Sanctions May Have Fueled Iran Protests, but Have Yet to Further U.S. Goals

It is hard to discern a strategy that will accomplish the Trump administration’s objectives: renegotiating the nuclear deal with Iran or dialing back Iran’s malign behavior in the region.

Comments: 211

  1. Would imposing sanctions that cause massive nationwide suffering constitute “malign” behavior? Perhaps the dictionary definition excludes anything done by the United States. Let me go look. Hmm. No, it doesn’t.

  2. @Donald, It's located under "exceptionalism, malign".

  3. The Trump administration has put itself in a position where it will wreak havoc on the Iranian economy and claim the resulting hardships of the Iranian people are an "overdue" tradeoff that will diminish Iranian financial support of Hezbollah and other Shiite groups. For this they are allowing Iran to ramp up its' nuclear program. What about Trump's claim that those in the Middle East, including our allies, should "work things out themselves?" Is the illogical policy simply Trump acting in the interests of Gulf oil sheiks? Trump Riyadh anyone?

  4. @don healy sanctions always hit the citizen the hardest- it's nothing to do with Trump personally. That's how sanctions work

  5. @DED "it's nothing to do with Trump personally." He's just insisting on them.

  6. @DED Of course, but not don't see how that is not consistent with my argument.

  7. You just have to look at Hong Kong as an example of why some countries can’t be fully open societies. Where Britain, Israel and the US are concerned, these three countries are expert destabilizers when they want to be and any country that they set their sights against have no other choice but to take extraordinary measures to repel their destabilizing tactics. Hong Kong as a mostly free and open society didn’t have a chance. The US and Israel are not hiding the fact that they are going after Iran. The US calls it “Maximum Pressure” The world could be a much more open and democratic if these three countries would stop their destabilization policies.

  8. @Thomas He is only doing this as a favor to his wealthy supporters. Look at how many generals have left his administration over this issue alone let alone Secretary of State and defense that have left. With trump it’s all about the money.

  9. Trump’s policy has created more suffering, violence, and instability in Iran. It has made the reactionary Mullahs politically stronger and likely will lead to a reactionary Iran becoming another dangerous nuclear power in a volatile region. As usual with Trump and his sycophantic foreign policy staff his policy was effected without detailed and coherent analysis of our national security interests. It is a foreign policy created by ranting Fox News ideologues and the Twitter profundities of Trump’s ignorant mind and impulsive character. It is a policy that better serves Putin than our Middle East objectives and American ideals.

  10. @IN The author and IN fail to see what will happen. The US will not negotiate with the government in Iran. The people in Iran will throw the Government out and the people of Iran will use common sense to better their future.

  11. @IN Not even close IN. Trump has made the Mullahs politically weaker - that's why there's the demonstration.

  12. @Peter , really? No. We've treated them as enemies. They have common sense enough to know that. It was the US and Britain who drove democracy out of Iran, and they know it well. Their oil is the prize for Trump and the west, and our "love" of the Iranians and democracy are vanishingly small and way too late. You believe a fairy tale of good intentions from the wealth class con men who are busily enriching themselves crookedly throughout the world, as they do, wolves, every one of them. If truth matters to you.

  13. Nothing clears the mind of an adversary as much as pure unadulterated painful pressure ... that is what the the Government of Iran is feeling now from the sanctions being applied, as well as now from the protests of the brave Iranian people... ... Abraham Lincoln once said: “A House Divided” Cannot Stand” ...and ‘you cannot fool all of the people - all of the time’ ... and Iran today, in spite of its bravado, is a House Very Divided ... and the Iranian people will no longer be fooled ...

  14. That said, it seems there a lot of divided houses that won’t stand long

  15. and we take credit for the Iraq protests as well?. i dont think so . Iran has always had a strong opposition, sometimes hidden sometimes not

  16. The Iranian regime in core is similar to ISIS. President Trump Maximum pressure is a historical moment to change this brutal and barbaric regime forever.

  17. and exactly why is iran's behaviour 'malign', and the behaviour of other us allies is not? israel (first on the list), saudi arabia, india and pakistan to name but a few?

  18. US sanctions have crimped Iran's economy and thus limited its funding of its terror proxies in the region. Iranian hegemony in the Middle East is the new threat, still.

  19. The author fails to see what will happen. The US will not negotiate with the government in Iran. The people in Iran will throw the Government out and the people of Iran will use common sense to better their future.

  20. If we're being honest with ourselves, there are no good solutions with Iran. There never were any. The autocratic, illiberal theocracy that is Iran will never play nice with Israel and its Sunni neighbors or forego its nuclear ambitions. It can't. These things are against the mission statement of the regime and, as such, are non-negotiable. The Iranian nuclear deal was like an agreement with a stalker to come around less often. Promoting eventual regime change might be a terrible option, but is there really a better one?

  21. @Spiral Architect And if we are not careful, the United States will end up as an autocratic, illiberal theocracy. The country is well on its way.

  22. @Spiral Architect -- "Iran will never play nice with Israel" Nor should it. That isn't our problem.

  23. One has to image that knowing Trumps "divide and conquer" attempts to look strong, that he will wreak havoc internationally and domestically all in the name of shaking up the status quo without any regard for the fallout. This is what he does. He creates havoc because he can. He a nuisance to the world and relishes it. He will be dead and gone, without any consequences to him, while our country and the world is left to pick up the pieces.

  24. Trump has squandered a contained Iran, and whatever continues to transpire in that nation will be much less stable than what President Obama left behind. Foolishly, Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal, reneging on America’s word and eliminating Iran’s incentives for upholding their own ends of the agreement. Now, Trump uses punitive sanctions and bullies other nations into financially isolating Iran. Could he have more effectively furthered anti-American sentiment if he tried? And even if, unlikely as it would be, Iranian civilians’ resentment was aimed more at their government than at ours, even to the point of an overthrow, why would Trump think that whomever would replace Iran’s leadership would be more amenable to his wishes?

  25. Malcolm Kerr was a great political science professor from UCLA and also President of American University in Beirut before being assassinated. He observed that sanctions have never resulted in a change of government anywhere. Think, Cuba, North Korea, Iran. Etc. In fact, in authoritarian countries, like Iran, sanctions actually entrench the ruling regime. Authoritarian governments like those in the Middle East control all of their nations' assets and distribute them to those who are loyal. It's called patronage, and it's how resources are distributed in any dictatorship. Sanctions might limit resources, but limiting resources actually makes them easier to control and distribute. Sanctions entrench regimes. They might make a despot a bit poorer -- think only $900 million instead of $1 billion. But that's a small price to pay. No despot has ever changed course because of sanctions.

  26. @Stephen Many of us miss Malcolm Kerr, who understood the Middle East, unlike Trump's poorly educated adviser on Iran, Brian Hooks. Hooks is just some lawyer whose Republican loyalties tie him to George W. Bush, and even less able pols. Malcolm Kerr should have been consulted by Bush and Trump, not some drab Republican consultant like Hooks

  27. How is causing chaos in a country that was on the verge of reform until Trump tore up the nuclear accord, reinstated sanctions and forced the other 7 signers of the accord to choose between the actor that was following the accord to the letter or the bad actor who tore up the deal for no other reason than spite for Obama's diplomacy. The resulting chaos may be a consequence of our actions but it doesn't mean we should take pride in it. More instability in the Middle East is not a policy, it's a suicide pact.

  28. @Rick Gage Dear Rick, The Iranian regime was not on the verge of reform. I agree that pulling out of the accord and re-imposing sanctions is not likely to result in reform, but the corruption in that country is what is really at the heart of these protests. The poor are suffering enormously, but the power elite, the mullahs and the IRG are doing just fine. Those same corrupt officials like so many in power around the world will slaughter their own citizenry without compunction to maintain their power, money and privileges.

  29. @gpickard Soooo different from Saudi Arabia, Central America and other regimes we support around the world.

  30. @me Dear me, Actually they are very like the KSA, Honduras, Nicaragua, et al. Whether the US supports them or not is moot.

  31. The ongoing U.S. & Iran Cold War will not be resolved anytime soon until some good faith has been established on both sides. That process had barely begun under Obama, before it was sadly cast aside under Trump. Whether you agree with them or not the main reason Iran meddles in the affairs of the regions that they border is for self defense. Iraq and Israel to the west, Afghanistan to the east, Saudi Arabia to the South. They are surrounded by hostile US allies. I fear that Trump’s wanton discarding of the Iran deal may have squandered any chance for normal diplomatic relations for a generation and his gamble may have put us on a collision course for war. Nobody wins in that outcome.

  32. So the Trump US imposes brutal sanctions on the oppressed people of Iran. Iranians have had enough and attempt to revolt! Trump is ready to claim a victory, because he knows that regimes supported by the US in the Middle East have such a stellar record of establishing free democracies. No matter. Trump will have his “mission accomplished” banner, with FoxNews blaring the great victory “won” on the backs of the Iranian people. And that presumes the popular revolt will succeed.

