy of keeping a big deck (Carrier Strike Group or Amphibious Readiness Group) in the Gulf at nearly all times. Not sometime, but all the time. But yes, keep talking straight out of your ass about shit you know absolutely nothing about.

                    You know what they say, better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt. Guess you do not know that would actually.

                    1. ‘Fifth Fleet’ is actually three separate task forces – one in the Gulf, one that goes thru the strait of Hormuz to patrol the Arabian Sea and one that goes thru there to patrol the Somali coast. The carriers are mostly in the Arabian Sea not the Persian Gulf – because that group going thru the strait actually requires Iranian approval to enter Iranian waters and they don’t like doing that very often. And they sure as fuck wouldn’t do it now with the overt hostility.

                      If the Iranians want to close that strait, they are gonna do so in a way that SPLITS the Fifth Fleet – and creates a threat to the Bahrain facility on land via the 60% of the Bahrain population that is Shia. eg an attempt by Iran to actually create a 2nd Bahrain uprising rather than simply watch like last time

                      You fucking morons who go along with the warboner crowd are always the same. They don’t know shit about the area either which is why they continually fuck things up. But they’ve got you and the rest of the permawar crowd of dumbass chickenhawks wrapped around their finger.

                    2. I have zero interest in war with Iran, I think it is dumb. I think it is dumb to have a base in Bahrain or Qatar or deal with any of this shit. But you are just making stuff up and postulating crazy conspiracy theories in the face of much more plausible explanations. I cannot tell if you know more than I suspected or are just googling shit but I will admit you knew more than I suspected before.

                      “The carriers are mostly in the Arabian Sea not the Persian Gulf – because that group going thru the strait actually requires Iranian approval to enter Iranian waters and they don’t like doing that very often.”

                      Anyways, not true. Iran does not own the Strait, we require no approval from Iran or anyone to conduct a safe passage through any strait anywhere in the world as per UN Convention on the Law of the Seas. Anyone who tries to claim ownership over straits is going against both customary international law and signed international treaties which is why we sail wherever the fuck we want in the South China Sea and Persian Gulf because we can both by right, rule, and power.

  14. “Demanding capitulation from Tehran is a recipe for disaster”
    So instead Reason argues we should capitulate to them.

    1. At least Reason is consistent in what it advocates the US do about foreign conflicts (excluding those evil Russians)

      1. They are always only two choices:

        Peace in our time or Global Thermonuclear War

        The short bus is the giveaway that maybe they’re not the smart kids they think they are.

        1. And peace can only be achieved, according to Reason, by the US accepting whatever foreign demands are placed on it

  15. Reagan’s strategy in the tanker wars was pretty clever

    He just had the tankers reflagged as US.

    That would make them think twice.

  16. What you need are escort ships and convoys. This goes back to ww2 and all that. We don’t have enough of those but send what we have and let the gulf states and any allies we still have make up the rest. It is in their best interest as well. Oil is expensive.

    My understanding is there are issues with using subs in the gulf but there may be a role for them. We bought all that stuff this would be the time to use them.

    We also have those expensive asw helicopters and all that.

    I think something like that would put an end to this crap and avoid a shooting war.

  17. Has anyone seen anything from Norway on this?
    Apparently, one of their ships’ crew was taken captive

    1. Last I saw UK is behind the US assessment that it was Iran.

      Norway had agreed that it was limpet mines released from fast boats.

      Well that is only one possible choice, but Norway.

      1. Well they’ve since been released, but was wondering what Norway had to say about their crew being imprisoned

  18. This article is a little incoherent. The introduction is full of innuendo that the U.S. its lying about the evidence of Iran’s responsibility… “Grainy video”, etc.

    Then the author pivots to “well, what did you expect them to do? You goaded them into doing it and they will keep doing it if we dont lift sanctions..”

    You can’t really do both in one argument. Either there is no evidence and it is probably all trumped up, or it was obvious and inevitable that they would do this.

  19. But Trump does want a war with Iran. Bolton or someone sat him down and explained that being at war would guarantee his reelection. Trump “claims” he doesn’t… Like that means anything… Dude lies nonstop and changes positions sometimes in the same sentence.

    1. Shitty arguments from shitty minds.
      Bolton hasn’t gotten Trump to do anything so far – not against NK, Venezuela, Syria, etc – but Bolton is the puppet master now?
      So Trump’s going to war to ensure reelection? Curious, considering the economy since the beginning of his term has been strong enough to virtually guarantee it, yet he risks econapocalypse regularly with tariffs, as Reason so *reluctantly* points out. So your position is that war is his hedge against recession, or are you just emoting NPC talking points without even really paying attention to the topic?
      Maybe sit out adult discussions and go back to eating your glue.

    2. Fapsalone makes a lot of bad unsupported progtarded points here. Let’s not give him the befit of the doubt.

  20. Look, those tankers were asking for it with their short skirts. The violence was clearly justified by a… lack of violence. Even better, it was justified against 3rd parties.

    Reason has truly become a garbage dump of Vox takes.

  21. I think Trump wants to push Iran in the war, but also in a politically reasonable way. Trump is very embarrassing. https://www.pikpng.com/pngvi/TixRxb_smilingtrump-donald-trump-face-png-transparent-png/

    1. “I think Trump wants to push Iran in the war, but also in a politically reasonable way.”

      I’m sure Trump understands how a war with Iran will help him at the polls if he decides to run for re-election. Don’t do too early is my advice. Bush I’s war against Saddam was too early and overshadowed by an economic downturn that erased the support he garnered after his little war.

      ” in a politically reasonable way.”

      Lying the country into war is the most reasonable way. There’s no downside, bi-partisan and media support guaranteed, no president has ever been held to account, and the populace seem to reflexively follow their leader into even the most disastrous conflicts.

  22. So, we use economics sanctions and the writer feels that justifies Iran’s MILITARY actions?

    Really?

    Then maybe we should do away with diplomacy ENTIRELY and just use arms at all times for all issues.

    I mean, if a war breaks out — it’s our fault anyway, right?

    1. “So, we use economics sanctions and the writer feels that justifies Iran’s MILITARY actions?”

      Asymmetric warfare is unfair warfare.

      1. Yeah! Those Vietnamese back in the day never played by the rules of warfare either, bunch of cheaters.

  23. They got away with the four last month and almost these two.

    They screwed up this time when one of the mines was a dud and they had to go out in broad daylight with eyes in the sky to retrieve it. Then they shot at a drone before the attacks.

    Now they are just letting one of the ships burn presumably so nobody can get the evidence. They chased away the tugs. How obvious can you get.

    It could be that since they got caught with their pants down it will be over for now.

    1. “It could be that since they got caught with their pants down it will be over for now.”

      America conceded to ‘talks without preconditions’ after years of tension just a couple of weeks ago. Iran supposedly responds with an unprovoked attack against an unarmed tanker and you take it as a sign that ‘things will be over for now.’ Is that your own idea, or are you just parroting FOX and CNN talking heads?

      1. Because they got caught they may try another tactic is all I am saying.

        Until now they have been hitting these tankers, six now, as a covert op. It was “ you know we did it and get the message but can’t prove anything” strategy. Now the cover is pretty much blown.

        The conflict is far from over. It is just getting warmed up.

        1. “Until now they have been hitting these tankers, six now, as a covert op. It was “ you know we did it and get the message but can’t prove anything” strategy. Now the cover is pretty much blown.”

          America doesn’t need to prove anything. A lie about the enemy’s strength and intentions is all it takes to get the media and the politicians on board. Aren’t you at all suspicious about this ‘covert torpedoing’ story that everyone here is swallowing.

          What message do you think the Iranians are trying to send? Responding to American concessions with secret, but not really secret torpedo attacks on noncombatant ships. It makes no sense. Hitler had the sense to dress up some Polish prisoners in German military uniforms, shoot them, and blame the Poles. He got his war. Stalin went one better. He just fired on Soviet soldiers in Soviet uniforms and blamed the Finns. He also got his war. How do covert torpedo attacks, which you seem to know all about, advance Iran’s agenda?

          1. Mines, not torpedoes.
            It’s pretty clear that you have your narrative set in stone. Who needs critical thought anyway?

      2. Iran imprisoned US soldiers immediately after Obama capitulated to them with his “deal” too. Then they launched missile tests.

  24. Because U.S. economic sanctions against Iran are crushing an already cash-poor economy, and retaliation was inevitable.

    So, how, exactly, is destroying Japanese tankers retaliation for action by the United States?

    1. Because Abe was there as a US envoy more or less. He was there to discuss the sanctions and nuclear deal and is a US ally in the conflict.

      The attack and timing was a way for Iran to give him the finger.

      That is the theory.

      Iran does not have a lot of leverage here so perhaps they were thinking that this was a way to gain some by upping the ante.

    2. The other thing is that as I understand it the Revolutionary Guards IRG which we just declared a terrorist organization is very independent from the central government. They answer to the mullahs but not really controlled by the elected officials.

      They could have done this on their own. It fits the MO of how they behave and they have the capabilities.

      It doesn’t change anything from our perspective but it makes more sense when asking why and what does Iran have to gain.

      1. Another great lesson we forgot from not even 100 years ago, ironically from Japan: powerful, autonomous militaries that are not subject to the democratic institutions and will of the people are rife with extremism and often start wars.

      2. Yeah, I’ll note that I wasn’t asking what Iran had to gain, I was asking why Mr. DePetris thought it made sense to explain it as “retaliation”.

