persia digest - In an exclusive interview with Persia Digest (PD) MIT Professor, John Tirman, said: “For all his bluster, Trump probably does not want a war with Iran. But if he takes such a decision, he will not seek congressional approval.”

Following Trump’s designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization, certain media in the US have speculated a military strike by the Trump Administration on Iran. ABC News writes that the designation aimed to include the IRGC in the 2001 legislation so that the Trump Administration can attack Iran without congressional approval. This has been opposed by a number of senators including Rand Paul. Some experts believe, however, that if the US Administration decides to attack Iran, it will conjure up excuses and Congress will not be able to stop it.

Persia Digest (PD) conducted an interview with John Tirman, executive director and principal research scientist at the MIT Center for International Studies, on this issue. The full text follows.

In his election campaign, Trump admitted that the US created Daesh and Iran is fighting it. Years ago, Hilary Clinton also revealed that the US created al-Qaeda to confront the former USSR in Afghanistan. How is it possible now for President Trump to place the IRGC on the list of terrorist organizations?

The U.S. did not create Daesh. That was Trump trying to cast blame on Obama for Daesh’s advances in Iraq and Syria. Daesh was a result of the Iraq war and the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime.  Al Qaeda was a creation of Osama bin Laden, a Saudi.  Hilary Clinton explained how the U.S. empowered the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s, some of whom became allies of bin Laden. 

Trump placing the IRGC on the terror list is a political move intended for his American base.  It further positions the U.S. to attack Iran should the situation become more toxic.


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As the issue of a military strike on Iran hots up in the US media, do you see any signs that Trump may launch an attack on Iran?

There would have to be a seriously provocative incident for Trump to take action. For all his bluster, Trump probably does not want a war. As we’ve seen in Iraq, war is risky and unpredictable. The U.S. military would oppose an unprovoked attack.

Will Trump be able to use the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 to attack Iran without congressional approval?

He would not seek congressional approval in any case.


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Will a military attack on Iran by the US constitute a full-blown invasion for regime change or will it bomb certain Iranian strategic bases? How do you think Iran will react?

A large invasion is highly improbable.  My guess is that the U.S. would bomb nuclear facilities and regime targets. 

How Iran would react is difficult for me to forecast.

If the Trump decision is final for a military strike against Iran, what factors can prevent this decision from being implemented? What measures can Iran take to prevent the implementation of this decision?

Only if Congress explicitly denied him the authority (and funds) to attack could such a decision be stopped.  I doubt if there is anything Iran could do to prevent an attack if such a decision had been made.

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