1. Iran and American Future in the Middle East


For the past month, tensions between the United States and Iran have been increasing due to a variety of comments which have passed between Iran and the Trump administration. These have led to various military maneuvers between the two countries. In an interview, President Trump stated there is “always a chance” of military action against Iran.  Some columnists seem to believe a war between Iran and the United States is going to occur in upcoming months, but this is highly unlikely according to Middle Eastern Policy experts due to the large costs each side would encounter. The future of the United States policy in the Middle East is uncertain, as there are several questions regarding what to do with Iran. 


Iran is classified as the largest supporter and financer of terrorism around the world, according to the State Department, posing a serious threat to the national security of the United States at home and abroad. Iran’s goal of implementing Sharia Law and Shiite Islam in the Middle East is in direct opposition to the goals of the United States’ to implement democratic and pro-American governments in the Persian Gulf.  On top of this, Iran is pursuing imperialistic policy to create a Shiite crescent stretching from Iran to Syria and Lebanon. These programs in Syria, along with their sponsorship of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip are part of their ultimate goal to implement extremist Shiism. This process is believed by the radical Shiists to bring the coming of Mahdi, the savior of the Islamic people, much like the second coming of Jesus Christ. Mahdi, however, will cause years of endless war and a apocalypse. All of this radical ideology mixed with Iran’s strange alliance with Russia makes for a serious threat to American national security. 


Since the Trump administration took office, there have been several questions on what will unfold in Iran. On the campaign trail, one of President Trump’s campaign promises was to pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal. President Trump has lived up to this promise, leading to a negative impact on the U.S.-Iranian relationship. On top of other hardline rhetoric by the Trump administration, Iran has made various threats that they will restart its nuclear weapons program once again. 


The Pax Americana Institute believes that under no conditions should Iran ever hold a nuclear weapon, and it is unclear what the Trump administration will do to prevent this from happening. Currently, there is talk from the Trump administration stating that the United States will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon no matter the costs. Last month President Trump ordered naval units to move near the Persian Gulf in early May, but this isn’t stopping the nuclear issue within Iran. If the Trump administration is not able to contain Iran’s nuclear capabilities, it could result in an American foreign policy failure and a stain on the Trump administration’s record. 


Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, stated to reporters that negotiations would hopefully take place in the upcoming months, aimed at halting Iran’s efforts at nuclearization. This is a more formal position than President Trump’s recent statements on war with Iran as he stated “I hope not” in response to a question if the United States will go to war with Iran. 


Iran Nuclear Program Map

The Trump administration needs to consider the possible outcomes for each situation. If the Trump administration somehow strikes a deal with Iran to stop its nuclear program, which is unlikely, there is a possibility Iran will not follow the agreement. On the other extreme, if the United States goes to war with Iran over this issue, there is going to be the endless comparison to Iraq. 


The Pax Americana Institute believes that what is likely to happen in the upcoming months between Iran and the United States is an increase in aggressive movements. The United States will likely continue to move troops into the Middle East a la gunship diplomacy, and Iran will continue to make threats of nuclearization. Economic sanctions may be lifted from Iran for the promise of ending their nuclear arms program, but this is highly unlikely as the Trump administration just placed more sanctions on Iran further worsening Tehran’s economy. Although this may have initially worked in North Korea, this agreement wouldn’t work in Iran as the threat of sponsoring terrorism would still continue, something North Korea gave up decades ago. Unfortunately for Americans, there is no solution that will be perfect, but it may be too late for negotiations and compromise to fix the problems in Iran. 


2. U.S. Starts to Build New Nuclear Submarines, USS Columbia

The production of a new class of nuclear submarines has started its initial stages of manufacturing and is planned to be finished around 2031. The USS Columbia is said to be the new lead ship in a new set of 12 nuclear submarines that will form the sea-base of the nuclear triad. 


Artist rendering of a Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine

The U.S. Navy currently has 14 nuclear submarines in the Ohio class, but they are beginning to become obsolete and can’t compete at a similar level to modern day technology. The 14 submarines in the Ohio class were built between 1981 and 1997, making some components almost 40 years old. The United States needs to continue to phase out older technology and move towards newer components and equipment in order to adequately compete with other world powers. 


The new Columbia-class submarines will likely serve until around 2070 and will not require its nuclear reactors to be recharged. This will help in future endeavors with gunship diplomacy and nuclear diplomacy as newer, more technologically advanced nuclear submarines will be more impactful than submarines that were around during Ronald Reagan’s time. 