        The six tankers that have been attacked were flagged by Saudi Arabia (2), the UAE, Norway, Japan, Panama, and the Marshall Islands. Since Panama and the Marshall Islands are known flags-of-convenience, one might suspect they’re actually American, but the Panama-flagged tanker is owned by a Japanese company, while the Marshal Islands-flagged tanker is owned by the Bermudan-registered company of a Norwegian-born naturalized citizen of Cyprus who who lives in London.

        Which is to say, whatever the Iranians hope to gain, and whomever is giving the orders, the attacks are not retaliation against the US, but aggression against other parties.

  25. Let me fix this sentence for the author: ‘”From the U.S. perspective, Iran is not to be trusted in any way, shape or form.” It was this Iranian government that broke every convention of international law by invading the US embassy in Teheran and holding Americans hostage. Perhaps some of those commenting on this story weren’t alive then, but I will never forget nor forgive the Ayatollahs and their lackeys for that outrageous atrocity. To this day their rallying cry is Death to America. The Iranian totalitarian theocracy does nothing but spread war across the Middle East. Obama made the deal with Iran because he was so invested in getting a deal that he was willing to agree to a really bad deal. And as some other commentators already pointed out, Obama never bothered to go through the process of Senate ratification because it was such a bad deal it had no chance of being ratified.

    Obama also sent shrink wrapped pallets of cash to Iran. Imagine sending a billion dollars or more of cash to the largest sponser of state terrorism in the world? Apparently Obama thought that he would have a better relationship with Iran (and get some Americans released). But within months, Iran had arrested more Americans stupid enough to go there, and while Obama was still President the State Department released a warning against Americans traveling to Iran. One of the people arrested by Iran in 2015 was released earlier this week. He is a Lebanese citizen with a U.S. green card, and he went to Iran to attend a conference after receiving an invitation from an Iranian government minister. Wow. What a great bunch of guys.

    It is Iran that is breaking international law by trying to build nuclear weapons. It is Iran that is supporting terrorism throughout the ME. It is Iran which is violating international law by attacking tankers navigating in international waters. The author is like the guy who thinks that if we would just give enough money to criminals they wouldn’t be forced to rob banks.

    1. And there are some people here who are reflexively counter tribalist and believe the US is always wrong. They just can’t understand that the people who run Iran are simply evil.

    2. “One of the people arrested by Iran in 2015 was released earlier this week.”

      That’s usually a sign of warming relations. American prisoners were released by North Koreans just before Trump did his thing with Chairman Kim. Americans also showed a warming with Pompeo’s announcement that he was willing to enter talks ‘without preconditions,’ a concession to Iran.

      Obviously, there are powerful people who have a lot invested in continued and escalating hostility between Iran and America, but the warming trend seems set to continue, given Trump’s tepid reaction to the incident. Pompeo, unlike Trump, is a big time receiver of Koch brothers contributions. Credit where it’s due, they seem to have invested wisely.

      1. Pretty sure releasing a Lebanese citizen after holding him for 4 years on nonsensical spying charges wasn’t intended as a positive signal to the US. If it had been, then the Iranians wouldn’t have attacked a Japanese ship while PM Abe was meeting with the head Iranian jackal to deliver a message from President Trump. But keep on trying to interpret Iran’s actions as something other than the aggressive FU that they are intended to be.

        1. ” to deliver a message from President Trump. ”

          This is another sign of warming relations, the opening up of communication channels between the leaders. You may not approve of this, and you are not alone, but don’t think a damaged tanker will be enough to stop the warming relations, no matter who is responsible. Do you?

          “Pretty sure releasing a Lebanese citizen after holding him for 4 years on nonsensical spying charges wasn’t intended as a positive signal to the US”

          It could have been. I already pointed out that the talks with North Korea were set off with prisoner releases. The practice goes back at least to the Cold War and before. It shouldn’t be surprising, either. Releasing prisoners is relatively easy to do with little downside, as you note yourself, the charges were ridiculous in the first place. Steps like this build trust between antagonistic parties and build the foundations for more profound cooperation.

  26. It amazes me that not even 100 years out from the lessons of WWII we’re already back to appeasement. Don’t rattle sabers with military states hellbent on genociding Jews because you might make them mad at you too!

  27. Bolton wants war because he’s a nut. Pompeo wants war to bring on the second coming. One reason Trump’s supporters voted for him: He promised no more stupid costly middle east wars.

  28. […] “If Trump Doesn’t Want a War With Iran, He Should Stop Pushing Iran Towards War,” by Daniel DePetris […]

  29. […] “If Trump Doesn’t Want a War With Iran, He Should Stop Pushing Iran Towards War,” by Daniel DePetris […]

  30. […] “If Trump Doesn’t Want a War With Iran, He Should Stop Pushing Iran Towards War,” by Daniel DePetris […]

  31. […] “If Trump Doesn’t Want a War With Iran, He Should Stop Pushing Iran Towards War,” by Daniel DePetris […]

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