A Harvard University Professor believes the probability of military confrontation between Iran and US is very low at the moment, because this is not a popular choice in the United states.
"I do not believe the current political confrontation between the US and Iran will escalate into a military confrontation now", said "Mark Tomass",a Harvard University Professor and a middle east specialist in his interview with ILNA.
Below is the full interview with Tomass, regarding US resent policies toward IRAN and other countries:
ILNA: To what extent can Europe guarantee the implementation of the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) mechanism, and how many of Iran's problems could be solved with it?
M.T: The Special Purpose Vehicle has been suggested to circumvent the US restrictions on banks for using US dollars to pay for Iranian oil exports, using a system of credit instead of payments in US currency. As such, it does not tackle the restrictions on Iranian oil exports. Therefore, if a country is placed under sanctions for importing Iranian oil, the Special Purpose Vehicle does not solve Iran’s problem. Circumventing the means of payment is not a solution to the sanctions. In other words, the only way European countries can solve Iran’s problems is by challenging the US sanctions themselves, not by trying to dodge them in such an obvious way.
ILNA: One of the problems with the special financial mechanism that the European Union has suggested for Iran is to determine its host country, and being afraid of US sanctions, no country has yet been up to it. But speculation has arisen that Luxembourg, which is not an EU member and has a notable banking system, as well as Turkey, with its extensive financial links with Iran, are stepping up. What do you think of this?
M.T: It would be naïve to believe that Luxembourg could challenge the US on this matter and help dodging the US sanctions on Iran. The US could cripple its banking system if it wanted. Turkey would be more likely to serve in that role, but I also suspect that it would not risk having its relationship with the US deteriorate further than it already has for the sake of helping Iran, despite their current economic relations. Turkey will be content to keep its special exception status of maintaining bilateral trading relations with Iran, but it will not go further towards engineering a failure of the US sanctions on Iran.
ILNA: One of the requirements for joining the FATF is the obligation to fight against money laundering, and Iran has always been condemned by the West for not doing it. But last week, we saw one of the biggest money laundering channels discovered in Denmark. Don't you think this is inconsistent with the spirit of this organization?
M.T: Yes, of course, it is inconsistent with the rules of Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It remains to be seen whether punitive actions will be taken against the Danish banks. It is likely that the individual account holders will be charged, and select employees will be blamed for it, but we still need to wait until the investigations are concluded.
ILNA: How do you assess the US-China trade war? Who do you think will be victorious, and how does the fate of this trade war affect US sanctions against Iran?
M.T: The current US-China trade war largely results from a lack of understanding of the real causes of why a US trade deficit persists vis-à-vis China. While there are legitimate reasons for US complaints against China, such as lack of intellectual property rights enforcement and asymmetric trade restrictions, the bulk of the US trade deficit vis-à-vis China is caused by the inequality between national saving and investment. When investment is higher than saving, the saving shortfall is compensated by a net capital inflow into the US. That inflow maintains a higher value for the US dollar, which, in turn, increases US imports and decreases exports. I believe President Trump, having majored in economics, is smart enough to understand this equation if he reviews the economic textbooks he had in college.
ILNA: Some argue that the US will extend the sanctions waiver that has been granted to eight countries. Will this happen?
M.T: Extending the sanctions waiver would mean the sanctions on Iran would be ineffective in accomplishing its intended outcomes.
ILNA: Will the collapse of the nuclear deal create a new crisis in the Middle East?
M.T: We already have many levels of crises in the Middle East raging from outright brutal wars to very tense political conditions, but I do not believe the current political confrontation between the US and Iran will escalate into a military confrontation now. Widescale US military interventions are politically unpopular in the US at this moment. Moreover, President Trump would not want to see a rise in oil prices that would choke US economic growth, which would certainly happen if a military confrontation started. He would want to maintain the steady growth rate we have now to increase his chances to be re-elected.
ILNA: What is your assessment of the privileged vote of The Hague International Court of Justice in the case of Iran's complaint against the United States?
M.T: The US is not bound by the decision of any international court and is not likely to be any time soon.
ILNA: Europeans have been supporting the nuclear deal because of what they call "security reasons". If what they say is true, would collapsing the nuclear deal lead to instability in Europe?
M.T: The Europeans are concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East if Iran embarks on building nuclear weapons. With the present regional competition between Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt, it is likely that those other countries would seek to build nuclear weapons as well, and that would worry Europe because of its geographical proximity to the Middle East. A collapse in the nuclear deal would increase the safety risk for Europe, but it would primarily lead to instability in the Middle East. A nuclear deal collapse would heighten Iran’s image as a threat to the Arab monarchies and emirates and to Israel. This will increase their dependence on the United States to provide protection and security from that perceived threat. This would mean, in turn, that the US would increase compensation demands in return for providing protection services to the Arab monarchies and emirates, as President Trump has made it clear many times.
ILNA: While the United States has repeatedly accused Iran of support for terrorism, some White House officials, including John Bolton, have repeatedly participated in meetings of terrorist groups that have themselves confessed to carrying out terrorist acts in Iran. What do you think of this double standard?
M.T: Outside of honest academic discussions, which are also rare nowadays, terrorism is in the eyes of the beholder. One side’s terrorist is the other side’s freedom fighter. Terrorism is an overused label that politicians use for political expedience. For example, on June 9, 2017, President Trump addressed the world by stating, “The nation of Qatar unfortunately has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level… We have to stop the funding of terrorism, stop teaching people to kill other people, stop teaching hate and intolerance. I won’t name other countries, but we are not done solving the problem, but we will solve that problem.” However, shortly after high ranking Qatari officials flew to the US and placed orders for 12 billions of dollars in arms sales, Qatar was forgiven, and its leaders were no longer seen as sponsoring terrorism.
ILNA: Trump, who accuses other countries of supporting terrorism and threatens them, despite Saudi Arabia's hand in killing of the Saudi journalist, has refused to take legal, economic, or punitive measures against this kingdom. What do you think is the reason for this behavior?
M.T: The reason is that in the world of politics, short-term financial and political interests are more important than moral principles. One must give credit to President Trump, who arguably is the first US president who has stated the above principle in public, honestly and without reservation.