  33. What? Trump doesn't have an end-game for something he said or did? That doesn't sound like him.

  34. The President applies a single tool for all purposes: pain. Inflicting pain on refugees (family separation); pain on other countries (tariffs); pain on those who disagree with him (humiliation via twitter, barring media outlets); pain even on other states (threatening to withhold aid from California and sanctioning LA for alleged environmental impacts of homelessness). Three years in, I think it is well documented that he has no grand vision, no plan, no strategy -- only pain: dole it out regularly and severely. It is the work of his staff to come up with a rationale after the fact.

  35. Well, his immigration plan seems to be working. Yes, dole out the pain and make it unthinkable for people to think of coming here illegally. I believe the overall cross border numbers have decreased significantly. Since the Dems always fail (intentionally?) to devise any rational immigration reform, Trump takes it his way. It takes a sledgehammer like Trump to get things done. Trump supporters see good in all the bad you see.

  36. @JP And when they decreased significantly before he got here that was an anomaly? The fact is he cannot achieve anything of real rational long term impact because its only his way or the highway. Should we agree that his pain inflicted on minority views has worked as well in significantly increasing hate crimes and right wing terrorism? Or maybe his pain on the need to beat up on gun law activists is working to increase gun deaths? It cuts both ways. Keep a degenerate in office long enough and the things that are working are the ones that will kill us all.

  37. @JP , if you knew how eerily echoes of the enablers of tyrants ring in your words, you'd think again. Look up Mussolini and the like. Those who can hear, let them hear.

  38. The photo accompanying this story, by Doug Mills, has an uncanny similarity to Painting, 1946, by Francis Bacon.

  39. The United States is a different country. A much, much worse one, thanks to the Stable Genius-in-Chief.

  40. So, Iran agreed to a Treaty along with the United States and other countries. Iran abided by the Treaty, while the US abandoned the Treaty and then began to punish Iran for, well, what? The problem is the US, but evidently the New York Times is now supporting the "malign behavior in the region" of this president. Did I get this right?

  41. @Nancy "Malign behavior" in U.S. foreign policy-speak translates as "not doing what we want them to do."

  42. @Nancy There was no treaty. A treaty must be submitted to the Senate for ratification. President Obama knew his one-sided deal with the Mullahs was so flawed even Democrats would vote against it so he never asked for ratification. As such, the deal was not binding.

  43. @EGD It was an agreement, it was signed in good faith. Not in the least one-sided. Have you read it? It was not flawed, its problem was it was too visionary, too forward thinking and many preferred to stay in their small dark place so they could keep on hating and wallow in their hate and prejudice, so they didn't have to think bigger, do some work, take responsibility for past 'crimes', be mature, step-up, go forward, envision a better future for all. And what do we have now, back to a darker past, people thumbing 50s (and older) playbooks to 'solve' problems even though they never worked back then and caused misery and suffering and death to millions and their children and their children's children.

  44. President Donald J. Trump: - Record levels of taxpayer money wasted on golf trips - Unprecedented number of associates in prison for corruption - Incompetent and chaotic policy - Incapable of maintaining administration Is America Great Again yet?

  45. Sanctions on Iran are good US policy. Exert all the pressure you can against a tyrannical regime led by maniacal religious leaders. Create unrest. Create an opportunity for revolution and uprising and real change in Iran. Do you notice that none of the NYT articles mention any animus by the Iranian populace against the US for these sanctions? Why? Because they know who the real enemy is and it isn’t the US. Go Trump. Keep it up.

  46. Why do we have any right to place sanctions on Iran. We have no right whatsoever to punish Iran. Trump lifts sanctions on Russian for Russia's invasion into Crimea. That was Trump's giveaway to Putin. Trump's deals with Saudia Arabia when 15 of the 19 hijackers that flew into our world trade center were Saudi Arabia.

  47. In foreign policy, the outlines of the Trump Doctrine are becoming clear -- "the ends justify the means", even if they harm children and innocent people. This morally problematic notion has guided Hitler, Stalin, Mao, bin Laden and the other mass killers on the world stage. While Paul Krugman has explained that Trump's trade wars harm the productivity and GDP of Americans and others, Nicholas Kristof has questioned the cost in lives from Trump's sanctions against the Venezuelan people. Using the correct standard ethics, we know that hitting innocent people, regardless of the ends sought, is unethical.

  48. If Obama hadn't sold out American interest for a desperate nuclear deal with Mullahs by giving $150B plus $1B in cash for postponing nuclear development for 10 years, it would have been much easier to achieve our goals. Obama made Iran stronger that indirectly is hurting us and our allies in the Middle East. Without Trump, America would have been in deep trouble created by Obama out of a vision based on a "community organizer".

  49. @Alex E Remember that the $150 Billion was not Obama's money. Rather it was Iranian funds held by the US. Facts do matter

  50. The cash you refer to actually belonged to the country of Iran.

  51. @Alex E Actually, I will contend that it was G W Bush who made Iran stronger. They removed Irans natural enemy, Saddam Hussein. I seem to remember the US invading a sovereign nation, Iraq, under false pretensions / justifications.

  52. Iran is not a failed state. It is a fully functioning state whose government has fairly broad support among it’s citizens. Fomenting a civil war or sudden collapse of the government will have dire repercussions all over the region. Our Mideast policies are not virtuous, wholistic or long term. Look at the mess we made in Iraq. This will make that look like a walk in the park.

  53. @PK Do you have any evidence for your claim that the Government of Iran "has fairly broad support among it’s citizens"? Given that there are no free and fair elections in Iran, we can say for certain that the Government doesn't have a democratic mandate.

  54. @Melbourne Town PK is right and his claims are well-researched wrong. Iran has democratic elections to its parliament - the Majlis. Citizens (women included) have long been allowed to vote for parliamentary representatives. You may not know this, but the current government is the third reformist government. The current Prime Minister, Hassan Rouhani, was not the candidate endorsed by the Ayatollah in the last election. Yet, he still amassed popular support to become Prime Minister. Only the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Khamenei) and his religious council are not elected. While he does wield political power, the fact that Iranians can choose hundreds of parliamentary members and their Prime Minister reflects a degree of political freedom virtually non-existent in Saudi Arabia, a US ally. Only very recently did the Saudis approve local elections. They also allowed women to vote for the first time, perhaps in a bid to prop up their country's image. And now they have allowed women to drive - a right Iranian women have always had. Basic deductive reasoning tells you that US ally Saudi Arabia fares worse in human (and women's) rights. Why doesn't Fox News report this. I think it's ridiculous to expect Iran to become like a Sweden. But relative to Saudi Arabia, a country in its own region, it has done a better job. Also, there has been a genuine history of US interference (overthrow of democratic government by CIA in 1953) which gives the government reason to fear US designs.

  55. @Melbourne Town , given that more people voted against our president than for him, I don't think we do.

  56. As an Iranian-American, I can tell you that US led sanctions are hurting the entire Iranian population. At the same time, it is clear that the losses have not made Iran’s foreign policy less assertive - even with less money the govt continues devote a growing portion of its budget to defenses and other arming other groups in the region. As any game theorist will tell you, this is the logical outcome. When an autocrat is backed into a corner, he will devote all resources to defending himself. An entire security order parallel to America’s exists in the region to dissuade an attack on Tehran. Trump’s policy amounts to an escalation for the region, one Iran’s hardliners are too happy to continue. But could the sanctions force Iran to return to the negotiating table? The short answer is no - the regime would collapse before admitting sanctions work and accepting even more invasive inspections. Even if it wanted to, is the US State dept even capable of forging such a detailed and far ranging deal anymore? Hardliners are undoubtably empowered, will push the Iranian people past the point of desperation. The real question is; if the Iranian govt does collapse, does the US have any ability to shape its future in a positive direction? Despite an overwhelming portion of the population that loves Americans, the Trump admin’s abandonment of democracy ensures the next govt would be just as malign. Until then, Iranians will suffer and US will be less safe - a true lose-lose.

  57. @Kaveh E The answer to the real question is no. They'd send in troops to protect the oil.

  58. @Kaveh E I would also think that there I snot a lot of incentive to return to the negotiating table - Trump has no strategy other than being able to say he won for domestic support. Even if the Iranians were to try and negotiate, the outcomes are uncertain.

  59. @Kaveh E Iranians know well that they are trapped in a vicious circle. They don't hold their breath for outside help. A free Iran can't sell arms. An unsanctioned Iran equals less oil market share. Why do you think Trump didn't attack Iran after they shot down the drone or blew up the oil fields in Saudi Arabia? To me, it seems very coordinated. Iran gets to boast its power in the region and at home while staying the perfect bully for selling arms. And America can rebuild the oil fields in SA. A free Iran is bad for business.

