As threats to Trump mount, allies must uphold the Iran deal
By: NEWS TODAYPublished: 6 months ago
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It’s not every day that a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, America’s premier law-enforcement body, calls the sitting president of the US “morally unfit” to hold office. Yet that is what James Comey did on Sunday in a wide-ranging interview with ABC News. The mounting criticism of Donald Trump’s presidency is, unfortunately, not surprising. So far, nothing about his tenure has been normal, and that extends beyond personal morality to his stewardship of the nation’s domestic and foreign policies. In shaping those policies, Trump has relied on cable television pundits, decades-old prejudices, and a narcissistic desire to undo the major achievements of his predecessor. This has manifested in Trump’s repeated and still largely failed effort to repeal Barack Obama’s signature health care program; withdrawal from the Paris climate accords and Trans-Pacific Partnership; and determined efforts to undermine the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the landmark Iran nuclear deal. On 12 May, Trump must decide for the fifth time whether to comply with the JCPOA and waive nuclear-related sanctions against Iran. He did so in January, but warned that it would be “the last time” unless perceived flaws in the agreement were “fixed”. Trump’s threat has led to a process of negotiations not with Iran but with the three major European powers – Britain, France, and Germany – that helped clinch the initial agreement in 2015 and have worked to find a diplomatic solution to curbing the Iranian nuclear program since 2003. Democrats are widely predicted to win control of at least the House of Representatives in midterm elections in November. That not only means the President would have even more difficulty passing legislation, but also raises the prospect of impeachment hearings. In such an uncertain political environment, when the longevity and effectiveness of the Trump presidency is in doubt, it is even more necessary that US allies hold firm and also counsel Iran to stick within the JCPOA. Before Trump decides on the fate of US participation in the JCPOA, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Washington. Trump has had a good relationship with Macron, enhanced by France’s decision to take part, with the US and Britain, in strikes on Syrian chemical weapons facilities in retaliation for yet another heinous gassing of Syrians by the Assad regime. Perhaps Macron can convince Trump that he will retain far more leverage over Iran, which is experiencing a deepening economic and political crisis, if the US stays within the JCPOA.