How the US Can Win Its ‘Maximum Pressure’ War Against Iran
US President Donald Trump has vowed to impose a “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran, in order to compel this Islamic theocratic tyranny to become like other, normal nation states. He has also said that he is not seeking regime change, and would even be willing to meet with Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president.
Not surprisingly, Iran is trying to turn the tables and, in effect, to apply maximum pressure on the US, particularly during the lead-up to our next national election.
On November 3, one of the Iranian government’s media outlets, PressTV, published excerpts of an interview with a senior military commander, Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, that contain direct threats to America, its allies, and its interests around the world:
Asked about Iran’s reaction in case of an aggression by the United States and its allies, Shekarchi said, “Any place and any territorial point sheltering the interests of the United States and its allies would be threatened [in case of aggression against Iran] and the Islamic Republic of Iran has proved that it is capable of doing this.”
“Even if a country is not directly involved in a possible war [against Iran], but its territory is used by the enemy, we would consider that country hostile territory and treat it like an aggressor,” the top Iranian military official noted.
The key question now is: Who will win this “maximum pressure” race?
Each side possesses numerous advantages and disadvantages. For example:
- The US has focused on stepping up economic pressure on Iran through sanctions and restrictions on Iran’s use of dollars throughout the world’s banking systems.
- Our strong capabilities in cyber-technology can be directed to Iran’s military and civilian infrastructure.
- We possess overwhelming military power, but President Trump has publicly reiterated his distaste for physical war, particularly when it leads to “endless” confrontations, from which it has been hard for us to disengage. (See my recent editorial on this subject, here.)
- The Iranian people, many of whom oppose the theocratic totalitarians who rule over them, and seek peaceful relations with the world, are risking their lives to rise up in protest — and, with help from the US government and private bloggers, their voices are being heard, to such an extent that Iran’s rulers shut down all social media portals.
But, though at a seemingly vast disadvantage, Iran possesses certain advantages, too:
- Iran is a dictatorship, and can make rapid decisions.
- Iran’s leaders are ruthless in their stated intent to take over the world, starting by destroying the US (which they call “the Great Satan”) and Israel (“the Little Satan”). Nothing will stop them, until they are stopped, or go bankrupt.
- Iran is adept at cultural subversion and demographic war, along with strong cyber capabilities.
- The US and the rest of the West have appeased Iran for 40 years, and removed much of Iran’s fear of retaliation.
- Iran wants to heat up the situation to gain relief from sanctions, and interfere in the US election campaigns, to pressure President Trump.
So what should the US do, to better manage this dilemma?The key issue is that the US “maximum pressure” campaign is only in the equivalent of the 3rd inning. The US must turn up the pressure even further, to accelerate this campaign into the 9th inning.
The goal should be to drive Iran into bankruptcy within one year, so that it simply runs out of funds to manage its four distinct terror operations: physical terror, cyber-terror, narco-terror, and cultural terror.
Such accelerated pressure will also reduce the chance of physical war, and all the political ramifications involved.