Monday, October 16, 2017

Iran Deal on Life Support: Trump Gets It Right


 
 Trump delivers an almost picture perfect Iran policy speech
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-BEN LYNFIELD
 
Saudi Arabia’s reaction to US President Donald Trump’s more confrontational posture toward Tehran was strikingly similar to Israel’s, highlighting the two countries’ common desire for a more determined American effort to counter Iranian influence in the region.

King Salman telephoned Trump to voice support for his “firm strategy” against “Iranian aggression and its [Iran’s] support for terrorism in the region,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

“The king praised the Trump administration, which recognizes the magnitude of these challenges and threats and the need for concerted efforts on terrorism and extremism and its primary sponsor, Iran.”

That followed an announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Friday that praised Trump for the same reasons and said the US president “has created an opportunity to fix this bad deal, to roll back Iran’s aggression and to confront its criminal support of terrorism.”

Since Trump’s election, the Saudis have been hoping for a tougher American posture toward Tehran, which they view as the great and growing threat to their interests.

In May, they gathered Islamic leaders for a summit with Trump in Riyadh that highlighted Iran as the epicenter of subversion and terrorism in the region. Trump’s decertification of the nuclear deal, his sanctioning of the Revolutionary Guards and his vow to stand up against Iran’s fueling of “conflict, terror and turmoil” are seen by the Saudis as initial crystallization of the more assertive, some would say, aggressive, approach they had hoped for.

The Trump speech was music to the ears of Abdulrahman al-Rashed, former editorin- chief of the London-based, Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. He echoed Netanyahu’s choice of the word “courageous” to describe Trump’s approach.
[Jerusalem Post]
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By decertifying the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the president is, in fact, signaling his intent to strengthen it, with the help of Congress, so that the deal advances U.S. national security interests. Right now, the Iranians are hindering inspection of military sites, working feverishly on their ballistic missile program, and banking on the nuclear deal's sunset clauses, which all but guarantee Tehran an advanced nuclear program in roughly a decade.
   
In response to decertification, Iran's leadership will undoubtedly threaten to walk away from the table. But it's not that simple. There are benefits the Iranians have yet to reap from the deal - beyond the more than $100 billion in released oil funds - ranging from increased foreign investment to greater integration with the global economy after years of economic isolation. In other words, Iran can still cash in considerably, but not if it balks at Trump's calls to fix the deal. 
The writer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury, is senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
(Atlantic)
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Hate Trump, Love His Stance on Iran - Jonathan Tobin

Given Trump’s intemperate nature, his lack of detailed policy knowledge on most subjects and his contempt for diplomacy, the assumption - on the part of most people outside of his loyal base of supporters - is that he’s as wrong about his desire to end the nuclear deal with Iran as he was about violent racist marchers in Charlottesville.
 
But in this instance it is Trump's detractors who are divorced from reality.
 
Trump’s position is not irrational. As the deal’s critics feared all along, Western silence about Iran’s willingness to push the envelope on illegal purchases of nuclear equipment also raises questions about whether these governments are too committed to the deal’s preservation to effectively respond to violations.
 
Rather than taking advantage of what Obama termed an opportunity to "get right with the world," Iran has continued to behave like a rogue nation. It remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and its military adventures in the region and continued political intrigues have enabled it to create a functional land bridge via Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, where its Hezbollah auxiliaries rule. Its renewed alliance with Hamas also should raise suspicions.
 
It is dereliction of duty on the part of Western leaders to simply sit back and rest on Obama’s faux laurels while Iran not only gets closer to a nuclear option but works toward its goal of regional hegemony. Yet that is exactly what the supposedly wiser heads - attacking Trump for stirring up a hornet’s nest on Iran - have been doing.
 
Should it be necessary, the U.S. can declare that no entity that does business with Iran can legally interact with the American financial system, and it can therefore drag the Europeans and even the Russians and Chinese back to a position in which Iran will again be effectively isolated.
 
Trump is right that the West must start thinking about how to restrain an Iranian regime that was both enriched and empowered by the JCPOA. Hard as it may be for non-Trumpists to admit, his speech should push the international community to undertake a discussion that is long overdue.
[Ha'aretz]
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UPDATES:

Trump's Iran Initiative - Caroline Glick

Trump’s address has the potential to serve as the foundation of a major, positive shift in US policy toward Iran. Such a shift could potentially facilitate the achievement of Trump’s goals of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, containing its regional aggression and empowerment and defeating its terrorist proxies.

Unfortunately, it is also likely, indeed, it is more likely, that his words will not be translated into policies to achieve these critical aims.


Trump’s decision to transfer immediate responsibility to Congress for holding Iran accountable for its hostile actions on the military and other fronts is a risky move. He has a lot of enemies, and the nuclear deal has a lot of supporters on Capitol Hill.

Obama would have never been able to implement his nuclear deal if Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, hadn’t agreed to cast the Constitution aside and ignore Obama’s constitutional duty to present the nuclear deal to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. Over the past week, Trump and Corker have been involved in an ugly public fight precipitated by Corker’s announcement that he will not be seeking reelection next year.

Today Corker has nothing to restrain him from scuttling Trump’s agenda. If he wishes, out of spite, Corker can block effective sanctions from being passed. And he may do so even though the implications for his Senate colleagues would be dire and even though doing so would render him an unofficial protector of Iran’s nuclear program.

What is true for Corker is doubly true for the Democrats.
Trump created the possibility for such a strategy. It is up to members of Congress, and US allies like Israel and the Sunni Arab states to help Trump conceive and implement it. If they fail, the possibility Trump created will be lost, perhaps irrevocably.
[Jerusalem Post]
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Joe Lieberman: Trump Did The Right Thing - David Rosenberg

Former Connecticut Senator and 2000 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman praised President Donald Trump’s announcement that he would not recertify Iranian compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

“I totally agreed with the president’s decision,” Lieberman said.
[Israel National News]
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- Jonathan Easley

According to a Harvard-Harris survey conducted Oct. 14-18, 70% of Americans said the 2015 Iran deal should be renegotiated and verified by Congress, including 85% of Republicans, 71% of independents and 57% of Democrats. 60% said the deal is a bad one for the U.S., with 2/3 saying Iran has not complied with the terms of the agreement.
   
"Americans see Iran as a bad actor on all fronts and substantial majorities believe this agreement is being violated and never should have gone into effect without a Senate vote," said Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn.
(The Hill)
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2 comments:

John MacArthur said...

It might be no bad thing if the Iran deal was threatened by a little jackboot diplomacy. The Iranians have had it their own way for a long time and Trump's sheer unpredictability might just give them pause.

Bruce said...

I love your reference to "jackboot diplomacy" ... yes, nice to see some robust foreign policy.
Bruce :}