John Smyly, a former Boulder Colorado Police officer detains a man, Zayde Atkinson with no RAS. When he refuses to ID the way the cop wants him to, John Smyly escalates the situation. He tries to make his victim sit like a dog, for no reason other than to assert dominance over him. When Zayde Atkinson refuses, Smyly threatens to tase him. When Zayde continues to refuse to be John Smyly’s b****, Smyly brandished a fire arm to try to further intimidate his victim into compliance. The man he tried to bully and intimidate, Zayde Atkinson, NEVER gave in. Smyly was allowed to resign, and is likely working for another department at this time. If you know what department Smyly is working it, please email that information to firstname.lastname@example.org, so I can publicly publish that information, warning potential new victims.
ID Refusal by Boulder Colorado man, Zayde Atkinson results in threats and officer John Smyly brandishing a fire arm.
I remember this video when it first released these cops are just so utterly pathetic it’s disgusting and it really isn’t going to stop until we stand up and physically defend ourselves
Why was he allowed to resign? Should have been stripped of all official credentials. And then jailed for up to ten years.I’ve seen this video maybe six times at this point since it was originally released and the more times I watch it the more absurd it becomes. This video is a perfect example where you could be minding your business not breaking any law and even going out of your way above and beyond to placate a psycho in a costume and still almost become a murder victim on the street by that psycho in a costume.And they wonder why people hate the police.There isn’t any manner you can perform any action in this country that LE can’t twist into something suspicious.They keep asking him to “sit down” as in their eyes that’s him submitting to them and they win their sick mind games.Even the cop apologists think the police are terrorists… They say, if you obey and submit then you will prevent the violence that is otherwise guaranteed.>> Rapist mentality. See what you made me do?When a cop knows he is being unlawful but continues the lie anywayThis cop Escalated that whole situation!What is most scary is that, to become a judge takes between 8/10 years training, it takes between 6/8 years to become a lawyer. But it only takes around 6 months to become a LEO’s. This in itself is just crazy, how can a LEO’s understand law & enforce such law with minimum training is beggars belief. It’s like getting children being in charge to educate adults in how to be an adult. It’s a system that is programed to fail. Crazy world hey.What is most scary is that, to become a judge takes between 8/10 years training, it takes between 6/8 years to become a lawyer. But it only takes around 6 months to become a LEO’s. This in itself is just crazy, how can a LEO’s understand law & enforce such law with minimum training is beggars belief. It’s like getting children being in charge to educate adults in how to be an adult. It’s a system that is programed to fail. Crazy world hey.They should be handing out deadly buckets and ‘garbage picker-uppers’ to officers.“Sorry, you cleaning up trash at is suspicious behavior. We need to treat you like a threat now” – Police 2022Even “if” he was trespassing on private property he was picking up trash on private property… Um that’s a good thing right?!I didn’t realize that he gave him an ID with his name….he still escalated this situation?!What people don’t understand that these type of interactions happen more often then people think. James keep up your good work and fight for liberty and justice and to keep cops in check. 🇺🇸Wow the Ego just doesn’t stop with this cop. I’m proud of how this man handled the unwelcome invasion of government on HIS property. 👍🏼“All you have to do is comply”. Sounds familiar “……once compliance becomes part of the culture” – Boston Mayor Michelle WuOldie but a goodie, Almost certainly got picked up by another departmentThat got my blood boiling. Hats off to this guy for refusing to sit like an obedient dog!This guy was awesome the way he stood up for his rights. Imagine how many people get violated by police because they don’t know their rights or are just afraid. Always film police!!And a half dozen cops with itchy-fingers surround him waiting for an excuse to gun him down, and frightening what law enforcement has evolved to and they wonder why targets are on their backs now.Tasers are a training tool, much like the collar on your puppy… it speaks a universal language of, “do what I say, or you’re gonna get zapped again until you learn”,…. Understandably there are instances when it’s ABSOLUTELY necessary for such activities. “Get on the ground because I said so”, probably isn’t one of those,……
