A policy of sustained isolation and pressure on Iran, conducted with Chinese and Russian acquiescence, could yield real results. Juggling a trade war with China, domestic hysteria about Russia, tough talk with Europe, and threats to Iran will result in a pile of dropped balls. It is impossible to discern any overall American strategy in the Middle East over the past year. Even the inchoate “America First” impulse is more rhetoric than reality.
In principle, diplomacy is usually better than the alternatives. As Winston Churchill famously said, “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.” As in Korea, we are far better off with empty summits than with empty threats. However, the president is highly unlikely to get even a photo opportunity with the Iranians any time soon.
Gil Barndollar is the Director of Middle East Studies at the Center for the National Interest. He served as a U.S. Marine infantry officer from 2009 to 2016, deploying to Afghanistan, the Republic of Georgia, Guantanamo Bay and the Persian Gulf.
Image: FILE PHOTO: The national flag of Iran is seen on top of the Austrian Chancellery during the visit of President Hassan Rouhani in Vienna, Austria July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo