Coronavirus

Trump Should Forget Iran. America Has a Pandemic To Handle.

Keeping up maximum pressure is a dangerous distraction for the United States and catastrophic for the Iranian people.

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The Trump administration's Iran policy has been business as usual since the spread of the novel coronavirus began, and that's a grave mistake. The president's tweet today warning Iran "or its proxies" against any "sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq" is merely the latest example of misplaced priorities while a pandemic worsens in the U.S.

President Trump's "maximum pressure" approach to U.S.-Iran relations was counterproductive to our security and deleterious to diplomatic progress under ordinary conditions. Now, the United States and Iran are suffering two of the most severe COVID-19 outbreaks on the planet. Keeping up maximum pressure is a dangerous distraction for the United States and catastrophic for the Iranian people, whom Trump administration officials profess to support against their oppressive regime. Trump should abandon maximum pressure once and for all. It doesn't work; it will damage prospects of a free and democratic Iran for decades to come; and it's an unjustifiable distraction from vital U.S. interests in a time of pandemic.

The failure of maximum pressure was evident before the COVID-19 crisis started. After withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran deal, the Trump administration re-imposed harsh sanctions the deal had lifted and deployed U.S. forces and ships (currently including two of our 11 aircraft carriers) as an unmistakable threat to Tehran.

The goal is to force Iran, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo likes to put it, to behave like "a normal country." The entirely foreseeable effect has been exactly the opposite. Again and again it has incentivized escalation by a regime desperate to prove it will not be cowed. It has brought us closer to war, not peace. "Through a series of relatively limited but still dangerous military actions and incremental retreat from the terms of the JCPOA, Iran has signaled that it will not concede to the U.S. demands without a fight," explains MIT's Barry Posen at Boston Review. Maximum pressure is exacerbating Iran's regional troublemaking. It is making us less secure.

Posen suggests a thought experiment: What would we do were the United States under similar pressure from another nation—a nation which had, in the last two decades, invaded our near neighbors and conducted regime change operations and long-term occupations. "Given the intensity and religious elements of Iranian nationalism, the regime is unlikely to comply," he concludes, "and the Iranian people will likely support them, despite the regime's present domestic difficulties."

If ever there was a chance that U.S. sanctions could push the Iranian people to rebel against their government, as Pompeo hopes, COVID-19 has killed it. U.S. sanctions have compounded the effects of cruel and stupid pandemic response decisions by Tehran, severely impeding the Iranian medical response. Although Washington insists humanitarian goods are exempted from the sanctions, restrictions on financial institutions sharply curtail movement of desperately needed supplies. However angry ordinary Iranians may be at their government, this moment will create a lasting—and still avoidable!—antipathy for the United States and the values we tout if Trump does not change course.

The novel coronavirus pandemic adds a fresh urgency to the need for a new model of U.S.-Iran relations. Whatever trivial threat Iran could pose the U.S., we have more pressing concerns here at home (and so does Tehran, for that matter). Redoubling maximum pressure, as Trump and Pompeo have done in recent weeks, is a damaging and irrational distraction. The very last thing we need is continuing escalation toward another unnecessary Mideast war. It would be reckless, wasteful, and unstrategic in the best of times. It is inexcusable when we have a pandemic to handle.

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    1. Essentially this article is “Trump Should Forget Foreign Policy. America Has a Pandemic To Handle”.

      Other upcoming hot takes from Bonnie “Drop Everything and Panic” Kristian:

      Trump Should Forget Federal Appointments. America Has a Pandemic To Handle.
      Trump Should Forget Deregulation. America Has a Pandemic To Handle.
      Trump Should Forget Legislation. America Has a Pandemic To Handle.

      1. No, this article is just another in a long line of, “Iran is holy and blameless, and should be left to do whatever the fuck they want to whoever they want and if anyone so much as bats an eye, we’l start screaming that they’re going yo start WW3” Al-Jazeera esque propaganda.

        1. I clicked on her name and had a look at her other articles here and they’re all variations on the same theme; that despite all evidence to the contrary, Trump is a warmonger who wants to drag the planet into WWIII.

          So basically, just like Shika with open borders and ENB with hookers, Kristian’s a one-trick pony. And just like Shika and ENB, she’s lazily tried to shoehorn her topic into the Covid-19 pandemic.

        2. Al-Jazeera is actually pretty anti-Iran. What they are is pro-Gulf Council, just like our government and media.

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  2. What does this have to do with free minds and free markets?
    When did “Reason” become a general news magazine?
    Who is Bonnie Christian and what are her “libertarian” bona fides?
    “Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, Politico, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, …”
    Yes. Yes. That is evident.

    1. I don’t know if Bonnie Kristian is a libertarian. Not relevant to this article. Being skeptical of the ongoing proxy war stoking is the only correct position.

      1. “Don’t attack our troops”
        “Eeeek, it’s a PROXY WAR, and he’s stoking it!”

        Fucking stupid.

        1. But remember, when Iran spends millions of dollars arming terrorists to attack American interests and Israel for them, it’s not in any way a proxy war.

          Nor is attacking freight ships in international waters for no reason.

