Iran’s Grim Economy Limits Its Willingness to Confront the U.S.

Fearful of public anger over a plunging economy, Iran’s leaders appear to be turning inward, pulling back from escalation.

Comments: 197

  1. Every theory but the kitchen sink in this hodgepodge description of “on the one hand but then on the other.” Anything to avoid what seems apparent: Iran is now in virtually the same situation as Venezuela, yet no matter how hard the US squeezes the malevolent forces in charge in each country seem to hang on.

  2. @JPE Things have to start mysteriously blowing up in Iran proper as well as continued targeted assassinations of nuclear people. The IRGC supporters have to lose faith in the IRGC.

  3. There is one dimension of the subject that this excellent article misses: the nuclear . What does a strong repressive but unpopular/illegitimate regime under foreign threat do; renounce nuclear weapons or race toward them as its only viable option and apparent salvation?

  4. Iran is a dying civilization: By 2050, there will be 1.8 workers for every pensioner. The US and the West can afford to support it's elderly while Iran clearly can't as they do not have nearly enough industry to do so. Iran is an oil well attached to an iron lung. The vision of Iran's religious le to everaders for survival is for a 4th Persian empire that stretches across the mid east and backed by nuclear weapons. Iran has imposed humiliating deprivation on its people in it's quest for an empire by unsustainable funding of its proxies in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, etc and it's nuclear weapons program. In my opinion, the US should settle for nothing less than complete abandonment of it's nuclear weapons program as a condition of sanctions relief and think it was a mistake to ever lift sanction without a permanent agreement to abandon nuclear weapons.

  5. @Scott The US is a dying civilization; right now it does not support its elderly. The US has imposed humiliating deprivation on Iran's people. The American people, and the rest of the world, should settle for nothing less than complete abandonment of the US nuclear weapons program as a condition of international survival.

  6. @Lemur US economic growth has increased for 8 straight years. It can admittedly do better at supporting it's elderly but to say it's a dying civilization is ridiculous.

  7. I think the risk of annihilation would be more of a concern than just economics. The world has not seen total war since WW II, which from our point of view was fought with antique weapons. Total war fought with modern weapons would be a terrible thing for all involved, and it isn't clear to me how to avoid a progression towards it once a war between two countries with modern weapons begins.

  8. The 2015 pathway was the most promising to resolve conflict with Iran. All Trump has done since has created more uncertainty & volatility that US involvement in the region has become toxic. Denuded of a leadership role, the US has had its credibility shattered by Trump reneging on a workable treaty. In future, the US will have the upmost difficulty in being trusted at its word. Trump's sanctions have been pernicious & without justice. These cannot be condoned against any measure since they stifled all hope of trade the Iranians agreed as part of the deal. Inflicting an unjust economic war, Trump lost the argument. The Suleimani extra-judicial killing confirms the danger of having Trump & family in the WH. The consequences for the US reach far wider than Iran, as former allies peel away. Pompeo has already found this to his annoyance. If Trump truly wants peace, no roadside bombs, sorties by surrogates etc he'd do well to eat humble pie; accept the destructive part he's played in this conflict and seek an equitable solution. He won't restore the treaty but he should. His disgruntlements concerning what the treaty didn't possess 'in his humble opinion' were pure subterfuge. As he tweets out America is watching, so is the world. Its watching him and the instability & recklessness he brings. It cannot be put strongly enough, another Trump term is not just a bad idea, it's a disaster for the world, its cohesion and future functioning.

  9. @Third Day Iran was not “adhering” to the spirit of the JCPOA. Why is that so hard for many to fathom? Obama thought the deal would bring Iran into back in league with western nations. Iran instead went the other way. They fired off ballistic missiles within days of securing the return of their 150B which was a violation of several treaties. Iran begun to massively fund terrorism in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They quickly and purposely dispelled any notion that relations with the West would improve. The current Iranian theocracy depends on a US bogeyman for its existence. This same theocracy is currently (and has regularly) shooting its own citizens in the streets. But this time the protest are different as this article points out. And the difference is Trump’s hard line policy has worked. Yes, Trump the unhinged autocratic has Iran’s number. Iran’s feeble response to their general’s assassination has exposed this toothless tiger regime to its own citizens. They’re done. Now can the dems admit Trump did something right or will they keep contorting over words like “imminent” in its attempt to steal defeat from the jaws of victory!

  10. @KB Why is it so important for Trump followers that people say “he was right”, or that it has to be either victory or defeat? There are nuances to world affairs and political decisions. The bullying and threatening, the neediness, insecurities and spite is not a strategy with a vision for the future.

  11. @Third Day People are conflating the nuclear deal with containing Iran's hegemony. Obama, Kerry, et al, not only looked the other way when it came to Iran's intentions in the region but actually funded it terrorism by lifting sanctions and returning that $1.7B.

  12. This article is one of reasons Iran simply does not have the capacity to engage the United States in direct warfare. It was true two weeks and two year ago. All the hysteria about WWIII, brinkmanship and the drama of "Seven days in January" was never remotely true.

  13. @Mkm I disagree. You don't need a nuclear bomb dropped to start a war. WWI started with the assassination of a head of state. Oh, wait. We already did that. Trump wants to drone kill and gloat on Fox. People with nothing to lose can inflict a lot of damage. I'd rather adults with the capacity to negotiate. Oh, wait. We had that. President Obama, a brilliant, trusted, reasonable, ethical, problem-solver.

  14. @Dr. Conde - you need to read your history. The archduke was not a head of state and Germany piling on russia, who mobilized when austria retaliated on Serbia, tripping treaty obligations of france and England are not even remotely in the equation here. Iran is isolated. What is it one would negotiate with Iran after they attack our embassy.

  15. The US is walking a fine line as well. Has anyone in Washington thought of what the ramifications would be if Iran becomes a failed state? I am confident the White House hasn’t. I don’t see it as being in anybody’s interest to have the Iranian civil structure collapse.

  16. @Ralph Averill - good question, but it is up to the mullahs if they want to keep their Theocracy, it will get ugly.

  17. @Ralph Averill It would be fairly easy for Iran to avoid becoming a failed state. Free their people and cease funding worldwide terrorism. Use that money to build a country that works for everyone. If they made a commitment to becoming part of the world I would guess that countries would pour money into Iran to help them.

  18. @Ralph Averill Iran failing would result in lots of poverty, domestic protests, and some political strife including a potential civil war between remnants of the theocratic factions fighting the secular elites for power in whatever structure slowly begins to coalesce. Europe would receive a decent amount of refugees but less than in Syria's case because of the geographic distance and lack of open waterways to get smuggled in through. However, there isn't a even split in Sunnis and Shia's like in Iraq. It's a culturally homogenous country that would avoid a public bloodbath. Whatever government that eventually forms after a likely transition period of three years would struggle at first, naturally, but these are things that Iran needs. It would do them and the world some good. The falling of the theocratic regime would be a good thing and the risks of "failed states" are almost always overrated

  19. In the meanwhile Donald Trump is trying to figure out a way to be a hero with the whole Iranian issue. Whatever it would take.

  20. And, on your end, you are hoping that he will never be a hero.

  21. Iran is a fairly well-educated, culturally advanced society as a whole. It baffles me that the Islamist hardliners are able to maintain power. I understand their control of the military through allowing the military to profit handsomely off the declining economy, but at some point, popular discord should begin to erode that commitment. Of course, I come to that conclusion as a rational person, not a hard-boiled religious zealot.

  22. @ Mister Ed, if you are baffled by the Iranian regime’s grip on a nation so well-educated and with such potential, imagine how many of us Americans are baffled and disappointed by the grip held on our own government by the likes of Trump and McConnell, and their followers. We have learned that our own country is not as civil, well-educated, aware, inclusive or generous as we were always taught. Perhaps decent Iranians have discovered the same. I can’t say when Iranians will finally loosen the grip of their autocratic leaders. Americans get their next (and, perhaps, final) chance this November. The world will be watching.

  23. @Mister Ed When people have to risk their lives even to be in a street protest, one has to imagine the fear involved in even speaking one's mind. You can see fear of expressing opinions taking hold even in the United States, where the consequences may only have personal or professional ramifications.

  24. @Mister Ed with the money of the Obama deal, the islamist hardliners would have had a much easier life at this point. Kudos to Trump for fixing that colossal mistake.

  25. Obviously President Trump has no appreciation for history. Perhaps the Pentagon leadership influencing him was a bit reckless: The assassination of the Archduke of Austria, and his wife, occurred on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo. It triggered World War I, directly leading to it. The assassins still alive were arrested, tried, convicted and punished. History should matter. History should be remembered.

  26. @Chastened Realist On the contrary, Trump's policy on massive sanctions are working as intended. President Obama's policy of giving billions to Iran to try to coax them into behaving like a "normal" country was hopeful but ultimately misguided.

  27. @Chastened Realist Those who actually know history understand Franz Ferdinand's assassination was a trigger to a war caused by a very particular set of conditions. Someone whose thinking is simplistic enough to believe that every killing of a prominent figure leads to a major war is the opposite of knowledgeable regarding history.

  28. @Ray Caruso The European powers were set for war the assassination was the match thrown in the powder keg. The Iranians are not set for war, they accepted the draconian conditions of the agreement hoping to be able to live in peace. But bellicose Americans confident in their military and economic power want more. The most peaceful people can't live in peace if their neighbor does not want it. The warmongers sit in Washington, they are not done with Iran yet, they want war, that is why Trump picked a hawk like Pompeo for SOS.

  29. Finally an insightful and correct article about Iran To anyone familiar with the Mid East there was no "Trump leading the US to the Brink of War" - Iran being in no position to wage one

  30. @talesofgenji These facts about their economy and the reluctant disposition of Iran to provoke anymore internal and external disruptions is common knowledge in the military and intelligence community. It's information available open source. Despite the NYTimes commentariat wanting so bad to believe that Trump does everything on a whim, including military intervention, these insights into Iran would undoubtedly have played a role in the decision to execute Suli. This has ultimately played out well for Trump. He kills a mass murderer, Irans retaliations are impotent, Iran accidentally downs a plane denying it empathy from the international community over the assassination, the media warns about dire fallout over the strike but the fallout never comes. The fact this article is sure to rankle some feathers because it deviates from the ongoing narrative and shows how effective maximum pressure on Iran has been. Sorry guys, but Trump keeps winning

  31. @talesofgenji I noticed this in the sanguine response from General Petraeus and Admiral Mullen to the killing of Solemeini, although they agreed it was risky. Sometimes the professionals know more than we do.

  32. So after killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people in the invasion of Iraq (a total fiasco), is US going to try the same in Iran? Notice US isn't invading Iran. Maybe because Iran can do a lot more harm than Iraq.

  33. The Persians have been around for a few thousand years. Someday they will learn that shaping American public opinion is a competitive activity in which their adversaries, the Israelis, operate at the post doctorate level while they are wandering around in short pants looking for pre-K registration.

  34. Trump seems to think the key to negotiating a deal is to find something you can use to pressure the other side into accepting your demands. That's what the sanctions are for. They're intended to strangle Iran economically until they give Trump what he wants. What Trump doesn't seem to understand is in order to have a deal that's honest and lasting, there has to be something in it for both sides. If there's no advantage for Iran to maintain the peace, they won't. And the US military will be constantly trying to enforce it at the point of a gun against proxies attacking US installations. Trumpers accuse Democrats of siding with Iran. That's not true. What Democrats want is lasting peace. For that to happen it can't just be an Iranian surrender. That would leave others looking for revenge. There has to be something in the deal Iran wants. Something like they had with Obama. And I wouldn't be surprised if Iran is not willing to negotiate seriously until they find out who wins the US election.

  35. @JimmySerious The mistake is thinking that a lasting peace is possible with a militaristic theocracy. It's not.

  36. Appeasing the Iranian theocrats is a horrendous idea.

  37. @Spiral Architect Did we not learn from the Bush Republicans that perpetual Middle East war is a recipe for US economic insolvency? Are you sure you want to go back there when by all reports a deal like the one Obama negotiated was working?

  38. It's time for Iran to focus on its own people, rejoin a permanent nuclear deal with limitations on ballistic missile testing and a cessation of support for regional terror and proxy wars.

  39. @David Sher - a very nice and succinct reciting of the Trump policy.

  40. With American bases around its entire border and troop movements to the ME, do you really think that's feasible?

  41. This article suggests that Iran would have a hard time mustering the economic strength for all-out war with the U.S., so many commenters infer they would never have gone to war over the assassination of Suleimani. But that conclusion ignores the considerable pain Iran can inflict at lower cost (and has been inflicting for many years) through its Shiite surrogates in surrounding countries - Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, etc. Those places, not Iran, and our need to stay on constant high alert in the Middle East and elsewhere, are how we pay the full cost of renouncing the nuclear deal,

  42. @Charley Darwin My understanding is that these "others" can do even less major damage than Iran ... since they have been almost exclusively financed by Iran. Iran cannot similarly finance them now. The Iranian economy and people have suffered greatly for years (before the latest sanctions) as most income was used to finance these extra-territorial proxy wars and terror groups - not that the people of Iran.

  43. @Charley Darwin Iran has already been inflicting "considerable pain" on everyone in the region. People also seem to forget that Iran's proxies attacked our embassy.

  44. The fundamental problem with all authoritarian governments is they have only one governing tool---which is the hammer. They allow all the tools in the governing tool box to rust--and, eventually, all facets of the governing structure rust and then seize up---that is Iran's situation now---To make matters worse for the people of Iran, allowing religion to enter into the governing mix locks up the tool box, making it impossible to oil up the rusted tools and put them in the hands of political tradesmen/women.

  45. @Amanda Jones As America has experienced, it is much much harder to govern a free country. You have to trust the people and tolerate criticism. It is much easier to work with the hammer and force repression. It is the governing tool of the lazy and the corrupt.

  46. I would also imagine that Iran is extremely wary of Donald Trump’s well-known love of, and devotion to, the First Amendment and a free press, reflected in his recent tweet warning Iran to “let reporters roam free”. Oh, I forgot. In what passes for his own country, he insults, rails against, and denigrates that very same profession as “the enemy of the people”. Consistency may, or may not, as a wise man once said, be the hobgoblin of small minds, but I trust a similar American version of that tweet would read, “Let reporters roam free, as long as with me they agree”.

  47. Iran may collapse internally under mounting economic pressure. That is the core of the Trump strategy.

  48. “Iran- a sponsor of terror organizations- is under great economic pressure. Sanctions are making the Government change its policies.” If the Government cared about its people it wouldn't deal w terrorists like Hezzbolah, and extreme radicals. There- fixed it.

  49. It’s too bad the Iran apologists in the West aren’t able to call out Iran for creating its own problems through authoritarian governance and squandering it’s economic resources exporting terror and trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran could have been the South Korea of the middle east if its leadership had focused on economic development instead of military adventurism.

  50. @Mobocracy You make a great point. Iran blew it. However, I think you miss a larger point: illiberal theocracies simply can never hope to attain the level of success enjoyed by S. Korea. Call it a poor business model if you will. They aren't designed for the exchange of ideas and cooperation necessary for a vibrant, diversified economy. Citizens of the world need to take note.

  51. @Mobocracy What do you mean by Iranian apologists? The Iranian people are well educated and the country has the potential to do much better as you point out. They also have an identity (Persian) outside of their religion, which many forget. Unfortunately for them they have the crazies running the country. There are two ways to deal with it- the Obama way by diplomacy and negotiation, or the "blow them up" way, of which the certain hawks have been pushing for years. Blowing them up only leads to what we have in Iraq and Afghanistan these many years. You can be against our government policy with Iran and still not be on the side of the terrorists running the country. Eventually the Iranian people have to decide themselves what they want. We can't do it for them.

