How can the U.S. avoid war with Iran? by Mike Bebernes Editor •The 360 is a feature designed to show you diverse perspectives on the day’s top stories.Speed read What’s happening: Over the past two weeks, long-simmering tensions between Iran and the United States have nearly boiled over. The two nations had been engaged in back-and-forth tough talk and subtle adversarial moves for months. Then, seemingly all of a sudden, each day the news was filled with stories of escalation by one side or the other that brought the countries to the edge of military conflict.The relationship between the U.S. and Iran has been at a tense stalemate since last year, when the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and began imposing sanctions. An attack on two oil tankers on June 13, which the U.S. has blamed on Iran, set off a sequence of retaliation that appears to have brought the nations to the brink of war. On Friday, President Trump said he called off a planned bombing of Iran shortly before it was set to launch.A poll taken before the recent rise in tensions showed more than half of Americans expected war with Iran.Why there’s debate: Despite the recent escalation, there is reason to believe that war isn’t a foregone conclusion. President Trump has said he doesn’t want one, as have Iran’s leaders. Some believe new sanctions and threats of military action may induce Iran to go back to the bargaining table to negotiate a new treaty that would prevent it from building nuclear weapons.But there are worries that the next aggressive move by either side could lead to a domino effect of escalation, leading to a war that neither nation wants.Trump’s critics fear his bold rhetoric and confrontational tactics, including pulling out of the nuclear deal negotiated by President Barack Obama, have locked him into a position where taking steps to de-escalate the situation would make him look weak.Some also believe that de-escalation is not the administration’s goal at all. Skeptics say recent U.S. actions echo the spotty intelligence that was used to sell the invasion of Iraq and, earlier, involvement in the Vietnam War. Some have accused members of the administration of provoking the Iranians in order to manufacture an excuse for a war that many on the right have been wanting for years. National security adviser John Bolton has been publicly calling for an attack on Iran for more than a decade.What’s next: For now, the U.S. is using nonmilitary means, such as continued tough talk, stepped-up sanctions and a reported cyberattack, to put pressure on Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has traveled to the Middle East to meet with leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and consolidate regional support in the event of a military conflict.
The Latest: UN members cite dangers of tensions in Gulf
•US Iran Trump President Donald Trump signs an executive order to increase sanctions on Iran, in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, June 24, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on tensions between the U.S. and Iran and in the Persian Gulf (all times local):6:30 p.m.-France, Germany and the United Kingdom are warning that increased tensions in the Gulf that were heightened by Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone „risk miscalculation and conflict.”The three countries called for „de-escalation and dialogue” in a joint statement Monday after closed U.N. Security Council consultations on the recent tanker attacks and the drone downing.The United States has blamed Iran for the tanker attacks, which Tehran denies — and the Trump administration insists the drone was in international airspace, while Iran insists the U.S. aircraft was in its airspace.France, Germany and the United Kingdom also reiterated their support for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which the U.S. pulled out of, saying they believe it „contributes to reducing tensions in the region as well as global nuclear non-proliferation.”_6:05 p.m.The acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is urging the world to join the United States in saying Iran’s attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf and its downing of a U.S. drone in international airspace are „unacceptable.”Jonathan Cohen says U.S. policy remains „an economic and diplomatic effort to bring Iran back to the negotiating table.”He spoke to reporters Monday after closed consultations with the U.N. Security Council. Cohen says the U.S. called the meeting to share information on the May 12 and June 13 tanker attacks and last week’s drone attack.He says Iran’s argument that the U.S. drone was in its „flight information region” was „false” because „a country’s flight information region is not the same as their airspace.”_5:30 p.m.The U.N. Security Council is condemning the latest attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and urging all parties „to exercise maximum restraint and take measures and actions to reduce escalation and tension.”The council says the tanker attacks represent „a serious threat to maritime navigation and energy supply.”
Pompeo sets out to build global coalition against Iran
„We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo said about Iran.
But even as Pompeo delivered his tough talk, he echoed President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in saying the U.S. is prepared to negotiate with Iran, without preconditions, in a bid to ease tensions. Those tensions have been mounting since Trump last year withdrew the U.S. from a global nuclear deal with Iran and began pressuring Tehran with economic sanctions. A fresh round of Iran sanctions is to be announced Monday in a bid to force the Iranian leadership into talks.
„They know precisely how to find us,” Pompeo said.
It was a week of topsy-turvy pronouncements on U.S. policy toward Iran that careened between the bellicose, the conciliatory and back again after Iran shot down an American military drone and boasted it would not bow to Washington’s pressure.
Trump initially said Iran had made a „very big mistake” and that it was „hard to believe” that shooting down the drone on Thursday was not intentional. He later said he thought it was an unintentional act carried out by a „loose and stupid” Iranian and called off retaliatory military strikes against Iran. On Saturday, Trump reversed himself and claimed that Iran had acted „knowingly.”
But Trump also said over the weekend that he appreciated Iran’s decision to not shoot down a manned U.S. spy plane, and he opined about eventually becoming Iran’s „best friend” if Tehran ultimately agrees to abandon its drive to build nuclear weapons and he helps the country turn around its crippled economy.
New US sanctions target Iran’s supreme leader, military brass