In a long essay at Mosaic, Middle East analyst Michael Doran lays out Iran's grand strategy for countering the United States while staying on the path toward a nuclear weapon.
The most important step is to convince Western elites -- mostly Democratic politicians and European leaders -- that Iran is the victim of American bullying.
Iran’s policy of strategic pressure, then, is made up of three separate but interlocking lines of effort: a struggle to gain relief from the oil and banking sanctions; a campaign to tarnish Trump as an agent of chaos; and an initiative aimed at keeping its nuclear waivers in place. Among these, the third is by far the most urgent.
Iran's leaders are playing a psychological and political game, and not primarily a military one, according to Doran. Tehran has no stomach for a fight, and neither does Trump.
That one such conflict might descend to all-out war is unlikely, because both Trump, in his desire for reelection, and Khamenei, in his desire for survival, have very strong incentives to keep the conflict within certain limits. At each moment of escalation, prominent figures on the international scene would rush to offer their services as mediators. Both leaders would be tempted to accept, if only to reduce the tension.
Read the entire piece here.
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