“Trump fails to understand that sanctions are preconditions. His strategy is to maximize the threat to intimidate his negotiation partner into making concessions. The problem with this strategy is there is no Plan B. If one threat does not work, Trump piles on another threat…,” E. Michael Jones, a political analyst in the US state of Indiana, told Tasnim.
Eugene Michael Jones is an American writer, former professor, media commentator and the current editor of Culture Wars magazine.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: US President Donald Trump on Monday announced new sanctions on Iran as part of his pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic. They target the office of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Iran's foreign minister and senior commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). What is your take on the sanctions?
Jones: Placing sanctions on the Supreme Leader is a meaningless gesture calculated to placate those who feel that Trump should have launched a military attack on Iran in retaliation for the downing of the drone.
Tasnim: Trump and other senior US officials have repeatedly said that Washington is ready to talk to Iran about a new nuclear deal without any preconditions. It seems the Trump administration by imposing new sanctions on Tehran is facing political confusion. What do you think? Do you believe that the administration is closing the path to a diplomatic solution with Iran?
Jones: Trump fails to understand that sanctions are preconditions. His strategy is to maximize the threat to intimidate his negotiation partner into making concessions. The problem with this strategy is there is no Plan B. If one threat does not work, Trump piles on another threat. But what if threats don't work at all? Then what? He has backed himself into a corner. To show he is in control of the situation he should try making concessions, like lifting the sanctions, but this goes against his personality, and it also would turn the Israel lobby and the warmongers in Congress against him, but it's the only way out of the corner he has painted himself into.
Tasnim: As you know, most of Iran’s economy has been already targeted by earlier US penalties and, in fact, there is not much left for Washington to target. Do you believe that it is just a theatrical move and that sanctions diplomacy no longer works in face of Iran?
Jones: Yes, it was meant to placate the warmongers.
Tasnim: The new sanctions came after Iran last week shot down a US spy drone that had ventured into Iran’s airspace. President Trump told reporters that the sanctions had nothing to do with the downing of the drone. It seems, however, that the sanctions were imposed in response to the shootdown. What are your thoughts on this?
Jones: Yes, it was meant to placate those who said he backed down by not calling a military strike.