  52. @Hugh G I look at the Iranian regime like a machine being asked to do something it wasn't designed for. There can be no real diplomacy with a militaristic,theocratic regime like Iran. It's simply not designed for that. Those concepts are totally at odds with its mission statement. It's akin to trying to turn a badger into a pet. You can appease Iran, you can try to delicately manage it with carrots and sticks, but you will never transform them into a reliable regional partner. This was the folly of the 2015 nuclear agreement. Now the stage has been set. You can try to pin them while they're down or let them up to develop nuclear ICBM's. This may be the best opportunity we've had in decades.

  53. Unlike Trump who is always ready to spread fire and fury on the perceived enemy countries without realising the cost to the US, the Iranian leaders are at least aware of the domestic realities and limits while avoiding military escalation beyond what they could manage, which is perhaps a sign of prudence and maturity

  54. @Prof. Jai Prakash Sharma Does ot concern you they’re executed 6,000 people for being gay, and tens of thousands of others for wanting basic human rights? Prudence and maturity in your book?

  55. @RLS Without credible evidence you only have allegations, and you people tell too many lies to be trusted.

  56. This was the idea behind the nuclear deal. The Iranian government was supposed to spend the money internally fixing the country and getting them into the 21st century, instead they continued to squander it on creating chaos in the middle east. Thomas Friedman was right, Suleimani was not the smartest person in the world or the best leader. Now they might have to turn inward, the only difference is that we have no nuclear agreement with them and they won't trust us again. Too bad, we could have sold them a lot of stuff- airplane parts, consumer goods etc.

  57. So, democrats are saying since the ruling Islamic terrorists will inevitably kill its people and lash out militarily, we should engage and help finance their regional expansion and proxy wars? The layer of distortion and misguided approach to Iran from the left has me thoroughly confused. And what happened to (for example) Andrea Mitchell’s reporting to the American people that the Iranian people have now unified in the wake of Commander’s killing? Is she issuing a correction?

  58. This dunning opinion shores up Trump's standing as a president who -- in his view and the views of his supporters -- believes that getting tough forces submission. (This opinion, spoken by a Democrat.)

  59. The initial reporting on the Suleimani killing and the effects on the region have been so wrong it reminds me of the 2016 election coverage. Things that couldn’t be, are.

  60. I do not support Trump, but the 2015 nuclear deal was clearly going to do nothing but breathe life into the sails of a despotic, theocratic government hellbent on regional domination. It was a deal undertaken with the false belief that maybe the mullahs would play nice once they got a little sunshine and fresh air. We were wrong. You will never, ever be able to work with these guys. The good news is that this regime cannot last. There was a time before the Information Age where you could shield people from the rest of the world, indoctrinate them, lie to them, and keep them imprisoned behind checkpoints. Those days are over. A Persian Spring is coming for the Iranian mullahs like it has for all despots before them. Where are exactly where we need to be.

  61. Why war openly with an enemy so adept at destroying itself? In two weeks, the entire American position in the Middle East has completely collapsed. The war on ISIS is now dead. Iran will have nuclear weapons before the end of the year. And after almost 17 years, the American war in Iraq has ended in a total defeat for the US. American forces will be driven out of the country entirely, not with guns and bombs but with public sentiment and law. We are the pariah. In 2000, who in Iran would have believed in their wildest dreams that, 20 years later, Iran would completely dominate the region as fully as it does today, with enemies left and right conveniently removed and an upcoming nuclear arsenal to defend their gains? America's gift to them. It is astonishing to see the mortal blow Soleimani has dealt to the US this week. Even dead, this general has managed to outwit, outthink, outplan, and completely outclass the entire rotten leadership of the United States. It's pathetic to watch.

  62. @Mary. In what phantasy world are you living ? Or are you kidding ?

  63. @Mary thank you for a fascinating view into the progressive take on the situation. Chris Matthews is not alone!

  64. @Mary American generals said he was brilliant, they respected him as professionals. He was a hero for the Iranian people, that is why he was assassasinated, he was a brilliant soldier. Have you noticed, they make allegations but have no credible evidence to back up anything. Much like the WMD fiasco in Iraq.

  65. The economic sanctions are an act of war a clear in violation of international law. The Trump crowd are in clearly a lawless bunch. The Islamic Republic probably will not survive this. The US has the EU cowed with their sanctions. Clearly there is a mov't afoot to get out from under the banking and currency hammer lock the US has on world financial markets. The US wants to make Iran like Iraq a powerless state that won't interfere with the USs relentless efforts to make the entire middle east under the USs hegemonic sway.

  66. @c harris You, Chris Matthews, Christine Amanapour and Fareed Zarkaria should perform a citizens arrest.

  67. “Iran is caught in a wretched economic crisis. Jobs are scarce. Prices for food and other necessities are skyrocketing. The economy is rapidly shrinking. Iranians are increasingly disgusted.” When a person is cornered, do they not lash out? The US has nuclear weapons. So do many other countries like Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Israel, etc. Does not Iran have that option? Just because you don’t want this person to have weapons doesn’t mean they can’t justifiably have them. Indeed the worry might exist that that person will give these weapons to non-state actors but you’ll just have to cross that bridge when you get to it. If Iran is suffering, expect them to lash out. You’ve now essentially fulfilled your fear of them.

  68. @PC They’re already lashed out in revenge. I’ve seen greater demonstrations of might at Fourth of July fireworks shows.

  69. Had President Obama taken out the murderous general Sulemani, New York Times readers would have been ecstatic. It is becoming clearer every day that Trump did the right thing. It was never going to be a ground war with Iran. With their economy in shambles,And their younger generation wanting what everyone in the world wants, I am optimistic that change will come to Iran.

  70. At long last, a headline that is both factual and emotionally neutral. Keep up the good work.

  71. Pres. Trump is doing what Pres. Obama couldn't or wouldn't do. Iran is crumbling from the inside.

  72. @Julia and you think that the result of that will be a friendly democratic ally? The nuclear deal strengthened the moderates in Iran, putting us on a path out of the mess that was started in Iran when the Republican-led CIA overthrew a democratically elected government in Iran in the 1950s. The Trump approach causes suffering for millions of people, and encourages acts of terrorism against us,

  73. @Lynn I don't think you can provide any clear evidence Iran moderated it's behavior at all as a result of the, as you say, 'strengthened moderates'. People have been suffering in Iran for a long time. It did not just begin.

  74. @Lynn. Not at all. Iran is broken economically (thanks to Trump's sanctions) and morally (the people are getting new hopes for freedom and go to the streets protesting..thanks to Trump) Iran (with at I mean their evil leadership which is a dictatorship, let"s us t forget that) has both hands tied.

  75. This argument has nothing to do with morality or concern: it is about resources. Iran sits on massive oil and gas reserves, the West is still smarting from the expulsion of the Shah, a delusional Western puppet. Things would not have gotten so far out of hand if the CIA had not removed Mossadegh, a democratically elected President in the 50's. The seed has taken long to bear fruit and will be a bitter one to be shared by all around. Belligerent old men don't help.

  76. @Nevdeep Gill That old canard. Yeah, they wake up every morning and think about Mossadegh. The Islamic republic of Iran mourns its fallen Communist icon from 75 years ago, sure thing. Interesting to note that Vietnam, which really does have reason to have a grudge with the USA over the past, does not.

  77. Both countries need very badly to get rid of their horrible leadership. Until then, there will be no rationality in policy, on either side.

  78. Iranian leaders only interested in holding on to power. Sounds a lot like Republicans...

  79. There is a difference between negotiating/sanctions with Iran to dampen its worse instincts like building an atomic bomb or its worst form of terrorism and that of forcing it to become a satellite state of Israel and the USA. Whenever the USA tries to do this from countless examples of attempts in the Cold War to one of the latest disasters in the Iraq 2 war it has failed miserably stoking the flames of nationalism in the countries involved and a total disaster for the USA.

