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Don’t Listen to the Iran Hawks’ Misinformation

U.S. officials have not produced any evidence to support allegations that the threat from Iran and its proxies has increased.

The Wall Street Journal editors remain firmly ensconced in their parallel universe:

The real story behind the current Mideast tension is that Iran is acting out because Mr. Trump’s policy of applying maximum pressure is working. The U.S. recently designated the IRGC as a terrorist group, which will hurt its many business interests. Washington also has closed loopholes on the sale of Iranian oil and announced new restrictions on Iran’s metals exports. All of this has Tehran lashing out with anger and threats.

There is not much evidence that Iran is “acting out” at all. U.S. officials have not produced any evidence to support allegations that the threat from Iran and its proxies has increased, and our allies publicly disagree with the administration’s latest assessments. If Iran were “lashing out,” that would be in response to a reckless and destructive Iran policy that has inflicted enormous harm on Iran’s economy and people without having any effect on Iranian regime behavior, but so far the “lashing out” hasn’t occurred. Provoking opposition from Iran hardly proves that the administration’s policy is “working,” but Iran hawks can’t even substantiate that Iran has done anything unusually threatening in recent weeks. Considering the unjustified economic war that has been waged against them, Iran’s behavior over the last year has been remarkably unchanged. The government that has been displaying anger and threats has been our own.

“Maximum pressure” has not made Iran more likely to give in to any of the administration’s unrealistic demands, but so far it also hasn’t caused Iran to become more aggressive. Iran hawks have wanted to force Iran to capitulate or push them into picking a fight, and they have been unsuccessful. Iran hawks desperately want Iran to “lash out” so they can try to shift the blame for rising tensions, but Iran’s government has refrained from taking their bait. They hope to goad Iran with enough provocations that it causes an incident that they can exploit to start a war, but they need to make it appear as if the U.S. is merely reacting instead of being the instigator of the crisis. The Trump administration’s record of poking Iran in the eye again and again over the last year can’t be so easily forgotten, and if the current tensions in the region do escalate there is no question that the administration will bear most of the responsibility for the ensuing conflict.



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