September 18, 2019 10:50AM

Statement on President Trump’s Decision to Impose Additional Sanctions on Iran

This morning, President Trump announced via Twitter that he had directed Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to “substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!”

I issued the following statement in response:

The problem with the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign isn’t the pressure. No one doubts that U.S. policy is imposing considerable pain on the Iranian people. Additional U.S. sanctions will likely increase this suffering, as my Cato colleague John Glaser predicted here.

But to no good end. The Iranians will never give in to U.S. demands; to do so would amount to utter capitulation, the complete surrender of Iranian sovereignty, and the de facto end of the Iranian government. This has been a fervent hope among certain hawks for decades, but hope is not a strategy. Additional pressure and pain cannot resolve the fundamental contradiction at the heart of the Trump administration’s strategy toward Tehran.

More broadly, if President Trump is serious about resetting U.S. foreign policy, he must revisit his expectations – and his administration’s policies. He may claim to want to end our endless wars, but his actions are leading in the opposite direction. A combination of bluster, threats, and intransigence will not produce a diplomatic breakthrough. On the contrary, it is likely only to exacerbate the many ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, and increase the chances that Americans are drawn more deeply into them.