I was just gonna say the same thing! The bootlickers that “just comply” and don’t know there rights are the reason we are in the situation we are now.And just think, this is just “1” instance of this kind of abuse brought to light. Gotta wonder how many events like this end very differently because somebody refuses to comply with an “unlawful” order by a uniformed bully with a badge. This event should have been career ending for psycho shoat!It’s called harassing people just because he wants to prove the point he’s wrongCops remind me of terrible poker players. They bet too big, too early with an extraordinarily weak hand and get pot committed to where they must go all in in with no chance of winning. It’s also hilarious at 18:25 how the cop sneaks up on the bucket and the grabber like it’s actually a dangerous item“We see you out here picking up trash and that’s clearly a sign of a hardened criminal.”I can’t remember how many times I’ve watched this… but each and every time I’m left with a definite fact: This college student is a Psychology Major!!! It’s confirmed each and every time he asks the officer, “and how do you feel about that?”There’s a far more dangerous cop running around Colorado. His name is Chris Dickey and he’s cost taxpayers over $1,000,000 in lawsuits (He and his partner murdered a suicidal veteran having a PTSD episode, he and his partner severely beat a motorist who had a diabetic episode and crashed, he deployed a taser on a protester on public property who didn’t ID) and I believe he’s a deputy in Grand County.100% ego!!! The fact that he can’t let it go even when told to by his supervisor means he WILL KILL SOMEONE one-day. Count on it.They know he’s no threat but they are obsessed with getting him to sit down as they see that as him submitting.I’ve seem this video so many times, I can literally say every word they say in unison. Thing is , even after all those views, all those channels, I STILL find it one of the most telling videos on there right now. It shows broken police policies and behaviors. How they can turn anything Into a weapon, a crime, constitutional violation, and the other cops question nothing. The fact ONLY one officer was fired is Insane. He was the sacrifice, but all the others went with it. If it wasn’t for the bodycam, witnesses, and cameras on the cops, that kid would have been beaten , razed, or even shot. Ridiculous, every one of them should be fired and charged.I’ve already watched this video and a few other similar ones, so I think it’s advisable for people to carry the documentation of their properties or lease contracts under their arm or they risk being arrested for trespassing in their own home. How can there be a trespassing crime without the owner requesting it??????????????????Notice that as soon as the other cops arrive the trash grabber changes from “weapon” to “object”, he knew he was being an absurd liar.Wow that crazy story he tells his manager is insane. Guy it’s all on camera.There was absolutely no reason for this cop to even speak to this guy.Notice how he described the grabbed as “sort of a blunt object”. That’s the games these thugs play.According to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, Smyly was hired in January on a two-year term position as a civilian training and development coordinator in the sheriff’s computer support unit. As of 9 22 20 Boulder Daily CameraThese trash grabbers are so common officer tyrant knows exactly what he’s holding.COP= Control Obsessed PsychoPro active policing …? What interaction about this footage was positive? ~ I wonder if this cop still to this day thinks what he did was lawful and if he has any regrets?my favorite part is the jump in logic that not only someone must be trespassing if he thinks they are, but that a trespasser showed up to pick up trash illegally.Accusation before investigation! Guilty before proven innocent! How much training is needed to understand the mistakes in these two statements?“He was sitting around, milling about with a metal thing and banging it on another thing near a no trespassing sign” ..”your partner just confirmed he lives here”.. ” I dont know who he is”. The copsplaining is insane here. “We cant even talk unless you are in the sitting position i commanded you to take, even though this entire encounter is unlawful from the start and I already had confirmation of the info I obtained on unlawful premises”. Further sad was the citizen telling this victim to chill out.The cop could have easily went inside and investigated but it’s easier for them to intimidate someone into a confession. It’s to expensive for most people to afford a lawyer so they plea or confess. The plea or confession also prevents civil action, thus reinforcing the officers actions.Hey isn’t it cute how the state will show up on your property and Surround you and point their guns at you while claiming you are a threat but if you do it to them while being armed only with your first amendment they claim it’s insurgence or disturbing the peaceThis is an insane abuse of power. This cop has probably always “felt threatened” in his life. Should have never been a cop.“This officer was ready to kill me sir” a powerful statement indubitably. 