US uses lightning war tactics

Crisis between Iran and the USA: thick trousers in the Gulf

Maximum pressure. This is the foreign policy strategy that Donald Trump has preferred to use since he took office. The US president is putting his opponents - whether they are in North Korea, China, Mexico, Canada, Europe or the Persian Gulf - under pressure with all available means. What was effective in the New York real estate market, the underlying consideration in the White House seems to be, must also work in world politics. Thick pants rules.

Is that really the case? As it is currently, not really. Because the US government is not only failing to achieve its strategic goals - if it has any - it is also increasingly endangering world peace with its permanent saber rattling. Especially in the Persian Gulf, where there are now almost daily incidents that could spark the powder keg that this region has been representing for decades.

As with North Korea, no one should be under any illusions about the nature of the regime in Iran. There people are oppressed, Tehran is considered an ideal and financial sponsor of various terrorist organizations and cherishes regional claims to power. The central question is how to deal with it - sensibly.

Maximum pressure

In North Korea, Trump decided after his maximum pressure approach (in 2017 he spoke of a bombing of the "little rocket man" in Pyongyang) to hold a big peace show. It should symbolize that a tough attitude pays off. After the exchange of friendships, there has been little progress so far: The complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a political fantasy that not even Trump seriously believes in.

In the case of Iran, the US President took the opposite path: he canceled an existing nuclear deal that made controls by the international community possible in Iran (just as Trump would like to have with North Korea). Now Tehran is again enriching uranium on a large scale, and the potential for conflict is increasing day by day because the situation is breaking out of the orderly channels of the deal. Even if both sides emphasize that they do not want a war, the danger of falling into one is more realistic than it has been for a long time.

What that would mean must also be clear to someone with a pronounced aversion to briefings and contexts such as the US President: Iran and its allies in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere would fight back by any means. Israel would be extremely endangered. The Strait of Hormuz might become impassable for energy transport from the region to China or Europe. Oil and gas prices went through the roof. A (world) economic crisis would be inevitable. Tehran could then hardly be dissuaded from the pursuit of nuclear weapons; there would be a nuclear arms race in the entire region.

Such perspectives cannot leave anyone in Washington indifferent, including Trump. Not least at the Pentagon, it has always been clear that less pressure sometimes means more. Whether this insight about the Potomac gets through to Mike Pompeo in the State Department and the White House has not been established. One thing is certain: Too much pressure creates explosions. (Christoph Prantner, June 20, 2019)