    2. She has no entry in Wikipedia, therefore she does not exist.

    3. If ever there was a chance that U.S. sanctions could push the Iranian people to rebel against their government, as Pompeo hopes, COVID-19 has killed it. U.S. sanctions have compounded the effects of cruel and stupid pandemic response decisions by Tehran, severely impeding the Iranian medical response.

      Well, she is ignorant of history or how coups and popular overthrows happen.

      Even Lefties are using this cough due to cold hysteria as a chance to coup Trump again. Lefties can use the KungFlu hysteria to nuke our economy and blame Trump for the 100 million American deaths that will surely come soon.

      1. The early exposure of Iranians to the flu might have something to do with the small army of Chinese helping the Iranians develop rocket technology in Iran.
        It takes a very small amount of attention by the administration to keep the embargo going, and none of them are likely to help with coronavirus in the US.
        They can walk and chew gum.

      2. She also ignored that the U.S. offered Iran medical aid at the outset of the epidemic and it was refused.

    4. And she also wasn’t an employee or regular contributor of any of those organizations, meaning that she freelanced a few pieces that those outlets picked up, but they didn’t find her useful enough to make her a regular. She also has no apparent foreign policy experience, expertise, or education, which begs the question of why Reason considers this her realm of specialty to the degree that they’ll post her work. She’s a blogger who lives on a farm in Minnesota.

      But it’s not like there are standards at Reason anymore.

  3. If Iran wishes to end the sanctions against them, all they need to do is come back into compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. If the Iranian government would prefer to suffer economic devastation rather than come back into compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that speaks to the nefarious intentions of their program.

    It should also be pointed out that keeping maximum pressure on the Iranians is the alternative to a direct war between the United States and Iran. If and when Iran develops a nuclear deterrent, it won’t lead to peace in the Middle East any more than China and the Soviet Union developing a nuclear deterrent led to world peace in the second half of the 20th century.

    The Cold War was a never ending series of proxy wars as the authoritarian communists sought to maximize their influence around the world, from Angola to Vietnam and from Afghanistan to El Salvador. Iran already has a space program that has successfully launched satellites into orbit with multistage rockets.

    They also have a terrorist proxy army in Hezbollah, an organization that practically invented suicide bombing. Anyone who assumes that a cold war with the Mullahs would end peacefully like the Cold War with the Soviet Union is making a big mistake. The only reason Iran has been reluctant to let Hezbollah hit American targets specifically and on purpose is because Iran fears direct retaliation by the United States or indirectly through Israel. If Iran had a nuclear deterrent so that they no longer feared such retaliation by the U.S. or Israel, they would no longer hold Hezbollah back. It would become open season on Americans.

    All of this is best avoided by bringing the Iranians back into compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. I suggest we entice the mullahs with a free trade agreement. If the mullahs were getting rich selling exports to American consumers, they would quickly become enthusiastic supporters of stability in the developing world, much like China is today for the same reasons. First, Iran must come back into compliance with the NPT. The alternative is war, and peacefully minded people everywhere should support maximum pressure against Iran for that reason.

    1. “If and when Iran develops a nuclear deterrent . . . ”

      I think we will find Iran does not intend nuclear weapons for deterrence.

      1. +1000

      2. So you think the Iranian leaders would willingly commit suicide?

        Because if they did use nukes offensively, Tehran would be turned into radioactive glass.

        I know I will get attacked for saying this, but I believe Iran wants nukes to assure that they won’t be invaded like their eastern and western neighbors.

        1. “So you think the Iranian leaders would willingly commit suicide?

          To immanentize the eschaton? Yes.

          They actually are what you and your Handmaid’s Tale role-play group fantasize those awful Evangelicals to be.

          1. I think you’re confusing me with your mom.

            1. You just used that lame ass joke a couple days ago.

              1. Who said it was a joke?

                1. Ok Squirrel #2.

                  1. You just used that lame ass joke a couple days ago.

                    1. Sorry I insulted your lover.

        2. “If the Iranian government would prefer to suffer economic devastation rather than come back into compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that speaks to the nefarious intentions of their program.

          . . . .

          The only reason Iran has been reluctant to let Hezbollah hit American targets specifically and on purpose is because Iran fears direct retaliation by the United States or indirectly through Israel. If Iran had a nuclear deterrent so that they no longer feared such retaliation by the U.S. or Israel, they would no longer hold Hezbollah back. It would become open season on Americans.”

          —-Ken Shultz

          The point is that if they no longer feared direct assault by the United State and Israel because we feared their nuclear deterrent, then that would free their hand to be more aggressive through their proxies–just as the communists felt free to expand by way of conflicts like the ones in Vietnam and Afghanistan without fear of direct U.S. involvement. The United States was not about to fire on Soviet troops directly (and vice versa) for fear of instigating something that might lead to a nuclear exchange, so the developing world–all the world over–became a battleground in a never-ending proxy war.

          That is also what would happen if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons. To whatever extent they show restraint now against U.S. targets now, that would be over. The U.S. would become a standard target of Hezbollah, much like Israel is today, and Iran would feel free to pursue it goals against its neighbors–which may or may not include securing itself as the guardian of the kaaba. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, be sure that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and and Jordan, at the very least, will secure nuclear deterrents of their own.

