Here’s why the Obama-Kerry agreement with Iran is a bad deal: it represented a huge payout of cash to a rising, outlaw regime if it would hold its nuclear threat in abeyance for a while. The cash was immediate and certain. Iran’s end of the deal, however clear in 2015, was vague and uncertain as years passed. Besides, who needs nuclear weapons, when rich countries come around to pay you for something you don’t even have?
Strong, self-confident powers guide themselves with a steady hand.
I don’t write these words because I want to say Trump did the right thing to repudiate Obama’s agreement with Iran. Almost nothing we do in the area of nuclear policy is the right thing. We persuade Qaddafi to give up his nuclear ambitions, then chuckle in public as his killers sodomize him with a stick before they mutilate and torture him to death. We threaten the North Koreans with total destruction before the Winter Olympics, consent to talk with them in Singapore after the Olympics, then back out of the summit. Russia shoots down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine while it threatens the United States with nuclear war, and we praise our bros in Moscow.
The world is watching, folks. Strong, self-confident powers guide themselves with a steady hand. They don’t substitute cash emoluments for clear policy, overthrow leaders because we decide they’re not worth our time anymore, or become good buddies with clearly expansionist powers who mean the United States nothing but harm. These are the actions of a country that does not have the slightest idea about how to act.
Try to find one instance where the United States successfully pursued a strategic aim – especially related to nuclear weapons in the Middle East – and you will search a long time.
Remember that the United States kicked off its run of ineptitude with a war against Iraq in 2003, a war whose main goal was to remove nuclear weapons the country did not have. “Who cares?” the President Bush said when the weapons didn’t turn up. Well we started to care when Iran moved in to fill the chaotic empty space we left, then decided the Iranians might appreciate a little extra cash while they ‘restored order.’ Try to find one instance where the United States successfully pursued a strategic aim – especially related to nuclear weapons in the Middle East – and you will search a long time.
Strong powers, secure in their leadership, do not have to fight wars. Rising powers pick their fights and win. Declining powers pick their fights, too, but victory escapes them. After the debacle in Iraq, country after country in North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia observes, ‘Those Americans can’t do anything. Look what they did right next door.’ Big surprise when Russia, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Islamic State and at least a dozen other non-state actors move in to clean up the Pottery Barn. We broke it, but we definitely do not own it.