Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at 7:42 AM

Iran Nuclear Deal: Trump’s Withdrawal Is Explosive…

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

In fact, reports are that Trump’s announcement of his decision to withdraw triggered explosions within hours:

Syria on Tuesday said Israel carried out an attack on a military base south of Damascus, which was used by Iranian forces. …

The [Israeli] military said it identified what it said was unusual movements of Iranian forces in Syria, and it believed those forces were preparing for an imminent retaliation against Israel.

(Haaretz, May 9, 2018)

Frankly, the die was cast. Here in part is how I explained why in “Netanyahu Bombs with Latest Bombshell Presentation on Iran,” May 2, 2018.


Netanyahu betrayed no hint of humility or regret when he addressed the UN General Assembly in 2012, or when he addressed a joint session of the US Congress in 2015. On both occasions, his patented intent was to goad President Barack Obama into invading Iran the way he goaded Bush into invading Iraq. …

Which brings me to his latest presentation in this regard. And it should surprise nobody that it stressed creativity as much as it strained credulity. …

But Netanyahu finally has in Trump a US president who is all too willing to be goaded, provided it’s done with a slobbering dose of flattery. No doubt this is what motivated Netanyahu to mint Temple coins hailing Trump as the second coming of Emperor Cyrus the Great. …

Sure enough, Trump is the only leader among the p5+1 signatories to the Iran nuclear deal who found Netanyahu’s presentation credible. … Netanyahu couldn’t care less … because he clearly formatted and orchestrated his PowerPoint presentation to provide Trump, the p1 leader, a colorable pretext to ‘rip up the deal.’

And Trump wasted no time signaling to Netanyahu ‘mission accomplished.’


With that, queue the useful idiot:

President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the landmark nuclear accord with Iran Tuesday, declaring he was making the world safer in restoring harsh sanctions. But he also dealt a profound blow to allies, deepened his isolation on the world stage and revived doubts about American credibility in the most consequential foreign policy action of his presidency.

(The Associated Press, May 8, 2018)

A few points:

  • Trump based his withdrawal on Netanyahu’s specious claim that Iran poses a clear and present danger of developing nuclear weapons. This, despite his appointed heads of US intelligence agencies insisting not only that Iran poses no such danger but also that Netanyahu based his claim on demonstrably outdated information.
  • Trump is cynical and foolish enough to assert that, given how wrong US intelligence agencies were on Iraq’s WMDs, nobody can blame him for finding Netanyahu more credible on Iran’s nuclear program and Putin more so on Russia’s cyberattack on the 2016 US presidential election.
  • Trump has no “Plan B” for this withdrawal – just as he had none for withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Paris Climate Accord, or the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). Because Plan A in each case was to repeal or undermine one of Barack Obama’s signature achievements – the consequences be damned, even if, in this case, that means another military march of folly in the Middle East.

This last point is worth reinforcing. As it happens, I expounded on the pathetic and, arguably, racist reason behind it in “Trump Decertifying Iran Nuclear Deal more MALO than MAGA,” October 13, 2017.


Trump’s my-way-or-the-highway attitude towards international relations is isolating enough. But he’s turning friends into enemies by repeatedly calling all parties to this deal with Iran ‘incompetent fools’ (a.k.a. clinical projection). This, of course, is utterly baffling; not least because he’s expecting these same parties to join him not only in renegotiating a new deal with Iran, but in negotiating a similar deal with North Korea. …

There’s no denying the dark force that is provoking nearly everything Trump does. That force is the enviable legacy of his predecessor, Barack Hussein Obama. In fact, nothing has defined Trump’s beleaguered presidency quite like his unabashed efforts to nullify or undermine Obama’s achievements.

Frankly, whatever Trump’s ambition to Make America Great Again (MAGA), it is no match for his pathological intent to Make America Loathe Obama (MALO). Only this explains his Mad-Hatter efforts to repeal and replace (or failing that to undermine) Obamacare, President Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

In any case, it’s impossible to overstate the danger inherent in Trump decertifying this Iran nuclear deal, Obama’s signature foreign-policy achievement. … But, as it was with healthcare, climate change, international trade, and others:

Trump’s executive orders seem drafted to either whitewash or undermine Obama’s accomplishments. In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that Trump has predicated his presidency on vindicating his birther conspiracy; you know, the one he peddled about Obama being an illegitimate interloper (a.k.a. an uppity African) who does not belong among the ranks of American presidents, certainly not in the top 10 as Obama seems destined to be ranked.