  80. @Paul I don't see how we are forcing Iran to do anything except stop development of a nuclear bomb and reducing their ability to fight proxy wars. The rest is up to them.

  81. @St Hahn thank you for your reply. There was an agreement to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, Trump pulled out of it not Iran. Israel and Iran fight proxy wars in the area. The last time we got involved with the admitted war criminal bush 2 in Iraq 2 war disaster followed. Same thing is happening with the escalation in the conflict now with the killing of the Iranian general.

  82. So you're saying Trump's approach is working? I agree.

  83. @Wylie Grace the judgment is not in yet, you better wait before you count your chickens.

  84. A psychologist would probably say that the killing of Suleimani released Iranians from a feeling of "conditioned helplessness" with their regime. That is, the killing showed that it is possible to do something about their dire situation, and fight back. Thank you Donald Trump.

  85. The article suggests that Iran is a war monger, seeking to invade it's neighbors. Iran hasn't invaded another country in nearly 300 years. I'd there a nasty Sunni-Shiite conflict going on in the region? Yes. But I fail to see why we should care. The brutal Saudi regime is the main culprit, though I know Don loves the Saudis because they spend "$40 million, $50 million" on his properties (according to Don, but I'd love to see his taxes to verify). Time to get out and stop coddling Saudi terrorists.

  86. @Paul Argentine Jewish community center bombing, Khobar Towers, Marine barracks Lebanon, etc etc. Assassination of their own dissidents in Europe just last year. Wake up and smell the asymmetric warfare. You're right about the Saudis though, time to break off the relationship.

  87. It seems as though public sentiment seems to be driving their decisions such as when news of Iran shooting down flight 752 caused the immediate shift away from anti-Americanism back to demonstrations against the government.

  88. @Bronx Jon The regime initiates events that invite a US retaliation to deflect its citizens' ire from itself. (Talk about "Wag the Dog".) Trump's killing Suleimani effectively turned that strategy on its head by removing its chief architect.

  89. Poverty stricken Iran acts like North Korea using its scarce but bellicose economies to advance its arsenals. Only North Korea does its negotiating with the velvet manipulation of love letters to a half wit egotistical President while building their non-negotiable bombs as their worst citizens starve. Rather incredible that these poor countries can still afford advances to building expensive nuclear weapons. Staying in power is expensive. How poor are they?

  90. To the Iranian theocratic government Trump says: « Do not kill your protesters » About the North Korean dictator: « We fell in love ». That is the dictator that has been starving his people and killing and torturing thousands. What he is doing is spurring every country to get their hands on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles because that is the only way to get respect from the US and to avoid military intervention.

  91. Trump's Strategy Working. There, fixed the headline.

  92. When Trump pulled the US out of the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions, I had doubts that he would succeed. But the nuclear deal was a bad deal as it did not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons from other nations, and because it was nothing more than a 15 year delay allowing Iran to make their own. But Iran got relief from sanctions plus lots of cash which they used to finance middle east murder and terrorism. However, Trump now has the neo-fascist religion dictatorship on the run. As the Times article yesterday emphatically described how severely effective Trump's reimposed sanctions are. Now with the even Europe piling on, they will hurt that much more. Killing the state-sponsored serial murder Suleimani was a good and righteous thing to do. And, then there was the fluke great luck of Iranians trampling over 50 of each other to death during their depraved celebration of Suldeimani's murders and terrorism. Then the dictatorship's military embarrassing itself with over 20 missiles attacking that didn't inflict even a single American casualty. And, finally the fluke luck of the dictatorship shaming itself by not closing its airspace to civilian traffic and it mistakenly shooting down an airliner which killed 176, most of whom were Iranians. Most of the Iranian people are now so angry with their dictators that an attempt at revolution is clearly a possibility Wouldn't it be wonderful if the dictators were overthrown and secular democracy was established?

  93. Do you even realize how offensive it is to refer to the accidental and tragic death of 167 innocent people as luck? Nor comprehend the pain to any community as 50 families now grieve the senseless loss of life while attending a state funeral? This wasn’t even business as usual and collateral damage during wartime; all of this was the result of a political assassination motivated by abject malice under dubious motives. No we do not mourn the death of an Iranian general with equal blood on his hands, but such comments are tantamount to rubbing salt in an open wound to inflict only more pain in the world. Where is the respect to allow even your enemy to grieve their own dead? There is nothing calculated or strategic in fermenting a world in which we are now one tweet or comment away from sparking a greater global conflict of unimaginable human loss.

  94. @Brighter Suns Yours is a very humanitarian sounding argument. But the primary effect of your "humanitarian" policy is to preserve in place a neo-fascist religion dictatorship which has been killing and abusing its own people in great numbers. Even in the time just before Trump killed murderer Suleimani, the dictators fired on and killed more demonstrating Iranians that the 56 trampled to death by each other + the 176 that the dictatorship killed by accident in the airliner it shot down. p.s. I note the devious reference in your comment to Suleimani have ONLY equal (to Trump) blood on his hands. Suleimani was a state-sponsored serial murderer responsible for probably several thousand murders. But to you that is "equal" to Trump. Distorted reality, offensive morality.

  95. @Brighter Suns Just 1-2 months ago, before Trump killed murderer Suleimani, the Iranian dictators fired on their own people while demonstrating. THe Iran dictators killed at least 3 times as many Iranians as was the number of Iranians killed during their depraved celebration of a serial murderer's life + the number of Iranians killed by the dictatorship when it shot down the airliner. But all you can do is ignore, or excuse, or defend the murderous dictators. All driven by your Trump-hate.

  96. The collapse of the regime and the replacement with a more normal government intent on being a normal country might be viewed as a great victory for Trump and the GOP, as the collapse of Eastern European Communism and the Soviet Union was viewed for Reagan and the GOP. It is the type of triumph that endures in legacy for decades, and reflects positively on the President and his party. Progressives must not let this happen, or if it seems it cannot be prevented, take control of the narrative to make sure Trump and the GOP do not get the credit. Putting pressure on Europe and Democrats in America to at least indirectly support the current Iranian regime is a start.

  97. @drcmd So it is more important for the "right people" to get the credit for making Iran better than it is for the Iranian people to improve their lives? Any thinking person knows that whatever good the GOP and Trump do is purely by accident

  98. @drcmd That train left the station. TG people are beginning to realize appeasement with Iran was never a good idea. The progressives just won't give it up or cannot admit that they were wrong. Both bad qualities in a democracy.

  99. @drcmd I trust your comment is meant as satire...

  100. "“The hard-liners are willing to impoverish people to stay in power,” This is true for the hard-liners in Iran, and the hard-liners in the US, who are, in effect allied with the hard-liners in Iran by building up tensions, The moderates in both countries, who care about the lives of the people, are allied, and were working towards a path towards peace with the nuclear agreement (which the Iranians obeyed until Trump blew it up) as a confidence building foundation to get out of the negative cycle of building tensions all set off when we overthrew their democratically elected popular leader in the 1953s and replaced it with the brutal regime of the Shah. 1979 was the reaction to that.

  101. @Lynn "moderates in both countries, who care about the lives of the people, are allied, and were working towards a path towards peace with the nuclear agreement" That is false. The nuclear agreement was NOT a path toward peace. It was a path toward murder and terrorism. I explain. First, the nuclear agreement did not prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons, it only delayed by 15 years Iran from MAKING its own nuclear weapons. Iran was still free to acquire all the nuclear weapons and missiles it wanted from other countries (e.g. N. Korea or China). Second, the nuclear agreement eliminated all sanctions against Iran and they got a huge amount of cash from the US. Iran promptly used that cash to finance their extensive campaign of murder and terrorism in the middle east region. Now, Trump's strategy of withdrawing from the agreement and reimposing sanctions is actually working (I am pleasantly surprised because I did not think anything short of overthrow of the Iran neo-fascist dictatorship would succeed). And, combined with Trump's killing of the state-sponsored serial murderer Suleimani and threat of disproportionate response, we now see the Iranian people so angry at their dictators that a revolution is a distinct possibility.

