Over the summer, Iran’s Navy seized multiple British oil tankers and shot down a U.S. drone in international airspace before attacking Saudi oil refineries and thereby knocking out approximately 5% of global oil production. The Iranians do not intend these attacks to bait the West into an all-out war in the Middle East as American isolationists fear but to maneuver the U.S. into granting new concessions.
Upon our pullout from the Iran Nuclear Deal (also called the JCPOA), the U.S. reimposed sanctions on critical sectors of the Iranian economy, which crashed the price of Iranian oil and sent its economy into recession. Massive unrest swept the country throughout 2018 and 2019 as protesters clamored for a solution from the Ayatollahs.
In other words, the sanctions worked. Thus, Iran’s recent aggression is a ruse to get the U.S. to readopt the JCPOA or at least lessen the existing sanctions in exchange for a “de-escalation of tensions.”
European frustration is fundamental to their plan. French President Emmanuel Macron and the British Parliament, have roundly condemned the Trump Administration’s decision to leave the JCPOA and today insist that a new deal is the only way to obtain peace, but this position is based on two flawed assumptions: that the JCPOA was effective and that Iran is willing to engage in war.
Regarding the first, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu detailed how Iran simply moved its nuclear development facilities from known and inspected bases to covert facilities. Simultaneously, the Iranians improved their strategic missile capabilities, endangering key U.S. interests and upsetting the balance of power in the Middle East. A new JCPOA would be the exact concession for which the Iranians are looking.
Regarding the second, Iran will not, barring a full-scale invasion of its country, engage in large scale military conflict—let alone an all-out war with the U.S. or its allies. Europeans’ and American isolationists’ fears of getting sucked into another regime-change war in the Middle East are not realistic. The Ayatollahs are not stupid and they know that in any direct confrontation with the U.S. or one of its allies, Iran will be utterly destroyed.
With these realities in mind, the U.S. should continue to carry out so-called “pinprick” strikes to knock out Iran’s capabilities of destroying ships in the Gulf of Oman and continue to arm the Saudis to deter any further Iranian incursion into its neighbor’s affairs.
The Trump Administration’s policy of placing maximum pressure on Iran is working. A hardened military posture combined with crippling sanctions reimposed after leaving the JCPOA has left Iran weaker than we have seen in recent years. Instead of caving to unreasonable European and American isolationist fears of another regime-change war, the Trump Administration should ignore this new Iranian red herring and continue its campaign of maximum pressure.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.