          Regardless, the point is that Iran securing a nuclear deterrent isn’t simply about their desire to secure peace for themselves. The point that securing a nuclear deterrent would also give them cover to pursue their aggressive goals without fear of direct U.S. involvement. We would be mostly confined to financing and arming unsavory groups against them elsewhere in the world and so would their neighbors. That is not a recipe for peaceful coexistence with Iran. That is a recipe for eternal aggressive proxy wars as Iran seeks to project its influence all over the Muslim world.

          1. The U.S. would become a standard target of Hezbollah

            When has Hezbollah or any other Iranian proxy attacked the U.S. directly?

            Don’t you think they’d leave us alone if we brought our troops home and stopped meddling in the Middle East?

            1. Lol.

            2. The Beirut embassy bombing that killed 307 people.

              1. I meant the contiguous United States. Not a small plot of U.S. soil within a foreign nation. Thought that was obvious.

                1. Wow, look at those goalposts move.

                  Anyway, Iran has no business being in Iraq or Syria either.

                  1. Why exactly is that your business?

              2. “The Beirut embassy bombing that killed 307 people.”

                To be specific, elements that eventually coalesced into Hezbollah were responsible for that bombing.

                Once those different elements coalesced into a single organization under the leadership of Iran, they started avoiding American targets–almost obsessively.

                Iran’s strategy has been to avoid direct confrontation with the United States–for a long, long, long, long, time–and Hezbollah’s targets have largely reflected that.

                They’ll probe us with an isolated this or that, but it’s nothing like the organized campaigns in Lebanon and Syria or against our proxy, Israel.

            3. You seem to be missing the point that Hezbollah has mostly avoided targeting the United States since 1983–despite all of our aggressive actions around the world–because Iran fears what the U.S. would do to them if Hezbollah were to directly target Americans.

              Q: What’s six feet deep and glows in the dark?

              A: Tehran and Qom, ten minutes after the United States realized that Hezbollah just perpetrated another 9/11 against us.

              Hezbollah routinely advocates terrorism directed at U.S. targets. The only reason they don’t do so is because the Iranian government fears direct U.S. retaliation and/or that we will let Israel off its leash. If the Iranian government no longer feared those things because the Iranian government had a nuclear deterrent of their own, they would no longer restrain Hezbollah from attacking Americans.

              Understand that Hezbollah generally doesn’t target Americans on purpose and realize that it’s not because we’re friends of the Iranians and it’s not because Hezbollah won’t or doesn’t launch suicide bombing campaigns and it’s not because of the goodness in their hearts. Meanwhile, Hezbollah has been the center of Iran’s push to keep Assad in power. They have all but completely destroyed the people of that country at every opportunity–and it’s not because the people of Syria were an aggressive threat towards the Iranian government. It’s because the government of Iran would rather slaughter the people of Syria than let the Iranian people hope that a protest movement might lead to a regime change in Iran.

              Your well-intentioned hope that the Iranians might leave the rest of the world alone if only we didn’t behave aggressively towards them is undermined by the facts of what is happening in reality. There is no question but that peace and prosperity are in the best interests of the Iranian people, but there is little evidence that the mullahs care about the interests of the people anywhere near as much as they care about remaining in power.

              If the bully on the playground is only beating up the other kids because he was picked on when he was younger and was abused by his step-father, too, then we might want to do what we can to avoid that happening to other kids in the future–but the idea that if we just stopped checking the bully’s aggression, he would stop behaving aggressively towards other kids is absurd. If you’re a kid on the playground, punch the bully in the nose. Keep appeasing him, and he’ll never stop.

              Neither the Nazis nor the Imperial Japanese would have stopped being aggressive if only we had shown them that we weren’t really a threat. That would only have encouraged their aggression. The Soviet Union’s economy was such that they faced economic collapse unless they expanded the assets available to their economy by expanding their borders. Under those circumstances, again, showing them that we intended no harm would have done nothing to discourage their aggression. The Iranian government is like that–even if it’s people are not.

              1. Your well-intentioned hope that the Iranians might leave the rest of the world alone if only we didn’t behave aggressively towards them

                You misunderstand. I’m saying that if we didn’t have any targets in their part of the world, that they’d likely leave us alone. Our mere presence is an act of aggression from their point of view.

                Neither the Nazis nor the Imperial Japanese would have stopped being aggressive if only we had shown them that we weren’t really a threat.

                If Pearl Harbor had never happened history would be quite different. Look, I’m not against responding to aggression. But I also think that, from the point of view of the people living in that area of the world (It is possible to view things from another point of view without necessarily agreeing with that point of view. This is something that many people are incapable of, because it humanizes their enemy.), the United States is an occupier.

                1. “I’m saying that if we didn’t have any targets in their part of the world, that they’d likely leave us alone.”

                  Do you believe, if we had no military presence in the ME, that non-military ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz would be completely safe?

                2. “You misunderstand. I’m saying that if we didn’t have any targets in their part of the world, that they’d likely leave us alone.”

