By Trita Parsi for VT and the UK Guardian
By now, Trump’s objective with Iran has become more clear. If not war, his neoconservative foreign policy team at a minimum seek to trap future US administrations in a permanent enmity with Tehran.
The latest measure towards this goal – the terrorist listing of the IRGC – is no doubt a radical one. But it is actually less extreme than Obama’s decision to seek a win-win compromise with Iran.
Obama’s approach was radical because it was a first step towards dismantling the unquestioned notion that America must dominate the Middle East – come what may.
Trump’s IRGC designation, on the other hand, does not contradict America’s hegemonic aspirations in the Middle East. And that’s where the deeper problem lies: America’s post-cold war approach to the Middle East does not exclude permanent enmities. It embraces them. It may appear radical, but it is a logical conclusion of a posture that dictates that America must dominate the region. Permanent enmities – and endless wars – are not a bug of this grand strategy; they are its most prominent feature.
Trump’s Endless Enmity with Iran
Branding the Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorists serves Israel and Saudi Arabia’s interests but makes an Obama-style rapprochement by a future president more difficult
With the stroke of a pen, the Donald Trump administration declared more than 11 million Iranians – nearly one-seventh of the country’s population – terrorists. The unprecedented move to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization has rightfully raised concerns that the John Bolton-Mike Pompeo wing of the administration is pushing a clueless Trump closer to open conflict with Iran. But the greater risk is not the short-term impact of this reckless decision, but the way it will entrap future administrations – long after Trump has left the White House – in a no-win enmity with Iran.
The sad history of the US and revolutionary Iran cannot be understood solely from the perspective of these two countries alone. From the outset, it has been an enmity driven as much by the designs of other Middle East powers as by the passions of decision makers in Tehran and Washington. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have for more than two decades feared that a US-Iran rapprochement would come at their expense and would deprive them of the favorable regional position American hegemony in the Middle East have provided them with.
Few American decisions, however, have been so blatantly designed to serve the interest of the leadership of Israel and Saudi Arabia and have so clearly contradicted any reasonable definition of US national interest as Trump’s unprecedented decision to designate the state military of Iran as a terrorist organization. Read more: