America violated the Iran arrangement yesterday. Trump spent three years moaning about our deal with the Islamic Republic. On Tuesday, the Orangeman waltzed into the Diplomatic Room. Told the whole wide world we were re-instituting sanctions. The 2015 program was off. JCPOA, he said, was dead. Tough luck to China, Russia, France, Germany and the U.K.
The excuses offered by Trump’s flunkies and vile media defenders were universally idiotic and unconvincing: this will give us more room … opens our options … my wife will finally respect me … children too … To a man, the foreign policy gorgons had rabid wolverine hunger in their eyes.
One of the great ghouls of the foreign policy establishment, Richard Goldberg, agreed to assume a human shape for several hours Tuesday, so he could answer questions from Vox’s Sean Illing. As you know, supernatural creatures such as Goldberg are most vulnerable in solid form, so it was a serious risk. After condensing from a cloud of chlorine fog, Goldberg shrieked out the following:
Iran also doesn’t want to become politically isolated, and if they were to race to the bomb, they would lose the support they still have right now in Europe and elsewhere. In other words, President Trump has some time here to ratchet up the pressure again, to unlock the lockbox where all our sanctions have been the last few years, and to use any other means of state power possible to coerce the regime to change its behavior.
All meaningless gabble, and pure ass-covering. The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran was in compliance. In April, the State Department said Iran had lived up to its end. Everything that Goldberg prates about, we already had: a path to a non-nuclear Iran, and reintegration of Tehran into the world-system. Leverage over the mullahs. Best of all, it meant an avenue away from war.
And that’s the problem. See, Trump wants out of the deal because he fears humiliation, and because it was the hallmark of Obama’s term. But the Boltons and the Goldbergs want out because they desperately crave another Iraq War. They’ve never gotten over the humiliation of 1979. Think of their age. These are old men; the Trump Administration could honestly be their last chance to slaughter millions of Iranians.
And that’s the richest irony of this entire farce. If Trump was hand-picked by Tehran to kneecap American power, he couldn’t have done a better job.
You know how people online say “You don’t know how bad you look?” For once, it’s true. Iran said they will still adhere to the deal. Europe is furious, and will likely drag the cast of Euro Disney into The Hague. If the Continent agrees to abide by the arrangement, then that’s it; we’re shut out of power.
In 2016, Trump ranted about his tremendous ability to make deals. And how! I had no idea you actually gain leverage by handing over your weapons to the opponent, and then withdrawing into a defensive ball on the ground, throwing kicks and punches and body liquids at anybody who approaches. This is the same brain-genius thinking that gave us the North Korea and South Korea detente, where the United States was made to look like that one idiot partygoer who takes a hit of molly and spends the entire time muttering to himself in the corner.
Deal by deal, our Very Special President is placing America at the International Kid’s Table. Right now, we are in the sunken place of global politics. We sit and watch other people make the peace we could have made. Who’s got two thumbs, the world’s most powerful military, and just got outmaneuvered by a pack of priests in Tehran? This guy!
In truth, it’s about time. Maybe Trump is doing us a favor. America is losing our influence. Maybe that’s a chance to re-evaluate who we are and what we want.
Look at American influence since the end of the Cold War. Consider our record under the adult reigns of the Bush I and Bush II, and the allegedly enlightened Obama and Clinton Administrations. We plundered and bombed to our heart’s content. Look at how we’ve acted in Latin and South America. Or in Southeast Asia. Look at how we’ve treated our allies. Consider our terrific achievements in moral regeneration in the Middle East.
What have we done with our long summer of strength? Behaved like any great power in history. Trump didn’t invent American cruelty; he’s just terrible at the game.
The decline of American influence would mean a multi-polar world. And, honestly, it would be good for us. Power’s like money or fame: too much too early warps you. Twists you. Less international power would make us a better country. And most of us wouldn’t mind. Here’s one of the great secrets of American democracy: most of us don’t care about the empire.
The writer Amber A’Lee Frost articulated the point well. There’s this notion that we have a brutal empire because large numbers of right-wing voters are in favor of it. But conservative voters in America mostly care about domestic policy, and the alt-right is increasingly isolationist.
In fact, our brutal foreign policy is the pet project of Washington, not the Red States. On foreign policy, the most well-educated Beltway centrist is a thousand times more bloodthirsty than your average Republican.
Do you think there’s a constituency in Indiana that loves the Saudi royal family? Did Republican voters in Louisiana pass a ballot initiative for nuking Iran? Is there some district in Ohio that really cares about sanctioning Russia? No. These are Beltway projects.
However, I do agree with the Beltway that serious, immediate action is needed to contain the world’s most dangerous states. I have one particular country in mind, ruled by decaying oligarchs. I have it on good authority that this government is loathed by its populace, that it is corrupt, that it brutalizes its most marginalized citizens, and that revolution is imminent any day now. Friends, if we are serious about peace and order in the world, then let us sanction the only rogue regime that matters: the one on the Potomac.