                  And I’m saying they’re no more likely to leave us and our allies alone than the Imperial Japanese, the Nazis, or the schoolyard bully.

                  I’m also saying that if and when they acquire nuclear weapons, they’re bullying will become much, much, much worse when they no longer fear the negative consequences of their bullying.

                3. That presupposes that we don’t have any interests in that part of the world. We would just leave the Saudis, Kuwaitis, Israelies, Iraqis, etc. as just part of Greater Persia?

                  Their emnity to us western secularists is just a part of their belligerence, the Shia-Sunni is at least as much a part of it as we are.

              2. “Hezbollah routinely advocates terrorism directed at U.S. targets. The only reason they don’t do so is because the Iranian government fears direct U.S. retaliation and/or that we will let Israel off its leash”

                I agree with the first part. Hezbolla has regional ambitions, not so much global. Attacking the US directly which they did when we were in Lebanon would make no sense for them now.

                Today while they still engage in terrorism they have also emerged as a more conventional type force with a huge rocket stockpile and seasoned infantry.

                Just as important Lebanon is very fragile in politics and economics now. Hezbolla will use this to seize more control.

                Israel is not at all on a leash. They have attacked Hezbolla and Iranian interests in Syria hundreds of times recently with considerable success. They also operate a highly sophisticated intel operation inside Lebanon and Syria. Israel can tell you what Nasrallah had for breakfast.

                For Israel the goal is to both avoid war and degrade the Hezbolla and Iranian buildup to the north.

                1. “Israel is not at all on a leash. They have attacked Hezbolla and Iranian interests in Syria hundreds of times recently with considerable success.”

                  One of the biggest mistakes of honest people who succumb to persuasion of the divestment crowd is the belief that if the United States and the American people cut off all our support for Israel, it would force Israel to come to terms with the Palestinian people and there would be peace.

                  If Israel weren’t concerned with the opinion and support of the United States, they would have driven the people of Gaza into the sea a long time ago. The only thing keeping those people alive is the restraint Israel imposes on itself for fear that if they did what they really want to do, we in the United States would withdraw our support.

                  I believe Israel’s relationship with Hezbollah and Iran is more or less the same. Israel could obliterate Tehran, Qom, and the areas Hezbollah controls tomorrow. The reason they don’t do so is because they fear the consequences of alienating the United States. If we ever game them the green light, they’d do what they want, and that’s one of the reasons why Iran has been so careful to only antagonize a little bit at a time over the last 40 years.

            4. Prior to 1993 when had any foreign terrorist organization directly attacked American targets? Never. But the first World Trade Center bombings happened then 9/11. Just because they haven’t yet doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. That is a pretty stupid question on your part. You usually show more intelligence then that.

          2. Libs say citizens can’t have guns because everyone will start killing each other for little or no reason. We know that isn’t true. Couldn’t the same logic be applied to nations having nukes?

            1. Rather, isn’t that logic being applied to nations having nukes? Could it be equally false?

              1. False dichotomy much?

                Or do you really think gun’s aren’t misused for criminal purposes daily?

                Also, I assume war has never happened in the world you live in. After all, nation states never disagree violently. Just like how people never violently disagree.

                Right?

                If you managed to remember a single thing about MAD theory, you’d look like far less of a clown.

          3. That is a recipe for eternal aggressive proxy wars as Iran seeks to project its influence all over the Muslim world.

            I don’t disagree. However I will ask one more question. Why should I care?

            1. Well, nuclear non-proliferation is in the security interests of the United States, and protecting our rights from foreign threats is a legitimate function of government. That’s a good reason to care about it.

              If the Iranians, who have repeatedly demonstrated little reluctance to wiping out huge chunks of the population of various countries, acquired nuclear weapons, they might use them against you or people you care about. Like I said, they’ve already successfully launched satellites into orbit with their space program, and converting that technology to military use is just a question of time and commitment.

              You may not even want to live with being under that threat. I remember what it was like. Again, too, if Iran obtains a nuclear deterrent, all of their enemies will want them, too, like Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, and that makes a nuclear exchange all the more likely–and there’s no good reason to think that will work out between them like it did between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, without a nuclear exchange that we could get sucked into.

              Also, if they started using a proxy army like Hezbollah to target us with terrorist attacks, the chances of us getting sucked into a war with one of their proxies, in Lebanon with Hezbollah or elsewhere with someone else, that’s a real possibility made all the more likely by Iran developing a nuclear deterrent.

              If you’d rather be less likely to see such a terrorist attack, would rather not pay for the taxes to fight a proxy war like we did in Vietnam, would rather not need to worry so much about getting sucked into a nuclear exchange, and would rather not be subject to another round of scary “justifications” for violating our rights in order to protect us from terrorism, then you should support the most peaceful and effective means to undermine Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

              While Iran obtaining a nuclear deterrent doesn’t mean any of these things will definitely happen, Iran obtaining a nuclear deterrent makes them all the more likely, and the most effective strategy under consideration now isn’t going to war with Iran. It’s enforcing a treaty that was ratified by the two-thirds of the U.S. Senate by way of a sanctions regime, which leaves open the possibility of Iran doing away with the sanctions by returning to the auspices of the treaty. That’s why you should care.

