In the aftermath of Iran’s downing of a US surveillance drone last week, the Trump administration placed new sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader and Foreign Minister. The sanctions, which most analysts agree won’t actually have any effect, served mostly as a slap in the face to the Iranian government. And the Iranian government’s response was to state that the new sanctions were “closing the door of diplomacy” between the US and Washington. So does this mean that war is the only way forward? Not necessarily.
It’s important to remember that the spat between Iran and the US is just that, a spat between two countries. But the agreement Iran signed, as much as it’s been maligned in the US among conservatives as “Obama’s nuclear deal,” was not a bilateral agreement between the two countries. It was a multilateral agreement among the US, UK, France, Russia, China, Germany, the EU, and Iran.
The US pulling out of the agreement unilaterally didn’t end the agreement, and although Iran has promised to restart its uranium enrichment, negotiations remain ongoing between Iran and the other agreement partners. Nothing is final until the other partners also agree that the deal is over. So US attempts to goad Iran into a hot war aren’t going to gain the sympathy of other nations.
The US Senate is scheduled to vote today on an amendment stating that the President doesn’t have the Constitutional authority to go to war against Iran. It’s unclear just how much support that amendment has, but it could end in a defeat for the President. If that’s the case, then he may have no choice but to try to get back to negotiating a diplomatic agreement with Iran. And he had better hope that, given the bombastic war of words that has been going on for the past several days, the Iranians are in the negotiating mood. No one will win if war breaks out between the US and Iran.