I am some mix of hoping and thinking that the administration’s extremely aggressive signals towards Iran are some kind of bluff. But I’m not confident that is the case. Trump came in, scrapped the Iran deal and put new sanctions in place to force the Iranians to the bargaining table on US terms – obviously terms they hoped would be far more favorable than the ones that produced the scrapped deal. That never made sense even on its own terms. Now they’re frustrated and at least threatening a military confrontation. There are at least some signs that administration officials believe that a heavy volley of cruise missiles or a sustained aerial bombardment – as opposed to an actual invasion – will put the Iranians in a mood to negotiate, an idea belied by decades or even a century of military history.
This is really all madness. But I want to focus on something specific and equally worrying, the current top appointees of the President.