In response to the recent attacks on Saudi Aramco’s oil production, which both the United States and Saudi Arabia blamed on Iran, President Trump decided to impose even further sanctions on Iran, which he characterized as the highest sanctions ever imposed upon a country. The new sanctions target Iran’s central bank and sovereign wealth fund, attempting to continue starving the country of funding.
It’s unclear exactly how painful these new sanctions will be, as Iran has been sanctioned by the US and other nations off and on for years. With the country already all but completely cut off from the world financial system, it’s hard to think of extra sanctions as being anything more than symbolic. The only thing that these new sanctions will do for certain is make it more difficult for Iran to come back to the bargaining table, something that will likely please anti-Iran hardliners in Washington.
Saudi Arabia is itching for a US military response to the attack, but President Trump to his credit is keeping the military on a tight leash. He understands that launching an attack against Iran would require indisputable proof of an Iranian attack, and that it would have to be an attack against US forces, not just against its Middle Eastern allies. Trump is hesitant to get involved in another Middle Eastern war that will turn out to be a quagmire just like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria proved to be.
There’s always the possibility that Middle Eastern allies will grow tired of continued US involvement in the region if the US isn’t willing to take military action, but the US isn’t and shouldn’t be the Middle East’s policeman, nor should it get involved in squabbles between Middle Eastern powers. Let’s hope that sanctions are as far as Trump goes with Iran and that he resists the pressure to put American troops’ lives on the line in what would end up being a catastrophic and bloody war.