James Jay Carafano
Security, Middle East
The strategy for Iran is a counter-punch strategy that looks to knock the pins out from under the elements of Iranian power.
Mike Pompeo’s first formal speech as Secretary of State can best be described a diplomatic body slam on the Iranian regime.
He not only declared the Iran Deal as dead as the Wicked Witch of the West. He laid out the follow-up U.S. strategy to deal with the regime’s nuclear ambitions and destabilizing actions in the region.
It’s true that the speech included a long list of complaints about the deal and Iranian behavior that we have heard from Trump before. But Pompeo put three new elements of U.S. policy on the table.
No More Mr. Nice Guy
In addition to talking about sanctions, Pompeo signaled a number of other initiatives the United States will undertake, from counter-proliferation measures to going after surrogates. This is different and more ambitious than the “maximum pressure” strategy the United States imposed against the DPRK regime.
The strategy the United States imposed against North Korea is primarily designed to protect America and its allies against a nuclear threat with a combination of missile defense, nuclear deterrence, conventional deterrence and sanctioning. The strategy for Iran is a “counter-punch” strategy that looks to knock the pins out from under the elements of Iranian power.
It’s more than just isolation. It’s more like whittling down to size.
What makes this scary for the Iranian regime is that there is every prospect the United States can pull this off. There is plenty of punch in the counter-punch strategy.
Certainly, the United States can gut Tehran’s access to Western cash. Europeans can chatter all they want about preserving the deal. The truth is, European and American companies are already bailing. And the Iranian economy looks to be in virtual free-fall.
In public, European officials may continue to bash the president, appeasing Trump-haters over there and over here. In private, they know Iran is a problem for them too, and they have little option but to work with the United States. In the Middle East, countries are lining up to join the anti-Tehran cause.