              1. who have repeatedly demonstrated little reluctance to wiping out huge chunks of the population of various countries

                Please elaborate.

                they might use them against you or people you care about

                That I doubt because it would be the last thing they ever did.

                and that makes a nuclear exchange all the more likely

                Again, I doubt this. Mutually assured destruction and all that.

                I get it. I just disagree.

      3. You mean like in five minutes from now, when their Caliphate government has it’s next scheduled rant about drowning us in our own blood to bring about the coming of the 12th Imam?

        That’s the one nice thing about Iran, you never have to wait very long for them to do something genocidally stupid and insane to rub in the faces of their deluded apologists.

    2. I suggest we entice the mullahs with a free trade agreement.

      Yes, absolutely.

    3. I may have the facts backwards but didn’t we withdrawal first and reinstate sanctions and only after that did Iran stop complying. Not that complying was all that tough from what I understand, no full access to site …etc.

      But I do disagree that nuclear arms wouldn’t lead to peace in the ME. Those proxy wars were at least a dulled version of what a true war between those powers would have looked like and I would highlight India/Paki relations since their development of the nuclear weapons. They have only had minor border skirmishes and acts of terror but no large scale wars since both got the bomb after the 1971 war.

      1. Sanctions were imposed by the UN Security Council–with the support of China and Russia, mind you–after Iran was found to have violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty by enriching uranium in secret.

        The Iranians began doing that shortly after an Iranian backed political party won control of the Iraqi government in the first elections held after the United States invaded Iraq. With the U.S. sitting on a powder keg in Iraq (at the time) and the fuse running straight to Tehran, Iran felt like they had a free hand to get away with murder.

        Under the auspices of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has forfeited their right to enrich their own uranium–even for civilian purposes–because they enriched uranium in secret. If they wish to procure uranium that has been sufficiently enriched for civilian purposes now, their allies in China and Russia will be happy to sell it to them.

        When Obama signed his unconstitutional nuclear deal with Iran, he decided to stop abiding by the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council in line with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Because Obama’s deal allowed the Iranians to go back to enriching their own uranium again, President Trump “withdrew” (from a treaty that was never even submitted to Congress, much less ratified) and started abiding by the sanctions again.

        Again, once the Iranians come back into compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the sanctions go away. While it’s true that the Iranians abided by the terms of Obama’s nuclear deal, the terms of Obama’s nuclear deal are incompatible with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

        If a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty enriches uranium in secret, the penalty is not that they get a special new deal that allows them to do so plus a plane load of cash. Violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by enriching uranium in secret results in no longer having the right to enrich your own uranium.

        1. “While it’s true that the Iranians abided by the terms of Obama’s nuclear deal, the terms of Obama’s nuclear deal are incompatible with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

          It should be noted that the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, conversely, have been ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate and, therefore, is entirely constitutional.

        2. Thanks. Forgot some of that this morning.

      2. You are absolutely correct, barring only that the Obama administration was fully aware of Iran’s violations, and attempted numerous times to completely cover them up, even as it was embroiled in it’s game of “Hide the Hezbollah terrorist” with the caliphate.

        For some strange Reason, this publication didn’t find that nearly as distressing as Trump not completely relaxing a defensive stance against one of the most hostile and violently insane countries in the world just because of an outbreak.

        1. “…barring only that the Obama administration was fully aware of Iran’s violations, and attempted numerous times to completely cover them up…”

          To include, allegedly, threatening to fire upon any Israeli over flight of Iraq or KSA, and so preventing what happened at Osirak in 1981 from happening to Qom, Bushehr, or Natanz.

      3. “I may have the facts backwards but didn’t we withdrawal first and reinstate sanctions and only after that did Iran stop complying. ”

        Yes, you have that backwards. They were never complying, we were just pretending they were, in the hope that the pretense would eventually become reality. (And that’s the positive spin on what was going on. The negative spin is much worse.)

        For instance, they were supposed to submit to inspections. We agreed that we would only inspect where they were willing to have us inspect, and avoided inspecting anywhere we might find a violation.

        Magically, this resulted in us not finding violations!

    4. I suggest we entice the mullahs with a free trade agreement. If the mullahs were getting rich selling exports to American consumers, they would quickly become enthusiastic supporters of stability in the developing world, much like China is today for the same reasons.

      Ken, I would suggest this is spectacularly bad judgment on your part.

      China serially lied, serially cheated and serially stole with their free trade agreements. What makes you think Iranian behavior will be any better?

      Newsflash: Iranian leadership behavior will change when the current leadership is gone.

      1. “China serially lied, serially cheated and serially stole with their free trade agreements. What makes you think Iranian behavior will be any better?”

        Well, for one thing, you’ve changed the topic.

        The fact is that before China joined the WTO, they were some of the world’s biggest exporters of communist revolution. Nowadays, when you (rarely) hear in the news about “Maoist” rebels, they’re just talking about the group’s ideology–rather than from where they get their arms or their funding. All over the developing world, from southeast Asia and Africa to Central America and South America, China used to export destabilization through revolutionary communist movements throughout the developing world. Nowadays, it’s exactly the opposite.

