U.S. officials came together to discuss options for responding to Iran’s attack on the $50 million in Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. They also factored into their decision-making process the very recent death of an American contractor. The situation had been worsening by the moment.
The officials had hoped a policy named Maximum Pressure inflicting economic pressure would contain Iraq. However, officials had now “determined that the maximum pressure campaign had not changed Tehran’s behavior, at least not militarily.”
Trump’s advisers offered a wide selection of options. A person familiar with the president’s thinking told The Daily Beast:
‘The president was faced with a choice and he took the shot.’
A number of U.S. officials were concerned about the effectiveness of Maximum Pressure:
‘While the maximum pressure campaign has completely ravaged Iran’s economy, Tehran’s intentions toward the U.S. have remained as hostile as they have been for four decades.’
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took the news to the media where he said:
‘We watched the intelligence flow in that talked about Soleimani’s role in the region and the work that he was doing to put Americans further at risk. It was time to take this action… so we could disrupt this plot. The risk of doing nothing was enormous.’
Nearly a year ago, Pompeo had written quite the opposite: maximum pressure was causing Iran to calm down:
‘Before we reimposed sanctions and accelerated our pressure campaign, Iran was increasing its malign activity. The regime and its proxies are weaker than when our pressure began. Iranian-backed militias have stated that Iran no longer has enough money to pay them as much as in the past and has enacted austerity plans.’
Outside economic and political consultants and former officials asked the U.S. to go with a “much harsher stance” against the Iranian leadership, and that was how maximum pressure came into existance. The White House sanctioned over 1,000 Iranian entities and called Tehran’s primary military group “a terrorist organization.”
Tump’s people thought that would “cripple Iran’s ability:”
‘[T]o grow on the international stage through trade and to make it more difficult for the regime to prop up its most important institutions. And it’s largely worked. Iran is struggling to pay its bills, and its ability to sell its key good—oil—on the international market has been severely diminished. And in that sense, the U.S. has succeeded in its goal. But the other part of the maximum pressure campaign was supposed to change Iran’s behavior—the way it acted on the international stage.’
A former Obama official worked on Iran’s policy and said:
“’I’m not sure anyone really knew what the endgame was supposed to be. The purpose of sanctions and coercive authority is to cause a change in behavior or policy outcomes with respect to the folks in Tehran. If it’s not regime change, it’s not entirely clear how this works. The reality is that it’s working, tactically, from an economic perspective. But the maximum pressure campaign clearly hasn’t demonstrated enough strength to determine Iran’s activity in the neighborhood.’
The Mueller Report Adventures: In Bite-Sizes on this Facebook page. These quick, two-minute reads interpret the report in normal English for busy people. Mueller Bite-Sizes uncovers what is essentially a compelling spy mystery. Interestingly enough, Mueller Bite-Sizes can be read in any order.