The U.S. Will Lose Leverage By Leaving Iran Nuclear Deal

To use an old NASA phrase, by backing out of the Iran nuclear deal Donald Trump may really have “screwed the pooch.” His actions will probably not accomplish what he thinks they will, and in fact may do the opposite of what he intended.

In Trump’s quest for more global power we may find that what he has done will significantly diminish U.S. influence and leverage in the Middle East.  And it’s hard to see how the United States is in any way a winner in this scenario.

To understand the harm Trump has done one must understand the Iran nuclear deal, and its history — how it came about in the first place. Clearly such understanding is beyond the president.  His lack of knowledge on a subject has never stopped him from having strong opinions about it anyway.  Unfortunately for all of us he is now in a position where he can take his ignorance-based opinions and put them into effect by changing U.S. foreign policy.

According to veteran Middle East negotiator (and GOP Congressman from Florida) Dennis Ross there is now “a very real risk that the United States will not have partners to join it in pressuring the Iranians in a way that might change their behavior and bring them back to the negotiating table to address the problems Trump wants to fix.”

What Trump and his supporters don’t seem to understand is that the Iran deal was based on an international coalition of powerful countries, all working together to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.  Now that coalition is in danger of disappearing.  And if it continues the U.S. won’t be part of it, thanks to Trump.  That means less influence and less leverage in getting other countries to agree to things that we want them to do.

The Wall Street Journal reported that:

“European Union officials are preparing to move ahead with plans to get Iran fuller access to the E.U.’s lending arm, the European Investment Bank, and to bolster European credit lines for firms with little U.S. exposure wanting to invest in Iran.”

“Iran has said it will continue to abide by the nuclear accord only if Europe guarantees continued economic benefits from the agreement.”

“The E.U. is now looking at financial instruments that would sit beyond the reach of Washington’s powers and an agency that would enforce European law against foreign-based companies—a tit-for-tat rejoinder to Washington’s powers over non-U.S. companies.”

What all this means is that despite threats from Trump and national security adviser John Bolton, European countries — and Iran — will now move forward on their own without consideration of the U.S. position.   The U.S. has no leverage over them any more.

With a foreign policy based on bluster and belligerence, Donald Trump has indeed screwed the pooch, as well as the American people.