State of U.S.-Iran Conflict
Risk of Military Clash Still Up in the Air




Rising Tensions After Assassination of General

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran intensified after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Maj. Gen. Soleimani was assassinated by the U.S. On Jan. 8, Iran retaliated by firing missile attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq.

While the world anxiously waited to hear news about a war breaking out in the Middle East, U.S. President Trump’s speech 18 hours after Iran’s move wasn’t about a “counterattack.” Trump’s speech, filled with a hopeful vision that “Iran will be a great country”, put the world at ease with no signs of impending war.

One thing to note is that people’s interests in Trump’s impeachment suddenly dropped after Soleimani’s death. Perhaps Trump took the most optimal approach — to shift U.S. citizens’ eyes away from the impeachment trial, since the Democrats were closing in on his impeachment. Soleimani may have been a “sacrifice” against the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.




Fierce Exchange Beneath the Surface

Have dangers of a military engagement really gone away?

Trump will not allow Iran to carry a nuclear weapon, and plans to strengthen sanctions. However, Iran announced that they will no longer put a restriction on its uranium enrichment; at this pace, they will have a nuclear weapon within one year. As long as the differences of opinions remain unsolved, fierce exchanges will continue.

However, there’s a U.S. ally that holds over 100 nuclear warheads near Iran: Israel. Thus, Iran has the right to arm themselves with nuclear weapons in the name of self-defense. They are in a similar position with Japan who fear North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

In 2018, the Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, formed during the Obama administration, because the restriction on nuclear development was insufficient. The Trump administration plans on imposing strict sanctions until Iran fully denuclearizes. There’s no justification for their attitude.

Trump’s strong-armed stance is related to his evangelical Christian base of supporters. They strongly believe that Jesus Christ will return if the Jewish people return to Israel. It is in Trump’s favor to hold a firm attitude towards Iran, whom Israel views as an enemy, to win votes and get reelected in the 2020 election.




The Key Lies in the Mass

On the other hand, Iran is dealing with domestic instability. Several million Iranian citizens gathered at Soleimani’s funeral, and the country seemed to unite in anti-U.S. sentiment as they mourned for the hero.

The unity didn’t last long. While the IRGC “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian passenger plane, the Iranian government didn’t admit to their mistake for three days. Over 1,000 protesters gathered at universities in Tehran shouting, “Death to liars!”, to call for Supreme Leader Khamenei’s resignation.

Last November, anti-government protests began as gasoline prices increased. While the Iranian government claims five people to be dead, British media reports that number to be 1,500. An Iranian state television portrayed those killed as “rioters” as God’s traitors, and justified their punishments.

“They should suffer as they are killed. First, cut off their right hand and after an hour of suffering, cut off their left leg. We must make them understand how dangerous it is to go against ‘God’s government’ in order to create a stronger faith in God.”

The Iranian government justifies the suppression of human rights under the name of “God.” It is no surprise that the Iranian people are unhappy with their government.


U.S. as a Liberator

Following the Ukrainian plane incident, Trump tweeted using the Persian language to express his support for the Iranian people.

“To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely…”

He is playing the role of a protagonist that frees the people from evil leaders. If the Iranian people turn their backs on their government, an anti-revolution against the 1979 Iranian Revolution may occur.


Action Plan 1


War of Annihilation Shouldn’t Be the Solution

How will their exchanges be carried out? Iran will most likely lead Shia power to target U.S. allies’ tanks and carry out terrorist attacks throughout the world. Their respectful pride will keep them from sitting around and waiting for death. Depending on how the U.S. reacts, a war may break out in the Middle East.

Based on historical records, however, the U.S. hasn’t performed well with wars in the Middle East. This is due to the fact that the military capacity to defeat enemies isn’t the same as the ability to govern.

In the 2003 Iraq War, a war of annihilation took place that killed over 600,000 Iraqis. Yet, protesters attacked the U.S. Embassy in Iraq in late 2019. The country is in a state of disorder, and democracy is not at its core.

The war also hurt the U.S. Since attacking the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, the U.S. has spent several trillion dollars on wars and military action in the Middle East. Approximately 7,000 people died in the war, and nearly 5,000 people committed suicide. Many veterans are still suffering from severe mental aftereffects.

Amidst these damages, Trump was elected to have the U.S. retreat from the Middle East. If he goes against his commitment, and conducts a war of extermination and delves deeper into involvement with the Middle East, he may lose his shot in the upcoming presidential election.


Action Plan 2


Iran Should Set About Drastic Reform

On the other hand, the Iranian government should listen to their people’s voices and strive to reform its country. Since Iran values the union of religion and politics, this would mean a “religious reform.” Even in the Western society, the rise of human rights and capitalism were marked by religious reform movements in the 16th century. Islamic countries await religious reformers.

One thing to note is that their political environment doesn’t allow such religious reformers to appear. A jurist who criticized pre-modern punishments by claiming that “the judicial authority’s comprehension of Islam is no different from the Islamic State” was divested of his rank.

In such system, that doesn’t allow for religious reformers to exist, a political reform must solidify the freedom of thought, speech and religion. If this doesn’t happen, an “external revolution” — in the form of a war or foreign pressures — may push the country for reform.

No one desires a large-scale war. Happy Science CEO Master Ryuho Okawa suggested that Iran should set about a drastic reform to potentially prevent war. Without reform, anti-government protests will not stop itself; the U.S. may step in as a “liberator.”


“It’s possible to modernize without losing in a war. [Iran] should modernize some parts that are old-fashioned or violating human rights on their own. This could prevent misunderstandings,” Master Okawa said.

A war in the Middle East could result in North Korea or China expanding their military hegemony in Asia. Japan’s mission is to continue acting as a mediator between the U.S. and Iran.

On Jan. 8, President Trump addressed the nation from the White House after Iran launched an attack on U.S. troops in Iraq.




President Trump

“As long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.”
(Statement on Jan. 8)


Iran’s Supreme Leader



“This region won’t accept the U.S. presence.”
(Statement on Jan. 8)


Recent Timeline on Conflicts With Iran (as of Jan. 17)

Late November 2019 Anti-government protests break out in Iran over increase in gasoline prices

December 31 Protesters attack U.S. Embassy in Iraq

January 3, 2020 U.S. military kills Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Major General Soleimani

5 Iran announces an end to nuclear restrictions

8 Iranian missiles attack Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops

Ukrainian Boeing plane crashes after takeoff from Tehran, Iran

President Trump signals a de-escalation of tensions with Iran

11 Iran’s IRGC admits to unintentionally shooting down Ukrainian plane

State of U.S.-Iran Conflict
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