January 14, 2020

Trump Has Made Sanctions a Path to Strikes

Economic measures can de-escalate tensions, but not if used crudely.

By Elizabeth Rosenberg and ​Neil Bhatiya

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to kill the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, the architect of Iran’s political and military influence in the Middle East, and the Iranian response represent grave escalations in hostilities between the United States and Iran. While both sides have signaled a desire to pull back since these strikes, the world should not exhale too deeply. Trump has offered fresh threats of “punishing economic sanctions” on Iran, which he followed through with on Friday, imposing sanctions on more Iranian officials who had a direct role in the missile attacks, as well as more important economic sectors such as steel, aluminum, copper, and iron.

The continued use of U.S. sanctions, in the absence of negotiations and with a heightened military posture, means that the United States and Iran are locked into a confrontational stance with no plans for de-escalation.

In his speech on Jan. 8 addressing Iran’s attack on U.S. targets in Iraq, Trump said he wanted a new deal to replace the Iran nuclear accord. He refrained from announcing fresh strikes on Iranian targets. Many relieved observers have praised the move as a critical pause in hostilities.

Read the full article in Foreign Policy.

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