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Three Things to Know About the Situation with Iran

23-Jul-2018 2:05 PM EDT, by Northwestern University

EVANSTON, Ill. --- President Trump tweeted Sunday that Iran would “suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before” if its government again threatened the United States -- in response to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani who said “American(s) must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

Northwestern University political scientist Elizabeth Shakman Hurd is available to comment. Hurd, professor of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, teaches and writes on religion and politics, the politics of human rights and the right to religious freedom, the legal governance of religious diversity, U.S. foreign relations and the international politics of the Middle East. She can be reached at 847-903-9642 or

Comments from Professor Hurd

1. Crisis of legitimacy at home: “Leaders in crisis lash out at others to distract attention from what’s going on at home and in other areas. In the case of President Trump, its Mueller, the Michael Cohen recording, Putin and the question of whether Trump will accept the verdict of his own intelligence agencies regarding Russian interference in the election, in addition, the criticism from within his own party.”

2. Role of U.S. hardliners: “Policy on Iran is being run by hardliners John Bolton and Mike Pompeo who want regime change. This is about them and their long-term goals, not about Iran or anything the Iranian government has done.”

3. Historical comparison: “A good historical comparison is the lead up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. A small group of powerful people, part of a group called ‘People for New American Century,’ had wanted to overthrow Saddam Hussein since the first gulf war in the early ’90s. When Bush came to power, they had their chance and they sought and found a fraudulent but just believable enough reason to invade Iraq (“WMDs”). It was and remains a disaster for the region. We are seeing similar dynamics today.”

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