Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Iran, the US, and weak European foreign policy

The Beltway Village press has clearly decided yet again that Trump has become Presidential because the South Korean President met with Kim Jong-un. Amped Up Expectations Ahead Of President Donald Trump’s Planned Meeting With North Korea MSNBC 04/30/2018:

Part of that segment has decent information.

But would it be too much to expect the TV pundits to talk about Trump's nicey-nice rhetoric for a day or two on North Korea and how that might relate to the signs that John Bolton may be about to get his Iran War? (Apparently it is too much to expect.)

Then there's that small matter that every potential target of US wars has surely noticed: Saddam Hussein did away with his WMDs, and the US invaded and overthrew him. Muammar Khaddafi gave up his WMD programs and the US, Britain, and France intervened for a regime change operation. Nice people or not, any leader that wants to stay in power and would prefer not to be invaded by the United States will certainly be looking at those precedents when negotiating a nuclear disarmament deal with the US.

And since we all are supposed to talk like Cold Warriors these days, there's also the precedent of Ukraine giving up its nukes and then getting invaded and partially annexed by Russia, although that took a good decade longer than with Libya.

So from what I can tell, a meaningful agreement for nuclear arms control with North Korea is still a long way away. And it's unlikely in the extreme that NK will agree to any near-term full denuclearization, despite the fact that Trump keeps claiming that they've already committed to doing so.

If the US pulls out of the Iranian nuclear deal, it's by no means certain that Iran will maintain it with the European participants, as Ellie Geranmayeh warns in Europe’s Balancing Act On Nuclear Deal: Wooing Trump Without Losing Iran LobeLog Foreign Policy 05/02/2018. "In the process of wooing Washington on this bigger and better deal, Europe must ensure it does not end up losing Tehran, whose buy-in will be essential to succeeding in this effort," she writes.

Über-Realist Stephen Walt observes, "In response to Trump’s threats to leave the agreement, three key European leaders — French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and British Prime Minister Theresa May — have gone to great lengths to persuade Trump to do the right thing." (Europe Has No Clue How to Handle an American Bully Foreign Policy 05/02/2018

He judges their approach harshly, "The practical result of all this sucking up was disastrous. The top European powers had effectively caved in to the Trump administration’s view that the Iran deal is inadequate and has to be either replaced or supplemented by additional agreements."

And he observes:
Europe’s near-supine deference to Washington is not healthy, because it just encourages and enables America’s worst instincts. Caving into a bully may spare you some pain in the short term, but it reinforces the bully’s belief that threats and bluster invariably succeed. Do these people seriously think Donald Trump will appreciate what they are doing and reward them in the future? Have they been paying attention?

If the Iran deal eventually dies, in short, Macron, May, and Merkel will need to reflect on their contribution to its demise. Trump will deserve most of the blame, of course, but the Europeans’ misguided efforts to appease Trump in the hope of saving the deal will have played a role as well.

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