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Iran as Competitor: Measured, Violent, Relentless

In April the United States government imposed new sanctions on a large, well-functioning segment of state power and governance of Iran: the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.  Iran is of course a long-time rival power to the United States in the Middle East, and it is a terrorism sponsor-the worst in the world, according to our State Department.  So this intensified focus on the Guards Corps is due to its roles in illegal violence abroad.  But this is also the latest chapter in a lengthy, difficult testament of troubles between the two states.  

Tension has been the lead characteristic of our state-to-state relations for decades.  Washington finds it difficult to imagine a fresh start.  After all, it was only in 2011 that a plot by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps aimed to blow up the Saudi Ambassador and his security detail in Washington, at a Georgetown restaurant. And as recently as 2018, new Iranian terror plots affected the sovereignty and security of half a dozen of our allied countries in Europe.  Having already identified Iran as a “rogue regime” in policy documents the U.S. administration has chosen the strategy of enhancing pressure on Iran economically.

Given many existing American sanctions, are new measures required?  What  will be added, against Iranian interests, by restrictions on its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps imposed April 15th?  Can economic restraints-naturally much resented by Iranians and even by some of our allies-alter Tehran’s willingness to export Shia revolutionary violence or deter their assassination campaigns in Europe and Asia?

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