Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Order from Chaos: “Sanctions are coming”— but Trump has no achievable end game for Iran

Suzanne Maloney, brookings.edu, Monday, November 5, 2018

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[T]he Trump White House was practically giddy with anticipation as its self-imposed deadline approached for re-enacting the sanctions suspended by the nuclear deal. The White House trumpeted its application of the most intense economic warfare in modern times with a social media meme
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that likened President Donald  to a “Game of Thrones” character. It was a sophomoric, ego-driven stunt that only served to underscore the administration’s hubris in launching an assault against Iran that appears to have no achievable end game. ...
The severity of the sanctions and the wary overture from Tehran will surely tempt the hawks in the White House to turn up the heat further in the expectation that the clerical regime is already on the ropes. However, tactical gains don’t constitute a successful strategy, and the distinction between Trump’s episodic commentary on Iran and the narrative articulated by senior officials such as National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggests real ambiguity surrounding the administration’s end game and the means of achieving it. While the president himself has consistently touted the prospect of a new negotiating process, Bolton and Pompeo have a long history of infatuation with the concept of regime change, and the clamorous public diplomacy campaign [JB emphasis] that has accompanied the sanctions seems to designed to reinforce that perception. ...

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