October 13th, 2017

Trump on the Iran deal

We’ve been hearing for quite some time that Trump was going to make an announcement on the Iran deal and would refuse to re-certify it. Well, this is it.

That’s breaking news, and I haven’t had much of a chance to evaluate it. But here’s what happened:

President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to terminate the Iran nuclear deal if Congress doesn’t strengthen it, warning the agreement was merely a “temporary delay” in Tehran’s quest to obtain nuclear weapons.

In a speech at the White House laying out what he called a “new strategy” for dealing with Iran, Trump also accused Iran of violating both the letter and spirit of the deal and said the U.S. would impose new sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s elite security and military organization.

By declining to certify that Iran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, Trump put its future squarely in the hands of Congress, which will now have to decide whether to attach new conditions to the agreement or reimpose sanctions on Iran with regard to the country’s nuclear program. Those sanctions were lifted as part of the agreement, and reimposing them would effectively destroy the deal.

And Trump, who throughout his campaign and his presidency has expressed intense disdain for the deal, made clear Friday that he wouldn’t hesitate to cancel it if complications with Congress arose in moving forward on toughening it.

In other words, Iran is on notice of something it already knew—that the deal was with Obama and that Trump isn’t Obama. Presidents make foreign policy, although Congress certainly has a say in the matter. The Iran deal was not a popular move at the time—even a lot of Democrats didn’t support it—but Obama did it anyway and now Trump may undo it unless Congress wants to get heavily into the act.

Iran is almost as big a fiasco for the US and the west as North Korea is in terms of the development of nuclear weapons. One difference is that Iran is not run by a single madman, it’s run by a group of fanatical zealots. We’re more familiar with the aims and behavior of the Iranian leaders, which makes them marginally more predictable. Something needs to change for the better, and I cannot even begin to say whether anything Trump or Congress does will effect this change:

In a briefing with reporters on Thursday afternoon, Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster explained that the administration’s goal would be for Congress to create “trigger points” for Iran that would mandate the reimposition of sanctions if Tehran doesn’t meet specific revised criteria…

n his speech Friday, Trump outlined a more aggressive overall strategy for Iran, focusing on the country’s “destabilizing influence” in the region, including its support for terrorism and militants and on its development of ballistic missiles.

There was also this:

The Trump administration on Friday designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, a move that President Trump followed up with by calling for tougher sanctions against the organization.

“I am authorizing the Treasury Department to further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support for terrorism and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents, and affiliates,” Trump said in a White House speech.

“I urge our allies to join us in taking strong actions to curb Iran’s continued dangerous and destabilizing behavior,” Trump added.

“The IRGC has played a central role to Iran becoming the world’s foremost state sponsor of terror,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday. “We urge the private sector to recognize that the IRGC permeates much of the Iranian economy, and those who transact with IRGC-controlled companies do so at great risk.”

I think some of this is long overdue, particular the call for greater sanctions on this group.

There’s no question, however, that most Democrats and a great deal of Europe will be incensed over Trump’s suggestions. Europe potentially has a lot to lose by what he said:

The billions of dollars of western trade and investment that have flowed into the Islamic republic since sanctions were lifted in January 2016 has been crucial for both the companies involved and for galvanising Iranian support for the agreement, European officials say.

Now they fear the trade ties could be thrown into jeopardy…Decertification would have no immediate legal effect on companies investing in, or trading with Iran. But Congress would then have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose the sanctions.

European governments are among the staunchest backers of accord…

One of the ideas behind the Iran deal was that it would help bring Iran into the community of nations and normalize it to a certain extent, which would encourage the Iranian leaders to relax their tyrannical grip on their own people, as well as their sponsorship of terrorism. Those two things are laudable goals. But I haven’t read anything that indicates that either thing (especially the latter) has changed, at least so far. Actually:

Trump’s case against the deal is more political and strategic: His team believes that Iran is an enemy of the United States, one that frustrates US objectives in places like Iraq and Yemen, and that the nuclear deal hasn’t done much to solve the problem.

“Iran is an adversarial power that is working against the vital interests of the region. The deal doesn’t make Iran any better, so the deal doesn’t serve our interests,” James Jay Carafano, a foreign policy expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation who served on the Trump transition team, tells me.

There’s a core truth to this case: Iran’s behavior is extremely problematic in a whole host of ways, from testing ballistic missiles to funding violent militia groups around the Middle East.

No one ever said this would be easy. Since 1979, Iran has been a thorn in our side, a troublemaker, and an oppressor of its own people, and I have yet to see any president make a dent in that reality. I wish Trump luck.

16 Responses to “Trump on the Iran deal”

  1. blert Says:

    How many times must I say it?

    Iran’s and Nork’s atomic programs are fused at the hip.

    Kim is shipping rocket tech and components to Iran.

    Iran is FUNDING Kim Jong-un.

    That’s why Xi has lost control over Kim.

    This is something that the big brains in Beijing never saw coming.

  2. Doug Purdie Says:

    You’re right that the deal was with Obama, but Congress had little to say about it. It is not a Treaty because the Senate was not allowed to consider it for ratification which the US Constitution requires.
    That said, I think we should switch our emphasis, with regard to Iran, from their Nuke program to their Terrorism program. That way we don’t look like hypocrites to the rest of the world (being that we hold one of the largest stock-pile of nukes) I think the rest of the world would more likely go along with imposing sanctions if they had Iran’s terrorism activities displayed more prominantly in of their faces. (The UN tends to ignore the obvious until we point it out to them.)

