The Reasons Why Americans Wisely Oppose Trump's Chaotic Iran Policy
We have been writing about the Trump administration's dangerously inept Iran policy for two years. And, several recent polls now show that the majority of Americans also oppose the President's policies. The most recent poll, released Friday by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News, found that 56% of eligible voters disapprove of Trump's handling of the situation with Iran, with only 43% approving.
The respondents were also asked whether the administration's policies, including the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, make them feel more or less safe. Only 25% of Americans said they felt more safe after the attack, while 52% said they felt less safe.
Americans are wise to question the administration's Iran policy because it is a good example of the President's inability to formulate coherent strategies to achieve long-term policy objectives. His policies have neither deterred Iran or reduced tensions in the Middle East for a variety of reasons, but two were easily predictable.
1. Trump never had a viable plan to replace the Iran Nuclear Deal: Donald Trump campaigned on ending the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Obama and representatives of the UK, Russia, France, China, and Germany. The deal was crafted to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and was widely seen as successful despite the efforts of Iran hawks like Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser, John Bolton, and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu to undermine the agreement. It wasn't a perfect deal, but it gave the parties time to integrate Iran back into the world economy, build trust and fashion a longer-term agreement.
In 2018, Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear deal even though administration officials had continuously certified that Iran was living up to its obligations, and it had substantially reduced tensions between Washington and Tehran. The Trump administration's decision appeased hawks, but was opposed by many of America's most experienced foreign policy experts and our allies in the European Union. They warned that abrogating the agreement made it more likely that Iran would again step-up efforts to build a nuclear weapon and cause mischief in the region.
Illuminate: "The National Coalition to Prevent an Iranian Nuclear Weapon, including many of America's most distinguished foreign policy experts, has produced a list of just some of the strongest arguments for remaining in the pact [JCPOA]. You can read it here."
The President argued that he could get a better deal with Iran if we reimposed sanctions and isolated them economically. That was always a pipe-dream and, in fact, Iran has refused to renegotiate the deal and this year started to ramp up its nuclear program, launched a series of attacks against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, and downed an American drone. Trump's decision also further isolated the United States from its allies when the other signatories to the JCPOA attempted to find ways around his new sanctions against Iran.
2. The President's decision to abandon the Iran Nuclear Deal led directly to the new confrontation with Iran. President Trump's decision to kill Iranian General Soleimani directly resulted from his frustration with the failure of his Iran policy.
US sanctions have hurt the people of Iran and caused additional unrest in the country, but they haven't had any of the positive effects that Iran hawks hoped for. Even if Iran's leaders had some interest in renegotiating the JCPOA, they aren't going to do it with an administration they don't trust and which is going to demand concessions that would damage their position in the Middle East and undermine their strategic competition with Saudi Arabia. The lesson that they learned from Trump's policies is that having a nuclear weapon is probably the only way to insure their survival and negotiate from a position of strength.
Once it became clear to President Trump and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo that Iran wasn't going to simply fold, the White House needed to find a way to curtail Iran's increasingly provocative behavior and nuclear ambitions. Trump sought to send a clear message to Tehran that the United States would use force to prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon or obstructing the world's oil supply. They settled on assassinating Soleimani, Tehran responded with a missile attack on American bases in Iraq, and here we are. All of this was easily predictable and any foreign policy expert could have told Trump that this is where we would end up, almost exactly where we were before we negotiated the JCPOA.
To anyone who has followed US-Iran relations over the last few decades there is a real deja vu quality to this, except, and this is important, the US is in a weaker position than before because the American people have no interest in fighting another war in the Middle East, Iran has more leverage in Iraq and Syria, our allies in Europe don't support our efforts, and part of President Trump's platform was extricating us from foreign entanglements in that part of the world. And Iran knows all of this.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content