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With Exchange of Threats, US and Iran Engaged in Psychological Warfare

The only way forward out of military posturing is a return to the nuclear deal, says commentator

By Xu Mouquan Updated May.15

The US has sent an aircraft-carrier battle group to the Middle East, as well as four to six bombers, which, said its national security advisor John Bolton, is a warning to Iran. Iran responded later that it would stop complying with parts of the Iran nuclear deal, from which President Donald Trump pulled the US out a year ago.

Despite its tough stance, Iran’s most significant response by far was military exercises in the region and surrounding seas and the nuclear deal announcement, which shows that Iranians don’t want to declare war on the US, and they guess neither do the Americans. However, by Iran's posturing, Tehran wants to show it is not afraid of one, Tao Duanfang, a columnist, wrote at The Beijing News.

The strongest statement by America was from Bolton, while its military generals were more like making routine statements, he said. And The Wall Street Journal report, citing sources from The Pentagon, that America sent in the group because it intercepted Iranian plan to attack US forces in the region seems to make the case for the move – to prevent any attack by Iran, instead of mounting a pre-emptive strike, Tao said. 

Their exchange of threats and reading between the lines show that the two sides are engaged in psychological warfare, that is they are trying to maximize pressure on the other by displaying “just one step from war,” to force the other side to concede, he noted, though they both want to avoid a military showdown.  

Nevertheless, the stakes are still high; a small misfire is prone to happen when both their military strategies target each other and officers at the frontline are highly strained. Once that happens, it has the possibility of running out of control, he warned. The only way forward is for both sides to take a step back and uphold the nuclear deal.