👏That police officer should not have been allowed to resign, he should have been fired and charged for his crimes, but the thin blue line protected him.James don’t forget it’s the “day and age we live in” that’s the cousin to the”you got id”. That shit is highly addictive, hopefully in the future it’ll wipes out every pig and piglet suffering from this addiction.Love this man’s courage to stand up for his rights, every cop on this call should be fired for not insisting that this pig stop this completely illegal detainment also he lied about what he observed right from the get goI’ve seen this one before. This guy was great. He had the guts to back down eight cops with their guns drawn. It’s so important to let cops know their power is limited. They aren’t kings who can do what ever they please.I’ve seen this before and it’s infuriating. This is called, “being within sight of a cop while black“. This cop should do jail time. I counted six cops there surrounding this lawful citizen and not one had the decency to tell that POS ENOUGH. They are all sick and when you are in contact with one, no matter what the situation, your life is in danger. Only dangerous, sick people seek the job of a cop. I won’t change my mind about how unstable cops are until they LEAVE people who are not breaking the law alone. I think I’ll be waiting a long time.I remember watching this video when it first came out. Watching it again pissed me off just as much. Who is this cop who thinks he can go around asking Americans if they belong on any property when there was no 911 call. He’s totally on an ego trip. Guy with a stick was never close enough to him to be justified in shooting him. IdiotI love how the young man vehemently stood up for himself. I hope these officers hear his voice on repeat every time they fuck up. “How do feel? How do feel now? How do feel about that?”i love how he just twisted a lil bit of the details to his encounter with him… was so butt hurt he couldn’t get his DOB and make him sit on the ground like a dogWhy tf would their cameras ever have a mute button? Or right , the game is riggedIn defense of an officer please refer to these Redcoats as Redcoats or other demeaning terms of authoritarian revenue collectors!I wonder how a cop would feel if the person he was confronting gave a call and people start emerging from all round, surround the cop? It is downright creepy how they do this. What is worse is that no-one questions or clarifies the call out.I’ve seen this ….. blatent harassment …. ego driven , the nerve to call the garbage tool a weapon !!! …..“He had a metal object stabbing, I didn’t know if he was damaging something. ….then I noticed it is used to pick up trash ….then he picked up the metal object again “ His lies are SO EASILY detectable! 😣😣😣As much as I appreciate the time and effort and activism…I really can’t watch to many more of these vids without pulling my hair out . Needs to be something done about it other then just an awareness . Before certain entities start getting splattered .That young man is a REAL American, standing up for his rights!!I remember seeing this the day it was originally uploaded.. Boulder and Denver cops still haven’t changed. Shit is sad.I love when a cop says “subject is failing to comply “it almost like cops think citizens are slaves to them..!!!My favorite line is when the victim says that the cop had his gun out and the cop says “it wasn’t even pointed at you” as if that makes it all OKQualified IMPUNITY on display!* According to a news article* “Smyly resigned prior to the conclusion of the disciplinary process, but police indicated the process would have likely resulted in suspension or termination. As part of a settlement with the city, Smyly remained under city employment until February as he exhausted accrued holiday, sick and administrative leave. According to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, Smyly was hired in January on a two-year term position as a civilian training and development coordinator in the sheriff’s computer support unit.” Be careful that he is not hired again with the police dept. when this 2 year temp job is finished.You very accurately indicated the Crucible method of policing… They make the citizen try to prove their innocenceAll channels of this type constantly say, “cops dont know the law,” and things like that…. This is not true, cops do know at least the basics. Some just choose to constantly do the wrong thing because they have no consequences.I remember this video. The ego on Smyly was out of control. Zane should have made Smyly hand him his bucket and trash picker upper. The fact that Smyly wouldn’t give the ID back after his supervisor told him to was insane. The fact this egomaniac is in another department and still terrorizing other citizens is scary. Agree 100% cops should not be allowed to mute thier BWC for a certain time before, during an interaction, and a certain point of time after. I can’t remember for sure but I think Zane (the guy harassed by Smyly) did sue. Would be nice if Smyly had to apologize and pay some sort of damage