The US has no Plan B

There is an obvious contradiction between the Malley doctrine (yes to endless negotiations) and the Blinken doctrine (no to endless negotiations). The US is literally desperate about reconciling with the implacable Iranian regime. The reasons are deeply understandable since the consequences of Israeli conflict with Iran will be mass terrorist attacks with chemical weapons against major American cities. 

Yet US policy is severely misguided in seeking a return to the JCPOA. Iran has no interest in restoring the JCPOA for the simple reason that any agreement will be abrogated by the next Republican administration. The desperate US attempts to return to the JCPOA have severely undermined the US deterrence posture against Iran and thus dangerously aggravated the threat of Iranian chemical weapons attacks against the American homeland.

The US has, according to all Israeli government sources, not yet made any decisions on determining a Plan B once the JCPOA has become irrelevant. US Iran envoy Rob Malley once claimed that the US is prepared for endless negotiations with Iran while Secretary of State Antony Blinken claims that the US is opposed to endless negotiations. Which is it then? Rob Malley apparently said more than he was supposed to in revealing the US plan for endless negotiations to desperately shield America from Iranian chemical weapons attacks. The US now makes a point of claiming that this is not US policy. Has the US then changed policy? The US threats of “other options” are apparently intended as a desperate means to make Iran return to the JCPOA.

Yet the US position is irrational since it does not take into consideration Iranian national interests from the perspective of the Khomeinist regime. Why on earth would Iran be interested in an agreement with the US that would in any case be abrogated by the next Republican administration? Diplomacy is about understanding the interests of other nations and not just promoting one’s own national interests. There seems to be a complete lack of understanding in the Democratic administration of how the Khomeinist regime perceives Iranian national interests. The US cannot commit to prevent the next Republican administration from abrogating an agreement with Iran and hence is an agreement not possible. It is as simple as that. Yet the Biden administration has refused to recognize this fundamental reality and continued with its program to appease Iran into returning to the JCPOA despite this not being in the interest of the Khomeinist regime. 

The well-known fact that the US has not devised a plan B but only stated its intention to study “other options” once the JCPOA becomes irrelevant means that the US lacks credibility, both in its misguided efforts to return Iran to the JCPOA and in its lack of preparation for the post-JCPOA reality.

While the US does not appear opposed to a no-fly zone, it has made no commitment to join a coalition to establish a no-fly zone once the JCPOA is no longer relevant. Although it could be argued that this is simply the nature of how decisions are made in the White House in all administrations, the US has failed to restore its credibility and deterrence other than repeating the mantra of “other options” which lacks all credibility.

A major strength and major weakness of the US constitutional system is the concentration of almost unlimited powers in the hands of the president regarding foreign affairs, security and defense policy. This is the reason why there is no ready Plan B and hence no US credibility. The concentration of power in the hands of the president means that the US is more inclined to wage wars than all other countries, however decisions are not made until they are made and the lack of a ready Plan B is a major liability in deterring Iran and therefore the US lacks credibility as even the Israelis do not trust the intentions of the Biden administration on Iran. The US administration urgently needs to prepare a Plan B that will include joining an international coalition to establish a no-fly zone over Iran in order to restore confidence, credibility, deterrence and crucially defend US national security.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization

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