  102. @Errol We will never know how much of a path to peace it was after all Trump demolished the chance. So the fact is that you really don't know if it was false, it never had a chance because of the American Monster in the WH.

  103. @ARL The campaign of murders and terrorism has been racking up deaths in the 4+ years since the agreement was signed. We don't need to wait to see if agreement was a path to peace because it has already been demonstrated that it did the opposite.

  104. I can't help but to think that Pres. Trump and company planned the termination of Soleimani as part of a plan to catalyze a regime change in Iran. Other countries have joined in damaging the already poor Iranian economy. Much of the population is sick and tired of a medieval theocracy dictating every aspect of their lives. In recent demonstrations in Iran people are no longer trampling US and Israeli flags. Some newscasters have resigned after reporting what they called reporting lies for years. I hope the reign of the Mullahs in Iran is coming to an end. I certainly hope the US and our allies can speed up the end.

  105. @mrmeat Unless the US gets control of the oil, nothing will change regardless of the Iranian government in any shape or form. When they had a democracy the US did a regime change and put a dictator in charge of the people. The elected government wanted to nationalize the Iranian oil reserves, that was not in the interest of BP and ESSO. It was regime change of the finest, it installed the Shah to serve US interests.

  106. @mrmeat Unless the US gets control of the oil, nothing will change regardless of the Iranian government in any shape or form. When they had a democracy the US did a regime change and put a dictator in charge of the people. The elected government wanted to nationalize the Iranian oil reserves, that was not in the interest of BP and ESSO. It was regime change of the finest, it installed the Shah to serve US interests. What would follow the Mullahs if not another Iraq or Libya? As long as Trump gets the oil who cares. Just another failed state, their own fault for not doing as told.

  107. @ARL No we have enough oil via fracking. Energy independent, haven't you heard?

  108. Main European powers need to understand and acknowledge the danger of allowing despotic regimes and countries with long history of dictatorship to have access to nuclear weapon. It's not simply enough to delay that access for about a decade but to stop such regimes from that for ever, as far as possible. Such regimes include both Iran and Pakistan. So far European powers, mainly those two permanent members of UN Security Council (UK & France) are unable to take it own responsibility seriously, invest in defence, intelligence and other allied services while outsourcing almost all those responsibilities to USA. That's why EU and such European countries seem to follow the route to appease such rogue regimes and support such Iran Nuclear deal that Obama negotiated. WIthout proactive help from European and other Western democracies, the job to effectively counter increasingly aggressive dictators (Xi's China, Putin's Russia, Khomeini's Iran, Islamic extremists' & Military Junta's Pakistan, MBS's Saudi, Kim Jung Un's North Korea etc), would be harder for USA alone. It also makes the process to defend our open societies and secular democracies from such despots dependent on American political equation in Washington and its President. That's a great risk not only to these western democracies but also for the whole world and people of those nations like China, Russia, Iran, Saudi, Pakistan, North Korea etc.

  109. @Bonku The rogue regime is in Washington, it is America first and only, without any regard for any other nations autonomy and national interests. That is nothing new, Trump is just more in your face ruthless. Commercial interests are the root causes of war. The USA wants to control the global market and of course, global oil and gas. There is no need to be diplomatic when you can extort with sanctions and military power. The ME is blessed with oil which has turned into a curse. Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria are the result of of ruthless power politics. What was it that Iran did to the USA? They did not turn control of their oil over to ESSO and BP back in 53 that was their sin, it required a regime change and the destruction of democracy. Is there something else they did to do harm to the US?

  110. @ARL ME is "blessed" by others. It played almost no role in creating its own wealth either. It did not develop almost any of its own assets by itself. Use of oil in modern machines/engines was developed by westerners, finding oil and developing those oil fields were also done by others. Basically, despotic rulers in ME are still nothing but primitive tribes who rely on foreign assistance on almost everything and then try to cling to their religious fundamentalism, medieval life style and autocratic governance. Traditionally Western powers used to appease such despotic rulers to avoid wars (mainly after European colonialism ended after WW2. Many Western powers also successfully used one ME ruler against the other as those ME rulers have least allegiance to the country and its people. But, as man made climate change intensifies, influence of oil in global economy falters, ME's influence on global politics, its ability to promote itself as custodians of Muslims and export Islamic extremism around the world is bound to be affected. It's also bound to affect its oil based economy. And these rulers and Govt are not ready to embrace almost any meaningful structural change towards more open society and democracy.

  111. @ARL What was it that Iran did to the USA? Thank you for the laugh of the day.

  112. It is almost like the US is an economic and military superpower who is doing the best in 50 years while Iran puts on a showboat missile strike and China's economy slows down. And neither wants to pick a fight. Yes, Iran is crumbling and they cannot do much about it. They can put on a show funeral for a commander (Western media loves that), and attack those that seek change internally, but Iran is just a junkyard dog at the end of the day. It is a real shame since Iranians I've hired are very well-educated, friendly and kind. It is their government.

  113. @Scott Agreed. I met some wonderful Iranians who were students at SUNY Maritime College back in the 70s — back before the fall of the Shah. The Persian culture is a beautiful one. It is a tragedy what had become of this country in the last 40 years. I truly hope that this regime falls. If the inadvertent outcome to this mess is to destabilize this country and have a secular government put in place, I think that is a good thing.

  114. @Scott It is all power politics about energy and markets, nothing else. The USA has the economic and military power to put every other nation down on its knees, without regard to any other nation's legitimate interests. That goes for the nations in the EU as well as China, Russia and of course Iran and the rest of the ME. We now have a global trade war, confrontations with the Europeans about their right to decide where to buy their energy like gas and are they permitted to build a pipeline serving their interests. all the talk about our values, freedom, and democracy is nothing but propaganda stick only naive and idealistic people fall for that. More informed people know what it is about, yes the unemployment rate is low, but the people standing behind Trump still did not get a pay raise to speak of and their health care keeps getting more and more expensive. They are the suckers of Trump economics and the cannon fodder in wars to come.

  115. Those poor guys, just think while they pursue developing a nuclear weapon they're having a tough time economically. And who gets saddle with the blame? Lucky we even make the effort.

  116. @Al Morgan The Mullahs are audacious, they honestly think they have the right to govern without asking permission from the US. That does make a regime change necessary.

  117. By ordering the killing of Soleimani, Trump has "called" what may be in effect a bluff on the part of the Iranian Regime. The Iranian Government faces a stark choice: Stand Pat (tantamount to folding), or escalate the tension (which amounts to Calling and Raising). Trump is notorious for "Doubling Down", and finds backing down in any manifest way to be anathema. What injects dynamism into the scenario is that the Iranian Government is now in dire straits. By analogy, the Mullahs might be deemed to be low on chips. If they play a Conservative strategy, it is likely that the U.S. can leverage its superior position to whittle down the Regime's resiliency, diminish its assets, and limit their ability for Counterplay.

  118. @Outerboro : They had a much stronger hand until they shot down that civilian airliner. I'm not sure how that would apply to the metaphor of a single hand of poker, but it certainly diminished their pile of chips to bet on future hands.

  119. Is there any explanation for Iran's enmity with Israel? The fate of Palestinian Arabs in Israel is certainly a problem for Israeli relations with the Sunni Arab world. But Iran is neither Sunni nor Arab. And it seems from 20th century history that Sunni Arab countries have been Iran's adversaries now and in the recent past. Any explanation for how Israel became an Iranian target of hate?

  120. @RLW Convenience.

  121. Great. When evil exists, great nations should do everything they can to rid the world of that evil. There are 40 million secular women in Iran who could do a better job of democratically running Iran than that sad Theocracy that now rules by modern and repression. Anything else we can do to rid the world of rulers like this is for the greater good.