  60. That `s what we did in Iraq before we invaded in 2003. Millions of innocent people have died as a direct result of our "spread democracy" policies.Our paper was in full support of these illegal measures. We apologised. Now we are doing it all over again. What is wrong with us? We should join together with all nations - with all people - to fight the effects of the climate change and destruction we have brought upon ourselves. The time for brazen and offensive propaganda is over we as a species need to grow up.

  61. Well, Donald has no strategy. He goes on instinct. Three ideas in the same time is too much.

  62. Once before, the U.S. pushed for a regime change in Iran and look what that got. When hoping for a present, one should make sure they were a good boy before hanging that Christmas stocking or you are likely to get a lump of coal.

  63. "American efforts are aimed at regime change rather than a change of behavior — and has echoes of “Operation Ajax,” the C.I.A.’s recently acknowledged role in supporting a coup in the country in the mid-1950s" Oh, yeah, but who remembers that? Why should our regime-change justify their regime change? " exchange for Tehran complying with the nuclear deal and starting negotiations on a new, broader agreement,” Different because now it would be the Trump agreement, and not the Obama agreement. Gets rid of that pesky foreign (Islamic!!!) name. "The key question is whether economic conditions deteriorate. the country cuts back further on subsidies, there will be more protests of the kind spurred by the 50 percent surge in gasoline prices." Yes, starve them into submission...didn't Bush already try that? “Because of our economic pressure campaign, the regime has far less money and less time to spend on its ambition to dominate the Middle East. This reversal was long overdue.” Mmmmhm, I seem to remember Madeleine Albright going on about how starving babies wasn't to high a price to pay for... “...the regime has far less money and less time to spend on its ambition to dominate the Middle East..." Obviously, that's our right...half a world away. I wonder what Putin thinks?

  64. Trumpy needs a trade deal with Iran just so he can impose tariffs.

  65. It was a different country. It is a different country. It will be a different country. Trump or not. Sun raises and sets every day. Trump or not. The real difference is it now seems to both restart its nuclear program and trade with all others. It is a win-win. But both wins are for Iran. Maybe there is even a third win : it seems to be extending its influence in the middle east. And a fourth win: most governments are more sympathetic to listen to them if for no other reason than US under trump is tone deaf and the way US is shouting at others, they would rather pretend to be tone deaf as well.

  66. I am afraid it is presumptuous to identify the Trump administration's objectives (as your subheading does). If there were objectives other than satisfying a campaign promise when the President bailed out of the agreement that was satisfactory to our formal allies, they might well change with the day. Each subsequent act (imposing sanctions and then threatening and then imposing more sanctions and then ....) seems only to be an example of trying the same thing harder and harder if it is not working. After enough of this, I expect the pressure to show some results somewhere before our elections are held is growing and growing. And Iran may offer more chances than North Korea or China or Turkey or Afghanistan or ....

  67. While the article is objective enough to note Operation Ajax - the CIA's toppling of a democratic government in Iran - there is more which has fuelled Iranian hostility towards the US. When the Shah was installed as a dictator in 1953, he would go on to rule until 1979. Throughout this time, his secret police - the SAVAK - were particularly repressive. However, what made the Shah (and America) especially unpopular was the man's attempts to Westernise Iran. Rather than sticking to modernisation (economic development), the Shah sought to actively change Iranian society itself by encouraging the adoption of Western habits and ideas. While Teheran was relatively modern, 50% of the country was still illiterate. Many Iranians, even in Teheran, feared the supplanting of their culture by the Western-influenced Shah. It is one thing to ensure women's equality in the constitution and promote it through education. But it is another thing to ban the hijab altogether among a still conservative-minded populace (which triggered backlash). This period under the Shah is thus perceived as one of cultural subjugation to the West by pro-regime Iranians even today as they had to forcibly give up their customs. I think the Shah should have stuck to modernising the economy and improving the reach and quality of education. More modern attitudes would have followed with time. Forceful impositions only hurt and they tend to backfire. Till this day, Iranians fear American cultural domination.

  68. @Jack The Iranians took US hostages after Carter refused to extradite the Shah to Iran. This accounts for the ridiculous fiasco which followed. Iran is still much more westernized than other ME countries, notably Saudi Arabia.

  69. Sanger surely understands that in Trump's primitive brain, and the only slightly more sophisticated minds of his key surviving sycophants, questions never arise as to whether specific policy objectives are being furthered by the economic pressure. For them it is sufficient that the Iranian regime has been destabilized and they can crow about it on Fox News. It is a domestic political win. Nothing else matters. But another complicating element will factor into the regime's calculations. Iran is not only facing a domestic uprising but also rebellion against its political influence in its two most important client states, Iraq and Lebanon. Unlike at home, the Revolutionary Guard cannot simply crush dissent abroad. A problem for the Ayatollah is that a harsh response to domestic dissidents undercuts Iran's ability to woo potential allies outside its borders. Moreover, the protests in Lebanon and Iraq challenge the very basis of Iran's influence -- Shia sectarianism. Iranian policy has been one of divide and conquer. Its premise requires Shia and other competing national groups to maintain a permanent status of conflict and mutual distrust so that Iran can play groups against one another. In the protests in both Iraq and Lebanon Shia elements are now challenging Iran's demands for fealty. They are arguing for the rejection of sectarian corruption in favor of national unity and integrity. This is a crisis moment in pan-Shia politics. Trump will never see it. Is that good or bad?

  70. The United States should be simultaneously engaging in negotiations with Iran to bring about a peaceful settlement of differences with sufficient incentives to establish and maintain peace in the region. All states in the neighborhood have to be part of this discussion. I remember the Shah's downfall. He may have deserved to go, but the radical elements have managed to run Iran ever since. You may not have liked Obama's treaty, but it was a constructive start on a path toward a future with less tension, war, and suffering for the people of the region. This has gone on long enough - the US really should rededicate itself to negotiations and a treaty. In the end, it will be trade and travel among the free nations that will bring about the change in radical leadership that the US so desperately wants - and needs - with Iran.

  71. Yes, Trump will crow and brag that his sanctions are hastening regime change in Iran but I don't see the Iranian people thanking him for making their lives more miserable if and when the theocracy is overthrown. The mullahs have been loosing popularity long before Trump took office, and their nuclear ambitions would have been have been curbed more effectively if he had stuck to the nuclear deal negotiated by Obama. But there's the rub. Narcissist Trump can't abide anything achieved by his predecessor. Maybe Kushner can negotiate a new agreement with Tehran once he builds the Wall and concludes the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement he's working on.

  72. @Christy "...once he builds the Wall and concludes the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement he's working on..." And finishes refinancing his failing real estate, has his hair done, and gets his picture taken and profile raised so he can continue buyilding the real estate empire he inherited.

  73. As an Iranian-American, I can tell the readers of the NYT that President Trump has the unequivocal support of our community. The Obama appeasement strategy left the Green Movement out in the cold while pallets with billions of dollars of cash further fueled the malignant activities of the Islamic theocracy. Trump's actions with Iran have helped weaken the regime and those of us with family in Iran hear the appreciation they have for his support.

  74. @Iconoclast Texan As an Iranian can you answer a question I have? I feel that like Hong Kong, Britain and the US are not happy that the current government in Iran is not the one they want in. The Shah was their choice. Britain was the choice in Hong Kong, not China. If you watched the protesters in Hong Kong when they stormed the legislature building they hung up British and American flags while vandalizing it. My question is would you say that most Iranians want Britain and the US back in charge of Iran through their proxy government or would most Iranians prefer the current government? Because I feel that if the US is successful, Britain and the US will be back in charge.

  75. @Thomas . What the protestors in Iran and Hong Kong want is a representative form of government represented by the US and the UK. That they flag their flags is a symbol just as surely as Lady Liberty was created in Tiananmen Square thirty years ago. It does not mean they want the US and UK to take over.

  76. @Iconoclast Texan . Well said. I’ve pointed this out repeatedly in the NYTs. Obama did nothing in May 2009 as the Iranian people stood up against the religious autocrats. But those days are over. We have a new President.

  77. Mr. Trump's foreign policy is simply lunatic. And dangerous. He admires Erdohan and Putin, champions of human rights and is greatest friend of Saudi Arabia, the super, super champion of human rights. Not to mention the Syria shame. But, there is such a world wide spread political hypocrisy that, in the end, one feels quite downhearted.

  78. @whitebear. Yes, and Jesus was criticized for eating with sinners. Trump has tried to make progress with many of the world’s bad guys. And unlike the fantasy world his critics live in, Trump lives in the real world. So while the Saudis have issues, they are one of our few friends in a Middle East filled with terrorists like those in Iran, evil doers like Assad, the incompetents running Iraq, the Palestinians etc. Obama accomplished nothing in foreign policy except for letting many Syrians die as well as an American ambassador. Trump is doing better than that by far.

  79. @ehillesum What about the Kurds getting thrown under the tank? You need to stop watching Fox News.

  80. @ehillesum So, in your analogy about eating with sinners, is Trump Jesus?

