Op-eds

Hard-line U.S. Policy Tips Iran Toward Belligerence: Op-ed by Prof. Vali Nasr

Bloomberg View

The latest warning by Iran, that a U.S. aircraft carrier that recently transited through the Strait of Hormuz should not do so again, is a sign to the West that should be well-observed. It tells us the regime in Tehran is ready for a fight.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. are so high, a conflagration could be tripped off without either country intending it. This latest spiral of hostility began after the U.S. and its European allies responded to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report on Iran’s nuclear activities by imposing and threatening additional, tougher sanctions. New U.S. measures may drastically cut Iran’s oil revenue.

That, in turn, may threaten the Iranian regime’s hold on power. Predictably, then, the ruling clerics are responding with shows of strength to boost solidarity at home. And they can be counted on to accelerate Iran’s nuclear program, which they see as a deterrent to foreign intervention.

To escape this self-defeating outcome, the Western powers should imagine how the situation looks from Tehran.

In recent months, Iranian protesters have brazenly attacked the U.K. Embassy in Tehran. Iran has claimed to have downed a U.S. drone, put on 10-day war games simulating attacks on U.S. ships, and threatened to push oil prices to $250 a barrel and to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which about 20 percent of all oil trade passes.

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