Iran Plays the Villain

After offering a compelling reminder that war could arrive accidentally (as demonstrated by the case of a suspected drone attack on an Iran-backed militia in Iraq), The Atlantic’s Mike Giglio argues that Iran has lost some international leverage in its standoff with the US. Given Iran’s escalations in the Strait of Hormuz, “Washington’s campaign of maximum pressure appears to be succeeding in driving Iran’s leadership to act like the international deviants the T-RUMP administration has long made them out to be,” he writes.

In an editorial The New York Times argues things have gone far enough and that Washington and Tehran should start talking—better to communicate that way, the paper writes, than by seizing tankers and shooting down each other’s drones.

Iran seized a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, raising already heightened tensions in the region. Five armed boats affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard approached the tanker as it was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz, two US officials with knowledge of the incident said. The Iranians ordered the tanker to change course and stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters.  By enriching more uranium and escalating tensions at sea, Iran is purposefully raising the specter of war, 

Analysts have offered various theories on Iranian strategy, but Ghitis suggests Iran “is telling the world, and the American people more than anyone” that unless the US lowers tensions, it could face “a reprisal of the war in Iraq.” Tehran is “trying to engage in just enough provocations to keep the fear of war alive without going so far as to spark a devastating military response,” she writes—a “tightrope” Iran will walk until the 2020 US election. The strategy is working, she argues, as President Trump appears to have backed off, given the risk of sparking an undesirable war. 
Of course, not everyone agrees. MIT’s Jim Walsh, writing for CNN, sees a reckless president fantastically believing a war will be easy to win, whose defining foreign-policy legacy will be a nuclear-armed Iran.

After so much criticism of president Obama’s infamous “red line” in Syria, the standoff with Iran has exposed a credibility problem for President T-RUMP, Max Boot writes in The Washington Post. T-RUMP is a “ Twitter tiger whose threats cannot be taken seriously,” Boot writes, calling on the president to “ put up or shut up” when it comes to his bluster. 

Iran has found itself in a tricky spot, and Peter Jenkins writes at LobeLog that Tehran needs to find a creative strategy for dealing with T-RUMP, rather than simply exiting the nuclear deal and enriching uranium.

We know as fact that President T-RUMP is an inveterate liar, but some of his lies are more significant than others. The lies he told about his change of heart over attacking Iran after Iran shot down a U.S. drone are particularly telling. “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” T-RUMP tweeted on Friday morning. “150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 

10  minutes before the strike I stopped it, not … proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

In fact, accounts from both The Post and the New York Times agree that, as per standard practice, the Pentagon had provided collateral damage estimates early on Thursday along with its options for striking Iran. Moreover, as noted, the “150 figure was on the high end of a range of possibilities”; 150 dead was the worst-case scenario if US bombs and missiles had hit the proposed Iranian targets — radars and missile batteries — in the middle of the day. 

The option that Trump initially approved, however, was to attack during the night to minimize loss of life. Finally, the newspapers’ accounts agree that Trump called off the strikes not 10 minutes beforehand but roughly two hours ahead of time, at around 7 p.m.

These lies may seem small, but they are actually quite telling, because they go to the issue of motivation. T-RUMP would like the world to believe that he called off the airstrikes because he is a humanitarian and “not a warmonger.” 

But the evidence suggests he was really motivated by conversations with the likes of Tucker Carlson, who told him, according to the Times, that the “hawks” urging retaliation against Iran “did not have the president’s best interests at heart … [and] if Mr. Trump got into a war with Iran, he could kiss his chances of re-election goodbye.” 


President Bone Spurs T-RUMP ordered military strikes against Iran and then  abruptly called them off at the last minute. The operation was in its initial stages, with ships in position and planes in the air, when the order came to stand down, The New York Times reported. It’s not clear why the President changed his mind or whether the attacks may still happen. 

Tensions with Iran escalated after the Iranians shot down a US drone - Iran policy hardliners in the administration and some GOP lawmakers have pushed for a military response, but Democrats have warned T-RUMP not to take actions that could lead to the start of a war. 

Tehran, Iran (CNN)Iranian forces have shot down a United States military drone, a move that appears to have escalated the volatile situation playing out between Washington and Tehran in the Middle East. 

Iran's Revolutionary Guard said it had shot down an "intruding American spy drone" after it entered into the country's territory Thursday, according to state-run Press TV. 

