(A detour from more typical content to talk about an issue that is important to me)
Earlier this May, President Trump broke the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran Deal, by pulling out of it. He has long touted it as “the worst deal ever,” (not to be confused with NAFTA, “the worst trade deal ever”), and so US withdrawal was really no surprise.
His alleged reasons for breaking the agreement were to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and to prevent it from using the money coming in due to lifted sanctions to fund its terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Syria. However, these reasons don’t hold up.
Iran has passed every single IAEA inspection it has undergone. For the very first time, the country has allowed it’s nuclear ambitions to be checked by an international party. If Trump wanted Iran’s continued compliance and halt of nuclear programs, he wouldn’t have left the deal.
The argument that Iran is all the more able to fund extremist groups now that it is no longer bound by sanctions is a little more complicated. Yes, Iran funds Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as the Syrian regime. But Hezbollah, although extreme in its rhetoric, is a legitimate political party in Lebanon, and in some instances the group has helped stabilize the country by acting as Lebanon’s sole defense against its ever-rapacious neighbor, Israel. (This is another topic all together, which I won’t get into here). As for Iran’s support of the Syrian regime, the US is not really one to criticize. American foreign policy has shifted sides in Syria between Assad’s brutal authoritarian government and various the rebel groups, which turned out to be mostly Al-Qaeda affiliates instead of Syrian revolutionaries.
If American withdrawal from the Iran Deal were simply about reinstating sanctions to stop funding to these entities, the US would also cut its alliance with Qatar, for example, which supports the Taliban, Al-Qaeda groups, and the Muslim Brotherhood. And Trump would not have signed a $110 billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia last year, which effectively gives the green light for the Kingdom to continue its vicious war in Yemen that targets civilians, schools, hospitals, and infrastructure with zero regard for human rights–or Yemeni lives. Not incidentally, this is a war against the Iran-supported Houthi group in Yemen.
These examples are all somewhat complex, but my point is that if the US wants to appeal to ethics and moral reasoning, it has a long way to go in order not to sound completely hypocritical.
The question then becomes, what was the real reason behind Trump’s decision? It’s actually not too tough to decipher. Trump is simply appeasing the interests of Netanyahu’s Israel and the Israeli lobby (AIPEC) in Washington, which were vehemently against the Iran Deal. The joint goal of Israel and the Trump regime is to ensure that Iran remains in the public consciousness as a rogue state, a menacing regime, a country on the “axis of evil” that cannot and should not be negotiated with. The truth is, these depictions are failing to hold up anymore as Iran is willing to participate in negotiations and is slowly becoming a legitimate international partner, and is often, ironically, on the same side as the US. That is why it is vital for Trump–pressured by Israel–to act quickly.
Shortly after Trump left the JCPOA, he officially moved the United States embassy in Israel from the Israeli capital of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the city that Palestinians have long considered their own capital. In doing this, Trump acts as a puppet of Israel, blatantly disregards the rights of Palestinians (over 50 of whom were killed by Israeli Defense Forces during protests), antagonizes the Middle East region, defies international partners and pits Israel against its Muslim neighbors, not least of all, Iran.
Israel has been bombing Syria for months now, and on May 11th, Iran finally responded by firing 20 rockets at Israel in retaliation, which then prompted Israel to fire missiles that took out Iranian infrastructure in Syria and killed over 20 people. Israel and Iran are escalating toward war on Syrian ground, and this is all the more reason for Israel to secure the US position against Iran.
In the end, it almost seems as though Trump is intentionally irking Iran into all-out war with Israel and into building up its nuclear programs so that he can say “I told you so,” and sign more multi-billion dollar weapons deals in the name of preventative measures.