Is Trump Setting the Stage for War with Iran?

Aug. 8, 2018
by Bob Adelmann

The imposition of sanctions against Iran promised by the president last May began on midnight Monday. Those sanctions specifically target:

·       The purchase of United States currency by the Iranian government;

·       Iran’s trade in gold and in other precious metals;

·       Graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes;

·       Transactions related to the Iranian currency (the rial);

·       Activities relating to Iran’s issuance of sovereign debt; and

·       Iran’s automotive sector.

And if they don’t work, Trump is prepared to ratchet them up by sanctioning the country’s crude oil exports and sharply reducing the international activities of the country’s central bank in November.

He is leaving the door open for negotiations, but with these stipulations:

Iran must agree to end all nuclear enrichment and development of nuclear-capable missiles; release all American citizens currently being held against their will in Iran; end all of its support for Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Houthi militias; and withdraw its forces from Syria. 

What are the chances? Between slim and none, according to an unnamed Trump administration official: “The Iranian regime [has] demonstrated time and time again that it had no intention to cease its state support for terrorism, foreign proxies, and other malign activities … [it] has continued to promote ruthless regimes, destabilize the region, and abuse the human rights of its own people.”

In his book The Art of Deal, Trump explained how he was dealing with people with similar values, just different interests. He understood them, he knew many of them personally, and often had long-standing relations with them before they even began negotiations.

Not so with the Iranians. Descendants of Ishmael, its civilization reflects the sharp division between the people of “the covenant of God” and those outside the covenant. When those descendants suffered Muslim conquest in the seventh century BC, the die was cast: those two peoples would be at war with each other forever.

Enticements to come into the global family of nations and start behaving as “normal” nations do fall on deaf ears. That was illustrated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “We’re hopeful that we can find a way to move forward, but it’s going to require enormous change on the part of the Iranian regime. They got to [start behaving] like a normal country. That’s [all we] ask. It’s pretty simple.”

Simple, but not easy. Trump made clear his objectives, both in his tweets and in his executive order implementing the sanctions. Tweeted Trump: “The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are among the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they will ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

But WORLD PEACE to the Iranian Muslims means something vastly different from what Trump thinks it means. To the Iranian regime, peace means complete and total acceptance of the Islamic faith. Those outside the faith, or those who refuse to accept it, are killed.

The sanctions are already inflicting harm. The first indicator came from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif himself: “The very first sanctions [the U.S.] reimposed have canceled licenses for sales of 200-plus passenger jets.” Other companies, including Total, Siemens, Peugeot, Maersk, and Daimler AG have ignored urgings by European Union bureaucrats to continue doing business with the rogue regime, announcing plans to shut down their Iranian businesses. Daimler, the maker of lorries and trucks in Iran, was very clear: “We have ceased our already restricted activities in Iran in accordance with the applicable [U.S.] sanctions.”

Threats of those sanctions are already being felt inside the Muslim country: food prices are rising as the value of the rial has fallen by nearly 50 percent since May; unemployment has increased sharply; and massive protests have increased in intensity, with demonstrations in Tehran in June said to be the largest in the nation’s capital in six years.

When the second round of sanctions hits in November, the pressure for “change of behavior” by Iranian leaders will increase sharply. Focused on Iran’s oil exports and its central bank’s operations, those additional sanctions could cut the country’s crude oil exports by a million barrels a day.

At what point do those sanctions trip the wire and force the Iranian leadership to push back, with extreme prejudice? Their most obvious lever is the Strait of Hormuz. Through that narrow (29-mile) neck flows about 20 percent of the world’s crude oil, making it one of the most strategic and dangerous levers the Iranians could use. Closing it would be perceived as an act of war.

Instead of changing their “behavior,” as the president wants, isn’t it more likely, with history as our guide, that the Iranian mullahs would decide that war is a better option than becoming a “normal” nation? Is it possible that, given Trump’s assumption that “everything is negotiable,” he might be trying to deal with people who don’t deal?



The New York Times: U.S. to Restore Sanctions on Iran, Deepening Divide With Europe U.S. On Verge Of Restoring Some Iran Sanctions After Leaving ‘Horrible’ Deal Iran sanctions: Rouhani condemns US ‘psychological warfare’

Washington Times: Trump reimposes sanctions on Iran that were lifted by Obama Trump: Sanctions reinstated against Iran for ‘world peace’ Daimler abandons Iran expansion plans as sanctions bite Trump’s Executive Order putting Sanctions on Iran

History of Iran

History of Ishmael

History of Jihad

Geography of the Strait of Hormuz

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