Fundamental misunderstandings of the Iran situation
The ignorance of Americans about the rest of the world has been the subject of jokes for decades.
However, that ignorance isn't funny when it gets us into wars.
For instance, Trump's approach appears to be to apply more and more pressure to Iran, bringing us closer and closer to war, in order to force them to negotiate from a position of weakness.
In theory there is some logic to this strategy. However, Iran refuses to negotiate. So what's wrong with this strategy?
Answer: Iran's internal political environment.
Trita Parsi, who is the founder of the National Iranian American Council, argued that Trump’s move to step up economic pressure on Iran is not going to work, arguing it is in Tehran’s best interest to stand firm, even if it means risking military confrontation.
“For them, giving up and essentially capitulating to the United States is complete political suicide,” Parsi, who is also a professor at Georgetown University, told Hill.TV on “Rising.”
“They will lose all of their legitimacy if they were to do so,” he continued.
“There is no way out for them,” he said. “That’s part of the reason why it is actually much clearer incentive structure for them to stand firm, even risk a military confrontation, count on Iranian nationalism and rally around the flag rather than coming to the table and essentially have to completely cave into Trump’s demands.”
What's missing here is even a modest effort at understanding your opponent. It's the same mistake we keep making in every war we've fought on the Asian continent.
And that's not the only misunderstanding of the situation that the Trump Administration is guilty of.
Esper faces a tall order, however. His first major appearance in his new job will be Wednesday at NATO, the alliance that Trump has frequently bashed as a collection of freeloaders.
And European leaders have appeared cool to the U.S. approach to Iran...Germany, France and Britain, as well as Russia and China, remain part of the nuclear deal that Trump abandoned last year.
...Esper, 55, was a top lobbyist for the defense contractor Raytheon Co. before becoming Army secretary in November 2017.
At this point I'm modestly surprised that Esper even bothered to stop being an official lobbyist of Raytheon when he became Army Secretary. Why not keep both jobs? It's not like Esper, or anyone else in the Trump Administration, represents the citizens of the United States.
What's more, no one in Europe is being fooled either.
However, the biggest misunderstanding of the situation is what the nature of the war will be. Washington is massively overconfident.
Asked if a war was brewing, Trump told Fox Business Network: “I hope we don’t but we’re in a very strong position if something should happen.”
“I’m not talking boots on the ground,” Trump said. “I’m just saying if something would happen, it wouldn’t last very long.”
It's amazing that 19 years of losing in Afghanistan has failed to teach us any humility.
What's more, there are already boots on the ground. Iran's forces are free to enter Iraq and Syria, and they can't be stopped from entering Afghanistan.
Nearly 20,000 American troops could be under attack within days.
And then there is the underestimation of Iranian capability.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk is one of the U.S.’s most sophisticated intelligence-gathering devices. It can peer into countries from outside their borders and is able to fly as high as 60,000 feet, a greater altitude than many fighter jets. Yet Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) was able to detect it, and shoot it down with a surface-to-air missile fired by the Iranian-made Khordad 3 air defense system.