Iranians burn a U.S. flag during a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to walk out of a 2015 nuclear deal, in Tehran, May 2018.

In the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlines President Donald Trump’s strategy for “confronting Iran.” Pompeo describes an Iranian regime hell-bent on dominating the Middle East, and he argues that Trump is determined to overturn the supposed inclination of past U.S. administrations—especially the Obama administration—to accommodate the mullahs in Tehran. 

In particular, Pompeo reiterates the Trump administration’s critique that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiated between the Obama administration, other members of the so-called P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom), and Iran failed to permanently prevent the Islamic Republic from pursuing nuclear weapons. Pompeo also asserts that the loosening of U.S. sanctions under the deal enriched and enabled the Iranian regime—and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in particular—to more aggressively pursue its destabilizing agenda in Afghanistan, Gaza, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. In contrast, Pompeo contends that Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure”—including the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement in May, the re-imposition of economic sanctions, credible military threats, and efforts to expose the regime’s corruption and human rights abuses—will reverse all this, producing a

To read the full article

  • COLIN H. KAHL is co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation and Steven C. Házy Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He served as Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Adviser to the Vice President from 2014 to 2017, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East from 2009 to 2011.
  • More By Colin H. Kahl