  81. The Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2015. This means that we would have been roughly 5 years from Iran openly rebuilding its nuclear capabilities. Too short of a time for my tastes. Does anyone on this thread really think that Iran in 2025 would not seek Israel’s elimination?

  82. @Dady I do not think the destruction of Israel is Iran's goal. And, It's amazing how countries change when they are no longer isolated and in defense mode, when they have a stable economy, access to world markets and interaction with the world. It has an incredible impact on frame of mind and evolution of new goals. I am sure that was an important consideration when advancing the JCPOA. Iran has been attacked and isolated by the US for decades. The US didn't like it when Iran had a democratically elected leader so they ousted him and put their puppet in and when he was toppled, Iran wanted to choose their own leader, and they choose the opposite to lead them the US try to strangle him too! So what exactly does the US want? And how come Saudi Arabia gets carte blanche to commit the most heinous acts with impunity and a blessing from the current admin and share US nuclear technology. There is a huge part of the puzzle missing here and it has nothing to do with Israel or nuclear arms.

  83. “There is a universe in which the Iranian leadership, given the severity of the crisis, seizes this moment to reach a deal with the U.S. that would remove these sanctions in exchange for Tehran complying with the nuclear deal and starting negotiations on a new, broader agreement,” said Robert Malley, the president of the International Crisis Group and one of the negotiators of the 2015 accord when he served on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council. History suggests with the Trump administration there is no deal that won't at the last moment be held hostage for further concessions and some variation on the nauseating theme: I need a favour, though. A humiliating prospect most likely, even for the the most open minded ayatollah.

  84. So, going back to square 1 , the reneged deal that was in place, and attempting to come to a deal that trump favors. No problem there seeing that trumps intentions are so clear, and even if they were , he would change his mind at any moment.

  85. An important point left out of most NY Times articles, perhaps for the sake of 'equivalences', is that the Ayatollah and the generals closest to him, run Iran. They hold medieval beliefs about regional and religious domination. There is nothing that will change this view or their goals in achieving their objectives. That said, this regime can never be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. Any treaty that allows this to happen, or risks the same, is defective. The prior 'Iran Deal' allowed the regime to gain legitimacy economically - it quickly then began spreading proxy militias into Syria and Iraq, arming Hezbollah with precision guided missiles, and developing an arsenal of ballistic missiles ready to carry nuclear warheads in the future. When dealing with a regime that is together in a line with Pol Pot, Stalin, Chavez, Hussein, Kim and others, there are no easy answers. The regime needs to be contained in every respect. Put it into a box. If it chooses to behave like a normal nation, consider a deal that addresses all of its problematic, malign issues. The alternative is a nuclear armed nation, run by tyrannical religious zealots, who constantly threaten other nations including to wipe countries off the map, with a huge missile arsenal with very far reach and a large armed army and proxy forces. They are now actively working with their own forces and proxy forces to control Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. Appeasement is no choice for this regime.

  86. @AW "The alternative is a nuclear armed nation, run by tyrannical religious zealots, who constantly threaten other nations including to wipe countries off the map, with a huge missile arsenal with very far reach and a large armed army and proxy forces." Sounds like the US

  87. @me @AW Israel is a far greater threat to use nuclear weapons than Iran. It's not even clear that Iran has any nukes, but Israelis routinely comment on blogs about turning Iran into a sheet of glass.

  88. "But it is far from clear that what is unfolding on the streets today will make Iran more likely to renegotiate its nuclear deal or dial back its malign actions in the region, the two major American goals in dealing with the country. " Who are we to complain of "malign behavior?" We devastated two of Iran's neighboring countries with our incomplete and unwanted wars. They can ask what we are doing in their neighborhood. Pompeo and Trump complaining about Iran's mullahs should first look at their own policies that are damaging our international standing. They are ignoring that he, Trump and their goons tried to armtwist a developing democracy to create a scandal against Trump's political opponent. How bout we fix our own political house before we pontificate about "bringing democracy to other countries."

  89. Trump is achieving greater global de-stabilization on all fronts, economic, military and climate. The toll of human suffering is spreading around the world including in our country if to a lesser degree for now. If only more people came to realize sooner rather than later how bad things can become when the rule of law is abandoned and science is ignored which is happening under Trump.

  90. This could very well force Iran out of the nuclear accord, and into nuclear weapons as its only defense. Iran's leaders say they don't want that. Probably they don't, because of the other effects. But they are being left few other choices.

  91. @Mark Thomason Do you actually believe that Iran would never develop nuclear weapons ? Even Obama knew that they would; he only wanted to delay the process. Iran's stated goal is to destroy Israel. Nice guys. Maybe if they quit threatening to destroy other countries, we could get along with them.

  92. @Mark Thomason Dear Mark Thomason, Unfortunately i think you are right. It is a very sobering thought to contemplate a nuclear armed Iran. I am not worried about them blowing up the world, they are much to clever for that. However, it will embolden the Sunni regimes in the region to also arm themselves. I am sure the richest ones have already started...the KSA to name one.

  93. @Jack -- I honestly think that if that was their real goal, then they'd have them now. For twenty years, Netanyahu has been saying they could have them at any moment. Look at even North Korea doing it. Yet they haven't. That tells us something. They see a down side, and they don't really want to cross that line. Like Japan, they find value in staying just this side of the line.

  94. The sanctions are a complete failure. There are definitely problems with Iran's leadership, but these were present even before the sanctions. The recent riots were the result of a clumsy botched effort to raise gasoline prices, noot the US sanctions. Contrary to Trump's utterly dysfunctional strategy, the maximum pressure posture he stupidly promulgated has NOT brought Iran to some kind of magical negotiation table. On the contrary, it has strengthened the most intransigent hard-liners in the Iranian government. In short, it has made Iran MORE MILITANT. Trump's strategy seems to be not to actually plan for some future negotiations, but rather to indulge in the fantasy that Iran will collapse and come begging on its knees for some Trump mercy and largesse. Dream on Trump! It will not happen. What Trump also does not realize is that Iran has a very robust internal economy. It can produce virtually anything it needs, pharmaceuticals (which are exempt from the sanctions) and some specialized high-tolerance industrial parts. Its GDP did decline last year, but only about 1%. Iran can outlast any unilateral sanctions effort on the part of the United States. Trump is a total fool. He knows nothing about the Middle East, and certainly not about Iran. His pronouncements about Iran capitulating to US desires is utter and complete fantasy.

  95. @William O, Beeman :If the sanctions are a failure, then why has the rioting continued for the past two weeks, with deaths and casualties in the hundreds. To call Trump "a total fool"is not well thought out.You hate the chief of state, "Je vous ai compris,"and if Iran has a "robust, internal economy" able to weather a kind of storm, why the rioting, the mayhem, the turmoil? Believe the Iranian people would trade the present incompetent theocratic leadership for Trump any day, he's way better!Only Middle Eastern people to express its condolences for tragedy of 9/11 were the Iranians.

  96. @William O, Beeman If we can support the people of Hong Kong in their fight for democracy, we can support the Iranian protestors, too. The sanctions are working.

  97. @Alexander Harrison You did not read my answer. The riots are tied to the draconian administrative mistake made by the Iranian government in implementing a 300% hike in gasoline prices. The population was already frustrated by economic pressures (particularly unemployment) that have plagued Iran since long before the sanctions began. I visit Iran frequently, and my last trip a few months ago showed that there was abundant food, abundant electricity, abundant building supplies and a thriving domestic industry. The fact that Iran is capable of weathering economic sanctions does not mean that the Iranian government is competent. They have made many great mistakes, and they are unpopular, but the United States has not "crippled" the Iranian economy by a long shot.

  98. I seem to remember that, before we boldly stepped in (thanks, GWB), there was an Iraq-Iran war...lotsa buried mines, missing limbs, dead babies... Don't remember all the details, the specific issues between Saddam and the Ayatollahs, but how come it is not so far mentioned in recent coverage of continuing confrontation?

  99. @me -- Try remembering that the US encouraged that war as an attack on Iran, and helped Saddam do it. all the way to Rumsfeld himself there to help and encourage the use of chemical weapons against Iran.

  100. The broader context is that under Trump, his trashing of alliances with friend and foe alike, his ill-considered trade wars, and the willing, but equally ignorant, assistance of his minions other nations are starting to assert their independence and forging foreign policy without US involvement. An example is the barter system several European countries are starting to set up. See: Once these arrangements get fully organized and functioning the US will find itself further isolated and irrelevant in the world. One day, perhaps, Americans will understand the destructiveness of Trump's administration. The effects are not just domestic.

  101. @Memory Serves -- True, but it is likely to go well past a barter system. They can break the lock of American control of the international financial exchanges. It would be inconvenient to do so, and a considerable initial expense, but the US is driving many to do that. China and Russia are already quite willing, and India wavers.

  102. What are U.S. goals in Iran? Does Trump know? Does Congress have realistic goals vis a vis Iran? The U.S. meddled in that country for over 70 years. Iran once had an educated, sophisticated society but American foreign policy after WWII turned Iran into a medieval Theocracy.

  103. @RLW Wow. So the United States is responsible for the actions of the Ayatollah and other radical leaders?

  104. We paved the way for their rise to power, at a minimum.

  105. Theocracy is malignant. US actions in the Middle East starting with the Bush/Cheney wars have also been malign. We can't honestly or effectively excise the malignancy without bringing to justice those among us who caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands, the displacement of millions and the wasted of trillions of taxpayer dollars.

  106. @Steve M -- US actions were malign since they accepted nuclear weapons in Israel, about the time of the Six Day War.

  107. Well.. any unrest in that country is a good sign of change. Anything is better than the status quo

  108. The fallacy in this article is that there is a need to "solve" the Iran problem quickly. That is simply not true. What we need to do quickly is to limit the harm they can do, and by reducing their economy to rubble, we are accomplishing that. Let the mullahs spend their time and money dealing with domestic protesters rather than arming terrorists. In 2019, President Obama claimed that the alternative to his deal was war. Actually, the alternative to his deal was allowing the sanctions to bite more and more and more. Time is on our side. Just allow the sanctions to continue to do their work.

  109. OK, can we also limit the harm caused by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Syria? Why is Iran singled out?

  110. @G -- No, we need to make peace with Iran. We were on that path, and then sabotaged it in favor of regime change or war. We did that as a campaign demand of the allies of Netanyahu, especially Adelson. It was raw politics, not good policy. We need to get back to good policy. Yes, that would leave Israel completely isolated. Rightly so, until they do something about their malignant leadership like Netanyahu.

  111. I think it needs to be said that no country has acted as a more malignant force in the Middle East than the US. Fueled by a greed for oil and just sheer greed, the US has been intervening in the region for decades, distorting its development and often following policies that have pushed various regional actors into deeper and deeper radicalism. Iran has a history in the region that goes back thousands of years; the US has been meddling in the Middle East only since the 1940s and messing things up every step of the way. Before the US, the British were finding ways to exploit and brutalize the people of the region. If the West had just stayed out, there is no telling how much better developed the region would have been. As for Trump's sanctions achieving its goals, the only goal it ever had was to serve the interests of Israel, itself a brutal imperialist state that has done all it could to stifle democratic development and stability in the region. If Iran collapses because of US machinations, the result will just be more regional instability, more rage, and more "unintended consequences." But the more immediate result will be more brutality as the regime hangs on and doubles down. The UN/US sanctions against Iraq killed one million people; the effort to destroy another Muslim state through sanctions, maybe causing similar losses of life, is contemptible and tragic, given the proven alternatives.

  112. @Shaun Narine Let's not forget that the devastation wrought by the Iraq sanctions was also one of the main reasons Al-Qaeda carried out 9/11. Expressly stated so by Bin Laden throughout his life. We're really playing with fire here, but I guess the US is hoping the sanctions cause so much harm that the common people rise up and oust the mullahs and come running to the table for friendly relations with the West so their people can stop starving. Typical neocon doctrine, we'll see if it plays out in America's favor. Looking at Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Lebanon... I have a feeling this is only going to make things worse for all parties involved.

  113. I am sadly sure that the IRG and the mullahs will stifle this dissent with whatever brutality is required. Trump's "strategy" will of course cause suffering in Iran, but the regime that should suffer will not. I have no patience for Trump and his foolish blabbering. Still Iran is and has been a source of terror activity and unrest around the world ever since mullahs took charge. I see no solution for this unless the Iranian leadership comes back to the negotiating table either with Trump or our next administration.

  114. @gpickard Iran has been a source of terrorist activity around the world - BUT less than US ally Saudi Arabia. One must objectively look before pointing fingers - and Israel, Saudi A, even France and US are inciting and indulging in terrorist activities. Get Israel's interests out of the picture and we have an easy resolution. Israel is the tail wagging the USA-dog.

  115. @gpickard Negotiating w trump is an exercise in futility These mullahs haven’t held in to power by being that dumb Trump et al has no cred Eg in China ‘ democracy ‘ is a cudgel used for trade negotiations only No one around the world trusts or believes Pompous Pompeo et al They never will either

  116. When the Iranian people rose up against their corrupt leaders last time, Obama didn't support them. Instead he give the #1 sponsor of terrorism $1.7 billion in cash, helping to fuel more death and destruction. Trump's actions are really hurting the Iranian regime and the people are starting to fight for their freedom. Yet the NYT can not allow itself to give Trump credit. How sad.

  117. Trump will get credit when the results are in.

  118. Obama gave Iran back their 1.7 billion dollars that was frozen. It was Iran's money. Gheeze, don't any of you FOXites ever fact check anything. Look it up.

  119. Come on - Obama gave the Iranians their own money back. This has been proven time and again. The Iranis had 1.7 billion assets frozen which Obama gave back to the Iran government.

  120. Think of Trump the Bully. That's what he is most of the time here at home and abroad. That's what his "policies" depend upon. It's the basis of how he governs. And it's how he sees himself a winner. So now he bullies Iran. It's easier to justify bullying a nation that is itself a bully. That makes it easier to minimize harm done to Iranian civilians, especially children. Do Americans like a bully? Automatic answer is no. But their actions speak a different answer in his support from millions. We are learning something about our fellow citizens.

  121. The Iranian people will rise up against the mad mullahs in Iran, just as they tried to do when Obama became president in early 2009. Except Obama stood by and did nothing. But Trump is a much different President.

  122. No such uprising occurred in Iran during Obama’s tenure. I think you are confusing your history with what Bush did to the Iraqi’s. Iraq is not Iran.

  123. @Cjmesq0 Trump couldn't care any less about the Iranian people...It's the Israeli people that he really cares about.

  124. yes he is they now have a nuclear weapons program

  125. “...has sent their young boys off to fight and come back dead, and hasn’t used that money for the betterment of the Iranian people,” he said on Fox. “You’re seeing these protests as a direct result of that.” He is clearly taking about the USA.

  126. " the administration is lauding" violence, chaos, mayhem "in what it says is a partial victory" No surprises in that sentiment. Hardly the first time the US has been party to trying to destroy Iran from the inside whether its ousting a democratically elected president (as in 1953) or the opposite extreme, religious leaders, it doesn't seem to matter someone in the US government (or an ally) wants it destroyed. How far will this inept and criminal admin go to achieve its desires? Further than Bush who lauded as victory an illegal invasion in Iraq gotten through lies and propaganda, the US legalizing torture, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, thousands of US and coalition troops dead or wounded, the country and people's futures decimated, trillions of dollars wasted, the birth of ISIS, the middle-east aflame. btw: what are this admin's desires. Increase suffering and death, divide and conquer, cruelty, mayhem just because it can? It sure seems that way!

  127. The tone of the comments here is predictable: it's all Trump's fault. Trump is no prize - in fact he is a disaster- but the sanctions predate him and the evil regime that has ruled Iran since 1979 is sure as heck not Trump's fault. Here at the Times we cannot bring ourselves to label any foreign government or other culture fundamentally evil, we reserve such harsh judgements for Republican politicians and rural American culture - but Iran is evil and if sanctions weaken Iran then we must sanction Iran.

  128. Yes, Trump has no right to put sanctions on Iran. Trump has destabilized Iran and he is totally to blame.

  129. And we complain about Russia meddling in our affairs! Why do we have to make Iran an enemy? Why is their behavior "malignant," as you put it, while ours is not--all while we support Saudi bombing of poor Yemeni children and also Israeli bombing of poor Palestinian children? Can we have a new paradigm that favors sharing of resources instead of regime change based on greed?

  130. What a shock. Trump is flailing, throwing any pot of spaghetti he can find against the wall. He simply must not be re-elected. The economic and human costs are far too high.

  131. 'The Trump administration finds itself confronting similar decisions that the Obama administration did." But that's where the similarity ends. Trump is dealing with this in a sensible and smart way. First, he is not loading a plane with $150 billion in gold and currency to appease Tehran. Second he is is not going on an apology tour for American strength and greatness. Third, Trump is spending our tax payer money like his own -- cautiously. Not like how Obama spent other people's money.

  132. Obama only gave Iran back their own money that we froze. And Obama and other countries entered into a contract with Iran to only have minimal nuclear power to run power plants. Iran was compliant in it's contract with U.S and other countries. Then Trump comes into power and ends the contract with Iran. Then Trump places sanctions on Iran for no other reason than he can. Lastly Bashar, Trump is spending our taxpayer dollars on his weekend trips to his golf resorts including hauling all of his secret service with him.