out of his own pocket. This whole interaction was disturbing.I remember this video a long time ago,with over 1 million views…This officer is upset because Mr Atkinson refused to listen to unlawful orderThe victim had 2 weapons, common sense and a brain. Both lethal to today’s cops.When dirty cops are not held accountable. We The people will hold them accountable. One way or anotherThe danger in calling backup for a noncompliant man with a weapon… If he did get hurt or killed as a consequence he’d make excuses and blame the victimImagine telling a dude that is cleaning dirt in front of a building that he is trespassing. Like, do people just go to other peoples property and clean their trash??I never understood why this officer harasses this citizen… we also know had the guy given his name, the officer would have wanted to “pat him down”. What’s worse is once they knew he lived there they should have left right then and there.Apart from the fact that he has no legal obligation to identify, having his name in a database is not a good idea. If he is stopped in the future and his name ran, he will come under greater scrutiny having been checked for a “crime” previously. This can, at the least cost him his time or give them time to find a crime.When I see someone picking up trash at daytime, with earphones on, I immediately think “This guy’s looking to rob the place for sure”.If this is how this thug acts at work just imagine if he has a spouse, kids, or a pet and what they might go through.This is the 3rd or 4th time ive seen this video. Thankfully the citizen wasn’t hurt. It shows so many aspects of poor policing. No crime was reported. No crime committed. Muting of bodycam. Escalation by police officer. Its really quite sad.How can any of the other deputies be taken seriously after this? I would look at them and laugh.I wouldn’t be surprised if the young man switched his major so he could become a civil rights attorney.If I were a cop, which will never happen, and I were one of the policemen that later showed up, I would’ve had the courage to speak up and say, “This is stupid let’s leave this guy alone”, but none of them have the backbone to do so.You should have demanded he surrender his certification as part of the settlement, I guarantee he is still doing this kind of behavior and has already corrupted another department!18:26 Officer Sneaky creeping up on the bucket and claw like it was a Western Brown snake and he was fixin’ to wrangle it. Instead he committed a fourth amendment violation by seizing the man’s property.20:43 If you haven’t figured it out yet Smyly, you have shown that you are a) incompetent, and b) not at all capable of figuring this situation out, and never will.23:19 No, Smyly, you did not “contact him”. There was no touching between you and the man whom you trespassed upon.The officer initial officer tells the sergeant I recognize it’s a device to pick up trash but then a sentence later he says picks up the object because the officer realized he f*** up when he said the guy had a weapon. He just admitted to the sergeant that prior to him making the call for back up he knew that it was a device to pick up trash. No wonder the guy got firedAnyone want to know what a police state looks like? Watch this video again… This confrontation was a “near death” experience.This video is still really frustrating to watch. “I didn’t even point my gun at you sir!” The fuck? Let’s see your reaction when someone brandishes a hand gun!This cop thinks he’s the hero we deserve and without his intervention the city would crumble. James Madison audits just posted a video with officer Velez. Velez has the same hero complex and it’s just a matter of time before he pulls some crazy shit like smylyThe officer says he has a gun in his hand because you’re not listening, I didn’t know guns were hearing devices.THE COP HAD NO BUSINESS ASKING HIM ANYTHING. He gave him the apartment. Number already a long time ago.No this officer didn’t get the privilege of going to a new department, BLM made great changes to policing in America with those billions of dollars they raised. For example, BLM changed who and how settlements we’re paid, who and how cops are investigated, cops that violate rights lose their pension. There’s a whole slew of things BLM changed with all that money and destruction.Anybody ever see how flimsy those grabber things are?If he quit which he did it allows him to still be rehired by another agency or the next city overIf he quit which he did it allows him to still be rehired by another agency or the next city over
Matt Gaetz gives his take on the Second Amendment in a dangerous call to take up arms. Cenk Uygur, Jayar Jackson, and Mike from PA discuss on The Young Turks. Support TYT by becoming a member: http://tyt.com/join
Comments: Rational National
Social media accounts connected to Pentland showed that he has been stationed as a drill sergeant at Fort Jackson since 2019, according to the Associated Press. Fort Jackson is the largest U.S. Army basic training base.
