Did Trump overplay his hand by pulling out of the Iran Deal?
By Sparta Live | May 14, 2018 7:24 am
Democratic Dialog – By Debra Wines
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to deciding which direction will lead to a better result. We have been anticipating the future meeting that will take place between North Korea’s Kim Jung Un and Mr. Trump. Mike Pompeo first met with Kim Jung Un prior to his Senate approval to the position of secretary of state. That alone was a highly unusual meeting for someone who had just left his position as head of the CIA and had not yet been approved even as the “acting” secretary of state. We have not been privy to what was discussed by these two men, other than being told they were negotiating the time and place for a meeting between the leader of North Korea and the president of the United States of America. It is my understanding that during this future meeting several topics will be addressed that may or may not lead to the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, lifting of sanctions currently imposed on North Korea, and officially ending the war and perhaps tensions between North and South Korea. This process will not be concluded with one meeting. We can count on months, or even years, of negotiations to reach a deal/treaty that is acceptable to both sides.
The big question now is will Kim Jung Un trust any negotiations made by Mr. Trump in light of his recent decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In 2015, the United States, along with Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, and Great Britain, finalized years of negotiations and signed the JCPOA. This agreement was designed to constrain Iran’s nuclear program. It lifted numerous sanctions on Iran and allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to initiate a comprehensive inspection system to monitor Iran’s development and use of nuclear power and/or nuclear weapons. Since that time, the IAEA has been reporting that Iran has been complying with all the agreements made in the JCPOA. In other words, they have been living up to their end of the bargain. Yet, Mr. Trump has repeatedly said it was a lousy deal. He has chosen to believe Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outdated PowerPoint presentation earlier this month instead of the U.N inspectors. Mr. Trump claimed he wanted the deal to be re-negotiated, but rather than offer any suggestions along those lines, he announced the United States was withdrawing from the entire deal. Mr. Trump claims the United States President Obama specifically gave up too much to Iran, and the United States got nothing in return.
The primary reason Mr. Trump has used to illustrate how badly President Obama negotiated this deal is his belief that the former president handed over billions of dollars in cash to get Iran to sign the deal. Money given to Iran when they finally signed the JCPOA. Mr. Trump is correct about that assertion, but it was their money in first place. It was money from their accounts that had been frozen under the sanctions placed on Iran. The amount was somewhere around $50 billion; it was Iranian money that was returned to them. There was also $400 million dollars returned to Iran that they had paid the United States in the early 1970’s for U.S. military equipment. That deal had been negotiated by the shah of Iran and the United States. The equipment was never delivered to Iran because the shah was deposed, American hostages were taken, a new regime took over, and the relations between the two countries were severed. I do not know whether Mr. Trump is unaware of these facts, or if he actually knows the facts and disregards them because they do not fit his agenda.
The issue at hand is trying to determine exactly what Mr. Trump’s agenda is when he continues to ignore the advice from other world leaders. Donald Trump has no problem telling the American public and the world that he is really smart, he is an excellent and very successful businessman, and the world’s best negotiator. Selling yourself as the best negotiator while conducting private business doesn’t necessarily translate well on the political world stage. There is a big difference in the business world when you compare the type of power that is available to the president of a privately owned business or the CEO of a corporation that is owned by shareholders and has a board of directors. Mr. Trump’s business is privately owned, and he is the head of that business, he makes the final decisions, and, in that capacity, he can literally do whatever he wants. Being the president of the United States is more in line with a CEO; important decisions are not made in a vacuum. They are made with the approval of others and acceptance of the consequences that result from the decisions.
In business, whether it is privately owned or a corporation, there is always competition. It is a “dog eat dog” world. The same can be said of countries and their governments, but there are much higher stakes at risk when countries disagree with each other. Countries can use economic and/or military power to harm or help another country. In today’s world, we can add the power of computers to the mix of harm or help. Countries can easily be brought to their knees with a few keystrokes. Anger and lies can spread like wildfire via the internet, Twitter, and other forms of social media throughout the world in mere seconds. Diplomacy is vital to every country’s well-being. Unfortunately, diplomacy seems to be something that Mr. Trump does not seem to understand. I get that. It was not something he used to build his companies or his reputation. He has bragged, repeatedly, about his ability to play hardball when negotiating and being able to walk away from a business negotiation when it wasn’t going his way. Again, that is not something that happens on a regular basis during the final stages of negotiations between countries and heads of state. This is a primary reason to have professional diplomats who have learned the ins and outs of the political world as it pertains to other governments. They use their knowledge and experience to advise the president and members of his administration. Since the decimation of the state department during Mr. Trump’s administration, it becomes more and more obvious the current administration seriously lacks the expertise of our former professional diplomats.
The remaining countries in the JCPOA are currently scrambling to assure the Iranian deal remains intact. Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the deal and his, as of yet, specific sanctions will no doubt make this situation much more tenuous than it should be. Iran, understandably, is upset and angry, not just with Donald Trump but America. We have been seen as “Satan” before by them. They have called for our destruction on many occasions. I’m not saying that Iran would ever come to “like” us, but as long as they were living up to their end of the bargain, we should have honored the current deal that had been signed in good faith by all parties.
The media has reported some sanctions being recommended by the Trump administration will have a negative economic impact not only on Iran but some of our European allies and American companies, like Boeing. Mr. Trump has threatened to financially penalize European countries if they continue to support the JCPOA agreement. In doing so, this could also trigger negative political and economic impact on the United States and be extremely difficult to repair in the future. The European leaders have done everything they could to talk Mr. Trump out of taking this action but he did not listen to them. He ignored their counsel. The question is why? Why would he not listen to their experiences in these situations? Why does he think that he knows better than everyone else when it comes to dealing with delicate political diplomacy and negotiations? What are his motives for purposely insulting these heads of state that have been our country’s strongest supporters and allies?
I don’t know the answers to those questions. I can only guess, and my answers frighten me. I am sure there are others who may be wondering what are his ultimate plans for the future of America? Maybe people don’t want to question his motives or his plans. Perhaps there are people who put their trust in our government and the checks and balances in our system that are there to protect us from a president who is showing his disregard for our safety and the rule of law. Diane Black recently had a TV ad out telling us we need to support the president and if we don’t we are being unpatriotic. I vehemently disagree with her assumption. To me, being patriotic is supporting our Constitution, not one man or woman, even if they were elected to be our leader. If that person poses a danger to us, our way of life, our Constitution, the rule of law, and is dangerous to the world, it is a patriotic duty to demand that person be removed from office.
I have said it before and I will continue to say it, Donald Trump is no longer the head of his own company and able to do whatever he wants. He was elected as president of the United States of America, and someone in his administration and his party needs to make him start acting like it.