AMERICA’S CRUDE DREAMS ON IRAN

Yesterday, the US officially reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran’s energy and shipping sectors as a part of Trump’s “maximal pressure” campaign against the regime in Tehran. The White House granted temporary waivers to eight friendly countries that import large amounts of Iranian crude oil.


Iran’s embattled President Rouhani responded by declaring that his country is in a “war situation.” To underscore the point, he ordered the military to conduct preparatory drills – (though we are at a loss to understand how you can shoot down a sanction.)

Here’s Gabe with some key questions as tensions between Washington and Tehran ratchet up:

Iran over a barrel? Crude oil accounts for about 70 percent of all Iranian exports and half of all government revenue. Over the past six months, Iranian oil exports have already dropped by more than a third, as countries slashed purchases rather than risk the ire of the Trump administration. The temporary waivers that the US granted give Tehran some breathing room for now, but there is no denying that an already-rattled Iranian economy is facing much more severe pain now.

Whom does this help inside Iran? President Trump’s decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal, coupled with these crippling economic measures, have emboldened hardliners within the Islamic Republic who were always skeptical of any deal with the US, while weakening the reform-oriented elites like President Rouhani, who argued – against huge internal resistance – that the deal would bolster Iran’s economy. One important question is whether reduced revenues will hurt the sweeping economic interests of the elite Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, or perversely give them even more power because they can control the black markets that people turn to in heavily sanctioned economies. But what is virtually certain is that for the moment, the sanctions give hardliners the upper hand politically.

What’s the US endgame? The Trump administration has a hefty list of demands for Iran: stop testing ballistic missiles, forswear any nuclear testing forever, stop (the very successful policy of) supporting Shiite militias and rebel groups across the Middle East.

As Trump and his advisers tell it, this is what they seek in any revised nuclear deal. But its hard to see a regime like Iran’s, which has thrived on defying the West for almost forty years, giving ground on these issues under threats from Trump. That’s all the more true since the sanctions are empowering precisely the hardliners who are least inclined to sit down with Uncle Sam. And it surely doesn’t help that there is a deep suspicion within Tehran that what Trump and his hawkish advisers are really after is the collapse of the Islamic Republic altogether.

 

The 10-year challenge might actually be an attempt to improve facial recognition technology.

It's Tech in 60 Seconds with Nicholas Thompson!


And go deeper on topics like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence at Microsoft Today in Technology.

"Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." So said Winston Churchill in November 1947, a time when Soviet Communism was beginning to offer the world a new alternative.

Read Now Show less

My high school history teacher Dr. Cohen once told me, as we shuffled through the school cafeteria, that computers would one day make socialism viable. Given that the Soviet collapse had already happened, and that Super Nintendo still seemed vastly more magical than anything you could put on your desk, this seemed far-fetched.

Read Now Show less

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Syria ISIS attack A suicide bombing in Syria claimed by ISIS killed 14 people including four Americans this week. Two questions we'll be watching: Will this attack impact the pace of President Trump's ordered withdrawal of US troops from Syria, and is the bombing part of a broader ISIS strategy to launch a wave of new attacks as US troops depart?

Read Now Show less