  133. Trump has often stated that the Iran nuclear deal was "terrible", but he's never publicly said what he was wanted to replace it with. he also failed to convince any of the other four parties, plus Iran that their painstaking negotiations were flawed. The Iranian's were left with a lengthy negotiation, a signed treaty, the facilitation and support of four other regional parties only to have it all disappear because Trump wanted to outdo Obama. As far as Iran's "malign" behavior in the region the Times is obviously referring to the presence of Iranian troops in Syria supporting the Assad government. But what did the US expect? Syria is on Iran's southern border. did we really expect that they would allow Syria to fall to ISIS or the US/Saudi/Israeli jihadists who were executing POW's and swore that all infidels would either submit or be killed? The Us and Iran could easily reach a rapprochement if we could accept the sovereignty of the nations of the region and stand down from our policy of domination. The unrest in Iran is due to the authoritarian rule of the Ayatollahs and the economic pressures from US sanctions. But make no mistake. The Iranian people do not want domination from anyone, whether its their own leaders or the US.

  134. This article clearly shows the two possibilities that might develop from America's policy of "maximum pressure". It's like the bully twisting his victim's arm and insisting that he say "uncle". It might work or it might lead to the weaker youngster going all out to get revenge and fighting back. Trump the businessman is making a "bet" as he might in a business proposition that the policy of deprivation will lead to submission. He is betting that helping Iranians digitally to show the government's crackdown will humiliate the leadership and make them give in. That's the 'bet". But the problem with big bets is that you either score big or you lose a lot. Governments should have a more nuanced policy where you don't have an all--or--nothing approach. Submit to America's demands or lose sovereignty. What if the Iranian leadership lashes out violently rather than say "uncle"?

  135. AS long as Trump does not start a regime change war against Iran, I am happy with the Trump Iran policy. Let the Iranian people decide whether they want the current regime to continue or change it. If they want to change it they should not look west to have it changed by military force. Any country trying to change country attacking Iran's revolutionary guard better be ready to get a black eye. Trump did not increase the gas prices in Iran and it is therefore not the sanctions that are the cause of the protests. With regard to the renegotiating the nuclear deal, Trump has left the door open and if the Iranians want to be smart they can exchange the lifting of sanctions for denuclearization of Iran. Here too Trump is playing it cool and not starting a fire under the Iranian government. It is the Iranian protesters who are burning banks and lighting fires.

  136. When I grew up it was the USSR that was the enemy. Everyone assumed it would always be that way. Until it wasn't. They just evaporated. The Iranian regime will eventually evaporate, with or without our "help".

  137. This guy is like a bull in a china shop, but on a global level!

  138. The sanctions placed on Iran are pure evil and serve no interest of the US other than to let Trump inject his cruelty against an entire nation.

  139. It's a 1953 attempt all over again. Since that worked out so well, the current subversive team led by Trump and Pompeo, cheered on by Netanyau, look to destabelizing yet another country to match the disasters wrought in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Each of the three have their own peculiar sub-gendas: Trump salivating to please the wealthy Arab "royals", Pompeo set to leap one more hurdle toward the Rapture and Netanyahu making ready to reap the benefits of a fragmented region.

  140. I do not understand how anyone can support a regime that just murdered hundreds of its citizens for having the audacity to demand freedoms. It is sickening.

  141. I don’t know how anyone could support a regime that left the Kurds for dead after they fought and died alongside their so called allies.

  142. Six very different American presidents have come and gone since the 1979 Iranian revolution brought the Ayatollahs to power. It's a safe bet they'll outlast this one too.

  143. @Seth Eisenberg Gaddafi outlasted more.

  144. These “news analysis” articles are sometimes very interesting but they are nothing more than opinion pieces.

  145. Do you believe Bush Jr. now? Remember when he said, "This is a crusade."? How many Muslim countries have we helped to destroy since then? And what has been the NYT's position?

  146. How the heck would one attribute the mess on the Middle East to the US?

  147. @TJ, Destroying Iraq caused a lot of messes, helped Iran become a major player there, spread Iraqi and US weapons all over the region, many that ended up in the hands of ISIS, set the stage for ISIS to form; destroyed Libya and spread its weapons all over, creating a civil war and a breeding ground for ISIS; both wars causing countless refugees to risk their lives fleeing violence and chaos. We are fomenting chaos in Iran, which is likely to lead to more wars and global oil shortages. I can add more but it is tiresome, depressing...

  148. This "treaty", under the original guidelines brokered by Obama, had Iran doing exactly what it wants to do by 2031, eleven years from now: build heavy water reactors, as many centrifuges as they want, enrich uranium, etc. This is in addition to the 1.6 billion dollars Obama sent to Iran covertly. Does ANYBODY really think that the mullahs care about waiting an additional 11 years for the development of weapons capable of destroying Israel and the Great Satan. A speck of sand in the theocratic Muslim hourglass of time. This was a showpiece "treaty" to begin with and Trump, as big a fool as he is, was right and righteous to move on from it.

  149. @Billy H. The 1.6 billion dollars had been Iran’s money to start with. It was seized by the U.S. as punishment for another infraction and returned years (?) later when certain concessions were agreed to by Iran. It seems a lot of us, including me, need to be given more detail and have more events placed in accurate historical context if we are to have a true understanding of the situation.

  150. Get a grip. When Trump pulled out of the Iran treaty, Iran was in compliance with the treaty. I will repeat: Iran was in compliance with the treaty. Obama gave Iran their own money 1.7 Billion back. Iran's assets were frozen for a period of time. The only thing Obama gave Iran was their own money. The two things are written in stone. This is old news that was fact checked and printed everywhere for any one to see. You are bringing up false accusations here.

  151. @Billy H. When Iran will be allowed to enrich on an industrial scale, it will be under a very strict inspections regme that goes well beyond the monitoring that other NPT members are under. Iran as a sovereign country cannot be restricted from exercising its right to mine and process its own uranium for use in its own power plants. If we want to coerce Iran into giving up that right over their objections, then we need to fight a war and take away that right. The best we can do is to negotiate an agreement that deals with the objection we have with Iran's enrichment program. So, we make sure that Iran won't make nuclear weapons, and of they violate that agreement that we have plenty of time to intervene. So, should Iran attempt to break out, it would still need to build nuclear devices and test them, It will have to test ICBMs, build and test re-entry vehicles. It will have to miniaturize nuclear weapons and test those weapons.

  152. The objective here is to apply maximum pressure on the regime. Short of using military means, this is the strategic path most aligned with US interests and realities of the autocratic theocracy. If that leads to economic stress, protests and dissent, then great. The idea that Obama, Kerry and delusional appeasers will draw Iran to moderation was a pipe dream. It’s been 50 years and we’re still the Great Satan. Their brethren like Hamas and Hezbollah are birds of a feather cemented in their depraved terror culture. The same thinking motivated the London Bridge killer that should have never been walking on western streets. In these comments we’ll see a lot of sentiment: It’s all our fault! Well, you can’t patch up everything from history. But you can move forward. Iran doesn’t.

  153. "a regime that has sent their young boys off to fight and come back dead, and hasn’t used that money for the betterment of the people” Sounds exactly like what the regime in Washington has been doing since its inception.

  154. I would hope that all the regime change enthusiasts would spend a moment or two in quiet reflection on the last time the Iranian people rose up and overthrew an autocratic government.

  155. On July 15, 2015, Mr. Sanger wrote a piece with the headline "Obama's Leap of Faith on Iran" addressing President Obama's views of the effect of the JCPOA. Mr. Sanger wrote, "Mr. Obama is essentially betting that once sanctions have been lifted, Iran’s leaders will have no choice but to use much of the new money to better the lives of their long-suffering citizens. He has told his aides that he expects relatively little to be spent to finance terrorism." It appears that President Obama made a poor bet given Iran's post JCPOA signing ,align behavior in the region, its aid to Hezbollah and Assad, etc. Meanwhile Zarif continues to be lauded as reasonable man ofpeace who is never challenged on his claim that Iran has no troops outside its country.

  156. Long term strategy? Trump is not capable, of planning out a long term strategy. Against Iran, or against China, or against North Korea. Or ANY type of long range planning, at all. Trump sits on his bed during his "Executive Time" every morning, and tweets about whatever he sees at the moment, on Fox and Friends. That is the total extent, of his "Long Term Strategy". Then his staff and the Republican-Right-Wing-Network have to run around like chickens without a head, and try to pretend that the latest idiotic tweet is the official White House Policy, and that it's now going to be implemented. In the immortal words of the former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, "He's a moron".

  157. @John Doe Compared to the foreign policies of his two immediate predecessors, Trump is doing fairly well. No new wars (Bush II), no tribute paid to foreign enemies (Obama), and no more scraping and groveling overseas (Obama).

  158. In the shadow of global political volatility, the long term is just a bunch of short terms.

  159. He’ll not be content...... ever! As such..... he’ll just continue destroying anything, everything, everyone’s life. The world itself! The nature of his malignant personality, developed by his father who nearly destroyed Him. Thus this infant/nebulae Trumps RISING - is even more malignant. Just like any destructive cancer cell ! And the “doctors “ ie. the Republican Party, & its Members The Party”...(Uhm? That Sounds like the parties of - The Nazi’s, The Communist’s, The John Birchers, The KKK, The Communist China) They didn’t go to medical school(thus they did not learn the Constitution, Laws, & Democracy)....So soon the Members of Republican Party doctors will want to send all of us non-members to RE-EDUCATION CAMPS LIKE just as China is presently doing with anyone not adhering to the party Line!!!!! Their rants, statements, publications etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc. are ya tired of it all. A New Party is necessary for our democracy to survive. Oh... President Lincoln IS SO TIRED OF ROLLING OVER !!!! So don’t have any thing resembling this present “republican “ parties anything!

