Join getAbstract to access the summary!

A Path to War With Iran

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

A Path to War With Iran

How Washington’s Escalation Could Lead to Unintended Catastrophe

Foreign Affairs,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Trump’s high-risk approach toward foreign adversaries may threaten the peace.

Editorial Rating



A few months after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Philip H. Gordon, a former Obama official, warned in a published essay that Trump’s erratic and belligerent approach toward US adversaries could result in an unintended military catastrophe. Two years later, Gordon believes that his Cassandra cries have been partially vindicated, pointing to escalating tensions between the United States and Iran, China, North Korea and Venezuela. In a follow-up piece, Gordon explains how recent US foreign policy moves fit into the President’s pattern of high-risk deal-making – an approach he believes does not bode well for keeping the peace.


US President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign toward Iran has the potential to provoke an unintended war. Following America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the further tightening of sanctions, Iran in turn has threatened to at least partially resume its nuclear enrichment program. Moreover, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards might have been behind recent sabotage against Saudi oil facilities and tankers. Meanwhile, the United States has increased its military pressure on Iran by revealing contingency plans to send 120,000 troops to the region. Considering that neither side seems ready to back...

About the Author

Philip H. Gordon is a senior fellow at the US Council on Foreign Relations. He is a former Special Assistant to the President and served as White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region from 2013 to 2015.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read