        When China goes into a country in the developing world, say in Africa, for instance, the first thing they want to do is help put down any armed conflict in the country. That’s so they can move on to the second thing they want to do, which is to build bridges, roads, trains and port facilities, all so they can do the third and most important thing they want to do–which is resource extraction to feed their manufacturers back in China.

        From the perspective of American security, having the Chinese channel their ambitions through development projects and international trade is vastly superior to them channeling their ambitions through the attempt to undermine and overthrow capitalistically inclined governments in the developing world and replacing them with communist dictatorships that are openly hostile to the United States. From the perspective of American security, there is no reason to think that if the mullahs of Iran had access to American consumer markets, that this wouldn’t channel their ambitions towards development and trade, too, rather than undermining the stability of the region through terrorist proxy armies.

        The second problem you’re having is that American consumers and the American economy have benefited mightily from trade with China–regardless of whether they cheated, lied, and stole. All the money Americans save by buying less expensive imports goes straight to increases in their standard of living, and if industries can’t compete with imports in which China or Iran has a comparative advantage, then that’s called “creative destruction”, and it benefits the American economy, the American consumer, and the standard of living of average Americans, too. In fact, that’s some of the stuff that economic growth is made of. It’s a good thing.

      2. “Newsflash: Iranian leadership behavior will change when the current leadership is gone.”

        I agree. When the Democrats return to power, both Iran and China will have a much easier time. Running down the clock on the Trump presidency will be the easiest for them and will require no special effort.

        1. Luckily, Democrats wont gain power.

    5. “If Iran wishes to end the sanctions against them, all they need to do is come back into compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

      Iran was in compliance at the time Trump left the agreement. He did not leave because of non-compliance, he left because the agreement was negotiated by President Obama’s Administartion and so he had to undo it. Leaving was petty, but that is Trump. Continuing sanctions in a time of pandemic is wrong, no if, ands, or buts, just wrong.

      1. “Iran was in compliance at the time Trump left the agreement.”

        Iran was in compliance with Obama’s deal, not the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement.

        Iran forfeited their right to enrich their own uranium under the auspices of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty when they started enriching uranium in secret, so any enrichment perpetrated by Iran at this point in time is in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

        1. You are in to some alternate history. The Obama Administration was part of multinational agreement. Other countries said Iran was in compliance, Trump’s administration said Iran was in compliance, and of a number of critics of the agreement said Iran was in compliance. Trump is a petty man and he pull out of the agreement because President Obama negotiated that agreement.

          1. Alternate history?!

            “United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737 was unanimously passed by the United Nations Security Council on 23 December 2006.[1]

            The resolution, sponsored by France, Germany and the United Kingdom,[2] imposed sanctions against Iran for failing to stop its uranium enrichment program following resolution 1696. It banned the supply of nuclear-related technology and materials and froze the assets of key individuals and companies related to the enrichment program. It took place two months after the creation of a draft-resolution, which was amended several times after objections from Russia and China.[3] These objections were evident, as it took a last minute call from Russian President Vladimir Putin to U.S. President George W. Bush to finalise the vote.[4] The resolution came after Iran rejected economic incentives put forward by the permanent five members of the Security Council plus Germany for Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment programme.”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_1737

            The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory, was ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate.

            The sanctions were put in place by unanimous verdict of the UN Security Council per the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

            Because Barack Obama spake something is only of importance to political hacks, know-nothings, and liars. In this case, assuming you simply didn’t know is probably giving you the benefit of the doubt.

            1. You are going back to 2006. In case you were sleeping there was a multinational agreement reached in 2015. Iran was in compliance of that agreement and that is the one Trump left. You can not just go back to any agreement or treaty to find one to rationalize your point.

              1. Which was never ratified or even submitted to the Senate. The NPT on the other hand was a treaty. Obama maintained he didn’t need to submit the agreement because it wasn’t a treaty, just an agreement. The agreement did not supersede the NPT. A ratified treaty always has precedence over an international agreement.

      2. “Iran was in compliance at the time Trump left the agreement.”

        Hahahaha, oh wow.

  4. The author is missing a point. Iran also has a pandemic to deal with as well. If we don’t keep up the pressure on Iran, they might take it as a sign of weakness and act upon it.

  5. Is this the dumbest pair of sentences ever? “The Trump administration’s Iran policy has been business as usual since the spread of the novel coronavirus began, and that’s a grave mistake. The president’s tweet today warning Iran “or its proxies” against any “sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq” is merely the latest example of misplaced priorities while a pandemic worsens in the U.S.”

    I mean this whole take that countries can only deal with one issue at a time, and that it’s somehow bad to warn Iran not to make a “sneak attack on U.S. troops”, is so mindbogglingly petty and stupid.
    If Trump is warning Iran then US intel probably told him that they’re up to something, so he’s letting them know that we know.

    Iran is facing an internal political crisis right now and their poor handling of the corona virus is just one of the reasons. It wouldn’t be unusual for the mullahs to try and pull something in Iraq as a distraction.

    But to advocate that the US ignore foreign policy because of this is ridiculous. The whole idea is the product of lazy thinking.