A US official confirmed to CNN a drone had been shot down, but said the incident occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most vital shipping routes.

Press TV reported the downed drone was a US-made RQ-4 Global Hawk, while the US official said it was a MQ-4C Triton. Both are unmanned surveillance aircraft developed by weapons manufacturer Northrop Grumman.

The head of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, said the shooting down of the drone had sent a warning to the US.  
"The only way for our enemies to be safe is to respect our sovereignty, national security, and the national interests of the great Iranian nation," Salami said, according to Iran's semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

Press TV reported that Revolutionary Guards shot down the drone while it was flying over country’s southern coastal province of Hormozga.  In comments likely to inflame tensions, Salami said that Iran does "not want war with any country, but we are completely, and totally, ready and prepared for war."

Reuters quoted Cap. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US Central Command, as saying,  “  No US aircraft were operating in Iranian airspace” Thursday.  Relations between the two adversaries have taken a dangerous turn this week, beginning with the Trump administration's decision Monday to deploy 1,000 additional troops and more military resources to the Middle East. The forces are being sent in response to what Washington called “ hostile behavior by Iranian forces that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region."

US officials blame Iran for conducting attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and the US President himself last week accused Iran of being behind the provocation, telling Fox News: “ It was them that did it.”  Tehran has categorically denied the accusations, and President Hassan Rouhani said the country does not seek war but "is determined to show its hopefulness and vitality and defeat the enemy's plot."

Iran has previously been accused of targeting US drones.  In the hours before the attack on the two tankers earlier this month, the Iranians spotted a US drone flying overhead and launched a surface-to-air missile at the unmanned aircraft, a US official told CNN.   


In 2014, the Iran’s armed forces revealed what it claimed was a copy of a stealth American drone "commandeered" by Tehran in 2011.  Relations between Iran and the United States have deteriorated since May 2018, when Washington chose to leave the 2015 nuclear deal the Iranian regime negotiated with world powers and reimpose crippling sanctions on Iran's economy.

T-RUMP and many conservatives in the US had long criticized the deal, which allowed Iran to stockpile limited amounts of enriched uranium and heavy water produced in that process, exporting any excess.  Doing so has become extremely difficult after the US revoked waivers that allowed Iran to export those excess stockpiles, effectively forcing Iran to halt enrichment or ignore the limits, which it is now doing.

After a year of waiting, Rouhani announced last month that it would reduce its "commitments to the deal," but not fully withdraw from it.

Iran then announced this week that it would resume nuclear enrichment activities, accelerating uranium enrichment to 3.7% -- above the 3.67% mandated by the nuclear deal. Enrichment at this level is enough to continue powering parts of the country’s energy needs, but not enough to construct a nuclear bomb.


As the US standoff with Iran hurtles forward, it’s revealing some truths about US power, influence, and alliances. Among them, Liam Denning writes for Bloomberg, is that America can no longer ensure the security of Gulf oil shipping on its own, and thanks to domestic US oil production, it lacks the incentive to assume such a responsibility.

The standoff is not only a test of American power, or of Trump’s personal handling of a crisis situation, former US diplomat and Middle East specialist Dennis Ross writes in a Washington Post op-ed: It’s testing Trump’s entire foreign-policy doctrine of unilateralism. After Trump has alienated US allies, he finds himself in a confrontation where he might actually need them, Ross argues.

Writing the Lowy Institute’s Interpreter blog, Rodger Shanahan agrees, surmising that “it is precisely when the going gets difficult that you need all of your friends to support you in applying ‘maximum diplomatic pressure.’ And the going is getting difficult.”


6/18/2019 - One thousand more US troops are  amid heightened tensions with Iran. The additional troops will be used for   “ Defensive purposes ” to address threats to US interests in the region, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said. 

The deployment will include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and missile defense for force protection. Meanwhile, Iran announced it is ramping up enrichment of low-grade uranium. In a little more than a week, it will pass the limit on the amount it is allowed to stockpile under the nuclear deal it signed in 2015 with the West.

This situation is much more volatile than America’s standoffs with North Korea under Trump, or with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Regional uncertainty and the presence of multiple interested actors can “change the calculations at any time, and I think that is what’s creating a dangerous situation,” Rouhi says. The roles of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq, and Syria all make the situation less predictable. 

