Ian Bremmer: "Iran Is Weaker Today Than It Was When Trump Became President" | Video | RealClearPolitics

Ian Bremmer: "Iran Is Weaker Today Than It Was When Trump Became President"


"Eurasia Group" president Ian Bremmer praises President Trump's handling of the current tensions with Iran:

IAN BREMMER: We're obviously in a de-escalating mode, for two reasons. The first is for the last year as the Americans were destroying the Iranian economy, Iran was responding and didn't know what the red lines were. Didn't know what would get Trump to react or not. They hit tankers, they hit American drones, big ones. They took out 50% of Saudi oil and the U.S. didn't react. So much so that the Saudis ended up having to negotiate with Iran on the sidelines because, "The Americans aren't helping us. What do we do?"

So finally they go and they attack a U.S. base in Kirkuk in northern Iraq. They go after the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the supreme leader of Iran has the temerity to tweet and say the U.S. can't do anything. And, you know, the United States, President Trump, responded. Responded very significantly and has shown what the red lines are. And has shown that he'll escalate. And, frankly, that at some point needed to be done. Did it need to be done by actually killing Soleimani? I think you could have done it very modestly, but it sent a strong message and the Iranians are vastly weaker than the United States. They're not suicidal. So their response has been the minimum possible military engagement against the Americans.

That is wildly de-escalatory. It's also been supported by a statement by the foreign minister saying we're going to escalate. If you do anything about this. In other words, "Please, let's now stop. We don't want war." There's a real opportunity for diplomacy if Trump wants it and is capable of taking it. But for now, let's be clear, this is a much more powerful United States showing the Iranians that you are not going to come after the U.S. directly.

CNN HOST, JOHN BERMAN: Those are two big ifs. If the president wants to take it and if he chooses to take it. You read the Iranian action overnight as intentional de-escalation, as them saying we're not going to attack U.S. troops.

IAN BREMMER: Overwhelmingly so.

JOHN BERMAN: And so, President Trump will address the nation shortly. What do you think he will say?

IAN BREMMER: I'm sure he's going to take a victory lap. That's what he does anyway. But in this case, specifically, he's going to say, I hit him. The head of the beast. Literally, the United States has killed the head of Iran's military in the cabinet and the response has been, you know, virtually nothing. That doesn't mean that Iran is no longer a major antagonist of the United States in the region or that we've ended our fights. There's no mission accomplished moment, God forbid. No one should be taking victory laps here. But this is a win for Trump. And it's clear that it is.

The question is, I never thought Trump wanted to wag the dog. If he wanted war with the Iranians, he's had plenty of opportunities to move in that direction. Especially after the Saudis were hit. When the drone was taken out, the Secretary of Defense was trying to get Trump to bring fighter jets, manned, to be escorting drones when they were engaged in those surveillance missions and Trump said no because he didn't want to get stuck in a war. So he wasn't about wagging the dog. If he's doing anything, he's likely to pet the dog.

CNN HOST, ALISYN CAMEROTA: What does that mean?

IAN BREMMER: That means he wants to come to deals and announce they're the best deals ever. That's what he tried to do with the Taliban on the 9/11 anniversary with Camp David.

ALISYN CAMEROTA: He invited them to Camp David, which did not work.

IAN BREMMER: What he's tried to do with the North Koreans, which also have not worked, but it's also what he has wanted to do with Iranians. In the middle of all this escalation, when the U.N. was going on, he was trying to call the Iranian president to say, hey, let's make a deal. I'm certain that Trump would love to do diplomacy.

JOHN BERMAN: A deal for what, though? What people have been saying is there's no coherent strategy from the administration when it comes to Iran. What is the strategy?

IAN BREMMER: There's no coherent strategy but there's consistency. Don't hit Americans. Don't care as much about the allies. Can't develop nukes. Don't like anything Obama did.

JOHN BERMAN: They are developing nukes.

IAN BREMMER: They are moving away from the nuclear deal but it's like if you get a speed limit 65, it's not like they're going 120. They're saying we'll go 75. Don't ticket us. We want to go back to the deal. But they're careful about their escalation. I think Trump wants something that looks like the Iranian deal but has a couple of additional measures to it. It would not end after 15 years. It wouldn't have a sunset clause. It would continue to go. It's also something that would probably include some level of inspections or something around Iranian ballistic missile development, for example. So it would be a little broader than what Kerry and Obama got done. The U.S. would be negotiating that from a position of strength. Iran is weaker today than it was when Trump became president. If he wants that opportunity, he certainly has a window for it.

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