Another small misguided step for Donald Trump, another leap into the abyss for the United States. With Tuesday’s announcement that the U.S. is pulling out of the agreement to constrain Iran’s nuclear program and reimpose sanctions, our credibility on the world stage has been shattered and we’re that much closer to becoming a banana republic.
This decision is deeply uninformed, utterly illogical, inimical to the interests of the United States, taken for the pettiest of personal reasons and done with absolutely no plan for what to do next. In other words, it’s pure Trump.
As with everything Trumpist there’s the flimsy reason he did it, and then there are the far flung repercussions of his decision, of which he is clueless. Trump withdrew from the agreement simply because it was Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement and one of Trump’s ludicrous campaign talking points. That’s pretty much his rationale for doing anything, destroy Obama because he can’t create anything of his own. The repercussions are that we are left looking like fools in the eyes of the world. Worse yet, while Trump’s intent was to isolate Iran, in point of fact he’s isolated the United States. New Yorker:
Critics were scathing about the U.S. withdrawal. James Dobbins, a former U.S. Ambassador to the E.U., who negotiated with Iran after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and now works at the RAND Corporation, said that the decision “isolates the United States, frees Iran, reneges on an American commitment, adds to the risk of a trade war with America’s allies and to a hot war with Iran and diminishes the prospects of a durable and truly verifiable agreement to eliminate the North Korean nuclear and missile threat.”
Re-imposing sanctions on Iran will create the greatest division between Europe and the U.S. since the Iraq War, Mark Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies office in Washington, told me. “Only this time it will be worse, since not a single European state sides with the U.S. on this matter.” Beyond Europe, American credibility worldwide “will go down the tubes,” he said. “Who will ever want to strike a deal with a country that, without cause, pulls out of a deal that everyone else knows has been working well? America will be seen as stupid, arrogant, and bullying. Pity the poor U.S. diplomats who have to explain this illogical decision to their host countries.”
And three guesses on which dictator benefits
Trump’s decision even benefits America’s adversaries, including Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin. “We’re playing into Putin’s hand,” Michael McFaul, a former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, now at Stanford University,said on CNN. “For Putin, it means that the U.S. is on the outside—and Putin is still on the inside. Why are we isolating ourselves when we need other countries to coöperate with on issues like North Korea?”
Bear in mind, this is strike three in the realm of foreign policy. First there was pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, then the Paris Accord climate agreement, and now the Iran nuclear deal. Who can have confidence in a country whose titular leader boasts of a trifecta like that? New York Daily News:
The arguments for and against the Iran nuclear deal have been well-rehearsed for almost three years. What’s important now is what has been lost as a result of the U.S. withdrawal. Iran may not restart its entire nuclear program, but it has the “luxury” of choice. It can move incrementally while continuing to engage with the Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese. In so doing, it will continue and intensify the diplomatic isolation that Trump has constructed for the United States. […]
Among all the arguments pro and con, perhaps the simplest and most telling is that Trump gave up something tangible for an unknown and dangerous nothing. Almost no one argued that the Iranians were cheating on their JCPOA obligations, and international inspectors reported that Iran had fulfilled its commitments.
As of Trump’s announcement, however, Iran has no obligations or commitments to fulfill, should it choose so. Instead of working with partners on a strategy to fix the deal during the remaining years of its validity, Trump just cast it away, and now everyone faces a scary unknown future.
American credibility on the international stage is now shot to pieces. We used to lead, to be a convener, to guide the international conversation, to respect international law and institutions. We used to be true to our word. No longer, as Trump has recast our foreign policy as untrustworthy and erratic, very much in line with what he is doing domestically.
With the advent of Trump, loud mouthed bullying has taken the place of policy, foreign and domestic. Abraham Lincoln said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” I would amend that to, America can never be defamed. If we lose face and stature in the world, it will be because we deserved it.