  3. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “Iran is not run by a single madman, it’s run by a group of fanatical zealots.” neo

    Fanatical zealots are compelled to act in pursuit of their fanaticism. So even the certainty of failure will not dissuade Iran’s fanatics.

    There’s only one way this ends. What’s in question is how many outside of Iran must die.

    blert,

    Yes, they are joined at the hip. But… they are merely proxies for China and Russia. Without that support, they couldn’t get past first base. It’s a ‘marriage of convenience’. Together they can accomplish more than any can on their own.

  4. Cornhead Says:

    Loved the speech. Especially loved how he blasted Obama.

    We had our boot on Iran’s neck and not only did Obama let Iran get up off the mat, he paid Iran billions to boot. Incredible.

  5. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Cornhead,

    I must have missed it but exactly how did we have our boot on Iran’s neck? As I recall, their pursuit of nukes was proceeding despite the sanctions. No doubt it slowed progress a bit but only a bit. As I recall, during Bush’s time they increased their centrifuges something like 10 fold up to 6000…

  6. Ray Says:

    President Jimmy Carter thought he could negotiate with the Ayatollah Khomeini. How did that work out? President Obama negotiated with Iranian President Rouhani. Another great democrat president success.

  7. Frog Says:

    Trump’s very presidential speech was the exact opposite of what came out of Obama’s mouth: it was comprehensive in its indictment of Iran; there was no mealy-mouth parsing, no pseudo-academic pomposity; and there was unequivocal criticism of the immorality of Obama’s “Iran deal”.

    If the Congress will not act, Trump will.

    Of course the Euros were bought by the deal; they are after all a) flooded by Muslims, and b) eager to earn Iranian bucks, bucks that have the US$ sign still visible on them. Europa is a bunch of whores, and that includes the UK.

    The Obamaphiles, like cretin Ben Rhodes, are tooting their horns, justifying the unjustifiable. But it may once again be a time when America’s Leftist Democratic nightmares are over, or at least beginning to end. For a time.

    Obama was an evil-doer as president, and before.

  8. Frog Says:

    GB: Iran was up to 20,000 uranium centrifuges by the time of the deal. For peaceful purposes, natch. Allegedly reduced to 6000 with the deal, but who knows? The Ayatollah knows!

  9. Cornhead Says:

    Why didn’t Obama and his crew designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.

    Answer: Probably afraid to.

    GB:

    The sanctions were working. No oil exports. Civil unrest. Obama bailed out the mullahs. GDP was a disaster. Look it up.

  10. Frog Says:

    1979: Let us never forget who pushed for the Ayatollah Khomenei to return from Parisian exile back to Tehran, hence mobilizing the Persian Islamists, and in effect jerking the Shah, now ill with cancer, from power.
    A Democrat, that’s who. A Democrat who feared a bunny would charge into his boat while he was fishing for bream in Peanut Country. A Democrat who, like Obama, has never acknowledged he ever did anything wrong.
    They are not stupid. They mean the harm they cause.

  11. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Frog Says:
    October 13th, 2017 at 9:14 pm
    Trump’s very presidential speech

    Somebody here, can’t remember and it doesn’t matter, said that I was kissing up to Bush II, because I stated the facts of what happened under his administration.

    Good to see the real thing every once in awhile.

    Trum’s been a Democrat longer than he has been a Republican, and has funded and supported many such Demoncrats in the Senate, where it counts.

  12. FOAF Says:

    “There’s no question, however, that most Democrats and a great deal of Europe will be incensed over Trump’s suggestions”

    Best possible evidence that he is on the right track.

  13. FOAF Says:

    “1979: Let us never forget who pushed for the Ayatollah Khomenei to return from Parisian exile back to Tehran” (taling about Carter of course)

    Frog, in 1979 Obama was 19 years old, probably in college, right? I would bet a great deal of money that his reaction to the hostage crisis was, “Good for Iran, America had it coming”. It still makes me sick that he was elected POTUS for 8 years.

  14. Cornhead Says:

    WaPo’s so-called fact checker,

    “There is little evidence that the Iranian government was on the verge of “total collapse,” though it was certainly struggling because of international sanctions. The Obama administration had been able to win broad international support for crippling sanctions precisely because it convinced Russia and China, two major Iranian partners, that the pressure was designed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and force the government into negotiations. If the government had started to totter because of the sanctions, especially if it was perceived as part of an American campaign of regime change, that support likely would have been withdrawn.”

  15. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Best possible evidence that he is on the right track.

    Reactionary.

    Not a valid strategy, since people can easily manipulate it with disinformation.

    For example, if blacks hate slavery, just attach racism and slavery to the enemies you want them to fight, and the ghetto boys will react to it.

    People underestimate evil, even now. Maybe they and you think the Leftist alliance is full of SJW zombies that aren’t smart enough to do that kind of strategic superiority. The ones using the Left as their cannonfodder and stalking horse, are not something you have accounted for most likely.

  16. vanderleun Says:

    “new sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s elite security and military organization.”

    I don’t think these new sanctions will all be “financial”. It’s a good bet that the rules of engagement along the Iran/Iraq border zones have been changed too. The infiltrating forces will probably be hit with intense drone activity as well as other hinderances to their continued breathing.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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