Small, but Big

The Thucydides’ Trap refers to a situation where a rising power can cause fear in an established power that can escalate to war. The United States has been a leading power since 1898 when it gave Cuba its independence through the Treaty of Paris. There are many countries that are considered threats to the U.S such as Russia, and China, however, America is in a Thucydides Trap with Iran. Anti-Americanism has been a core pillar in Iran’s Ideology since 1979, Iran has supported acts of terrorism towards the U.S and with their nuclear program, Iran is the biggest threat to the U.S. 

During World War II, Iran was invaded by the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, both allies of the U.S. Despite this though, the relations between the two countries remained positive. In 1953, Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran sought to nationalize British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil. In response, the U.S Central Intelligence Agency organized a coup to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh and replace him with a leader who would be more receptive to Western interests. Mosaddegh was arrested, tried and convicted of treason by the military court. He was sentenced to three years in jail and then placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.

On November 4, 1979, Iranian and U.S Relations worsened when a group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took more than 60 American hostages. They held them for more than 444 days. The hostage-taking was a dramatic way for student revolutionaries to declare a break with Iran’s past and an end to American interference in its affairs. It was also a way to raise an international profile of the revolution’s leader, the anti-American cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Throughout the 444 days, the students were releasing some of the hostages. On January 21, 1981, just a few hours after Ronald Reagan delivered his inaugural address, the remaining hostages were released. This was only one of many more radical attempts Iran used to assert themselves and threaten the United States.

In addition to supporting terrorist organizations such as Al Qaida and Hezbollah, Iran also has a nuclear program that consists of included several research sites, two uranium mines, a research reactor, and uranium processing facilities that include three known uranium enrichment plants. Although Iran has said, that their program would be peaceful, they still agreed to “limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions,” according to BBC. In 2015, Iran and the U.S agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. However, in 2018, President Trump took the U.S out of the agreement and enforcing stricter sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program. The reimposition of these sanctions weakened Iran’s economy and choked its ability to sell oil, the country’s most important export. On June 17, 2019, Iran declared its plan to surpass the uranium limit after the United States accused them of attacking two oil tankers, days before Iran shot down an American drone. Iranian leaders justified these steps as a response to the abandonment of the nuclear accord last year.

Although the United States is the current leading power, and other countries are trying to remove it from this position, the U.S is in a Thucydides Trap with Iran. With Iran being anti- American, supporting acts of terrorism in the U.S and breaking its nuclear agreement with them, Iran is a threatening power to the United States. 


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