Large amounts of the equipment used by the armed forces are becoming outdated and in desperate need of a replacement. If the United States wants to continue both preparing for overseas operations and furthering the Pax Americana, there needs to be increased spending in defense to ensure the American military is the most powerful on Earth.  


3. Army’s New Rifle to Come with AI Technology

The U.S. Army is developing new rifles where features found in smartphones, computers, and drones will be used. This is the Army’s step towards the future of combat operations as they phase out the M4A1 carbine and the M249. Many of these new technologies will include facial recognition, targeted tracking, and even waterproof coating for optical lenses.




M4A1 Carbine

These are only some of the initial possibilities for technology that can be placed onto a rifle that would drastically impact a combat situation. Facial recognition would allow for users to aim at a suspect and determine if the face scanned is in the United States’ terrorist database. Target tracking capabilities would allow for individuals using the weapon to “tag” targets, and the weapon would be able to track their movements via infrared technology. Waterproof coating for optical lenses, as simple as it sounds, would allow for easier movement in wet terrains, preventing water damage or water from fogging up sights. 


These technologies are just a few the Army is planning on testing in their upcoming rifles. There are also rumors that bullet impact technology and wireless connectivity will be implemented. Much like a laser pointer, the impact technology would show the exact impact sight depending on the weather conditions and distance from the target. The wireless connectivity would allow for a weapon to be set up on a bipod and operated from a remote location, much like a drone. 


The advancements in military technology are necessary for American dominance in combat operations. The latest tech rumored to be used in the new Army rifles being produced would turn the tide in America’s favor for any soldier combat scenario. However, this is true, it shows that there also needs to be more security for these technologies to prevent the enemy from hacking into them, causing malfunctions or even causing them to be inoperable. The closer the American military gets to AI technology within their weapons, the greater chance there is for an American victory in future wars, but thought needs to be put towards the protection of American cybersecurity as the United States moves ever closer to a technology-dominated world. 


Sources Used:




Borger, J., & Wintour, P. (2019, May 09). Donald Trump tells Iran ‘call me’ over lifting sanctions. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/09/eu-rejects-iran-two-month-ultimatum-on-nuclear-deal




Blanken, L., Lepore, J., & Rodriguez, S. (n.d.). Americas Military Is Choking on Old Technology. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.realcleardefense.com/2018/01/30/americarsquos_military_is_choking_on_old_technology_299984.htm




Budryk, Z. (2019, May 20). Trump: I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/444502-trump-i-will-not-let-iran-have-nuclear-weapons




Erdbrink, T. (2017, August 15). Iran’s President Threatens to Restart Nuclear Program. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/world/middleeast/iran-nuclear-hassan-rouhani-us.html




Fabian, J. (2019, May 16). Trump on war with Iran: ‘I hope not’. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/444057-trump-on-war-with-iran-i-hope-not




Goldenberg, I. (2019, June 07). What a War With Iran Would Look Like. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/iran/2019-06-04/what-war-iran-would-look




Mizokami, K. (2019, May 29). The U.S. Officially Begins Building Its New Missile Submarine. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a27615616/us-navy-columbia-submarine/




Mizokami, K. (2019, June 03). The U.S. Army’s New Rifle Comes With Tech Found in Tanks and iPhones. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a27702571/next-generation-squad-weapon/




Morello, C. (2018, September 19). Terrorism is down worldwide, but State Department says Iran maintains ‘near-global reach’. Retrieved June 12, 2019, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/terrorism-is-down-worldwide-but-state-department-says-iran-maintains-near-global-reach/2018/09/19/fc3a85b1-dbac-4496-a295-b78599cd6720_story.html




Reuters. (2019, June 05). Trump Won’t Rule Out Military Action Against Iran. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000006541905/trump-military-action-iran.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Iran&action=click&contentCollection=world®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=collection 




 Smeltz, D., & Cookson, J. R. (2019, March 27). Would Iranians welcome a new nuclear deal? Think again. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/27/how-iranians-attitudes-toward-nuclear-deal-are-changing/?utm_term=.de8fe18a1f2d




Turner, J. (2018, June 06). The new battlefield: The race to integrate cyber and electronic warfare. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.army-technology.com/features/new-battlefield-race-integrate-cyber-electronic-warfare/




Wong, E. (2019, May 06). Citing Iranian Threat, U.S. Sends Carrier Group and Bombers to Persian Gulf. Retrieved June 11, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/05/world/middleeast/us-iran-military-threat-.html