“Economic security is national security,” Peter Navarro, Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, said
in November 2018, during a speech in Washington at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
But critics of President Trump accuse him of mixing economic security with national security, to the detriment of both interests.
They state, “President Trump is increasingly blurring the line between America’s national and economic security, enabling him to harness powerful tools meant to punish the world’s worst global actors and redirect them at nearly every trading partner, including Mexico, Japan, China, and Europe.”
However, the apparent success of the president’s negotiation strategy with Mexico on border security suggests he is on the right track. Trump threatened Mexico with an escalating series of tariffs — starting at 5 percent and growing to 25 percent.
While previous administrations tried to deal with economic and security threats separately, the president has deliberately mixed the two, viewing another country’s trade practices as dangerous to the United States as its military abilities.
The president’s approach has become increasingly aggressive over the past two years, culminating in an expansive view of national security that has resulted in the United States having an economic war with nearly every trading partner, including longtime allies, according to detractors.
On one hand, critics claim the main elements of the deal with Mexico had been reached earlier between Mexico City and Washington: In fact, Mexican officials had already made the same promise months earlier. On the other hand, the threats of escalating sanctions seemed to have an effect, beyond that which had been agreed upon earlier.
Regarding immigration into the United States from Mexico, the president states that, “The United States must adopt an immigration system that serves the national interest.”
Threats give the president a tool he has used to the advantage of the United States with friends like Mexico and foes like Iran. Consider America’s threats of sanctioning Iran.
While President Trump has said he doesn’t want a war and would prefer to talk to Tehran, the Pentagon is preparing for a confrontation with Iran, if events take an ominous turn, sending warships, bombers, air-defense systems, and troops while the State Department fast-tracks arms sales and withdraws diplomatic personnel.
After threatening to do so, as of April 15, 2019, the official designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization took effect. Also see State.gov for the official designation on April 8.
A next step in confronting the Iranian regime’s export of terrorism is for the United States to include Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security Services (MOIS) on the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.
A representative of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Alireza Jafarzadeh highlighted the role of the MOIS in terrorism, “The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) has conducted all 2018 terror plots in Europe and the United States, as well as a vast majority of such terror operations in Europe over the past three decades.”
Jafarzadeh added, “only in 2018, European countries expelled five Iranian regime diplomats, including an ambassador, another “diplomat” is in prison, and over a dozen other agents are in jail in the United States and Europe, all for terrorism related charges, and all are MOIS operatives.”
“Because the MOIS and IRGC operatives are still operating in the United States and the West, the network and its agents need to be identified, prosecuted, and expelled from western countries,” Jafarzadeh concluded.
“But the real solution for the Iranian regime,” he said, “is not just sanctions. The real cure is regime change by the people of Iran.”
On the military side, contemplate a successful use of threats to defuse a situation regarding Iran. During May 2019, U.S. ships shadowed Iranian speed boats bearing missiles. It was clear that the Iranian crews knew they were being watched. Finally, the Iranian ships made their way to port and unloaded the missiles, defusing one of the more alarming Iranian moves.
Nevertheless, on June 7, a high-ranking U.S. military official said the Iranian threat against Americans in the Middle East remains “imminent,” but no major attacks have occurred mainly because of swift U.S. action over the past month of June.
Iran apparently intended to target U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria, or even use drones against Americans in a key waterway near Yemen. There was also information that Iran placed cruise missiles on ships, heightening fears that Tehran might attack U.S. Navy vessels with them.
The best way to describe these speed boats is that they are covert, deniable first-strike weapon, “The conversion of a merchant ship for an attack in and of itself is a very provocative act.”
The Way Forward
First, have trade adviser, Peter Navarro, spend more time on Capitol Hill explaining how economic and national security are two sides of the same coin.
Second, place Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security Services (MOIS) on the State Department Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.
Third, explain in a series of White Papers how the president’s coercive diplomacy is the most effective way to achieve America’s economic/national security interests.
Prof. Raymond Tanter (@AmericanCHR) served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Tanter is on the comprehensive list of conservative writers and columnists who appear in The Wall Street Journal, Townhall.com, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, The American Spectator, and now in Newsmax. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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