January 4, 2020

ANGELO CODEVILLA: War With Iran? The United States has preferred toothless sanctions over victory. But sometimes the right sanctions are deadlier than atom bombs.

Because America is the world’s sine qua non economic power, U.S. “secondary sanctions”—meaning we will not trade with anyone who trades with the target country—are potentially deadlier than atom bombs. Trump added secondary financial sanctions as part of his revocation of Obama’s “Iran deal,” reducing Iran’s oil sales to a trickle. Compared to that measure of war, bombing a few ports would have been nothing.

Were the United States to place secondary sanctions on all manner of goods, especially food, the effect would be far greater than an invasion by the entire U.S. army. How the Iranian people would deal with the choice between starving and ending their government’s war on America would be their business.

I feel sure that Trump has thought this through. Also, remember: In the old days of pre-fracking, the U.S. Navy had to hold the Straits of Hormuz open. Now it only has to be able to close them.

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