Mike Pompeo’s speech on Iran policy this morning at the Heritage Foundation was even more unmoored from reality than I expected. The speech consisted mainly of rattling off Washington’s usual complaints against Iran, threatening Iran with sanctions, and then making a laundry list of demands that Iran would never conceivably agree to. Pompeo was effectively issuing an ultimatum to Iran with his declarations of what they “must” do, and the ultimatum is so extensive and unreasonable that we have to assume that the administration intends for it to be rejected. As I said earlier today, it is obviously a pretext for escalation and conflict. Emma Ashford had a similar reaction:
Pompeo's wishlist for Iran is massively unrealistic.
The only thing he's not asking for is Iran to rename itself the Former Yugoslav Republic of Iran.
— Emma Ashford (@EmmaMAshford) May 21, 2018
Pompeo’s speech has been billed variously as “plan B” following the president’s decision to renege on the nuclear deal or as a “new strategy” for Iran, but there doesn’t appear to be much of a plan or strategy beyond inflicting punishment on the Iranian government and people for punishment’s sake. Suzanne Maloney sees it as a prelude to pushing for regime change:
Pompeo has not outlined a strategy, but rather a grab bag of wishful thinking that can only be interpreted as a call for regime change in Iran.
— Suzanne Maloney (@MaloneySuzanne) May 21, 2018
There is no connection between the administration’s actions and its desired goals, and there doesn’t appear to be any connection between its goals and U.S. national interests. Israel and the Gulf states will be pleased with what Pompeo had to say, since it is the sort of mindless confrontation with Iran that they have been urging the U.S. to pursue for years, but the U.S. is unlikely to find much support for this reckless and aggressive Iran policy elsewhere in the world.