White House National Security Adviser John Bolton recently stated that Iran was likely responsible for the attack on four ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates., an assessment shared by the Pentagon. The sabotage of multiple oil tankers is a major escalation in an already tense conflict between the U.S. and Iran.
Iran’s recent aggression is due at least in part to the substantial impact of Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, which has held the Islamist regime’s feet to the fire and crippled the country’s economy. As a result, the mullahs have taken a page from the toddler playbook by throwing a fit. In fact, Tehran’s new aggression is better called a Trump temper tantrum.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tehran is now in a state of rage.
Prior to Trump, the Iranian regime was used to getting its way in Washington. It could participate in maligned activities and threaten American interests with little to no consequence. In short, America went out of its way to appease Iran’s bad behavior.
The Obama administration took this to heart and went out of the way to prop up the Islamist regime while failing to push back on its worst impulses.
Nowhere was this better illustrated than the 2015 nuclear deal penned by President Obama and his advisers. The loosely defined agreement sent over $100 billion back to the Islamist regime in Tehran with few strings attached.
Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, alongside John Kerry and their “echo chamber,” led the public to believe the deal would liberalize and moderate Tehran’s behavior. Privately, most of Washington knew this to be a fallacy.
As such, it was unsurprising when Tehran refused to hold up its end of the bargain knowing that it wouldn’t be punished. Rather than pursue economic reform or development projects, Iran used its newfound trust fund to bankroll terrorism across the region.
Cash flowed steadily to prop up radical Islamist groups in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. Obama and his cadre looked the other way as Tehran poured gasoline across the Middle East and we provided them with the match to start the bonfire.
Iran continued to stay the course with its bad behavior until the regime encountered a human roadblock coinciding with the victory of Donald Trump in 2016. On day one in office, Trump took the Iranian appeasement doctrine of the past and began shredding it to pieces.
To start, Trump tore up the 2015 Iran deal and slapped biting sanctions back on the regime. Despite countless pundits saying unilateral action wouldn’t work, the sanctions are hitting Iran where it counts.
Oil exports have dropped dramatically from 2.8 million daily barrels in April 2018 to 500,000 or fewer daily in May of this year. Considering Iran gets nearly 80 percent of its government revenue from its energy sector, that’s a tremendous blow.
In short, Iran’s economy is teetering on collapse and its leadership is facing immense pressure from everyday citizens. The regime, which has never represented the best interests or desires of the Iranian people, is facing a severe legitimacy crisis as a result of its poor political and economic management.
Alas, the mullahs thought they could one-up Trump and force him to blink by ordering their Islamist proxies to prepare for conflict, but the president was ready for that too. In response, Trump ordered 1,500 troops to the region to defend U.S. assets and personnel.
Cleary, the mullahs are getting queasy. Trump knows how to put the squeeze on Tehran where it hurts, and he isn’t afraid to punch back. Iran’s desire to return to the status quo under Obama may explain why they’ve been meeting with John Kerry so frequently.
Fortunately, the policies of appeasement have been thrown to the wayside. Maximum pressure is here to stay until Iran ends its support of terror and nefarious activities across the region.
The mullahs can throw as many Trump temper tantrums as they please, but that won’t change the outcome. When you punish a child for bad behavior, you don’t reverse the consequence when the toddler kicks and screams.
So, let the mullahs keep crying and fussing. Like a toddler, they’ll tire out eventually. Until the regime shows real behavior change, the punishment will continue.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.