Haass: Trump’s “maximum pressure” Iran strategy is proving to be effective

Democrats have mounted a relentless attack on Trump’s Iran strategy ever since his strike on Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. His strategy to quell Iranian belligerence via both heavy economic sanctions and showing of military strength has drawn criticism from all sides.

However, as time goes on, the approach is proving to be extremely successful. Veteran diplomat and former director of policy planning for the Department of State Richard Haass confirmed before Congress on Tuesday that Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy has been more effective than expected in bringing Iran to the table. 

In April, Trump’s state department said that heavy sanctions on Iran are “fulfilling our promise to get Iran’s oil exports to zero and deny the regime the revenue it needs to fund terrorism and violent wars abroad.”

The strategy has worked, as the NYT noted on Monday that the crippling sanctions “severed Iran’s access to international markets, decimating the economy, which is now contracting at an alarming 9.5 percent annual rate.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani admitted on December 31st that US sanctions have cost the Iranian economy $200 billion in the last two years, by cutting off $100 billion in oil revenue and another $100 billion in foreign investment credit.

Trump’s economic pressure has wiped out the over $150 billion that the Obama administration released to Iran in 2016, and Trump’s military strikes in response to Iranian threats have proven to the world that the US will not be bullied any longer.

The experts, however begrudgingly, are coming around to Trump’s strategy as well. Haass, in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said “I think the sanctions have had much more of an effect than people predicted. I underestimated quite honestly what unilateral sanctions in this regard could accomplish.”

“It’s just possible that we’re approaching a moment in Iranian history where the sanctions are having sufficient impact where there might be a greater willingness on the part of the Iranian authorities to compromise,” Haass concluded.

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