Iran believes Trump is afraid of taking military action

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by Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, ArabNews.com

Some policy analysts and scholars have found it mindboggling that Iran is risking a war with the US by escalating its military adventurism and aggressive policies in the region.

After all, any war between the US and Islamic Republic would be suicidal for the ruling clerics. The US military budget dwarfs Iran’s, being about 40 times higher — Washington’s is more than $600 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, while Tehran’s is $14 billion. The US, whose air and naval forces are reportedly the most powerful in the world, indisputably outguns Iran’s forces. America’s fleet of aircraft is nearly 15 times bigger than Iran’s.

Considering the fact that Iran’s military capabilities are vastly inferior to those of the US, why are the Iranian leaders ignoring Washington’s warnings and risking a war with the superpower? They are doing so because Tehran seems to have come to the conclusion that President Donald Trump does not want to be engaged in a military confrontation with the Islamic Republic.

The Iranian leaders did not reach this conclusion the day that Trump took office. Instead, the Islamic Republic has slowly tested the White House over the last two years. At first, it began exploiting its strategic advantage by issuing threats to block the Strait of Hormuz. Then the Iranian regime started harassing and attacking ships in the strait and its surrounding waters.

When the first oil tanker was attacked, Tehran saw that there was no military response to its aggression, even though the targeting of oil tankers poses a significant threat to the national security of European nations and Asian countries, as well as the US. This further emboldened the regime. In the space of a few months, several oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf, including Japanese and Norwegian vessels.

The Islamic Republic subsequently took another risk by shooting down a US Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk drone. Gen. Amirali Hajizadeh even bragged about the attack, saying: “With the US drone in the region, there was also an American P-8 plane with 35 people on board. This plane also entered our airspace and we could have shot it down, but we did not.”

“The Islamic Republic has slowly tested the White House over the last two years” Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

This Iranian test also did not trigger a military response from the US. Instead, Trump tweeted: “We were cocked and loaded to retaliate… Ten minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world.”

The Iranian leaders did not interpret the move as a sign of diplomacy, rather a sign that Trump is afraid of taking military action against Tehran. This made the regime even more emboldened, as the next major move was an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply; targeting the world’s biggest oil processing facility at Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, as well as the Kingdom’s second-largest oilfield at Khurais.


The Iranian leaders’ belief that Trump does not want to consider military options was further strengthened when the president’s National Security Adviser John Bolton left the White House. Bolton had a history of advocating for regime change in Iran. A year before he joined the Trump team, he told the Iranian oppositional group known as Mojahedin-e Khalq that: “The outcome of the president’s policy review should be to determine that Ayatollah (Ruhollah) Khomeini’s 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday.”

More recently, some of the Iranian leaders have publicly stated that Trump does not want a military confrontation with Iran. Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in July pointed a finger at Trump’s team and his national security adviser in particular, not the president himself. Zarif tweeted: “Make no mistake: Having failed to lure (Trump) into War of the Century, and fearing the collapse of his #B_Team, (Bolton) is turning his venom against the UK in hopes of dragging it into a quagmire. Only prudence and foresight can thwart such ploys.”

Iran’s state-owned media outlets have also begun endorsing the idea that the US president does not want to consider a military response. For example, Press TV published an article quoting an analyst with the headline: “Trump doesn’t want war with Iran, so (Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo changes tone accordingly.”

From the perspective of the Iranian regime, Trump does not want to go to war with Tehran. The regime tested the Trump administration on several occasions and came to the conclusion that its aggression did not trigger a military response. This is partially why the Islamic Republic is gradually ratcheting up its military adventurism in the region.


Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh


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9 COMMENTS

  1. This reads more like a propaganda piece from the Atlantic Council by an unlettered lout – the Atlantic Council is full of them, than an independent source which we can easily determine on this foray into a sea of unsubstantiated facts, the Atlantic American Council, is not. He blames all unsavory incidents on Iran like a tantrum from demented Bibi in a tasteless piece of cringe-worthy gunge. This doctored piece is nothing but war-mongering drivel easy on the eyes of jackels and vampires. Who is your pay-master, Dr. eh Rafizadeh, Mojahedin-e Khalq perchance?

  2. China’s military parade not only showed off it’s picture-perfect military marching formations, but also to show the world it’s latest missile technology. Nuclear tipped missiles that travel at over 30,000 MPH should be enough to make the strongest among us wince. Making war can no longer be in the hands of those who make such decisions between after lunch cocktails. Future wars will be nuclear slug fests not restricted to remote locations. Even those with 10 story underground bunkers will be affected. Their private jets will still need runways.

  3. There are no winners in wars, ask any Mother who lost a son/daughter in our recent military adventures, for who, for what. The US is no longer safe behind the Pacific/Atlantic oceans, terror is now right next door.
    The US military/Trump seem to have reached a very sensible conclusion on our growing vulnerability.

  4. The author talks about the regime as if it is a dictatorship, he talks about aggression, Iran never showed
    any aggression, only answered (the constant) aggression from, USrael.
    Some quotes from the author, check the website https://www.arabnews.com/node/1561566
    Tehran first attempted to destabilize the region by harassing and sabotaging ships, as well as launching missile and drone attacks
    Iran’s theocratic establishment is pursuing the same dual strategy in the Arabian Gulf. Tehran first attempted to destabilize the region by harassing and sabotaging ships, as well as launching missile and drone attacks.
    The Iranian regime is the problem, not the solution. For almost four decades, Iran’s ruling mullahs have sowed the seeds of war in other nations.

    The author is a tool for israel, please get rid of him.
    Thank you VT

  5. I don’t think the author of the article is a frequent visitor to VT.com, otherwise he would’ve educated himself about the realities on the ground in the ME then to somehow blame Iran for fighting back the ever present predatory/hegemonic behavior of the US in the Middle East in general and against Iranians in particular.

  6. All 16 branches of the US security services and US allies know the US cannot go to war with Iran because it would lose massively and it would be very obvious how little power the US military has in a real fight. Iran just has too many advantages bases on location.

    The US no longer has a military competitive advantage in the world over China and Russia. China now buys all of its oil and other energy resources in yuan, not US dollars. Both China and Russia will support Iran both economically and militarily. So unlike Iraq, Iran cannot be sanctioned until it falls apart and the US can just walk in.

    China needs Iran for its BRI project making Iran even more important and powerful than currently is.

    The big and very dangerous problem is that the current US President Donald Trump is a total traitor, who will see his country turned into a dust bowl rather than let himself be impeached or lose the 2020 election. How many dollars is Israel willing to pay Trump’s private estate (just after he leaves office) for the US to go to war with Iran? Most likely it will be kicked off with a false flag attack once puppets Australia and the UK have their ships in the Straits of Hormuz.

    Someone once told me that if they were challenged to a game of ping pong they would make sure there was only one ball and if they were losing they would be prepared to crush it – this is how Trump thinks and ‘the ball’ is the USA.