  122. @Frances Talarico Is the Iran government evil? In certain respects, yes. So are the governments of Russia, China, Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Do we need to arrange to rid ourselves of those governments as well? And, truth be told, the U.S. government has its aspects of evil as well. Should others out there be seeking to devastate our economy in order for us to mend our ways? Are we pressuring Iran solely because of how evil it is? Or does its rejection of our interests, demands, and values play some meaningful part in this?

  123. This article is reflected, I enjoyed it very much! I have some views that differ somewhat. Iran want West Europa and USA out of the region, this kill close to Beirut international airport was in that view a gift! Iran know that Iraq has approximately 50% population that are Shia muslims. To attack an American site or two within Iraq was a statement for Iraqi people that if you continue with having US and European troops in Iraq you drag the conflict between Iran and USA into your country. Whatever have happened between USA and Iran in the late 1960is and in the 70is, let it go, it is in due time to berry that hatchet. The atomic deal with Iran was the best deal getable and Trump trashed it. Had treaty been upheld in 10-20 y government in Iran would be without influence of the Priests of Iran, so would also the militias that Iran support today because they are Shiamuslims as Iran. Approximately 50% of all that call themselves Muslim if they are Shia or Sunni never go to a Mosque, so let the time work! Due to actions done by Americans and Europeans extremely conservative Islam has grown and it haven’t stopped there, it has continued to radicalized movements as IS and Al Qaida. Most people do not give cheers when they killed, family is killed, bombs drop on them or when they feel they are exploited!

  124. Iran is bankrupt. The governments control of banking assets is holding the house of cards up but this will work for only so long. Economic collapse is only a matter of time. Hopefully when that time comes a more democratic regime will replace the religious driven regime that now rules this potentially great country.

  125. @Robert Breeze Sounds eerily familiar.

  126. Any type of regime collapse in the middle east has not really made things better. If Trump's gambit in Iran does force a change, the problems may amplify or may not. Is there really anyone that knows?

  127. Both Iran and US appear to be paper tigers today knowing there will be no good outcome. But history shows us that with unpredictable and irrational leaders who are concerned only with past affronts, and their own egos and not with strategic interests and better use of national resources as well as the welfare of their own people, the world falls into war.

  128. @tjfeldman The US is a paper tiger? I believe that this article in the NYT suggests otherwise.

  129. @tjfeldman US a “paper tiger” ? Our fleet off Iran’s coast and squadrons of B-52’s and F-35’s nearly are the most formidable military force ever assembled in the mid-east with utterly awesome lethality. In a short afternoon every one of Iran’s strategic assets could be utterly destroyed along with its gas fired electric generators for its major cities. Creating dark cities. Leaving Iranians with no doubt about a “paper tiger”.

  130. @Peter I Berman our naval fleet is there on borrowed money.

  131. President Trump's policy of massive sanctions is working. President Obama's policy of appeasing Iran by providing billions and encouraging trade was misguided. Obama warned that the only alternative to his deal was war. That was never the case. The alternative to the Iran deal was continued and increasing sanctions. We are seeing the proof today.

  132. @G In that part of the world, forbearance is viewed as weakness. Dangerous situation to be sure, but not one that will benefit from appeasement.

  133. @G More extortion will work, that is what you are saying. And you are sure Americans are more moral than other nations? If Americans kill for American interests the killings are justified because Americans are special, the others are terrorists if they do it?

  134. So it would seem that Trump’s policy is working to force Iran to comply or disintegrate. How will this play out? Will Iran collapse, throw out it’s current regime, and become a friendly nation which behaves itself? Or will it turn into another mess like Iraq, divided and unable to offer peace and stability to all of it’s people?

  135. @Casual Observer No one knows how it will turn out. We can only hope for the best. But one thing is absolutely certain....."progressives" will intensely vilify Trump regardless whether it turns out well or not.

  136. So will you in the end. The big Wall Street banks who invested in his casinos had complete faith in Trump until they saw the long fall into insolvency that they faced from having done so. He’s not what you think.

  137. @Casual Observer Actually, Casual, I am not a Trump supporter. I support or criticize policies and actions, not the person doing them. I am very critical of many of Trump's policies and actions. But I very much support his actions and policies regarding Iran.

  138. Will the New York Times also stress that the effective, decisive, strong action and positive peace opportunity offered by President Trump are also involved in the less aggressive behavior by Iran recently?

  139. SO the "best" thing for us to do is make innocent civilians so desperate as to risk their lives to overthrow someone we don't like? Best as I remember, most every time we have succeeded in overthrowing a government we didn't like, we liked the new government even less. And we tend to destroy the culture and lives of millions of innocent civilians, along with many deaths. As much as Trump and his followers feel so cushy about these sanctions, it will not a smooth transition. But hey, they're way over there, and they should be just like us. Maybe become Evangelical Christians.

  140. The world would benefit from the removal of Supreme Leader ayatollahs and Trump. Only a little over 100 years ago similarly inclined leaders who were “royalty” devastated the world with the senseless Great War. Let’s not be so stupid as to reprise that disaster. BTW if we didn’t run our economies on oil and gas these current circumstances would not exist. Going Green has benefits we don’t consider (not to mention saving the planet)

  141. @Buck Waiting to gas up the Jet Skis for summer.

  142. So we can all agree that Trump's strategy is working?

  143. Iran is on one knee, have no mercy, keep the pressure and go for the knock out.

  144. See what happens when you let religious extremists have too much influence over government?

  145. Yes, the economic sanctions have hobbled Iran, but it will emerges, with whatever regime change or not, as an even fiercer enemy of the United States thanks to Trump. ISIS will thrive and millions of new terrorists will have been created, seeking revenge for Trump's ignorant intervention. So much more could have been accomplished with diplomacy than with violence and hatred, but Trump is no "deal maker". He is a thug with no brains, skills or strategy other than blunt trauma. THAT has never worked for long and we will se the consequences on many fronts. Re-electing this despot will only spread world-wide hatred for the U.S. and isolate us more. Russia and China will expand their spheres of influence and America, as an island apart, will sink. Get rid of Trump and elect a REAL, competent, honest, truthful human.

  146. Read the following passage from the column but replace ‘Iran’ with ‘the United States’ in each sentence. Still makes sense.... “There will be those who will argue that we can’t sustain the current situation if we don’t have a war,” said Yassamine Mather, a political economist at the University of Oxford. “For the Iranian government, living in crisis is good. It’s always been good, because you can blame all the economic problems on sanctions, or on the foreign threat of war. In the last couple of years, Iran has looked for adventures as a way of diverting attention from economic problems.”

  147. What we're really discovering is that Iran is not so tough after all. It's in fact an evil, but weak, country both economically and militarily.

  148. Iran's economy has definitely taken a hit from the sanctions, but this article is overly pessimistic. Iran has a much more robust internal economy than is intimated here. It is capable of surviving this economic siege. Iran can produce everything it needs to support its population aside from some specialized technological equipment. The United States also is not abiding by the exemptions to the sanctions regime. For example, medicaments are exempt, but the US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets does everything possible to make sure that medical supplies are not provided. This was tried with Iraq and failed. Why would it work in this case? Yes, unemployment is high in Iran for university graduates. Why? Because the Iranian population is exceptionally well educated, and university graduates are unwilling to take jobs that are less than professional level. This is going to have to change as Iran adjusts to its current situation. However, the article is correct about one thing. There are few options for Iran to combat the irrational and counterproductive Trump sanctions. Striking back and inflicting pain on the United States is a predictable strategy, and I am sure we will see much more of this.

  149. @William O. Beeman The writer ought read the “CIA Fact Book” to get a better “appreciation” of Iran’s needs for foreign manufactures and materials to fuel its very large weapons industry. Those exports, primarily from Germany and Italy, help explain European enthusiasm for the Iran Deal. Claiming that Iran is “self sufficient” is not factually correct. Far from it.