Video (detailed below) of the incident shows Pentland asking Deandre what he is doing in the neighborhood before repeatedly telling him to “go away.” The footage does not capture what prompted the altercation.
Two other reports were also made against Pentland that alleged incidents of assault against the victim, Richland County Sheriff’s Department told Newsweek. Those incidents are each being investigated independently.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott confirmed Pentland’s arrest on Wednesday, telling reporters, “The first time I saw the video, it was terrible. It was unnecessary.” He added: “We’re not going to let people be bullies in our community.”
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department described the video as “disturbing” in a tweet issued on Wednesday, promising they “have taken this incident seriously.”
Officials at Fort Jackson also said they were looking into the incident, adding that U.S. Department of Justice authorities were investigating as well.
“This type of behavior is not consistent with our Army Values and will not be condoned,” the official Fort Jackson Twitter account posted on Wednesday, noting that they are aware of the video and “will work closely with each law enforcement agency as investigations move forward.”
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said in a news conference Wednesday, “The first time I saw the video, it was terrible. It was unnecessary.” He added: “We’re not going to let people be bullies in our community.”
After watching the video, Fort Jackson Commanding General Brig. Gen. Beagle, Jr. said the actions were “by no means condoned by any service member.”
He later released a statement on Facebook, writing: “I remain deeply concerned for the members of our Army family, the young man and his family, and the tensions that activities like this amplify over time; please be patient as facts are determined.”
On Facebook, Johnson said she and a friend had been walking in the neighborhood on Monday when they saw what was happening. Another woman filmed the video, Johnson said, and she posted it with her permission.
“She saw the young man in distress and knew he didn’t do anything wrong so she started videoing for his safety!” Johnson wrote.
Johnson said the video did not capture the man slapping Deandre’s hand, prompting his phone to fall to the ground and crack.
She added that she waited at the scene until an officer arrived, and repeatedly told them that Deandre had been assaulted. “The officer told us that his supervisor told him that he could only charge the white guy with malicious injury to property and not assault!” Johnson wrote.
She said she and a friend “circled back to get him out of that situation bc we refused to see D go to jail or lying there dead simply bc he was black. The only thing he did was be black while walking!!!”
Newsweek has contacted Fort Jackson, Johnson, the Richland County Sheriff’s Office and the Columbia Police Department for comment.
In the video, Deandre tells Johnson to call the police, and a woman—identified by Pentland as his wife—says that they have already been called. Then, Pentland is seen shoving Deandre.
The couple accuse Deandre of “picking fights” with people in the neighborhood.
“What is it that you are doing here?” Pentland asks Deandre.
“Walking,” Deandre replies. “Then walk,” Pentland says.
“Well you’ve been here like 15 minutes now,” Pentland’s wife interjects.
Pentland continues: “Walk away. Walk away right now. You need help?.. I’m happy to help.”
He then denies hitting Deandre, adding that “there’s a difference between pushing you.”
He then accuses Deandre of “aggressing on the neighborhood” and, as Deandre moves a little closer to his wife, he shoves Deandre in the shoulder.
“You better walk away,” he says. Raising his voice, he ads: “You walk away. You’re talking to my wife right now.”
He continues: “Check it out, you either walk away or I’m going to carry your a** out of here.”
“You better not touch me,” Deandre tells him, remaining calm throughout the video.
“Or what?” Pentland replies. “What are you going to do? Let’s go, walk away… I’m about to do something to you. You better start walking… You’re in the wrong neighborhood motherf*****. Get out.”
“I live here, sir,” Deandre tells him.
“Where? Where’s your house? What’s your address?” Pentland asks.
When Pentland again accuses Deandre of “harassing” the neighborhood, Deandre replies: “I’m not harassing anyone, I’m walking through the neighborhood, I live here, sir.”
Pentland said that he lives in a “tight-knit community,” adding: “We take care of each other… I have never seen you before in my life.”
Getting up close to the Deandre’s face, he adds: “Check it out motherf*****, I ain’t playing with you. You either get your a** moving or I’m going to move you… I’m about to show you what I can do. You better walk away. Walk away.”
He refuses to identify himself when asked by Deandre. “Are you an officer of the law?” Deandre asks him.
“I’m about to throw you out… you wanna bet? I can do a hell of a lot more than you think I can,” the man responds.
The goal was to prove American resolve in the face of Iranian attacks. Now, American officials have no doubt the Iranians will respond — but they don’t know how quickly, or how furiously.
President Trump’s decision to strike and kill the second most powerful official in Iran turns a slow-simmering conflict with Tehran into a boiling one, and is the riskiest move made by the United States in the Middle East since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The calculus was straightforward: Washington had to re-establish deterrence, and show the Iranian leadership that missiles fired at ships in the Persian Gulf and at oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, along with attacks inside Iraq that cost the life of an American contractor, would not go without a response.
But while senior American officials have no doubt the Iranians will respond, they do not know how quickly, or how furiously.
For a president who repeated his determination to withdraw from the caldron of the Middle East, the strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, who for two decades has led Iran’s most fearsome and ruthless military unit, the Quds Force, means there will be no escape from the region for the rest of his presidency, whether that is one year or five. Mr. Trump has committed the United States to a conflict whose dimensions are unknowable, as Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seeks vengeance.
“This is a massive walk up the escalation ladder,” wrote Charles Lister of the Middle East Institute. “With Suleimani dead, war is coming — that seems certain, the only questions are where, in what form and when?”
Bruce Riedel, the former C.I.A. officer who spent his life studying the Middle East, and is now at the Brookings Institution, said, “The administration is taking America into another war in the Middle East, bigger than ever.”
Yet it may not be a conventional war in any sense, since the Iranians’ advantage is all in asymmetric conflict.
Their history suggests they will not take on the United States frontally. Iranians are the masters of striking soft targets, starting in Iraq, but hardly limited to that country. In the past few years, they have honed an ability to cause low-level chaos, and left no doubt that they want to be able to reach the United States.
For now, they cannot — at least in traditional ways.
But they have tried terrorism, including an abortive effort nine years ago to kill a Saudi ambassador in Washington, and late Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security was sending out reminders of Iran’s past and current efforts to attack the United States in cyberspace. Until now, that has been limited to breaches on American banks and scrutiny of dams and other critical infrastructure, but they so far have not shown they have the abilities of the Russians or the Chinese.
Their first escalation may well be in Iraq, where they back pro-Iranian militias. But even there, they are an unwelcome force. It was only a few weeks ago when people took to the streets in Iraq to protest Iranian, not American, interference in their politics. Still, there are soft targets throughout the region, as the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities showed.
Complicating the management of a perilous moment is the president’s impeachment and the revival of Iran’s nuclear program.
Here’s how the situation developed over the last eight days.
It is only a matter of time before there are questions about whether the strike was meant to create a counternarrative, one of a conflict with a longtime adversary, while a Senate trial to determine whether to remove Mr. Trump begins. And already there are charges that the president overstepped, and that the decision to kill General Suleimani — if it was a decision, and the Iranian leader was not simply in the wrong convoy at the wrong moment — required congressional approval.
“The question is this,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, asked on Twitter as news of the strike spread. “As reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”
Mr. Trump will argue that he was well within his rights, and that the strike was an act of self-defense. And he will have a strong argument: General Suleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans in Iraq over the years, and doubtless was planning more.
The American announcement, from Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, cited the general’s plans — which were not specified — as a justification for the action. If there was real intelligence of impending strikes, then the longtime principles of pre-emption, enshrined anew in American policy by President George W. Bush, would apply.
Mr. Trump walked away from the 2015 nuclear agreement more than a year ago, over the objections of many of his own aides and almost all American allies.
At first, the Iranians reacted coolly, and stayed within the limits of the accord. That ended last year, as tensions escalated.
Before the strike, they were expected to announce, in the next week, their next nuclear move — and it seemed likely to be a move closer to enrichment of bomb-grade uranium. That seems far more likely now, and poses the possibility of the next escalation, if it prompts American or Israeli military or cyberaction against Iran’s known nuclear facilities.
