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The US Definitely Wants Regime Change In Iran

July 29, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

Just as with previous administrations, the current leadership of the US considers Iran a strategic adversary. Ever since President Trump announced he was withdrawing from JCPOA on May 8 there has been a transparent effort by the White House to further alienate Tehran and normalize the possibility that an attack on the Islamic Republic will soon be underway.

Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech condemning Iran’s government as a brutal and corrupt regime that deprives its citizens of their life and liberty. On the same day as Pompeo’s call to arms, Trump railed against his counterpart in Tehran with an angry tweet.

The full text of the all caps threat is embedded below for posterity:

Although the tweet can be dismissed as scripted hyperbole that’s par for the course in Trump’s Twitter feed, the actual policies now at play with regards to Iran are gravely serious. The US government has made it clear it intends to eliminate Iran’s energy exports before the year is out and multinational companies are facing real consequences if they transact with Tehran.

The effects couldn’t be more dire. Soaring inflation is slowly killing the Iranian rial and the country’s nominal GDP should plummet by 2019. But cutting off Tehran from the global economy might not be as effective as anticipated–China, India, and Russia, for example, have ongoing multibillion dollar projects inside Iran.

There are no shortage of writers who are anticipating a conventional war with Iran to break out once Washington, DC has all its pieces in place. A day after Trump’s belligerent tweet, Vox’ senior reporter Zack Beauchamp warned of the terrible consequences attacking Iran can bring. The scenario Beauchamp described wasn’t even far-fetched and enumerated the well-known downsides of a US-led Iranian war. Foremost is the failure of a massive air campaign to completely destroy at least three fortified enrichment facilities and the likelihood the Persian Gulf will be sown with mines and obstructed, causing a global economic crisis.

Beauchamp’s assessment echoed Mark Perry’s own misgivings with an Iran war scenario published last month in Foreign Policy. Citing scholars and unnamed members of the US military, Perry emphasized the difficult logistics a US-led air campaign would require. Worse, the kind of war that ensues may never end as Iran mobilizes its proxies and attacks US allies in the Middle East. By shedding light on Iran-centric skepticism from inside the Pentagon, Perry shows how Tehran’s present rulers can survive a US assault and keep fighting indefinitely, which dooms the US to another war without end.

By 2020, deals for up to 300 US-made combat aircraft would have either been closed or paid for by Gulf Arab states. Photo via Titan Miller.

Yet one American writer has gone farther than the rest when it comes to envisioning a full-blown invasion of Iran. This week, the ex-paratrooper and PhD student Joe Karle wrote in the Modern War Institute that prosecuting a deliberate Iraqi Freedom-style regime change campaign on Iran opens a can of worms. Karle believes planning an occupation is needed not as a road map, but to highlight how difficult a multi-faceted expedition versus Tehran is.

There’s a clear consensus among authoritative sources on Iran and the Middle East that open warfare against Tehran is a fool’s errand. Recent evidence suggests this is exactly what’s underway. On July 27, a Friday, Australia’s ABC broke the news that intelligence shared by Canberra and London was vital to the US military’s plan for airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. But Australia’s Prime Minister was quick to cast doubt on the claim and denied the substance of the original story.

This weekend Reuters followed up with a scoop on the US’ efforts to assemble a pan-Arab coalition for confronting Iran. The story claimed a “Middle East Strategic Alliance” or MESA was in the works with Saudi Arabia and the UAE at the forefront and with participation by Egypt and Jordan. The nuts and bolts of this regional bloc have yet to be revealed and whether MESA commands sufficient capabilities–economic, diplomatic, technological, and military–for limiting Iran’s power is uncertain.

What’s truly beyond doubt is the US wants a clear victory over its nemesis in the Middle East. Getting rid of Iran’s current government, however, seems a dubious endeavor with intangible results.

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