  150. Is reality finally catching up with the NY Times? For a week the Times was assuring us that Trump had brought us "to the brink of war" with Iran. But the facts are quite different: Iran is weak and boxed in, partly as a result of Trump's bold action. Now the signatories to the Iran deal are going to extract major new concessions from that country.

  151. @Jose Pieste Spot on. Fear of “War” has long been a Democratic theme song to protect the obvious failures of former Pres. Obama’s “Iran Deal” that merely delayed Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons with which to terrorize the mid-east and destroy nation.s

  152. Iran's choices are quite clear. Continue into national poverty or renounce the support of terrorism and the development of atomic weapons. At this point the choice is in the hands of the Ayatollah and the mullahs . It is becoming increasingly obvious that the judgement of the Ayatollah does not reflect the desires of the Iranian people, who would rather be prosperous, as they were in the past, rather than support terrorism and develop nuclear weapons. If The Ayatollah doesn't make the right choice, the people may very well over rule him, in spite of the violence with which dissent in Iran is met.

  153. No other oil rich major mid-east nation has squandered as much of its oil revenues as has Iran. Maintaining a 512,000 man army and funding its terror surrogates in Lebannon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen with billions annually. Most of Irans’ labor force works for the government. Not private industry. Pres. Trump, unlike former Pres. Obama who transferred a reported $150 billion to the Mullahs for their “co-operation” in delaying securing nuclear weapons via “the Iran Deal”, quite understands how powerful maintaining a serious oil embargo can be. Iran according to most estimates has spent well over $10 billion in developing nuclear deliverables over several decades. If we’re ever to prevent Iran from securing nuclear deliverables there’s no policy other than direction destruction of its major strategic assets than maintaining tight economic controls. Iran surely knows that Pres. Trump really does has a “trump card” to play that would dramatically end Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. That’s a missile strike to destroy Kharg Island Oil terminal and bring Iran’s faltering economy to its very knees. Those who disparage Pres. Trump’s “Iran Strategy” ought pay more attention to Iran’s declining economy, foreign current reserves and other measures all emanation from severe oil export controls. Pres. Trump is making history here with unprecedented tight oil controls.

  154. The reason Trump is trying to control Iranian oil sales is similar to the reason Iran went from being a democracy to being an aristocracy and that is so the oil companies, like BP who was part of the problem some time ago, can make more money. Limit the supply and you will raise the price. This is very simply economics. As long as the supply side worldwide can be controlled the higher the price of oil and the more the American companies can make. OH, one more thing here - that money which Obama sent to Iran was their money and not ours!

  155. Protests are forcing the Iranian regime to hit pause on its conflict with Trump, but in the long run they have only two options—hold out in the hope Trump is replaced by a Democrat in 2021 or escalate and cause Trump enough economic pain he ends sanctions and negotiates peace. Escalation risks a devastating war that could destroy Iran for a generation, but Iran can halt Mideastern oil production crippling the global economy and inflict heavy casualties on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region, making Trump lose part of his base of supporters. America is in the ridiculous position of depending on Trump and Khamenei for our future.

  156. @Bruce Shigeura You are misreading the oil markets. Fracking has made the united States into the biggest oil exporter in the world. The days when Iran can impact the oil markets are over. We just saw that when Suleimani was killed. The oil markets had a minor blip and the US stock market even went up that day.

  157. @Bruce Shigeura, in that case, we must support Khamenei, until after the US elections. We can’t let Trump get a win, on this.

  158. @Bruce Shigeura Maybe a few Iranians will come to an epiphany: that lying about the shooting down of a commercial aircraft is typical and the government lies about everthing.

  159. "Iran’s leaders prioritize one goal above all others — their own survival." I didn't realize there were Republicans in Iran !?

  160. @Gary Collins This isn't a function of party, but the goal of all governments. You can't institute a monopoly and then be surprised it'll do anything to hold that power.

  161. 1. Can't many of the NYT readers who comment on this article, finally know and accept the facts? Please look-up "Mosaddegh" in Wikipedia. He was democratically elected president of Iran in 1951, Nationalized the oil industry to keep the profits for Iranians. He was deposed by a coup in 1953 and replaced by the Shah. Who do you think were the authors of the coup? And you should go much further back in time: Iran is an ancient civilization. Educate yourselves, or be hoodwinked. 2. So, manufactured confrontation is preferable to manufactured cooperation? While the planet burns and the future of humanity is in question?

  162. @Lagardere You can live in the past, or live for the present and future. Iran should give up theocracy, and the US should stop attacking countries that haven't attacked us or are authorized to be attacked by the UN/NATO.

  163. This is totally incoherent. On the one hand: "Mr. Trump’s abandonment of the deal effectively left them with only one means of [lifting sanctions]— confrontation." On the other: "The bleak economy appears to be tempering the willingness of Iran to escalate hostilities with the United States." Also, we're supposed to believe both that the whole country was united and "rallying around the flag" a week ago—yet suddenly the regime is barely hanging on to power a few days later because they shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet and lied about it. Hate to point it out, but there were major riots before Suleimani was killed—and every Iranian knows their government lies to them all the time. Why else would it censor the internet? This is the worst sort of heads-I'm-right-tails-you-lose punditry—whatever happens, Mr. Goodman saw it coming.

  164. Arguably, Trump's Iran policy has yielded good short-term results. This is part luck, as he has no stated policy structure. Iran's foreign policy is heartless and violent. Their internal policy is not much better. Blocking Iran and its proxies is a worthy objective.

  165. It sounds like Trump's maximum pressure campaign is working. Iran has been crippled by economic sanctions. Hopefully the EU enacts sanctions as well. Uprising by the masses would be a good way to get the corrupt folks at the top out of power.

  166. Iran-sponsored militia kills an Iraqi American. Then the Iran-sponsored group attacked the USA embassy in Iraq. Solemani was a murderer. Iran is/was on the way to build a nuclear bomb. Read this article: "Instituted in the hope of avoiding war, appeasement was the name given to Britain’s policy in the 1930s of allowing Hitler to expand German territory unchecked. Most closely associated with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, it is now widely discredited as a policy of weakness. Yet at the time, it was a popular and seemingly pragmatic policy." https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/how-britain-hoped-to-avoid-war-with-germany-in-the-1930s Seems familiar? EU, Canada, Obama - Are all scared of Iran and hoped by putting your head in the sand the problem will go away.

  167. @Alberta Be careful, Alberta. You are an endangered species in Canada. It is amazing that they have so far not silenced you.

  168. @ARL Everything has to be viewed in the context of who your adversary is. In this culture - at least the leadership, forbearance is regarded as weakness. It is unfortunate that the serious study of military history has become an orphan child in the academic world since the Vietnam era. Some adversaries only understand raw naked power and the willingness to use it if necessary. This is sometimes the only way to avoid actually inflicting cataclysmic damage which in the end is not a desirable outcome.

  169. @Alberta There is nothing wrong with trying to avoid war. It may work or it may not. We don't know how war will end either, who would have known the second WW would end as it did? The word was and is used to denigrate any peace effort, it is propaganda talk. To set conditions and demand first and threaten with sanctions if the demand is not satisfied is not diplomacy, it is extortion Trump style.

  170. Get rid of the large banner at the top, it's of little value and takes up too much space. At the least, minimize it or make it disappear as the user scrolls down the page. Come on guys, this is basic HTML and JavaScript web design development principles that you all should be familiar with.

  171. The neo-fascist religionist dictators of Iran are evil incarnate. They indoctrinate their oppressed population in martyrdom, then fight wars using that utterly despicable tactic, the human wave which causes the common soldiers to suffer massive casualties for tiny military gain even when the tactic "succeeds" (several hundred thousand deaths in the Iran-Iraq war but the Iranian dictators succeeded to stay in power) These are the evil people who so many of you are demanding not be assassinated. You do this despite knowing that the result will be that they remain in power and continue their immense evil. And you call yourselves humanitarians and "progressives". You are truly "regressives".

