February 10, 2017

NEW YORK TIMES: Trump’s Iran Policy Is Working.

The New York Times may not like to openly admit to admiring President Trump’s Iran policy, but its latest dispatch from Tehran shows how his combative approach is already causing headaches for Iran’s leaders. . . .

It sure looks like Trump’s policy of turning up the heat on Iran is causing problems for the Iranian government—and, indirectly, confirming critics of the Iran deal who argued that its effect was to make it easier for the mullahs to keep power at home, even as they stepped up Iranian aggression abroad.

Taking a tough posture toward Iran has been one of Trump’s most clear-cut priorities since assuming office; in many ways, he has more clearly laid the groundwork for confronting Iran than Sunni jihadists like ISIS. By putting Iran “on notice” after its latest missile launch, imposing new sanctions, calling out Iranian proxies in Yemen, and questioning the future of the nuclear deal, Trump is signaling that the Obama era is over and that the Iranians can expect forceful pushback, not conciliation, when they challenge U.S. interests.

Despite the risks, picking an early fight with Iran does make some strategic sense for Trump. Of the three main revisionist powers who have gained ground under the Obama administration, Iran is clearly the weakest and most overextended. By coming out swinging against Iran, Trump is stoking fears of unpredictable escalation to make the Iranians back down from further provocations, while sending a signal to other challengers that it is unwise to test the new administration.

Well, stay tuned.