One year of failed appeasement policy has completely destroyed US deterrence against Iran. The notion that this can be repaired by issuing a few threats is preposterous. Public issuance of threatening statements has its place in a comprehensive deterrence posture but are on their own entirely insufficient in rebuilding America’s deterrence against Iran.
Iran should be in a state of immense fear due to the prospects of a US-led international coalition imposing a no-fly zone over Iran that will provide air support to armed rebellions throughout the country and is highly likely to lead to the downfall of the regime. The veiled threat by the head of CENTCOM (US Central Command in the Middle East), General Frank McKenzie, according to which the US will invade Iran should Tehran attack America with chemical weapons is certainly a welcome development but Iran is not impressed as they do not fear Biden and even less so Malley and assume that the US is bluffing. They are of course severely underestimating American resolve and resilience, but the fact is that American deterrence is in tatters.
The Biden administration needs to make a comprehensive review of all aspects of its foreign policy worldwide in order to determine what aspects of US foreign policy which have caused the collapse in American deterrence vis-a-vis Iran as deterrence is built primarily through credible policy making. The administration of George W. Bush caused Iran to temporarily freeze the Iranian nuclear weapons program by first invading Afghanistan in 2001 and thereafter Iraq in 2003. The Trump administration succeeded in putting an end to Iranian provocations in the Gulf region by eliminating archterrorist Qasem Soleimani.
The fact that Joe Biden has greenlighted Rob Malley’s plan for continued negotiations with Iran after the demise of the JCPOA stands in contrast to Antony Blinken’s former opposition to “endless negotiations” and the impression of there being a power struggle between hawks and doves in the Biden administration certainly does not make the Khomeinist leadership in Tehran fearful. The ruling mullahs assume that Malley will continue to run the show and that Iran has no reason to fear US military action. They are wrong of course but perception is everything in deterrence. Without a perception of deterrence, there is simply no deterrence. The American homeland is in grave danger and a misguided appeasement policy has severely exacerbated the threat.