America’s Presence in Iraq Deters, Rather Than Encourages, Iranian Aggression

On Sunday, U.S. jets bombed facilities used by Iran-backed militias in Iraq, in retaliation for drone attacks on American troops. According to the White House, the aim of the most recent strikes was to “to disrupt and deter” these groups. Critics on both left and right have responded by complaining of the cost of U.S. involvement in “forever wars.” Noah Rothman sees things differently:

Disruption and deterrence have been central to the American mission in Iraq for several years, and it is vastly preferable to the alternative of all-out conflict. No sooner had Islamic State retreated to the relative safety of Syria’s lawless east than Iran and its proxies [resumed] destabilizing the region. In 2019 alone, the Islamic Republic regularly seized and sabotaged commercial shipping vessels in the crucial Strait of Hormuz. It downed an unarmed U.S. surveillance drone over international waters and executed a brazen multi-drone strike on the world’s largest petroleum-processing facility in Saudi Arabia.

Whatever you think of this adversarial cycle of testing and reaction, it is not an outgrowth of America’s presence in the region. If anything, America’s presence imposes sober circumspection on the theocrats in Tehran. [Indeed, there are several] potential flashpoints where the U.S. is supporting anti-insurgency campaigns or raising the costs of all-out conflict for would-be aggressors all around the globe.

The case that now tests the “forever-wars” thesis is Afghanistan, where Joe Biden is executing a headlong rush to the exits entirely without respect to the security conditions on the ground. The unambiguous result of this experiment has been more war, not less.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Commentary

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy