Trump’s America First policy carries a heavy cost

May 14, 2018 in News by Slad

 

Source: WHTT

This London Times editorial stops short of confirming that Mr. Trump was reneging on what is essentially a binding treaty of the US government, in spite it’s sham effort to make it look otherwise, and by so doing he has loosed pit bull Israel to instigate war in the Middle East. [Editor – CEC]

Trump’s America First policy carries a heavy cost

President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to abrogate the Iran nuclear deal is not only a threat to peace in the Middle East. It also puts the close relationship between the US and its allies in Europe, which has held strong through two world wars, as well as the cold war and its tumultuous aftermath, in serious jeopardy.

On Tuesday Mr Trump described the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which saw Iran mothball its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief, as “a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made”.

It was ineffective, he said, because it imposes only “very weak limits” on Tehran’s nuclear activity. “Even if Iran fully complies, the regime can still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time.”

He is wrong. According to the majority view in the rest of the world, the rigorous UN inspection regime is working. The International Atomic Energy Agency, monitoring the pact, has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance. By withdrawing without due cause from this international agreement — signed alongside China, France, Germany, Russia, China and the UK and ratified by the UN Security Council in 2015 — it is the US that is in violation of its terms, not Iran.

Mr Trump plans to reimpose sanctions. Iran hawks in Washington believe that Tehran can be forced into signing up to a more stringent agreement. Unlike the JCPOA this would, they argue, put a check on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles, curtail its destabilising para-militarism in the region, and extend the moratorium on its nuclear activity indefinitely. If not, they think, the Iranian economy will be brought to its knees, and the theocratic regime of 39 years’ standing might fall.

This is a gross miscalculation. Even in the narrow Iranian context it makes little sense. The nuclear deal supported the drive for change inside Iran. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps feared it was on a slippery slope to the regime change now openly espoused by Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, and John Bolton, Mr Trump’s national security adviser. Far from strengthening the hand of Iranian reformers by scuppering the nuclear deal, Mr Trump has come to the rescue of the Revolutionary Guard.

America’s unilateral walkout not only risks throwing the Middle East into further turmoil by, in effect, giving Israel and Saudi Arabia a green light to counter Iranian expansionism with force. It also erodes the underpinnings of multilateral efforts to control the spread of nuclear arms.

It must also hinder Mr Trump’s own efforts to bring peace to the Korean peninsula, only weeks before he is due to hold a summit with the North Korean leader. If Mr Trump cannot be trusted to respect US commitments to Iran, why should Kim Jong Un trust him when it comes to North Korea?

Washington has rarely been so isolated. Mr Trump has scorned the advice of America’s closest allies. The French, Germans, Japanese and British all sought to persuade him that, despite its imperfections, the JCPOA is achieving its aim: to stall Iran’s capacity to develop nuclear weapons. By slapping on sanctions, the US is asking these same allies to abide by the rules of a rule breaker.

It took former presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush years to bring international opinion, including in Beijing and Moscow, in line with US thinking on Iran. The previous sanctions regime took additional years to have full effect, eventually halving Iran’s oil output and bringing Tehran to the negotiating table. Thumbing a nose at the rest of the world is no way to rebuild the consensus needed for a new sanctions regime to work.

Mr Trump thinks Iran will back down. What if it does not, and instead revives its nuclear programme? There will be few options short of war. For the present Tehran has chosen to tread cautiously. Iran will stick to the deal so long as its goals can still be achieved, President Hassan Rouhani has said. France, Germany and Britain have also pledged to stick to the agreement.

Hinting that European countries could shield companies from the new sanctions regime, Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, said: “The international reach of US sanctions makes the US the economic policeman of the planet, and that is not acceptable.” When the policeman is this unbound, he is right.