But wait, I also detect a few drops of sweat on the Iranian player’s forehead. After all, what will the Iranian people say if the regime has to tell them that after three years of living under the stress of tougher sanctions and a pandemic, they can expect endless sanctions and the Omicron variant. Of course, China will buy some of the Iranian oil so the government can keep the lights on. But with Iran already facing huge water shortages fueled by climate change, if the regime does not negotiate an end to sanctions, the Iranian street could explode at any time. The Iranian hand is weaker than it looks.

Meanwhile, the Israeli player grimaces, clutching his cards hard and simultaneously spinning his F-35 chips and Dolphin-class submarines in the Persian Gulf equipped with nuclear cruise missiles. His eyes move back and forth between the Iranian player and Joe Biden – unsure of who to worry about most.

For years, the Israelis have heard US presidents say they will not allow Iran to procure a bomb. At first, they celebrated Trump’s withdrawal from the deal and the reimposition of sanctions. Why not? They believed it would weaken both Iran’s efforts to obtain a bomb and its attempts to push precision-guided missiles directed against Israel at its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon and Syria. But that’s not what happened.

It turns out that Trump and Pompeo overplayed their hand. Had they been notified, they would have told the Iranians that the United States would reinstate the deal and lift the sanctions if Iran simply agreed to forgo enrichment to the levels necessary for a nuclear weapon for, say, 25 years. – rather than the original 15 years. (I would have applauded that.) But, instead, they demanded changes in Iran’s behavior so drastic that the regime understood the sanctions would never end.

Iranian leaders have let Trump and Pompeo know they are homicidal, not suicidal. And they went to ask China to buy their oil and started enriching enough uranium to become a threshold nuclear state.

Alas, Trump and Pompeo did not have a Plan B if Iran called their bluff. Despite all of Trump’s bluster, not only was he not going to bomb Iran, he wouldn’t even have retaliated when the Iranians launched cruise missiles and detonated one of Arabia’s largest oil facilities. Arabia. Everyone in the neighborhood took note.

So what did Trump do in the end? He gave Biden that terrible hand.

Poor Joe. But Biden didn’t play that hand particularly well, either. Rather than take immediate action to revoke Trump’s sanctions and restore compliance, in return for Iran cutting back on its uranium stocks, Biden found himself embroiled in a muddled diplomatic battle with the Iranians for know who would come first. And with his urgent emphasis on exiting the Middle East – starting with Afghanistan – Biden hasn’t really sowed fear in the hearts of Iranians. So no one went first, and Iran kept getting richer.