America’s brazen hypocrisy reached stunning new heights when the Trump Administration began threatening Iran with new sanctions and military action because it is scaling back its adherence to the Iran Nuclear Deal…the deal that Trump pulled the U.S. out of a year ago.
President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the nuclear weapons deal that President Obama cut with Iran brings with it a number of negative ramifications.
First and foremost, this unilateral act of reckless brinkmanship increases the chance of war. That’s unconscionable. By the way, Iran isn’t like Afghanistan or Iraq: it’s a big, modern country, half the size of Europe, with a real military and an air force that can defend itself.
Second, like many of Trump’s actions, the pullout is a policy decision based on a lie: by every reliable metric, Iran was keeping up its end of the agreement.
Third, the American decision will hurt the Iranian economy. Sanctions make ordinary people suffer. And they will increase, not decrease, support for that country’s religious establishment and the sectors of the government it controls. Ask the people of Cuba if sanctions and economic deprivation lead to regime change.
But there is an aspect of this “I’m taking my toys and going back to my yard” action that may have even broader implications than war and peace, yet receiving short shrift by the American media: Trump just put Iran on a higher moral plane than the United States.
That’s especially true in international diplomacy, the art of mitigating and resolving conflicts between nations that often don’t share a common language, much less cultural or religious attitudes. When a nation as powerful as the United States, which has done more to shape the postwar international order then any other country – there’s a reason that the United Nations is in New York — behaves dishonorably, it establishes a precedent whose repercussions will reverberate long after the crisis at hand is a distant memory.
A core principle within high-level dealmaking is that regime change does not erase treaty obligations. A revolution can overthrow a government or a shah, an ancien régime may wind up on the trash heap of history, but other nations expect each successor regime to honor deals signed by its predecessor. Border lines remain intact, embassies respected, peace deals honored. In the real world, of course, stuff happens, as when Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran during the 1979 Islamic revolution and held staffers hostage for over a year. Still, the ideal remains. And the duty to live up to that ideal falls hardest on the biggest and most powerful nations.
One important aspect in which the Islamic Republic of Iran has respected the international order has been its commitment to honor the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty even though it was ratified by a government it opposed and violently replaced, led by the deposed Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1970.
Since the revolution the International Atomic Energy Commission has never found Iran in violation of the NPT. Iranian officials have repeatedly stated that the country does not want to develop nuclear weapons. In 2005 Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei even signed a fatwa banning the “production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons.” Most reasonable people believe the Iranians do not want nuclear weapons, only nuclear power.
Yet the West, led by the United States, has often accused the Iranians of using the pretext of nuclear power development and medical research as a cover for such a proscribed program. But positive proof of Iranian noncompliance — which admittedly would be difficult to obtain — has never been presented publicly. In 2014, Iran agreed to the Obama Administration’s “Joint Plan of Action,” which increased inspections and reduced the country’s stockpile of enriched uranium in exchange for gradual easing of economic sanctions.
Again, there is no reason to believe that Iran hasn’t kept its end of the deal.
Now here comes Donald Trump, killing the JPA for little apparent reason other than the fact that it was put into place, not by a previous government with a completely different political orientation as was the case for the NPT ratified by the Shah and maintained under the Islamic Republic, but merely a different president, a Democrat, Barack Obama.
Trump’s announcement was long on red herrings, pretzel logic and silly smears, and woefully short on evidence, much less proof, that there is any justification to gin up yet another crisis in the Middle East. Contrary to the facts, Trump even cited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s clownish presentation of obsolete 15-year-old Iranian documents as “definitive proof” that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Netanyahu’s bluster proved nothing of the sort.
Trump says he wants to make a new deal. But who can trust him, or the United States, if the terms of an agreement can be changed on the political whim or after the election of a new president? Credibility and trustworthiness are hardearned; fecklessness destroys in an instant what it takes decades or even centuries to build up.
Now we are facing the ludicrous request by the leaders of Great Britain, France, and Germany that Iran continue to keep up its end of the deal despite the #USexit. Germany and Britain urged Iran to “continue to meet its own obligations under the deal.”
Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. Whatever happens next, though, the Iranians are not the ones tarnished by the dishonor of failing to adhere to an agreement negotiated by their own government.
(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)
Originally published by ANewDomain.net:
The nuclear deal with Iran is a good thing. President Obama deserves credit for initiating the dialogue and for negotiations that led to terms to which both sides can agree. As Winston Churchill said but too few Americans believe:
“To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”
So why are there still so many high-profile opponents to this agreement, which provides for an inspections regime to enforce Iran’s promise not to develop a nuclear weapons program in exchange for lifting international economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic?
According to the vast majority of writers and broadcasters working for corporate media, the opposition is ideological.
Saudi Arabia, they say, is afraid that Shiite Iran will violate the agreement in order to become the second nuclear state in the Middle East, after Israel, and might threaten to use it against them or one of their Sunni allies. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel, by this way of thinking, are also worried that Iran might increase its support of terrorist organizations as its economy improves.
Since President Obama has promised to veto any attempt by the Republican-led Congress to derail the agreement, and it would be difficult for the GOP to muster the two thirds majority necessary to override the president’s veto, resistance is pretty much pro forma.
According to the Republicans, they’re not afraid of peace or jonesing for war against Iran – they just don’t think there’s any way to prevent the Iranians from cheating the inspectors, and in an echo of the classic complaint that a restaurant has terrible food and such small portions, the inspections don’t go far enough into the future.
The media has been playing his usual role as government transcriber, taking GOP officials at their word.
Even Obama has paid lipservice to these concerns, expressing his own complaints about Iran’s “threats” against Israel in his speech announcing the deal.
In fact, the much-ballyhooed statement by former Iranian President Ahmadinejad about wanting to “wipe Israel off the map” has been debunked. He never said that.)
The truth is, opposition to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran has a lot more to do with business than ideology.
Iran has the fourth-largest proven oil reserves in the world. After all the sanctions are lifted, energy analysts believe that there will be a significant price drop for a barrel of crude worldwide. “The thinks Iran can get back to producing 4 million barrels of oil per day — the level it was at in 2008 — by the end of this decade. Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh wants Iran to resume its spot as the world’s No. 2 oil exporter behind Saudi Arabia (a spot currently occupied by Russia). But that’s far from assured, and there could easily be hiccups on the way,” reports Vox.
Oil prices have already been declining. This is been terrible news for Saudi Arabia, the world number-one oil producer, currently responsible for about 10 million barrels per day of production. “A potential return of Iranian oil to the market could not have come at a worse time,” Barclays commodities analyst Michael Cohen says. “An increase in Iranian exports beyond 300,000 to 400,000 barrels a day would be difficult for the market to absorb.” Goldman Sachs agrees. So do commodities markets, which pushed oil futures lower when news of the Iran deal broke.
The only terrorism that the Saudi royal family cares about is a 9/11-style attack on their numbered Swiss bank accounts, which they fear might be the effect of all that new Iranian oil coming online. (Anyway, Saudi Arabia is probably in a better position than just about any other country to put a dent in terrorism if it ever felt like it, since it funds radical Wahhabi-inspired madrasahs and insurgent groups throughout Asia and Africa.)
Here in the United States, opposition to allowing Iran to enjoy full trading relations and diplomatic links with the global community is centered around right-wing Republicans in the House and Senate. As with the Saudis, the real reason that they’re against this deal is that it represents a clear and present danger to big oil.
87% of donations by oil and gas companies and 95% of those from the coal industry to members of Congress go to Republicans. The Republican Party is owned lock, stock and barrel by energy conglomerates, which stand to see their profits shrink as oil prices drop in response to the increasing global production anticipated by the revival of Iran’s oil sector.
So the next time you watch talking heads go on and on about the fear that the crazy mullahs of Tehran want to fire an ICBM into Tel Aviv, remember that this rhetoric has a lot less to do with worrying about terrorism or the safety of Israel, and everything to do with oil company profits.