Iran: Why Now Is Not the Time to Abandon Maximum Pressure

(National Interest) Michael Rubin - American Enterprise Institute expert Kori Schake wrote that the U.S. "maximum pressure" campaign with Iran "has not succeeded. None of the twelve demands that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined as preconditions for new negotiations with Iran have been met." However, to write off "maximum pressure" as ineffective or a mistake is wrong, even if it is true that the Islamic Republic has increased its uranium enrichment and its support for proxy militias. It is a mistake to assume that effective strategies must conform to the U.S. political calendar. Put aside the fact that Pompeo's twelve demands are common-sense policy: an end to terrorism, nuclear weapons work, missile proliferation, sponsorship of militias fighting governments across the region, and threats to eradicate Israel. To suggest any of these are not realistic or attainable goals is to normalize the Islamic Republic's rogue behavior. There is historical precedent to Tehran reversing course in the face of overwhelming economic duress and isolation. The economic wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) controls up to 40% of the Iranian economy. To lift sanctions would be to enrich them further. While critics suggest that the policy undercuts so-called reformers, this too projects a misunderstanding of Iranian politics, as reformers have no influence over security and military issues, nor are their ideological disputes with hardliners significant. Sanctions have failed to prevent North Korea's nuclear program, so would greater aid be in order? It is a logical fallacy to say just because strategy A is slow-working or seemingly ineffective, that strategy B is a panacea. Sometimes the opposite of an imperfect strategy can actually be much worse. It was the inability of the Soviet Union to economically weather the Cold War that led to its demise, and precedent suggests even Iran's Supreme Leader will sacrifice declared principles in order to survive. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

2020-12-10 00:00:00

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