Last month during a speech at the Heritage Foundation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out a list of demands that Iran must meet if it wants to “keep its economy alive.” This continues a campaign to destabilize the Iranian government which began in the lead up to the decertification of the Iran nuclear deal.
Pompeo went on to say that “The sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen,” and that “These will indeed end up being the strongest sanctions in history.”
This is a reminder that the Trump administration is working to cripple the Iranian regime, if not militarily, then at least economically. This open intention to destabilize Iran is all the more dangerous in the context of the Syrian War. If the US doesn’t consider military intervention in Iran to be on the table (and it isn’t clear that this is the case), it could still get sucked deeper into the Syrian conflict by an increasingly belligerent Iran. With the US bent on destroying the Iranian economy, it has no incentive to dial back its aggression in the region, especially as it concerns the Iran-Israel conflict which has been brewing on Israel’s border with Syria. Desperate and backed into a corner, Iran may consider more direct action against Israel. Without a doubt, any serious confrontation between the two would draw the US in to protect its “greatest ally.”
Pompeo’s remarks showed a stunning lack of self-awareness, which has unfortunately become a staple of US foreign policy. Pivoting to an appeal to the Iranian people, Pompeo stated that “President [Hassan] Rouhani and Foreign Minister [Javad] Zarif. . . are your elected leaders. Are they not the most responsible for your economic struggles? The United States believes you deserve better.” This is after Pompeo said that the US would do its best to kill the Iranian economy, which the US, due to its enormous economic clout, can do single-handedly. In one breath he told the Iranian government that he would destroy its economy, then in the next he told Iranians that the government was responsible for the bad economy. This bad faith paternalistic rhetoric has contributed in no small part to the widespread hatred for the US felt throughout much of the world, including Iran.
America’s Iran policy was once again a topic of discussion this weekend at the G7 summit, where the other countries stood in opposition to it. In May, American ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, tweeted that Germany should stop all business ties with Iran or face consequences. The other G7 countries have certainly heard that message, though less publicly. Typically, opposing the policies of the globo-home G7 countries is a good path, but in this case going against the grain does not benefit America.