That’s one reason why it’s “useless” to think America can change Iran’s regime in an enduring bilateral standoff, in the same way it approached the Soviet Union, and why T-RUMP can’t use the same approach with Iran as he did with Kim Jong-Un.  I don’t think love messages are more blowjob than fact to the  AYAT-OLD-KA-KA-MIME will be the same endgame. Failure, the keynote of the T-RUMP regime…


The United States says it has multiple images of Iranian commercial ships in the Persian Gulf that it believes are carrying missiles. An official told CNN that recent surveillance has shown some of the ships moving in and out of Iranian ports in the recent days. CNN hasn't reviewed the intelligence that led to this assessment. And the government hasn't provided any proof the ships are carrying hidden missiles or any other munitions. All this comes as the United States has moved bombers and a carrier strike group into the region. Fears of a potential military conflict between the countries have increased over the past couple of weeks. Officials in Washington are debating whether Iran is planning to attack US assets or whether it is acting defensively in an attempt to deter US action.

MORE: The United States is in the midst of an extremely dangerous standoff with Iran — and President Donald T-RUMP is mainly to blame.  Exactly one year ago Wednesday, Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions from Tehran in exchange for the country agreeing to curb its nuclear program. That wasn’t enough for Trump, though, who believed the accord was a disaster because it didn’t stop Iran’s growing ballistic missile program or sponsorship of terrorism.

The US president’s goal, it seems, is to put so much pressure on Tehran that it has no choice but to completely change its behavior — but he could end up leading the countries to the brink of war in the process.

Trump has authorized other hardline moves against Iran since pulling out of the accord, namely the reimposition of sanctions and a campaign to isolate the country from the international community. That led Iran’s economy to collapse, plunging the country into a deeper and deeper recession, impacting millions of Iranians who were already struggling under the regime’s brutal rule.

Last month, the Trump administration took things a step further when it decided to label the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — Iran’s hugely influential security and military organization responsible for the protection and survival of the regime — as a “foreign terrorist organization.” That’s the first time the US has called any part of another government a terrorist group, the Trump administration says.

That and other moves put the US and Iran on a collision course — and now it seems the countries have finally collided. While Iran has provoked the international community with its heinous actions, like supporting Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and backing proxy groups that have killed hundreds of US troops, the fault for today’s precarious situation lies mostly at Trump’s feet.

America has the firepower to win a war with Iran, but the cost would be catastrophic, Amin Saikal writes in Project Syndicate. Iran could sink US ships, threaten countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel with missiles, and launch suicide attacks, he writes, warning of an “uncontrollable regional inferno.” With those consequences in mind, Steven Simon and Richard Sokolsky write at Politico Magazine that it’s imperative for Congress to check the Trump administration’s escalation. After National Security Advisor John Bolton cited threatening intelligence reports, Simon and Sokolsky call on Congress to vet the details—lest it repeat the mistakes of 2003’s Iraq invasion. 

The recently cited intelligence involved Iran loading missiles onto ships, and writing for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Fabian Hinz suggests those missiles were most likely headed for Yemen to assist Houthi rebels, not necessarily to threaten American troops.


The deal is a special agreement between the country of Iran and other major world powers - the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.   The agreement spells out what Iran is allowed to do as regards its nuclear programme - that's the scientific steps by which a country develops nuclear power - which could be used to generate energy but which could also lead to the development of nuclear weapons.  

But the US - led by President Donald T-RUMP -  pulled out of it.  So what is the Iran nuclear deal and why is it such a big deal that the US has withdrawn from it?   Over the years, Iran has not had a very good relationship with many major world powers because they thought Iran was working to build a nuclear weapon.

Even though Iran said its nuclear activities were peaceful many in the international community simply did not believe that.For 10 years, a worldwide organisation of countries called the United Nations (UN) put rules and restrictions on Iran called sanctions, which were designed to put pressure on Iran to stop developing its nuclear programme by damaging the country's econoFor example, Iran was stopped from selling oil and natural gas to certain countries, which was a big deal because the country made a lot of money from doing this. 

That caused a lot of problems for Iran. When President of Iran Hassan Rouhani came to power in 2013, he said he wanted to improve the country's relationship with the rest of the world and try to improve the economy.

After years of talks, in 2015, President Rouhani agreed a deal called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with six major world powers - the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.