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The Increasingly Dangerous Iran Obsession

President Trump and Supreme Leader Ali Khameinei. CreativeCommons, Shutterstock.

The Trump administration is reportedly going ahead with its terrible idea of designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist group:

The Trump administration is preparing to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, U.S. officials said, a step that would vastly escalate the American pressure campaign against Tehran but which has divided U.S. officials.

The decision, which could be announced as early as Monday, would mark the first time that an element of a foreign state has been officially designated as a terrorist entity.

Designating the IRGC as a terrorist group is a bad idea that has been kicking around for more than a decade, and previous administrations correctly chose not to do this because it is a very dangerous move that will achieve very little. Pentagon officials have been against it because they are understandably worried that this could expose U.S. forces to retribution. It is possible that it could encourage some governments to designate our soldiers as terrorists as well. Labeling part of another state’s military terrorists is what you do if you are looking to provoke an attack or launch an attack on that state.

At the very least, the designation will ratchet up tensions and put U.S. forces in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan at greater risk. At worst, it will serve as the pretext for military action against Iran and its proxies. The Trump administration’s Iran policy is about to escalate significantly without any debate here at home, and the hard-liners pushing for this decision are doing everything they can to spark conflict with Iran and the armed groups that it supports. The administration’s Iran obsession is becoming even more dangerous, and the malign influence of Bolton and Pompeo on our foreign policy keeps making things worse.

Update: An Iranian official has said that Iran will likewise designate the U.S. military if the U.S. labels the IRGC as terrorists.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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