  160. The Trump administration has had a series of "partial victories." Trade wars, regime change in Iran, bombing raids on Syrian airfields that they told the Russians about first, the Mueller investigation, promoting democracy, human rights, and fair elections in Turkey, sudden unexplained military withdrawals from ISIS country, bringing America together again, impeachment... Dog-and-pony. Distractions. Photo-ops. Tabloid. Bait-and-switch. Bluff. Hole-in-one. Fox-News slam dunks! Good short-term strategery.

  161. Just like was done to Iraq, weaken the nation with sanctions until they are virtually on their knees, and then invade the country. The sanctions on Iraq was responsible for the deaths of around 500,000 children and this was before the war in 2003.

  162. Sanctions Tariffs This ‘ administration’ wouldn’t know its way around a toilet if it landed on it

  163. Today, December 2, we have like two pieces in the NYTimes. First was the one this morning showing the kind of true picture cronies commuted be the regime in Iran. This second one come from Mr. Sanger that always tries to portrait better picture of the Iranian regime. As you can read through the piece, the writer sticking with Trump sanctions and not the nature of the regime that everyday shows the corruptions and brutal treatment of protesters for the past 40 years. No wonder Mr Sanger can travel to Iran back and forth and have the blessing of the barbaric regime there.

  164. Let them go after the "Islamic Republic of Iran". You have to give it to some of the commentators here. The blinding rage for Trump has pushed them into the camp of a country stuck in the 7th-century. A two-faced country hell-bent on going nuclear and hanging the specter of nuclear annihilation over the entire Middle East---and beyond. A country which sent it's teenagers into minefields as disposable mine sweepers. A country which hangs homosexuals, adulterers, prostitutes and many other 'criminals' using construction cranes in public. A country aligned with Russia. The more unrest sown in that country, the better. Time for an Iranian Spring.

  165. Pompeo: "United States was supporting the protesters" "Supporting protestors ..." Read meddling again. The same way the US fomented unrest and staged a coup to unseat Iran's democratically elected president in 1953 in order to seat its puppet. US meddling never ends well anywhere for anyone, bar a handful of people. Is that the point? What is it with these people's obsession with resurrecting colonialism and imperialism. Been there, done that, it didn't work out (for the majority), much of the world was decimated by it and is still devastated and reeling from it. Down a worm hole into the darkest of dark pasts seems to be this admin's m.o. The only question is why. It doesn't serve the US. it doesn't serve the world, who does it serve?

  166. Ever wonder why America's trade deficit is accelerating? Trump's sanctions on Iran (81m people) and Russia (145m people) shrink America's potential export market by nearly a quarter-billion potential consumers. Even wonder why America's federal budget deficit and national debt are accelerating? The Obama recovery program, which Trump has ridden through five continuing budget resolutions, has fulfilled its goals and is winding down. Now, our economy is drifting along on Trump's bluffs and blunders!

  167. How often do we read or hear about Iran's "malign actions in the region" or Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. As Karl Rove says, if you repeat a falsehood over and over and over, you can manufacture the perception of truth. Americans seem unusually receptive to brain-washing. Americans need to take the time to seek the truth and start thinking for themselves Iran has for centuries been a champion for justice. Today it supports those fighting for Palestinian human and legal rights. The government of Iran, this one or the next one, will continue to do so.

  168. 'Sanctions May Have Fueled Iran Protests, but Have Yet to Further U.S. Goals' Goals? Now that would be novel.

  169. I shake my head almost every time I read the first story which pops up online about Trump. This one is a prime example. These stories are almost universally negative. A positive story about Trump is so rare that as a daily NYT reader I can't remember even one. Good economic news for example is treated in a "yeah, but..." way. The glass is never half full. The bias here is so undeniably obvious that one wonders how the Times can possibly deny it.

  170. Whatever we may feel about the Iranian regime, the fact is that we are now beginning to see the fruition of deliberate economic warfare designed to impoverish, weaken, sicken, degrade and divide and destroy a brilliant nation of 80 million people. We did this to satisfy our own leaders with a blind passion for vengeance and a thirst to satisfy a nation of Israel that lives less anymore by some broad vision of humanity than by its own blind passion for a complete military supremacy in the Middle East that it will never be able to possess or exercise without ceaseless international conflict and preparation for war. The fact that the American people cannot even see, much less admit or confess, these simple facts is itself a measure of the labyrinthine blindness in which we have imprisoned ourselves as Messrs. Trump and Pompeo weave their gossamer web of intrigue and provocation. And the Democratic Party is itself so compromised by its own contribution to this wretched confusion that its leadership cannot begin to convey to the American people that Trump and Pompeo are driving us into a fathomless abyss. This is pure madness, fellow Americans.

  171. @David A. Lee This is an excellent comment. I hope there are many in the US who have the same perspective.

  172. The USA has a penchant for interfering in other countries, using economic, military, and covert actions to do so. We overthrew an elected Iranian leader in the 1950s and installed a dictator. The Iran nuclear deal was negotiated by an international team and apparently was just fine. Trump unilaterally wrecked the deal. As far as Iran's "malign behavior," it's nowhere near as malign as what the USA has done to Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, or how the USA arms and otherwise supports the Saudi genocide in Yemen. American hegemony, exceptionalism, and empire are criminal. Our own country is a total mess. We should fix America before and if we ever try to "fix" some other country (and steal its oil).

  173. Strong D here - maybe Trump plan won’t work. Your alernative - other than Obama deal - is?

  174. Americans simply fail to understand: 1) The Iranian people may not like some of their leaders, but they dislike the American administration far more. It is seen as the the chief perpetrator of injustice in the Middle East. It is seen as the immature muscular bully. It is seen as immoral and corrupt, under the guise of freedom and democracy. 2) The Muslim religion is based on the concepts of justice and every member has an obligation to fight against injustice. This is not going to magically disappear.

  175. Since when is supporting the fight for human and legal rights a "maligned behaviour"? Since when is backing the enforcement of UN resolutions a "maligned behaviour"? In my book I consider backing a known murderer (MBS) and a thief (Netanyahu) is "maligned behaviour".

  176. One one side we have the United States-Israel-Saudi Axis. On the other side you have countries and peoples that believe in human rights and international laws. Guess who's going to win in the long term.

  177. Iran believes in human rights? They’re killing their people on the streets.

  178. @Edward Just like the police in the USA.

  179. Trump is taking Iran on and is making his point. China will follow.

  180. All this so Trump can get a hotel deal in Riyadh.

  181. Trump is blowing up the world and I believe that's always been his plan. He's a mental case and should be fired asap. What more evidence do they need?

  182. The very premise of this article is flawed. On what basis would you assume that "renegotiating the nuclear deal with Iran or dialing back Iran’s malign behavior in the region" is Trump's goal? All he wants is something he can call a "win" and which will help him get reelected. He can say the protests accomplish that.

  183. Did anybody other than the gullible magats really think tariffs might have a positive effect?

  184. Even US allies can no longer take US backing for granted, so why would Iran? Meaning, the only strategy open to the US is to oppose Iran every way it can and hope there will be a revolution at some point that will get rid of the current regime, especially the Ayatollah. Sanctions and unrest in Iran helps keep them occupied, and therefore dial down their activities in the region (support Hamas, Houthi rebels in Yemen, interfere in Iraq and so on).

  185. extremely stable genius will fix a problem that dates back to 1953. (Actually much longer ago than that, I am just abridging history. Oh I forgot , stable genius was born in 1948 so of course he would not know. I mean KNOW, Our stable president knows everything. What will it take to get rid of this guy? He should be fired.

  186. Oh - and I thought the US was against interference in other nations political systems - oops! - only applies to Russia!

  187. Nobody would argue that Iran has been a good actor in the Middle East. The problem is that withdrawing from the nuclear pact and imposing sanctions has made Iran more, not less, dangerous.

  188. @Wiltontraveler "Nobody" doesn't include me. The worst actors are the ones which steal, oppress, violate international laws, murder, and commit war crimes ...... and they are all supported by the US.

  189. @Greg As long as Israel dictates our (USA) foreign policy, our relationship with Iran will be bad.

