• 2020-05-07

    The joint resolution passed with bipartisan support, with a 55-45 vote in the senate in February, and a 227-186 vote in the House in March. After gathering cobwebs for nearly two months, it finally reached the resolute desk on Wednesday, where it was promptly vetoed. This is the second war powers resolution that Donald Trump has vetoed, following the one on Yemen from March of last year. 

  • 2020-04-27

    Since the global Covid-19 pandemic began, a cluster of U.S. think tanks has been aggressively lobbying the Trump administration to escalate militarily toward Iran and tighten U.S. sanctions. This push has come despite warnings that such sanctions are worsening the death toll of Iran’s outbreak, which is one of the worst in the world. The think tanks leading this effort—the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—have cranked out non-stop statements, research documents, videos and media appearances since the crisis began. They are not shouting into the wind, but speaking directly to an administration that has proven willing to act upon their words. 

  • 2020-04-24

    On 22 April, Iran successfully launched its first military satellite, Noor, using the new Qased Space Launch Vehicle (SLV). With the launch of the Qased, Iran has unveiled its parallel space program run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s Corps (IRGC) for the first time. While fears about Iran’s previous space launches serving as cover for ICBM development have been vastly overblown, there are strong indications that Iran’s emerging IRGC track does indeed represent a hedging strategy aimed at acquiring long-range ballistic missile technology.

  • 2020-04-23

    Listen to America’s imperial proconsuls long enough and they often let slip something approaching truth — perhaps exceptionalist confession is more accurate. Take Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), with responsibility for all of Latin America. Just before the COVID-19 crisis shifted into full gear, on March 11 he testified before the House Armed Services Committee and admitted, “There will be an increase in the U.S. military presence in the hemisphere later this year.” Naturally, admiral, but why? Well, if one can push past the standard, mindless military dialectics — i.e. “bad guys” — the admiral posits a ready justification: Russia and (most especially) China. With his early career molded in the last, triumphalist Reagan-era Cold War, Faller may be a true believer in new dichotomies that must feel like coming home for the 1983 Naval Academy graduate. Before the committee, he described China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela as “malign state actors” who constitute “a vicious circle of threats.” Faller is right about the circle, but it is his own country that produces it. 

  • 2020-04-23

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Thursday accused US President Donald Trump of making threats that were cheered on by "Saddam's terrorists". The chief Iranian diplomat was referring to the formerly US-designated terrorist group Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian opposition group that was allied with the late Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein. 

  • 2020-04-23

    Establishing a U.S.-Iran de-escalation mechanism would be an insurance policy against accidental eruption of conflict. Like the Swiss channel, which in January 2020 underscored the value of having clear lines of contact in anticipation of or in response to incidents with escalatory potential, and ongoing bridge-to-bridge communications, this additional mechanism would serve both sides’ interest in managing their standoff. It would also serve a useful force protection role without requiring political concessions or a shift in strategic posture. Even amid tit-for-tat military exchanges, the mechanism would allow the two sides to take action to avoid missteps that would broaden the conflict into a war neither appears to want. Intermediaries, such as Oman, can play an important role in setting up a communications mechanism of this sort, initially focused on the Gulf region. Over time, if it proves its worth, it could be upgraded to become a direct channel and be replicated in other flashpoints. The U.S. and Iran are likely to have an acrimonious relationship as long as the underlying tension between “maximum pressure” and “maximum resistance” lingers – and perhaps well beyond that point. But in the absence of a major diplomatic breakthrough, an indirect military communications channel could go some way toward ensuring, at least, that a single incident will not spark a wider conflagration.

  • 2020-04-23

    A group of fifty experts and former officials signed a letter on Thursday asking U.S. President Donald Trump to “double down” on economic sanctions against Iran.

  • 2020-04-22

    Iran launched more than a dozen missile targeting coalition troops in Iraq following a U.S. decapitation strike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani. “Bottom line is, in my professional assessment, at Al Asad ... the points of impact were close enough to personnel and equipment and so on and so forth ― I believe, based on what I saw and what I know, that they were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and aircraft, and to kill personnel,” Milley said in January. The U.S. has since sent Patriot missile batteries inside Iraq to defend coalition troops from potential Iranian strikes.

  • 2020-04-22

    On Wednesday morning, just a few hours after once again threatening to go to war with Iran, President Donald Trump shared a tweet from an account from someone by the name of Heshmat Alavi. Like many of the tweets the president circulates, Alavi was praising Trump, this time for his hard-line stance against the Islamic Republic. Trump’s amplification of the post was bad enough on its own: Alavi is a supporter of a militant Iranian cult called the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, known as the MEK, an organization that was designated for decades as a terrorist organization and is widely hated inside Iran. What makes it even worse, however, is that Heshmat Alavi does not exist.

  • 2020-04-22

    President Donald Trump has instructed the U.S. military to use force against armed Iranian vessels that have recently engaged in tensions with the Navy's Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf. "I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea," Trump tweeted Wednesday.

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