I feel like the broader arc of Trump’s Iran policy has been ignored recently. The incredibly flashy and violent gyrations of escalation have gotten a lot of coverage, but there isn’t enough emphasis on why we’re here. Sure, I suppose it’s fun to get bogged down on the question of whether or not assassinating the general of a country we are not at war with is a good idea, but we’re kind of missing the forest for the trees. No matter what you think of the Soleimani killing, we should be more focused on how we got here. And that’s what I try to do today with this video. I attempt to evaluate Trump’s “Maximum Pressure” policy against Iran, and I find it wanting.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there. I think I have been pretty clear about how much I dislike Trump’s Iran policy. But for today, let’s pretend that it’s plausible. I’m going to try to put aside my massive prejudices and evaluate how the “Maximum Pressure” policy is doing. The first thing to do here is attempt to figure out what the Trump administration’s goal is, because even that isn’t exactly clear.
There seem to be two goals here, the official goal, and what looks to me to be, for most people in the administration, the real goal. Thanks to few moronic Washington, DC think tanks, and a monolithically war mongering news media, from CNN to Fox News, your average half-informed uncle thinks that the Obama administration’s Iran Nuclear Deal was bad, and that a better deal was somehow possible, and all that was necessary was a real tough guy to get it. This is the official story that Republican congressmen can sell to the half informed uncles that fund their campaigns. Our half-informed uncles don’t generally want war, but in their heart of hearts they just know Trump can get a better deal than that wimpy black guy. The thing is, if you look at the backgrounds, speeches, and tactics of the Folks in the Trump administration, it’s clear that for most, the official goal is just a cover. Most of them are working for regime change, and they always have been. A lot of these guys seem to think that the Iranian regime can be overthrown without war, but it’s pretty clear that most of them would be very OK with war too. It’s darkly comic that Donald Trump is the only person in his administration who seems to believe that the official goal is possible. It’s Trump, so it depends on the day, his mood, and which Fox News show he watched last, but he occasionally does seem dumb enough to believe that he will produce a lasting deal with Iran. Unfortunately nobody he has hired has any real interest in that. The Trump administration doesn’t have the temperament, the personnel, or the capacity to negotiate a nuclear deal. The goal is regime change, and it always has been.
Now we should move on to methods. It’s clear from tweets, speeches, and the murderous sanctions at the heart of Trump’s maximum pressure policy that the plan is to use the Iranian people as a weapon against the regime. And to some extent it has been working. People are dying for lack of medicine, and It’s estimated that Iran’s economy will contract by 8% this year alone, driving horrific joblessness and poverty in a country that was already pretty poor. The people have been driven to the streets, and over the past few months the Iranian regime has murdered something like 1500 protesters. Some vocal people in the comments have been asking why I’m not making a bigger show of supporting the protesters.
Well, for one thing, the last thing Iranian protesters need is guys who look like me or Mike Pompeo or Donald Trump rooting for them. The main argument that the Iranian regime, and all regimes use against protesters is that they are supported by imperialist forces from the United States. When Pompeo or Trump tweets their support for protesters it hurts the protestors cause, it does not help them. This should be obvious, but it goes against Fox News dogma. Back in 2009, the Obama administration helped the Green movement become the most successful Iranian protest movement since the Revolution, precisely by not making it all about the United States. On Fox News they called this weak, so Trump and Pompeo have been consistently cutting the legs out from under the opposition by tweeting their support. That’s not something I want to do on this channel.
For another thing, the recent intensity is new, but anti-Regime protests are not new. The Trump administration has been claiming the regime is about to fall due to protests for over two years now. I made a video on Iranian protests back in 2018 and I hate repeating myself. To be clear, I think that Iranian protesters, like Egyptian and Saudi protesters, who are willing to take their lives into their own hands to protest a despotic regime are heroic. They have my full support, but I know well enough not to make a big deal about that. Americans who make a big deal of supporting Iranian protestors are helping the regime kill those protestors. It’s that simple.
The Iranian people of today are caught in between two buzzsaws. On the one hand they have the regime, which is mismanaged, brutal, corrupt, and an eager murderer of dissenters. On the other hand they have US sanctions that are crushing the economy, making things even worse for the people of Iran. The theory here is that the Iranian suffering we are causing is worth it, because they will eventually overthrow their government. Maybe it will even work. But if the regime has murdered 1500 protesters over the past few months, how many more will have to die before this plan works. This plan has also not been working in Venezuela for a couple years now. Between 1990 and 2003 this plan also failed in Iraq. Many claim that US sanctions killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the 1990s, and it all just functioned as a prelude to war.
I’m afraid that’s what our Iran policy is as well, just a way to generate another trillion dollar war. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Trump administration has the right mix of toughness and unpredictability to make it work. The Iranian regime’s horrific incompetence has made its fall look more possible today than it has at any point since the more peaceful green revolution days of 2009.
The one-two punch of the Iranian regime’s weak response to the Soleimani assassination, followed by their admission that they shot down a plane full of their own people makes them look incredibly vulnerable.This is the time. They look weak. They look stupid. They look brutal and evil.The Iranian people are incredibly angry, and they have every right to be. If the Trump administration’s plan of using the Iranian people against the regime was ever going to work, now is the time.
But what if the regime is still here next week? Or six weeks from now, or six months from now? Well then we’re going to have to look honestly at the complete failure of Trump’s policy. We will have to face the fact that all it has done is cost lives, increase tensions, risk war, and make an Iranian nuclear bomb more likely rather than less likely. The 176 people who died on Ukraine air flight 752 have given Trump’s maximum pressure policy it’s best chance of success. If it doesn’t work now it never will. This should be the Trump Iran policy’s last chance.
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