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Iran Bluster Is about Red Lines, Not War

Michael Rubin
Reuters

Michael Rubin

Security, Middle East

Tensions can be managed because Tehran is more bark than bite.

Iran Bluster Is about Red Lines, Not War

In the past week, American-Iranian tensions flared to heights not seen since the Reagan years, when U.S. and Iranian ships and planes faced off in the Persian Gulf. Not only have Iranian irregular forces apparently sabotaged four ships off the major Emirati port of Fujairah with either magnet bombs or underwater drones, but a subsequent drone attack on a Saudi pipeline amplified tensions to a new level.

Even on the best of days in hyper-partisan Washington, there are enough polemics to go around. The fact that national security in general—and Iran policy in particular—have become political footballs only makes the problem worse. Never one to miss an opportunity to throw fuel on the rhetorical fire, President Donald Trump threatened via tweet, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

Happily, however, nothing in the American military posture makes it appear that war—or even a limited engagement—is imminent, let alone likely.

Consider the U.S. Navy’s posture: The Trump administration has reportedly dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, but if a war against Iran really was on the table, then this would be the worst possible move.

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