► Words over deeds. Like so many administration initiatives, Pompeo’s speech was long on rhetoric and short on specifics. In Trump-land the president sets high aspirational bars like the “ultimate deal” for Israeli-Palestinian peace and the “complete, irreversible, verifiable denuclearization” of North Korea. But the administration is clueless about how to achieve them, because they are unrealistic goals. Pompeo recited the litany of Iran’s malign activities yet summed up how they’d be addressed in a relatively short to-do list. There is a detailed plan for squeezing the regime economically and financially, but it offers nothing on how to deter Iran’s regional aggression and stop its human rights violations.
► Regime change lite. Make no mistake: Pompeo’s speech was a call for regime change. The U.S. can inflict serious economic pain on Iran, but it involves a good deal of magical thinking to believe that it can bring the regime to its knees or provoke a mass popular movement to overthrow the government. The regime is prepared to demand more suffering from the Iranian people and it will use its ruthless security apparatus if the Iranian people take to the streets. How will the administration react if there is another Green Revolution? Most likely by lending moral but not material support to encourage the Iranian people to rise up — once again proving, as it has in its dealings with other countries, that the administration is a paper tiger.