The saving grace about the gathering storms in the Persian Gulf is that President Trump’s foreign policy is driven by the intersection of US domestic politics and his own calculus in the November 2020 presidential election. Getting into a military conflict with Iran will be bad politics for him — he would be aware of the embers of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 incinerating to ashes then President Jimmy Carter’s political career and legacy.
Yet, there is a flip side. Trump is waging a campaign of ‘maximum pressure’ — squeezing Iran with sanctions with a view to reducing its lifeblood of oil exports to zero — but he has no Plan B. And with Iran hitting back through ‘counter-escalation’, Trump is hard-pressed to respond. Meanwhile, the ‘hawks’ in his camp are queering the pitch of tensions leading toward a military conflict in which, they fantasise, Iran’s Islamic regime would perish. In sum, conditions are approaching criticality.
The illegal seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar by the British navy 10 days ago had the hallmarks of an Anglo-American game plan to compel Tehran to react by force, which could be a casus belli that can be packaged to the public as sufficient justification for resort to arms. Read More