    1. To be fair, treacherous media hacks can only focus on one thing at a time, so our government should only focus on one thing at a time.

      1. You accuse people of being programmed and then come here and repeat the exact same talking points (with or without relevance) ad nauseam. NPC indeed.

        1. They were relevant to my comment and he’s right you know.

          And also, you are programmed Jeff, Tony or whoever the fuck is behind this sock. You constantly regurgitate the bien pensant pablum that the establishment’s been force feeding you guys lately, without any evidence of having bothered to try and rationalize it first. Every single one of you proggies gets flustered and starts lying the moment your ‘facts’ are challenged here.

          1. I rarely repeat anything or attempt to present facts here.
            The vast majority of my posts are are just to stir the pot since you far-right types have started dominating this commentariat.

            1. No, it’s because you generally can’t present facts and rely on talking points. Then get all butthurt when you are faced with actual counterarguments.

    2. I love the scarequotes around “or it’s proxies”, implying a gaslighting attitude towards any acknowledgement of the very solid fact that Iran is the biggest funder of terrorism in the world, and frequently uses those terrorist cells to fight proxy wars throughout the middle east for them.

      1. This piece is fundamentally dishonest. The facts are:

        1) Bonnie Kristian utterly opposes the current Iran policy for reasons that have nothing to do with the pandemic.

        2) Bonnie Kristian has no actual arguments as to why the pandemic should change anybody’s mind about Iran policy.

        Accordingly, even if she’s right about what Iran policy should be, she should be mocked and dismissed as an unprincipled hack for her attempt to bring in the pandemic as a “reason” current policy should be changed.

        1. (Ech. That was supposed to be a standalone comment, not a reply.)

      2. Which was never ratified or even submitted to the Senate.

    3. Planning something? Beyond their proxy militia in Iraq rocketing a base on 12 March, killing some Americans? https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2020/03/12/us-military-coalition-personnel-killed-in-iraq-rocket-attack-iran-militias/5029918002/

      The sanctions and the KSA/Russia oil pissing match, where both economies see who can get wrecked first, must be doing an absolute number on Iran. Even before the ‘Rona.

    4. “But to advocate that the US ignore foreign policy because of this is ridiculous. The whole idea is the product of lazy thinking.”

      The idea that sanctions will lead a country to ‘act normal’ is lazy too. Just two weeks ago Americans were killed in a rocket attack in Iraq, thought to be connected with Iran. And Iran’s missile and nuclear research continues. Iran seems aware that Americans lack the resolve to get involved with another debacle like Afghanistan or Iraq, and seems happy to call Trump’s bluff and or run out the clock on his term.

      1. So Trump had justification to warn Iran that future attacks wouldn’t be tolerated is what you are saying?:

        1. But future attacks will be tolerated. So will future uranium refining and future missile and cyber development. Trump is bluffing and Iran knows it. He tipped his hand with the North Koreans. They ignored similar Trump threats and tested missiles on July 4th 2017. Shortly after, Trump acceded to several of North Korea’s long term demands. You can ask me about this if you need more information or follow up on your own by yourself.

  6. I bet Iran is still working on their nuke program while Iranians have a cold due to cough.

    STOP the KungFlu hysteria. The federal government does not need to spend very much time or resources on this Wuhanvirus, as it is less severe than the seasonal Flu/Cold and less deadly.

    Keeping an eye on Iran and other authoritarian regimes who might attack us why we are dealing with this hysteria is the prudent thing to do.

    1. According to IAEA Iran has tripled its stockpile of low enriched uranium since November last year.

  7. How does ignoring Iran benefit the United States in protecting our critical national interests in Iraq? I can understand Trump abandoning Obama’s strategy in dealing with Iran, but abandoning Bush’s policy in dealing with Iraq would just be silly and no serious person would suggest the US would be better off withdrawing from Middle Eastern affairs.

    1. Furthermore, oil prices are dropping like popularity for the media. The USA might shift back to ME oil sources while the price is so low, which would put the USA in a position to fend off Iranian oil tanker attacks.

  8. “Posen suggests a thought experiment: What would we do were the United States under similar pressure from another nation—a nation which had, in the last two decades, invaded our near neighbors and conducted regime change operations and long-term occupations.”

    This thought experiment is notable for missing the point that Iran has been has been as much or more of an aggressor in the region than the United States–with or without considering the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

    The suggestion that Iran wouldn’t be so defensive if it weren’t for American aggression in Iraq is laughable considering Iran’s behavior since 1979.

    Are we really ignoring Iran’s aggression in Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen–much of it going back before the U.S. invaded Iraq?

    Because the United States was wrong to invade Iraq does not justify “bothsidesism”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_balance

    1. “Because the United States was wrong to invade Iraq does not justify “bothsidesism”.

      The US invaded not only Iraq but Afghanistan, countries that exist on both sides of Iran.

  9. Ms. Kristian’s April 15th column headline.

    “Trump uses pandemic as excuse to not deal with Iran,”

  10. I can think of few publications less credible to advise on foreign policy than cosmotarian Reason magazine.
    What’s a leppo?