  172. @Errol Now American generals can be assassinated too, they have blood on their hands and must be obliterated, you think Hellfire missiles will do? Some collateral damage is acceptable. That wouldn't be so nice and I think you would be opposed but as long as it kills someone other than an American it is ok, killing their children is ok too. soldiers killing is ok too but a crime if an American soldier gets killed. You measure with two measurements.

  173. Trump has thoroughly routed Iran in every conceivable way. Iran, the world's terrorism grand master black belt has been thoroughly defeated by OUR President. But you wouldn't know it from these commenters, this publication or most of the mainstream press.

  174. Does Iran no longer exist? How do you know that Iran’s proxies will now stop responding to whatever Iran’s want? I think that you might just see what happens before you celebrate.

  175. @Jordan When you have guns you don't have to waste time thinking and of course, there is no need for diplomacy either. We won the war against Grenada too. The nation was very proud of that victory.

  176. @ARL I would expect this, coming from a Texan...

  177. Iran, please drop your archaic 1300s theocracy and rejoin the international community. You don't need full western values, but democracy, personal liberty and free markets will be a huge win rather than trying to play the Sunni-Shiite game of nonsense that should have died in the 20th century.

  178. @David Don't you know, the Iranians had a democracy? The CIA put an end to such nonsense and did away with that, they blessed the Iranians with a king instead, called the Shah, and he was brutal, but he made sure the oil company shareholders could eat their cake.

  179. Those commenters who say Trump did good aren’t reading, or paying attention, just like Trump: “The nuclear deal was intended to give Iran’s leaders an incentive to diminish hostility as a means of seeking liberation from the sanctions. Trumps abandonment of the deal effectively left them with only one means of pursuing that goal — confrontation.” It’s as if when it comes to carrots and sticks to get good behavior, Republicans never heard of carrots. I would hate to be a Republican’s child.

  180. The problem was the only thing the agreement stopped was the centrifuges. That actually freed money up for other subterfuge.

  181. Trumps pressure on their economy is working. Too bad this article doesn't give the President the credit he is due.

  182. @2observe2b You would not want that, it would make Trump and the nation look like the bully he and the nation really are.

  183. @2observe2b But when Obama did the same thing, it wasn't working, right? People can be hypocritical, can't they? Too bad Trump's supporters won't acknowledge the role the Obama Administration played in Trump's successes. No wonder Trump wants so desperately to destroy anything good about his predecessor.

  184. I can't give Trump credit for his 'pressure on the Iranian economy working'. First of all, nothing has 'worked' and secondly, Trump has not thought through the carrots and the sticks adequately to hold out a rational path forward for Iran. His unpredictability is not really encouraging of mutual trust when it would be a risky political move for Iran's mullahs to suddenly put their faith in a negotiation with our tempestuous president. And by the way... who blew up a two-year in the making negotiation that led to the JCPOA? That would be our dear leader. And again, with no stated rationale other than 'it wasn't working' (read Obama negotiated it). Iran is facing a major climate crisis, its population is overwhelmingly young and interested in being more in tune with the west. Let's see more carrots and less bludgeoning.

  185. Sanctions are an act of war. Iran’s poor economy has nothing to do with its government. It is caused by a hostile superpower doing everything it can to destroy the Iranian people.

  186. Crippling Iran’s economy and forcing the government to redirect scarce cash to prop up domestic industries starves the Ayatollah’s nuclear program and the wars it is waging against the US and its neighbors. Winning.

  187. @Bart DePalma Iran is staging wars against the US? That is about as realistic as saying that Grenada threatened to invade the us so the US had to act preventively and invade and bomb Grenada. Remember that? Reagan needed war for some reason and Grenada was the big enemy. It really happened, it was not a joke.

  188. @Bart DePalma But when Obama did it, it was losing, right?

  189. @ARL inappropriate analogy

  190. First Venezeula, and then Iran. Fracking's success in the US has allowed the US to aggressively target wayward petro states for regime change or economic stagnation. For countries dependent on oil revenues, the US, now as the biggest producer in the world and with the ability to turn oil production on and off when prices change, is in charge of their fates. Iran will come to heel and the US has stated what it wants: stop exporting terrorism, pursuing nuclear arms and targeting Israel. This is not too much to ask. Increased oil production has given Trump far more stick to use than Obama ever had. Obama had to work with other nations on the Iran issue. Obama, however, set the stage for Trump by approving so many oil projects, pipelines and export approvals. Which other petro states are in the firing line? Russia depends on carbon for 50% of its tax revenue. Mexico? Canada? The smart ones will go along already. Right now the US has all the cards for at least the next 10-20 years. Iran does hold one important lesson for the US. That is showing how a determined small minority of committed fanatics can hijack and take charge of a government. Trump's followers are just that and right now, by controlling the GOP, they are running the US government.They don't have dictatorial power just yet. But, as Sinclair Lewis once stated, "Think it can't happen here?"

  191. The article omits that the majority of Iran’s labor force works for the government and was previously finance with oil revenues. Other mid-east major oil producers also use this model with government labor dominating their economies. Another major portion of the government budget used to finance its 521,000 army together with billions to maintain its terror surrogates in Iraq, Syria, Lebannon and Yemen. And still another major portion of the government’s budget finances Iran’s largest industry. - its armaments industry. So effectively shuttered off Iran’s oil exports imposes enormous challenges on Iran’s economy. Iran is in no position to finance major military activities against the US or mid-east nations. Pres. Trump correctly understood that putting a stranglehold on Iran’s economy essentially stops its decades old quest for nuclear deliverables. Those suggesting Pres. Trump brought the US close to “War” with Iran not only misunderstand Iran’s very serious economic issues. But ignore that the US has assembled the most formidable naval armada in mid-East history together with squadrons of B-52’s and F-35’s nearby with a lethality that could effectively destroy Iran’s major economic and strategic assets in a short afternoon. There is no doubt that Iran’s rulers know that challenging directly the U.S. would not only utterly ruin Iran’s economy but very likely secure a change in Iranian leadership.

  192. @Peter I Berman I think your last point is corect. It is not so much a weak economy that is holding Iran back from a conflict, as the almost certain removal of the leadership (at least in a formal sense) if they actively confront the US.

  193. Iran is a theocracy who put maximum off their resources to fighting wars with their neighbours instead of developing their country. After the killing of innocent people by mistake what will they do with the nuclear bomb ?

  194. We shouldn’t assume that Iran’s economic woes render the regime unable to respond forcefully to Soleimani’s assasination. The IRGC controls large sectors of the Iranian economy; some experts call it a “state within a state.” Although average Iranians are struggling, the IRGC can still turn a handsome profit, especially through smuggling and the black market. The missile attack on US bases was the beginning, not the end, of the regime’s terrifying plans for our troops and personnel in the region.

  195. The surrogates will continue the fight. This has proven the most effective and and least expensive way to fight a war. The Iranian response is not over and the US should continue to be on the lookout. We should not take any more victory laps.

  196. @Ro Obviously... It is pure shock that even with the assassination that they were so brazen as too attack a Ukrainian Airliner with international and Nationalist on that plane. However the more sanctions you do imposes... The less people have to die in military combat... And come back with PTSD .. Let the Iranian people change the future from with in.... I do believe however if we are going to win any of these wars we have too mobilizes educate and establish those leader with in the country and put our backing behind them.... Yes Iran may say that is a recipe for a international coup... But not if half the country of Iran support it.... As well as destabilization is just another off shoot for us too be blindsided about the real threat.... Global warming... Because although terrorism is urgent... It takes many years too solve... Many years that unfortunately we do not have.

  197. @Lawrence Lemle - "This has proven the most effective and and least expensive way to fight a war…" As opposed to the way Chickenhawk George did it? Randomly invade smaller, weaker nations that have done us no harm, kill their babies by the thousands, destroy their infrastructure, sacrifice thousands of US soldiers, empty our treasury and upend the entire ME? We should take a "victory lap" out of their countries and leave them alone to live their lives.