  190. Let's educate Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo. The Iranians are raised to be patriotic. It is this culture of patriotism that has ensured survival of their country until today, in spite of being invaded by many foreign armies. Iranians are also cultured people. They were pioneers of many scientific advances in the Islamic world. They have an immensely rich literature and poetic tradition that has given birth to poets such as Rumi, Khyyam and Hafiz. Iranians attempted to form a democratic government in mid 16 century, which led to Safavid coming to power. In 1906 the Iranians forced their king to consent to creation of a Constitutional Monarchy. In short, Iranians value freedom and democracy and have fought to achieve them. Based on the above, I suggest that Iranians do not support a repressive regime, unless they feel their country is under attack from outside. It is my sincere belief that the only reason the theocratic regime in Tehran is still in power is the US repeated attempts to oust it. Those attempts have resulted in Iranians rallying behind the regime, believing that regime collapse can lead to their country's collapse. The US has been attacking Iran since the Islamic revolution of 1980. To remind readers, just in the 80's, the US encouraged Iraq's Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, resulting in a bloody war lasting 8 years. Then the US attacked Iran's navy and its oil platforms in Persian Gulf, and downed its civilian airliner killing 290 innocent passengers.

  191. Even if Iran "breaks" and the IRG revolts, the United States has yet to show how they can successfully assist its people. One has to only look at our track record in the Middle East to see just how dismal U.S. foreign policy from presidents in both parties have fared. 45 yielded control of Syria to Russia, will he allow Saudi Arabia the same opportunity with Iran? Instability is NOT foreign policy. Sadly, explaining nuance to this administration is a wasted effort.

  192. Sounds like Iran is in a weaker position to perpetuate its evil now, and the regime's tenure could be at risk.

  193. The plan goes like this: US withdraws from the nuclear accord (done). US imposes harsh comic sanctions (done) The US stations armed forces close to Iran (done) The EU fails to protect Iran from the sanctions (done) The nuclear deal falls apart Iran restarts its high level uranium enrichment The US and EU condemn Irans restarting of its nuclear program (end of stage 1, mission accomplished for the US-Israel-Saudi Axis) Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities (pre-sold as "self-defence") Iran manages to shoot down an Israeli war plane. Israel bombs Tehran Iran fires rockets at Israel. (end of stage 2, mission accomplished for the US-Israel-Saudi Axis) US comes to Israel's defence, launching air strikes on Iran from its carrier fleet. Iran attacks an American warship. Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia enter the conflict (end of stage 3, mission now out of control) WW3 .........

  194. Has Trump made even one country in the world safer? He is the enemy of the free world.

  195. These sanctions are doing what they're intended to do, which is hurt the population. It is nothing short of a war crime, we starve and kill many civilians, including children. The armed forces never see any conflict, which is what war used to be, now we seem to cut out of the middle man and get straight to laying siege to an entire country. This is just beyond immoral.

  196. Sanctions always damage the s country.However they don't damage the military or leaders.They damage the citizens.This makes them more likely to support a rightwing dictator and distrust a moderate, Trump, and others, use these as a pretense of doing something to a perceived enemy. At the same time he supports Saudi Arabia and their murder leader and the genocide of thousands of Yemens, and he's support of Russia taking over Crimea and Ukraine.

  197. It's possible the Trump admin is banking on regime collapse, which in theory may not be a bad strategy. The problem is the million unforeseen consequences of a collapse of the Iranian regime, including a major resurgence of Sunni terror groups ISIS and Al Qaeda, not to mention what might become of Iran itself.

  198. @Mford you underestimate Iran. Old, China-old. This isn't a made-up, post colonial country.

  199. Since when has sanctions against a country worked? From North Korea to Cuba ,sanctions only give hardliners more power. Back in 2009, the Iranian government didn't react to protests with the same violence it's doing now. For, they had hope that they could work with the new US president to improve relationship. Now that there is no hope, the hardliners in Iran will gain more power than anytime since the last 40 years. And they will try to export their revolution to Arab countries in the region. Attack is the best defense. Let's keep in mind that Kushner, a Netanyahu puppet in the man in charge of the US middle East policies, and that Kushner would do everything he can to please his and Trump's family personal banker Mohammed Bin Salman. This will not end well. The Mollahs will not go down without fighting. We saw the damages that a US supported civil war in Syria caused the region and Europe. That would be nothing compared to what would happen if Iran were to descend into a civil war.

  200. @Chaks Like all dictators, the mullahs are too proud. They could have sat with Trump, exactly like the North Korean leader did and give Trump the photo ops Trump yearns so much and Trump would have undercut his own state department sanctions and policies to have as many TV moments as possible. But again, dictators are not known to be very smart.

  201. Obama wrecked the Middle East. Such a shame.

  202. @Chaks As an Iranian American who grew up in Iran under mullahs and have lived here for 20 years I fully agree with your analysis. Mullahs plan to wait out Trump at this point. They have done that for 40 years and they are good at that game at this point. And Trump team is desperately pushing a failed policy as if something magic might happen here and they can save face. By doing that they have enabled hardliners to take full control and silence any opposition voice in Iran. What Pompeo doesn't understand is that Iranians do not want to have another revolution after their failed 1979 experiment. They want to make slow progress toward democracy but these failed policies just destroy any progress they had made in recent years.

  203. As an Iranian American, I also believe Trump is running a failed strategy against Iran. All he has accomplished so far is more bloodshed by enabling hardliners in Iran to take full control of the country. The hardliners are now free to label protestors as agents of evil United States of America and crush them with bullets. This wasn't the first time Iranian go on the street in protest but the Iranian government has never been this brutal toward protestors. Trump has no strategy here. Brian Hook and Pompeo convinced Trump to use sanction tool to pressure Iranian government. Iranian government then decided to scare people from coming out again and wait out Trump. As they have done the same thing for 40 years now. In the meanwhile ordinary Iranian people not only are losing bits of freedom they had started to enjoy after the nuclear deal but also are sufferimg in pain as they cannot afford paying for sky black market medicines due to widespread US sanctions. As a human being I found it outrageous when Brian Hook said he was very happy to see that the regime is killing people on Fox News. Shame on you!

  204. I was in Iran for weeks through Nov 23. "International" internet was disconnected from about 6pm on Nov 16 to Nov 23. As I was clearing exit customs, friends were texting that access through ADSL was gradually starting again. A few days ago mobile internet access was back everywhere. "Domestic" internet, or as Iranians call it, "intranet" i e all sites dotIR, always worked. Even before ADSL access was restored, moderately tech-savvy kids were able to configure proxies on mobile phones to access "international" internet—it happened right in front of my eyes. I can hardly imagine Iranians needed "circumvention tools provided by the US government." All the US government has provided to Iran for 40 years are embargo policies that have never worked wherever applied—save for keeping the projected "enemy" in good domestic political health and the general population under strictures. See Cuba. Or North Korea. As to lack of betterment of the Iranian people: public schools are free (hello, richest country in the world?) and excellent by international standards, national health care works remarkably well (hello, richest country in the world?) (save for lack of radioactive supplies for imaging and radiotherapy, though), motorways are excellent and free, public green every every everywhere is of unimaginable beauty and upkeep, metro train & bus systems are excellent, every single road sign is in Farsi and English. More to tell of course, not enough characters.

  205. @Stefano M Celesti Thanks for a much-needed eye witness report.

  206. Iran has now twice fired warning shots, attacks on tankers and an attack on a Saudi oil facility. A few weeks ago I read that Iran & Saudi Arabia had started talking. What are they talking about? Come on, NYT, investigate. The attack on the Saudis was fairly audacious. It seems that not only didn't we see it coming but even afterwards we couldn't even figure out if it was drones or cruise missiles. Don't we have reconnaissance all over that area? It certainly seems that they could do it again and quite likely make it much more damaging. Are they waiting for the perfect moment? Are they capable of launching an attack that would cause a large cut in Saudi oil exports? Could that cause a worldwide economic crisis? Those who play with fire often get burned. We are most definitely not omnipotent. Will we ever learn? Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq. Will we ever learn?

  207. After rereading Pompeo's quotes, all I see is 'swagger, bluster and bully'. These must be the code words for all of Trump's programs.

  208. Trump had no goal! When are people going to realize it’s all about the “show”. Goals and strategies that benefit the USA or global interests of peace don’t matter to Trump.

  209. So what you're saying is, 208 protesters were killed by the Iranian government, because trump put sanctions on Iran? We're not going to blame the Iranian government? As a matter of fact, why does the headline have ANYTHING to do with sanctions when AT LEAST 208 unarmed, helpless civilians were mercilessly slaughtered? Don't you think THAT should be the breaking news?

  210. Pompeo, Israel, Bolton and that whole crew won't be happy until there is another failed state & collapse of a country with 85 million that have no where to go. They would rather have ISIS and Al Qaeda, Saudi backed militia running around blowing everything up, who believe in total chaos & anarchy. We are crushing this regime and it is an act of war. We don't allow medicine in and that is and act of terror. We are probably helping with instigating the protests like in Iraq also. The United States has become an evil entity. We are now the kind of country we fought against in WW2. Now we are on the verge of causing WW3 and we are on the wrong side of history.

  211. When Trump is out of office, someone will have to teach Israel and Saudi Arabia that the US will not serve as their dog anymore.