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IRAQ 2.0?

May 9, 2019 in Economics

By Emma Ashford

Emma Ashford

Tensions are rising in the Middle East. The White House, citing
poorly sourced intelligence, has increased the US force presence in
the region, and ramped up sanctions aimed at preventing the
development of weapons of mass destruction.

Sound familiar?

The Trump administration’s Iran policy today certainly has
uncomfortable parallels with the run-up to the Iraq War. But there
are also substantial differences. The administration has sought to
punish — rather than persuade — US allies into working
with it on sanctions. The intelligence in question isn’t about a
nuclear violation. And the White House itself seems unclear what
it’s actually seeking to achieve in Iran.

At the end of the day, however, it hardly matters. The
administration’s actions are increasing tensions and driving us
down a path where miscalculation is increasingly likely. It may not
be Iraq 2.0, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t end in a war.

Trump might not want war
with Iran, but he might get it anyway.

Under (Maximum) Pressure

Tensions have been rising for weeks, beginning with Trump’s
decision to end waivers on Iranian oil imports. Though it sounds
like a dry, technical issue, the real-world implications of this
choice could not be more real: countries like China, Japan and
India must stop importing Iranian oil entirely, or face US
penalties. The move removes about a million barrels per day from the global oil
market.

The administration has taken other draconian steps too. Just a
few weeks ago, they designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard
Corps as a terrorist group. That label has never before been
applied to a state military, and prompted Tehran to respond,
declaring that all US forces in the Middle East are
terrorists.

The White House also announced that they had sped up the
long-planned deployment of a carrier strike group to the region,
with National Security Advisor John Boltonstating
that the move sends “a clear and unmistakable message to the
Iranian regime.” The intelligence that prompted this move
— which suggests the existence of plans by Iranian forces to
attack US positions in the region — is debatable. Indeed,
there’s no clear indication that these were active plans,
rather than mere contingency planning for any future
conflict.

Finally, this morning — on the first anniversary of
Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal — Iranian
leaders announced steps that could make it harder for
them to abide by the deal in the future. More importantly, they
announced that they would potentially violate the deal if other
countries don’t do more to mitigate the impact of US
sanctions.

To make a long story short, the stakes in …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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