The United States and Iran don’t appear to be coming to a kumbaya moment any time soon. Now it’s getting personal. We watched as Trump and North Korean’s Kim Jong sling insults back and forth, but that was so last year. It’s all about Iranian President Hassan Rouhani taking jabs in 2019.
Rhouhani described the White House as “mentally crippled” and said the new sanctions against Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is “outrageous and idiotic.” He’s referring to the executive order Trump signed in which he ordered new sanctions against Khamenei and other Iranian officials including eight Revolutionary Guard commanders.
When signing the order in the Oval Office Trump said the new sanctions were “hard-hitting” and “represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions.” For clarification, he insisted “we do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country…I can only tell you we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon.”
However, he also said “any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force,’ and in some cases ‘obliteration.” Such a black and white statement can be disconcerting, especially after the warning statements of whether or not Iran shot down the U.S. spy drone on purpose. It could be dangerous for actions that lie in the grey area to be handled with black or white consequences.
The Washington Post has reported on the back and forth: “Trump has said repeatedly that he wants to talk. But he has indicated he is prepared to continue squeezing the Iranian economy and leadership until Iran meets the ‘very simple demands’ he has tweeted – ‘No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!” Seems reasonable enough, except that where there’s a will there’s a way, and Iran does not want any demands made to them.
Iran says “that it sees no reason to talk with an adversary that is crushing the life out of it, and that the United States must first show some respect.” It called the sanctions “useless” and “means the permanent closure of the doors of diplomacy.”
Now analysts and commentators are at odds as to whether or not Trump’s hardline strategy will work, or if he even has a strategy. Another plaguing question is whether or not Iran will respond better to aggressive, or passive behavior from the United States.
Ultimately, Iran’s rhetoric rarely lines up with its actions.