Another Round of Anxiety About Iran

Iran’s Islamist dictatorship has been a thorny problem for America and the rest of the world ever since it took power way back in the days of President Jimmy Carter, and it seems thornier than ever at the moment. A thousand or so American troops are headed to the Middle East to back up the thousands already there and the Naval fleet that was recently dispatched to the region, Iran is threatening to reactivate its nuclear weapons program and deploys its terrorism capabilities, and the rest of the world is arguing what to do about it.
President Donald Trump is a self-proclaimed “very stable genius,” and his fans insist he’s playing three-dimensional chess while all his domestic and foreign adversaries are playing checkers, but we are not reassured.
We don’t blame Trump for the current tensions, as our disdain for the Iranian regime is more longstanding and exceeds even our disdain for Trump. If Iran’s nutcase theocracy treated its people humanely and dealt fairly in its business with the rest of the world and wasn’t steadily pursuing its stated goal of Armageddon there wouldn’t be any problem at all. They were a pain in the world’s butt before anyone ever heard of Trump, and probably will be after he exits the the world stage, and we hopefully expect the rest of the world agrees.
The rest of the world seems to have noticed that Trump’s inchoate foreign policies haven’t helped, on the other hand, and we agree reluctantly agree with the global consensus that he’s probably made it worse.
There were compelling arguments that the deal President Barack Obama and the leaders of six of our most essential and most longtime European allies could have been better, and at the time we made those arguments here, but Trump’s decision to unilaterally pull out of the deal clearly hasn’t yielded the more perfect deal Trump promised. By pulling out of the deal Trump restored the crippling economic sanctions that had forced the Iranians’ earlier concessions, although six major European allies continued to do business with the regime, which further complicated Trump’s already complex trans-Atlantic trade and military and diplomatic relationships, and the Iranian regime so far hasn’t backed down. The intelligence communities of every western country, including the American intelligence agency heads appointed by Trump, had agreed that Iran was in compliance with the weak and temporary deal that at least prohibited them from acquiring the necessary materials for nuclear bombs, so Iran’s regime is making the argument that if Trump has pulled out of the deal and resumed sanctions they’re entitled to resume their nuclear program. Our erstwhile western trading and military and diplomatic allies, who tried mightily to persuade Trump to maintain the status quo, seem to find the regime’s argument plausible.
Two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz have recently been attacked, threatening a supply line of oil essential to the western worlds’ economies, and former Central Intelligence Agency director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he has proof the attacks were carried out by Iran. The Islamist terror group Taliban has claimed credit for the attacks, and although they’re closely tied to the Iranian regime they aren’t necessarily under its control, so for now our erstwhile allies taking a more skeptical view of the evidence. We’ve long taken the American intelligence community’s word, and we voted three times for Pompeo as our fourth district Congressman here in Kansas, but Trump has repeatedly said that they were all wrong about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs, and Russia’s meddling in the past presidential election, and most recently about a program to have the capability for cyber-attacks against the Russian infrastructure in response to their cyber-attack threats against us.
Based on the past 40 years of watching the Iranian regime we can easily believe they’re responsible for the attacks on those oil tankers, but there’s always a chance they weren’t, and in either case Trump will have a hard time convincing the world that he went to war with Iran based on the American intelligence community’s conclusions.
Trump won the presidency on the argument that the rashly hawkish President George W. Bush had lied the country into an all-advised war with Iraq, and the wimpishly dovish President Barack Obama had prematurely withdrawn from that war and offered Iran too many concessions for a verifiable agreement to halt its nuclear weapons program, and that his own  long career making business deals would allow him to hit that sweet spot between tough guy and peacenik. So far it hasn’t worked out any better than Trump’s bankrupt casinos, with our allies no longer trusting us and our adversaries no longer fearing us, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Trump’s “very stable genius” will avert the worst of all the possible outcomes.

–Bud Norman

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