And here’s another perspective!
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Politics may be the art of the possible, but knowing what’s possible requires calculation and judgement. A bit of the analytics going on in public. The divide over whether the killing of Suleimani should or should not have been done is for the Monday-morning quarterbacks. What is the strategy going forward, and on both sides. Here are some thoughts from others.
From War With Iran?:
Were the United States to place secondary sanctions on all manner of goods, especially food, the effect would be far greater than an invasion by the entire U.S. army. How the Iranian people would deal with the choice between starving and ending their government’s war on America would be their business.
From Iranian Analytics:
Trump’s base accepts that he is backing out of the Middle East firing, not firing to get in…. The current Iranian crisis is complex and dangerous. And by all means retaliation must be designed to prevent more Iranian violence and aggression rather than aimed at a grandiose agenda of regime change or national liberation. But so far the Iranians, not the U.S., are making all the blunders.
Iran knows it faces a choice it didn’t think it faced before. It can vow hellish revenge, but now it has had a taste of the hell the United States can rain down in response. And while the mullahs are extreme, they do not appear to be imprudent. Ruthless self-interest might have gotten them going in the first place, and it is what might restrain them in the end. That is how deterrence works. And that is the bet Trump and the United States made by letting the Iranians know we were not going to take their aggression lying down.
A congressional authorization of military force would strengthen the president’s hand. It would not require that force be used (or at least used to the full extent of the authorization), but it would show our enemies that our nation is ready to act in our defense. The strategies of Trump’s predecessors were to hope that a committed jihadist enemy would come to its senses; hope that it would realize its purported interest in regional stability; and hope that by bribing it with billions of dollars in sanctions relief, ransom, and an industrial-strength nuclear program, we could de-escalate the conflict. President Trump’s strategy is to remove the enemy’s most effective military asset (who will not be easily replaceable), to demonstrate to the mullahs what can happen when resolve backs our exponentially superior capabilities, and to continue squeezing the regime with punishing economic sanctions — as it is pressured by the increasingly restive Iranian people. Peace through strength is the better plan.
Deterrence, says Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, is credibly holding at risk something your adversary holds dear. If the reports out of Iraq are true, President Trump has put at risk the entirety of the Iranian imperial enterprise even as his maximum-pressure campaign strangles the Iranian economy and fosters domestic unrest. That will get the ayatollah’s attention. And now the United States must prepare for his answer. The bombs over Baghdad? That was Trump calling Khamenei’s bluff. The game has changed. But it isn’t over.
For many analysts and observers, Iran and the U.S. are on the cusp of a major confrontation. While such an outcome is possible, the reality is that the Iranian policy of asymmetrical response to American aggression that had been put in place by Qassem Suleimani when he was alive is still in place today. While emotions run high in the streets of Iranian cities, with angry crowds demanding action, the Iranian leadership, of which Suleimani was a trusted insider, recognizes that any precipitous action on its part only plays into the hands of the United States. In seeking revenge for the assassination of Qassem Suleimani, Iran will most likely play the long game, putting into action the old maxim that revenge is a dish best served cold….
Trump started this fight by recklessly ordering the assassination of a senior Iranian government official. The Trump administration now seeks to shape events in the region to best support a direct confrontation with Iran. Such an outcome is not in Iran’s best interests. Instead, they will erode Trump’s political base by embarrassing him in Iraq and with ISIS. Iran will respond, that much can be assured. But the time and place will be of their choosing, when the U.S. expects it least.
For myself, I see no point in absorbing punishment to show good will. But that is only a first approximation. We here know virtually nothing of what is known both in Washington and Teheran. This is where we are and this is what these analysts think, but the future remains unknown as it always is. The only certainty is that whatever Trump does the Democrats, and the media, will insist it was the wrong thing to have done.
Plus this: PETRAEUS ON SOLEIMANI:
Two short questions for what’s next, Gen. Petraeus — US remaining in Iraq, and war with Iran. What’s your best guess?
Well, I think one of the questions is, “What will the diplomatic ramifications of this be?” And again, there have been celebrations in some places in Iraq at the loss of Qasem Soleimani. So, again, there’s no tears being shed in certain parts of the country. And one has to ask what happens in the wake of the killing of the individual who had a veto, virtually, over the leadership of Iraq. What transpires now depends on the calculations of all these different elements. And certainly the US, I would assume, is considering diplomatic initiatives as well, reaching out and saying, “Okay. Does that send a sufficient message of our seriousness? Now, would you like to return to the table?” Or does Iran accelerate the nuclear program, which would, of course, precipitate something further from the United States? Very likely. So lots of calculations here. And I think we’re still very early in the deliberations on all the different ramifications of this very significant action.
“To the Iranian government: If you want to stay in the oil business leave America and our allies alone and stop being the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” he continued. Boom. If they lose that, they know they will completely collapse and their own people will run over them.