The Current Occupant’s obsession with his predecessor reached an apogee of absurdity yesterday. The Iran nuclear deal is not only one of the Obama administration’s greatest accomplishments, it is working. Trump’s foreign policy actions continue to impact and alienate our allies and give aid and comfort to some dubious characters such as Bibi Netanyahu and the Saudis. Who’da thunk Saudi “reformers” and Israeli wingnuts would be in bed together? It’s the whole “enemy of my enemy “mind-set writ large.
Trump has done many terrible things as president* but this is the worst because it could lead to war. He’s pulling out of a carefully planned scheme without contemplating what comes next. By all accounts, there’s no plan or strategy on how to proceed. Hell, there’s nobody in charge of sanctions at the State Department right now. I am not making this up.
All Trump knows about the Iran deal is that it has Barack Obama and John Kerry’s fingerprints all over it. Kerry bad, Obama worse. That’s all he needs to know.
Trump prides himself on being a foreign policy “disruptor,” whatever the hell that means. All he’s really done is to take us back to Bush-Cheney era regime change policies. In fact, regime change in Iran was a bridge too far for many Bushies. John Bolton and his mustache lost that battle. Yesterday’s decision brings us closer to another stupid, bloody, and unnecessary Middle Eastern war. Thanks, Trumpy.
Obama and Kerry were playing the long game with Iran. They thought that engagement with Iran would lead to the erosion of the theocratic state built by the ayatollahs. There are many Iranians who are restless and ready for change. The Obama strategy was to encourage those folks to be change agents; a horrible phrase but accurate in this case. Team Trump doesn’t do long-term strategy. They play the short game. Badly.
Whatever happened to the notion of linkage? How can the Trumpers negotiate a nuclear deal with North Korea after pulling out of the Iran pact? Why should the dictator with bad hair trust them to keep their word to him after this? Questions abound. Answers are elusive. If nothing else, the price for cutting a deal with North Korea just went up.
One interesting sub-plot of the Iran deal mishigas is to watch how many Never Trump conservatives become Sometimes Trumpers. The NYT’s Bret Stephens has already praised the move. He won’t be the last.
I can usually find the humor in Trump’s war on Obama but not this time. The stakes are too high. It feels as if we’re slip sliding into a war simply because Donald Trump was publicly mocked by Barack Obama. That’s nuts but that’s the way it is in 2018.