    1. Instead we should trust the powers in Washington. When have they ever been wrong on foreign policy?

      1. Yes, that’s exactly what he was saying. Because the bien pensants at this particular publication are lazy thinkers, let’s blindly trust Washington.

        Sigh.

        1. Who is credible then and who do you trust? (And why don’t you spend most of your waking hours commenting on their Website?)

          1. You first.

            Who do you trust in the media? Do you honestly imagine that the majors are being forthright and honest and aren’t simply advancing their class interests?

            And why are you here white knighting for dishonest and lazy journalism? Why do you not hope that a once treasured magazine return to its former integrity and reputability?

  11. I have zero issue making life impossible for the Mad Mullah Leadership of Iran. If we sent the whole lot of Iran’s leadership on the one way allah train to paradise, it would not bother me in the slightest. They can all say Hi to General Soleimani.

    Iran has been responsible for 40 years of malignant behavior. Tough shit that they are now reaping their much deserved harvest.

    Perhaps the people of Iran will wake up and make their own leadership choices.

    1. Don’t you think that the assassination of Iran’s leadership by the United States would be “malignant”?

      1. Since we do not assassinate any Iranian leadership that I can think of in the last 40 years, your point is moot.

        Now poor General Soleimani was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I mean, how could he possibly know the guy he was matting with at 1am at Baghdad International was a terror group leader who had just attacked the US embassy. Surely, they were just exchanging Chelo-kebob recipes, right?

        If Iran wants to talk…then talk. If they want to continue their malignant behavior…no problem, enjoy the slow strangling of your people. I don’t lose sleep over it.

        1. matting = meeting

          My typing sucks today. 🙁

  12. Incidentally, much of the opposition to Trump’s attempts to deal with Iran rhymes with similar criticism Reagan’s opposition hit him with as he was pursuing the strategies that won the Cold War without a nuclear exchange.

    The criticism of President Trump’s support for Saudi Arabia and weapon sales to them rhymes with criticism of Reagan’s support for Pinochet and his deployment of Pershing missiles to western Europe. The criticism of President Trump’s indirect support for Saudi Arabia’s proxies in Yemen and elsewhere rhymes with criticism of Reagan’s support for those who fought Soviet expansion in Afghanistan and El Salvador. The criticism of President Trump pulling out of the (unconstitutional) Iran nuclear agreement rhymes with the left’s criticism of Reagan for walking out on Gorbachev in Reykjavik. It’s all the same criticisms, and those criticisms are mostly wrong–for all the same reasons.

    We won the Cold War the way we did because President Reagan ignored those criticisms, and President Trump would be well-advised to do likewise.

  13. At Reason, writers decry the size of the federal government, then we get an article on this behemoth of a government that can only deal with one issue at a time.

    I get it. She doesn’t like war and military actions. That’s fine. But don’t use coronavirus at home as an excuse. The US can handle foreign policy and domestic policy at the same time. We’ve been doing it for a while.

  14. Nah, but Reason needs to let gonof the Islamofascist Useful Idiocy.

    This whole, “issuing empty verbal warnings to Iran, a country that can’t go five minutes without attacking shipping vessels in international waters, issuing worldwide hits on authors, marching their armies across borders to kidnap and ransom American hikers, screaming their intent to nuke the world for the 12th Imam and operating as the largest funder of terrorism in the world will somehow directly lead to WW3 any second now” shit was old in 2009.

  15. Trump should understand the current situation and take as much precautions as possible than giving useless warnings to any other country by which we will cause damage to ourselves…

  16. Thanks for this column. In a time of a pandemic and we need to step back from belligerency. We can get back to fighting later.

  17. Heaven forbid we ignore chicken littles to take care of other matters!

  18. Given that the press conference yesterday indicated Southern Command, not Central Command, was getting reinforced with ships, and maybe even a MEU, the country that should be sweating right now isn’t Iran. It’s Venezuela. I don’t think we’re about to open Operation Just Because, but I couldn’t tell you the US won’t.

    Sanctions and cheap oil are doing a better job of bringing the pain to Iran than anything CentCom likely has up its sleeves.

    1. “Sanctions and cheap oil are doing a better job of bringing the pain to Iran”

      Sanctions didn’t save the lives of Americans killed in missile attacks a couple of weeks back. They haven’t stopped Iran from increasing her stockpiles of refined uranium.

  19. kinda has to be the president of *all* the policies…

  20. Tsk tsk. No one would criticize her if her name was Bonnie Muslim.

  21. We should convert the entire military into a manufacturing facility for pandemic supplies except for a few Pentagon secretaries to be responsible for writing COVID-19 update emails to our adversaries

    “Dear Enemies of the West,

    The US military is committed to the safety and well-being of our soldiers and bureaucrats. So after much consideration we have decided to convert all of our operations to producing much-needed hand sanitizer and toilet paper. All foreign entanglements will be stopped until further notice and military defense will be drive up only. Stern letters will be issued as required, but expect longer delivery times. We are also exploring no-contact delivery options for pallets of cash and will notify you when this becomes available. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and appreciate your understanding in this difficult time.

    Sincerely,
    Great Satan”

  22. Or not.

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