President Trump will shortly announce the administration’s new strategy to combat Iran and its worldwide terror network. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of the president’s battle plan against the regime in Tehran.
President Trump will call out the Iranian regime for its terrorist activities and ignition of regional turmoil. Unlike the last president, Trump is expected to directly target the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, who has ruled Iran with unchecked authority and an iron fist for the past 28 years.
The president is also expected to announce that the United States plans to sanction individuals and groups associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), its chief military arm charged with spreading Iran’s fundamentalist ideology worldwide. The IRGC has helped Iran assert dominance over Iraq and supports efforts to keep the Assad regime in power in Syria.
According to the White House, Trump will highlight Iran’s hostility to the U.S. and Israel, its domestic human rights abuses, its cyber attacks, and taking hostage American citizens who visit Iran.
President Trump appears to be adapting the “fix it or nix it” strategy to the Iran deal. Proponents of this approach argue that it allows the president to sanction and penalize Iranian assets beyond the scope of the nuclear deal.
Iran is seeking to dominate the greater Middle East. Since the nuclear deal, Iran has quadrupled support for Hezbollah, re-upped funding for Hamas, and continued supporting the Houthis in Yemen and the Assad regime in Syria. Iran has essentially taken over the government in Iraq, and the regime continues to call for the annihilation of America and Israel. Unlike Obama, it appears that President Trump is willing to call out the regime for the menace that it is. The Iranian regime is an enemy to the United States and stands opposed to the ideals that make America great. Saying so provides the much-needed moral clarity not seen during the past administration.
While the White House claims to be developing a strategy to fight Iran’s regional expansion, there still is no firm plan to counter Iran’s activities in the Middle East. In recent months, Iran has threatened U.S. military posts with attack boats in the Persian Gulf and armed drones over Syria and Iraq.
However, Trump’s top advisers appear to be committed to Obama’s Middle East strategy of doing nothing to stop Iran’s expansion. Defense Secretary Mattis and national security adviser McMaster are opposed to allowing U.S. commanders in Syria and Iraq to fight back against Iranian threats.
Under Obama, the United States formed a coalition to defeat ISIS, and ISIS alone, while ignoring the other regional menaces like Iran. In fact, an argument can be made that by only focusing on ISIS, the U.S.-led coalition has consequently helped Iran and its proxies scoop up territory and influence. While President Trump’s speech promises action on this front, we have yet to see any evidence of an actual change in approach to Iran’s behavior in the Middle East.
The president is abandoning his campaign promise to “rip up” the Iran nuclear deal. There’s no getting around that fact. His advisers and the international community have yet again convinced the president to stay in the deal. While he will decertify that is in the national security interests of America, Trump has no intention to leave the deal. By keeping the Iran deal, President Trump is holding on to the signature component of Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy.
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Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.
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