Once it buries General Suleimani, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — which oversaw the secret projects to build nuclear weapons two decades ago — may well determine that it is time to surge ahead. There is little question the United States is far less likely to challenge a country with an existing nuclear arsenal. The Iranians, like the North Koreans and the Pakistanis, could well take General Suleimani’s death as a warning about what happens to countries with no nuclear options.
Even those critical of the president’s nuclear move said they understood why the Iranian general was such a target.
“These guys are the personification of evil,” David H. Petraeus, the retired general who was an architect of the surge in Iraq, said in an interview Thursday night. “We calculated they were responsible for at least 600 deaths” of American soldiers.”
But Mr. Petraeus offered a caution.
“There will be an escalation,” he said. “I assume they have to do something. And the only question is, over time, have we created more deterrence than if we had not acted.”
With the flourish of his pen on Monday, President Trump imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as everyone in Khamenei’s office or appointed by him. It was a point of high drama in the escalating brinksmanship between the United States and the Islamic Republic. It was the closest that Trump has come to formally calling for a regime change. “The Supreme Leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime,” the President told reporters. “These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions.” Usually, the United States will sanction a head of state—such as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, and Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro—as a signal that the leader is no longer deemed legitimate. In other words, Washington believes that a leader has to go.
Trump was opaque, even puzzling, about his intentions, however. “America is a peace-loving nation,” he said. “We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country. I look forward to the day when sanctions can be finally lifted and Iran can become a peaceful, prosperous, and productive nation. That can go very quickly; it can be tomorrow. It can also be in years from now. So, I look forward to discussing whatever I have to discuss with anybody that wants to speak. In the meantime, who knows what’s going to happen.”
The new executive order also targeted the Revolutionary Guard commanders involved in shooting down a sophisticated U.S. drone last week. The Trump Administration intends later this week to impose sanctions on the U.S.-educated Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was the chief interlocutor during the two years of negotiations that led to the Iran nuclear deal, in 2015. Zarif once quipped that he and the former Secretary of State John Kerry spent more time with each other during that period than they spent with their wives. As Iran’s top diplomat, Zarif regularly travels to New York to attend U.N. sessions. He was here in April and had been expected to return next month.
At a White House press conference, the Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, vowed that the new sanctions will “lock up literally billions of dollars more of assets.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was visiting Saudi Arabia on Monday, charged that Khamenei’s office “has enriched itself at the expense of the Iranian people. It sits atop a vast network of tyranny and corruption.” The new sanctions, Pompeo said, will deprive the Iranian leadership of the resources it uses to “spread terror and oppress the Iranian people.”
Ironically, the punitive new measure may not have major economic impact—at least not to the degree that the Administration advertised. “It’s a lot of hype, but it doesn’t mean much economically. It’s unlikely to have a damaging effect” on Iran beyond the sanctions that have already been imposed, Elizabeth Rosenberg, a former Treasury sanctions specialist who is now at the Center for a New American Security, told me. “It’s in the realm of the symbolic.” The sanctions are “a sideshow to a threat of military escalation and all-out conflict,” she said. They fuel a narrative focussed on Iran rather than the United States—and the fact that Trump blinked when he called off a retaliatory military strike last Thursday.
Former Treasury officials also claim that Trump did not need to sign a new executive order—beyond the hype and media attention it produced. The authority to sanction either entities or officials affiliated with the Iranian government has existed since 2012, when the Obama Administration issued an executive order, Kate Bauer, a former Treasury official who is now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said. “It’s clear that this Administration wants to send a message,” Bauer said. “This is a response to the recent escalation and the shooting down of the drone.”
