The Trump administration has deployed at least 2,500 troops to Iran in the last few months as tensions escalate
As tensions grow with Iran, the US is applying a “maximum pressure” policy to the country to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. This campaign includes economic sanctions, military action, and more. Thus far, it has included sending thousands of troops to the country, withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Accords, and levying heavy sanctions on the country.
In this episode, I speak with Garrett Marquis, the spokesperson for the National Security Council and Special Assistant to the President. He details the “maximum pressure campaign” and its performance in a thoughtful and engaging interview.
Maximum Pressure on Iran
Last week, two oil tankers travelling through the Middle East were attacked by boats belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. This is according to new intelligence released by the Pentagon.
Additionally, on Monday, Iran said it was on track to exceed the 2015 cap on its stockpile of enriched uranium. According to the Wall Street Journal, this would jeopardize European efforts to keep the Iranian Nuclear deal, which the US dropped out of last year.
Garrett Marquis commented on the situation, which occurred after our interview, for WSJ:
“President Trump has made it clear that he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The regime’s nuclear blackmail must be met with increased international pressure.” ~ Garrett Marquis in WSJ on Iran’s announcement that they will exceed the cap on enriched uranium
“The president has been clear about Iran since his campaign. He thought the Iran deal was a terrible deal for America.” ~ Garrett Marquis on the Iran nuclear deal
What’s the Trump administration doing?
In response to these recent escalations with Iran, the US said it would send an additional 1,000 troops to Iran. The Trump administration already deployed more 1,500 troops to the region last month.
Military action is also an important part of the maximum pressure campaign, says Marquis. However, he says it’s important to realize that these military actions against Iran are deterrence efforts to protect America.
“This is not an effort to elevate our actions, it’s simply done to deter Iran from taking any actions against America.” ~ Garrett Marquis on Trump’s decision to move 1,500 troops to Iran last month
“Although the president is open to conversation — he believes not only in diplomacy, but also in dialogue — he also understands that sometimes you need to back it up.
In the case of Iran, that would be making sure there is a deterrence effort, and Iran knows that we won’t accept their offensive actions against our interests.” ~ Garrett Marquis on balance of diplomacy with military and economic action in the maximum pressure campaign against Iran
What’s the end goal in Iran?
Ultimately, it is important to know the end goal of the maximum pressure policy. In the early 2000s, many of the US’s global efforts were focused on regime changes in the Middle East. Marquis, however, says Trump does not want a regime change in Iran.
There have been reports saying that US National Security Advisor John Bolton disagrees with Trump on Iranian policy. Marquis rejects these reports, saying at the end of the day, Bolton, Pompeo, and Trump’s other advisors know the president has the final decision.
The Trump administration, according to Marquis, is open to coming to the table with Iranian leadership. In fact, earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran and the US could have talks without preconditions, which was seemingly a deviation from his previous stance in which he laid out twelve conditions for Iran to meet before talks could be had.
“The US policy, as the president has said, is not regime change.” ~ Garrett Marquis on Trump’s end goal in Iran
“The president has been clear: He is open to a conversation with Iranian leadership.” ~ Garrett Marquis
“The president has said multiple times, in regards to Ambassador Bolton, whether it’s on Iran or otherwise, that the president is the final decision maker.” ~ Garrett Marquis on reports that Trump and Bolton disagree on Iranian policy
“That the president gets different perspectives is a valuable thing.” ~ Garrett Marquis
Maximum Pressure on North Korea
US-North Korea relations have improved in the Trump administration as the leaders of each nation have had several diplomatic talks, first in Singapore, and then in Hanoi, Vietnam. While talks have improved, there has not been a substantive deal signed between the two nations. In fact, the summit between in Hanoi ended abruptly after just a day of meetings.
“The president has said both to the press and to Kim Jung Un that he wants to open the door to economic prosperity for North Korea…if they simply denuclearize.” ~ Garrett Marquis on the White House’s goals for North Korea
“We can’t ignore the reality that the campaign the president has initiated against North Korea has been incredibly effective.” ~ Garrett Marquis on the results of the maximum pressure campaign on North Korea
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