January 07, 2020

Team Trump Thought It Could Contain Iran With ‘Maximum Pressure.’ The Attacks Got Worse
In the hours after members and supporters of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq began protesting at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, senior Trump administration officials in the State Department, White House, and Pentagon convened to discuss options for how to respond. The situation in the country was growing increasingly hostile on the ground, and an American contractor had been killed just days earlier by a rocket attack launched by Kataib Hezbollah. Key advisers to President Donald Trump presented a slew of options, as they had in the past when Iran’s rockets got too close for comfort or its militias had made moves on the battlefield that suggested they were postured to strike American assets, according to two senior U.S. officials. But the attack on a U.S. base near Kirkuk was different from past skirmishes between American and pro-Iranian forces. An American was dead and Iran showed no sign of backing down militarily in Iraq or elsewhere in the region. “The president was faced with a choice and he took the shot,” a person familiar with Trump’s thinking told The Daily Beast, referring to the Trump administration’s assassination of Iran’s top military leader, Qassem Soleimani, last week.Things were never expected to get to this point. Part of the implied goal of an American policy known as “maximum pressure,” with its crushing sanctions on the Iranian economy, was to force Tehran to scale back its aggression. While the Trump administration never specifically stated that the campaign aimed to curtail Iran’s military stance toward the U.S. and its allies, American officials told The Daily Beast that the White House hoped it could gain enough leverage with sanctions to deter Tehran’s military aggression. The attack that killed the contractor, the move toward U.S. bases, these were signs Iran was getting more aggressive, not less.The president wasn’t alone in his decision to strike Soleimani. Officials across the three agencies had for months discussed Iran’s threat against the U.S. and determined that the maximum pressure campaign had not changed Tehran’s behavior, at least not militarily, according to the two U.S. officials and three other individuals with knowledge of the administration's decision-making regarding Iran. It had only bolstered Iran’s adversarial posture toward American assets in the Middle East and elsewhere throughout the world, those sources said. Behind closed doors, many U.S. officials began to question the efficacy of maximum pressure, while others pushed the president privately to go after a high-profile Iranian target.“While the maximum pressure campaign has completely ravaged Iran’s economy, Tehran’s intentions toward the U.S. have remained as hostile as they have been for four decades,” said Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank in Washington known for advising the Trump administration on its Iran policy. “Up until now I think people assumed that the president would only use sanctions as his sole instrument of national power. But once Soleimani-backed militias killed an American and threatened to kill others, the president decided to do what no president has done in the past. It could now change the way the administration deploys the full range of national power against the regime in Iran.”Following the assassination of Soleimani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went on national television and laid out exactly how Soleimani’s actions had begun to worry the U.S. enough that they deemed it necessary to strike.“We watched the intelligence flow in that talked about Soleimani’s role in the region and the work that he was doing to put Americans further at risk,” he said. “It was time to take this action… so we could disrupt this plot. The risk of doing nothing was enormous.”But months earlier, Pompeo was making nearly the opposite case: that maximum pressure was causing Iran to turn down the heat.“Before we reimposed sanctions and accelerated our pressure campaign, Iran was increasing its malign activity,” Pompeo wrote in an opinion column last spring. “U.S. pressure is reversing these trends. The regime and its proxies are weaker than when our pressure began. Iranian-backed militias have stated that Iran no longer has enough money to pay them as much as in the past and has enacted austerity plans.”The State Department, Pentagon, and White House did not respond to a request for comment.Maximum pressure was drafted, in part, with the help of outside economic and political consultants and former officials who publicly called on the U.S. to take a much harsher stance against the Iranian regime. Since then, the Trump administration has sanctioned more than 1,000 Iranian entities. Most recently, it designated Tehran’s main military outfit as a terrorist organization.All of that was designed to cripple Iran’s ability to grow on the international stage through trade and to make it more difficult for the regime to prop up its most important institutions. And it’s largely worked. Iran is struggling to pay its bills, and its ability to sell its key good—oil—on the international market has been severely diminished. And in that sense, the U.S. has succeeded in its goal. But the other part of the maximum pressure campaign was supposed to change Iran’s behavior—the way it acted on the international stage. For some time throughout the last six months it seemed as though the U.S. and Iran were working toward coming back to the negotiating table on issues like the nuclear deal. America’s intermediaries in places like Switzerland, Oman, Iraq, and France passed messages between the two countries in the hopes that the two could begin some sort of process toward reconciliation.Others in the U.S. government, though, had their doubts, concerns heightened by the purported Iran strike on Saudi oil facilities and Tehran shooting down an American drone over the Gulf of Oman.Inside the U.S.-Iran Drone WarBut for Trump, who has said publicly that he did not want to go to war with Iran, the maximum pressure campaign was the best of both worlds—it hit Tehran economically but would keep the U.S. out of a protracted military conflict with the country. And for years, the Trump administration’s line was consistent: Our policy toward Iran is working; Iran is weakening.The problem, according to Jennifer Carafella, the research director at the Institute for the Study of War, was that “there is no consensus on what threshold of Iranian escalation is noteworthy or unacceptable.” That incoherence, she added, made maximum pressure “more likely to lead to war than to lead to Iran surrendering on the administration’s terms.” In recent months, it became clear to those at the State Department and within the broader national security community that Iran had grown more emboldened on the battlefield and that the maximum pressure campaign had not deterred Tehran militarily. Iranian-backed militias were launching rockets closer to American infrastructure in Iraq and further bolstering their support for rebels in Yemen.Virtually no one expects Iran to suddenly buckle with Soleimani’s death. If anything, the expectation is that Tehran will retaliate—and that America will respond with additional force, both economic and military. In that way, some version of maximum pressure may even grow more intense.“I’m not sure anyone really knew what the endgame was supposed to be. The purpose of sanctions and coercive authority is to cause a change in behavior or policy outcomes with respect to the folks in Tehran. If it’s not regime change, it’s not entirely clear how this works,” said one former Obama official who worked on Iran policy. “The reality is that it’s working, tactically, from an economic perspective. But the maximum pressure campaign clearly hasn’t demonstrated enough strength to determine Iran’s activity in the neighborhood.”—with additional reporting by Spencer Ackerman
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
7 Questions with 'Wild Irish Thyme' Star Jamie Dornan
November 25, 2020
bqZLJEd8Gxs
Why 'Selena' star Christian Serratos Chose to Lip-Sync Selena's Songs
November 25, 2020
FNz_Pal3qeo
'Time' Director Garrett Bradley on Covering Incarceration, Why Black Family Archives Are Important
November 23, 2020
m7j3n7dPFOI
Interim ‘Jeopardy!’ host Ken Jennings slammed for wheelchair tweet | Page Six Celebrity News
November 25, 2020
GF8JOA07ZpI
The one with the cast of 'Friends', then and now | Page Six Celebrity News
November 25, 2020
FLlqmbxCjnI
Bill Murray’s brother Ed, inspiration behind ‘Caddyshack,’ dies | Page Six Celebrity News
November 25, 2020
VEzPd5ot58g
Tracy Morgan Hands Out Turkeys to Long Line of New Yorkers | TMZ
November 24, 2020
BW7UB1bkvxI
Chris Hemsworth Working On Body, Chris Pratt Pokes Fun | TMZ TV
November 24, 2020
2giqjWteb4Y
Kamala, Jill Should Pick American Designer For Inaugural Ball Dress, Michael Costello Says
November 22, 2020
cGsraoPqUzM
Shawn Mendes' Best Bits From "In Wonder" Documentary | E! News
November 26, 2020
N8DORRu86Gg
Cheerleading From Home, Piercing Problems & Scream Hotline
November 26, 2020
Q_92CTPGcGc
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Favorite Moments | Daily Pop | E! News
November 26, 2020
KT5MQSUWzJE
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Swansea City - Sheffield Wednesday
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Middlesbrough - Derby County
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Bristol City - Watford
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Coventry - Cardiff City
25
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Millwall - Reading
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
QPR - Rotherham
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Stoke City - Norwich City
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Bournemouth - Nottingham Forest
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Preston NE - Blackburn
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Luton - Birmingham
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Wycombe Wanderers - Huddersfield
24
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Barnsley - Brentford
23
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Wolves - Southampton
23
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Athletic Bilbao - Real Betis
23
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Burnley - Crystal Palace
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - AC Milan
22
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Leicester City
22
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leeds - Arsenal
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - Torino
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Parma
22
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Koln - Union Berlin
22
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Alaves - Valencia
22
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Sheffield United - West Ham United
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Genoa
22
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Granada CF - Real Valladolid
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Verona - Sassuolo
22
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Cadiz - Real Sociedad
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Sampdoria - Bologna
22
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
SC Freiburg - Mainz
22
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Eibar - Getafe
22
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Fulham - Everton
22
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Fiorentina - Benevento
21
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Barcelona
21
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Manchester City
21
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayern Munich - Werder Bremen
21
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Hertha Berlin - Borussia Dortmund
21
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Chelsea
21
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - West Bromwich Albion
21
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Cagliari
21
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Villarreal - Real Madrid
21
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Eintracht Frankfurt - RB Leipzig
21
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Celta Vigo
21
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Spezia - Atalanta
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.