(“Trump’s First 100 Days,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 1, 2017)

Congressional Republicans have been goading and enabling Trump in his Faustian quest to effectively decertify Obama’s presidency. But no Republican has had anything on Netanyahu with respect to goading and enabling him to rip up the Iran nuclear deal.

Nonetheless, I am certain that, just like Obamacare, this deal will remain in force.


Sure enough, all of the other signatories responded to Trump’s withdrawal by declaring their intent to stick with the deal, leaving him even more isolated on the world stage than ever before. More to the point, the joint statement of rebuke his European allies issued is the kind they usually reserve for Russian President Vladimir Putin:

It is with regret and concern that we, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, take note of President Trump’s decision to withdraw. … Together, we emphasise our continuing commitment to the JCPOA [Iran nuclear deal]. …

We urge the US to ensure that the structures of the JCPoA can remain intact, and to avoid taking action which obstructs its full implementation by all other parties to the deal.

(, May 8, 2018)

This leads me to note that the only reason Iran struck this deal in the first place is that Obama persuaded the leaders of France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia to coordinate sanctions, which crippled the country’s economy. Therefore, nothing betrays how misguided Trump’s Faustian quest is quite like him thinking he can force these leaders to reinstate those sanctions, despite their now declared and vested interests in not doing so.

The trade war he’s fighting with China is foolish enough. Now Trump is threatening to impose sanctions against all signatories to this deal if they continue doing business with Iran.

Specifically, he would leverage the dollar as the global/reserve currency to frustrate or prohibit business transactions with Iran. But this would only breed resentment from London to Beijing. Moreover, it would hasten the day when a different currency (like the euro or yen) rivals, if not supplants, the dollar as the preferred currency of international business. . #IsolatedIdiot!

But one can hardly blame the other signatories for forging ahead without him. After all, Trump has become so toxic, the mayor of London is trying to ban him from making a state visit, the Bush family banned him from Barbara’s funeral, and Senator John McCain — who has asked former presidents George W. Bush and Obama to speak at his funeral — has declared his dying wish to ban him too.

Meanwhile, his withdrawal will leave Putin to exercise even greater superpower influence in the Middle East than he does now through Syrian President Bashir al-Assad.

Frankly, the recklessness of Trump’s dealings with Iran is surpassed only by the hollowness of his dealings with North Korea. Nothing betrays the latter quite like his narcissistic need to frame everything he does as historic.

For example:

  • His predecessors decided for political reasons to shun North Korean leaders. Yet Trump is trumpeting his impulsive decision to meet this one as an unprecedented breakthrough worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize.

(Note: US presidents had no qualms about meeting Soviet leaders during the Cold War. This forever precluded any US president from citing any principled reason for shunning the leader of any other country. This is why I commended Obama for meeting with the leaders of Iran and Cuba, but condemned him for refusing to meet with the leader of North Korea. It’s just that Trump betrays ignorance and conceit in equal measure by hyping his meeting with Kim variously as the biggest diplomatic event in the history of mankind and as a WWE death match that is bound to generate the biggest ratings in the history of television.)

  • His predecessors negotiated the release of several Americans being held in North Korean prisons. Yet Trump is trumpeting the pending release of three this week as a diplomatic feat nobody thought possible.

(Note: Kim deserves more condemnation than praise for (his habit of) releasing hostages as bargaining chips. Not to mention that he still has the blood of American Otto Warmbier dripping from his hands.)   

I elaborated on his delusional follies on this front most recently in “Freezing Nuke Tests is ‘Mission Accomplished’ for North Korea, Not Triumph for US,” April 21, 2018.

In any event, as my title indicates, this withdrawal will lead inexorably to Trump doing in Iran, willfully, what Bush did in Iraq, unwittingly. Because, notwithstanding good-faith promises to do so, Iran now has no legal obligation to abide the terms of the deal. And Trump cannot (be allowed to) stand by as Iran develops nuclear weapons under the noses of the other signatories, which is the self-fulfilling fear he and Netanyahu have been stoking from the day it was signed.

Mind you, this hollow man probably has no clue. But, with apologies to T.S. Eliot:

This is the way the deal ends

This is the way the deal ends

This is the way the deal ends

Not with a whimper but a bomb.

Related commentaries:
Netanyahu bombs
more MALO than MAGA
Winter Olympians
North Korea

* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Tuesday, at 6:53 p.m.

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