The main impact of the new sanctions may be political—diminishing rather than encouraging diplomacy or deëscalation. Pompeo said that Tehran “knows how to reach us,” if it decides to “meet our diplomacy with diplomacy.” But Tehran immediately rejected talks. At the United Nations, the Iranian Ambassador Majid Takht-Ravanchi told reporters that Tehran would not succumb to pressure. “Nobody in a clear mind can accept to have a dialogue with somebody that is threatening you with more sanctions. So, as long as this threat is there, there is no way that Iran and the U.S. can start a dialogue,” he told reporters, before a closed-door session on tensions in the energy-rich Gulf. In a tweet, Zarif said that Trump’s advisers and allies “despise diplomacy and thirst for war.” Other Iranian officials condemned the new sanctions as “economic terrorism.”
Trump’s decision, a year ago, to unilaterally reimpose other sanctions—splitting with the five major powers who also brokered the nuclear deal—has battered Iran’s economy. In April, Washington vowed to sanction five nations that remain major importers of Iranian oil if they didn’t cease all purchases; the move cut off Tehran’s main source of revenue. Iran’s oil sales today are about a sixth of what they were in 2016. Inflation has exceeded fifty per cent in some months, with the price of basic necessities skyrocketing. The I.M.F. projects a six-per-cent economic contraction for Iran in 2019. Yet the Iranian economy is still far from crippled. The Islamic Republic has not witnessed the kind of economic protests that erupted nationwide in late 2017 and early 2018, Western diplomats in Tehran have told me
Sanctioning Iran’s supreme leader and his entourage could even backfire, some experts suggest. The Trump Administration’s goal is to get Tehran to make concessions on its missile development, regional interventions, and human-rights record, as well as its nuclear program. But “these sanctions will make discussions toward a new treaty very, very difficult,” Adnan Mazarei, a former deputy director of the I.M.F.’s Middle East program who is now at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told me. “They send a bad political signal. The recent events—especially shooting down a U.S. drone—make Iran feel more comfortable and self-confident from a domestic perspective. It could say, ‘We won the last round and maybe we can talk now.’ ” No longer, Mazarei said. Tehran has boasted that it shot down the Global Hawk drone, one of the most sophisticated surveillance aircraft in the U.S. arsenal, with a homemade rocket. On Monday, the chief of Iran’s navy, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, warned that his forces could shoot down more U.S. aircraft flying in the Gulf, “and the enemy knows it.”
Over all, sanctions are an imperfect tool, former Treasury specialists told me. They can work—but they may take years, even decades. North Korea has been sanctioned to the hilt, but Trump’s negotiations with Kim Jong Un have yet to reduce his nuclear program, which is far more sophisticated than Iran’s. Iran is still more than a year from the ability to produce a bomb, whereas Pyongyang is estimated to have between twenty and sixty bombs. Sanctions to get Rhodesia’s white minority government to the negotiating table to end the country’s civil war took almost fifteen years. Sanctions are also most effective when the world unites behind punitive economic measures, as the U.N. did in invoking sanctions on Iran four times between 2006 and 2010. Today, the deepest split in U.S. relations with its transatlantic allies is over Iran policy.
As prospects of diplomacy dimmed on Monday, Trump signaled his willingness to deploy military force. “I think a lot of restraint has been shown by us,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “A lot of restraint. And that doesn’t mean we’re going to show it in the future.”
American hard-liners have had a dangerous obsession with Iran for years, egged on by Saudi Arabia and Israel. In 2002, in the run-up to the Iraq war, Newsweek quoted a British official as saying: “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran.”
.. I’ve been to Iran, reported from Iran and been detained in Iran; I have no illusions about it. The American hard-liners are quite right that the regime is unpopular because of its corruption, incompetence and repression. But Iran also has a deep nationalist streak, and Trump already seems to be strengthening hard-liners in Tehran. In 2002, six months before the Iraq war, I reported from Baghdad that President George W. Bush and his aides were deluding themselves to think that Iraqis would welcome an invasion; Iraqis hated Saddam but hated even more the idea of Yankee imperialists attacking their nation. Iran is similar but more formidable.
Negotiations are frustrating, imperfect and uncertain, and they may seem less satisfying than dropping bombs. But America has suffered huge self-inflicted wounds because of its invasion of Iraq 16 years ago.
Haven’t we learned lessons? Maybe “real men” should forget about going to Tehran and try multilateral diplomacy.