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Iran is rolling out one defiant step after another. It also seems to be stepping up its efforts to forge relationships with some Latin American countries whose leaders are not overly fond of the U.S. This looks like the defiance of a cornered animal rather than the insolence of a rising power. Iran’s chief regional ally, Syria, continues to disintegrate. Hamas is shifting from a Syria-Iran alliance toward one with Turkey and possibly Egypt. The rial continues to fall as sanctions hit the weak economy.
The wisest course for the U.S. would appear to be to continue ratcheting up sanctions, watch for danger signs in Iranian-Latin dealings, strengthen the coalition, increase the direct pressure on Tehran and press for the overthrow of the Assad regime in Syria. Tehran is off balance and flailing; the Supreme Leader is not as happy with President Ahmadinejad as he once was and the fissures in the Iranian ruling elite seem to be widening. The U.S. goal of stopping the Iranian nuclear program without war remains a stretch, but the U.S. position continues to improve while Iran’s options narrow.

(Walter Russell Mead – American Interest)

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