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For War Hawks, Iran Deal Dump Is Music to the Ears

Donald Trump is expected to tell Congress as early as Friday that he will not to re-certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The Iran Nuclear Review Agreement Act, also known as Corker-Cardin, obliges the president to make this certification every 90 days. If he does not, Congress has a period of 60 days when it’s able to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions that had been lifted as part of the nuclear deal. Despite grudgingly agreeing to approve the deal twice earlier this year, the president made plain over the summer that he didn’t believe Iran was in compliance and would not certify again. While decertification will not mean an immediate U.S. withdrawal from the agreement, it will set into motion a process that’s very likely to lead to the same result, and send a clear signal of the administration’s determination to be rid of the deal in its current form.

This is folly.

While the administration claims it’s seeking to pressure Iran into making more concessions, the pursuit of an imaginary “better” deal is designed to create political cover for reneging on U.S. obligations later on. None of the other parties to the nuclear deal is willing to renegotiate it, and our European allies have been adamant that they will continue to respect the agreement even if the U.S. reneges. Issuing new demands and calling for renegotiation when none of our allies wants to reopen the matter will obviously fail, and will put unnecessary strain on relations with those governments.

There is no “better” deal to be had, in any case. The “flaws” in the current deal that the administration has criticized aren’t going to be “fixed” because there would have been no agreement without them. For example, the expiration of some restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in 10 or 15 years is a normal part of any arms control agreement, and no government would accept severe restrictions in perpetuity. Demanding that sunset clauses be removed from the deal is demanding something that we already know Iran would never accept.

The decertification decision will kick the issue to Congress. Some Republican members, including Congressman Ed Royce and Senator Rand Paul, have expressed a preference to keep the deal in place so long as Iran remains in compliance. Hard-line opponents of the deal may not rush to reimpose sanctions right away, but it seems implausible that the same people who have fought tooth and nail against the agreement will miss their chance to blow it up. And if Congress does produce sanctions legislation in the next two months, it is fanciful to think Trump would veto a bill to keep an agreement he hates alive.

A leading proponent of decertification in the Senate, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, delivered a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations last week in which he laid out the views of the deal’s hardline opponents. Cotton was among the fiercest and loudest opponents of the agreement before it was made, and he has continued to look for ways to sabotage it. In his speech [1], Cotton made clear he isn’t really interested in getting a “better” deal with Tehran because he doesn’t think any deal with them has merit. He wants to create conditions that justify reneging on the agreement and then pursuing a more aggressive policy towards Iran, up to and including regime change. Nicholas Miller came [2] to the same conclusion.

At first glance, the desire to undermine the agreement makes no sense. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified that Iran is complying with the deal’s terms in eight consecutive reports over the last two years. The agency’s inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities are among the most thorough and extensive in the world. The deal appears to be working just as its creators intended, making it practically impossible for Iran to build a nuclear weapon. Despite all that, Trump insists it is one of the worst agreements ever made. To understand why Iran hawks loathe the JCPOA so much, we have to remember that it deprived them of their main pretext for launching an attack on Iran, and as long as the deal remains intact it creates an obstacle to war and the pursuit of regime change.

The immediate costs of decertification for the U.S. will include the loss of the trust of our allies, increased tensions with Iran, and much greater skepticism from all other governments the next time America wants to negotiate a major international agreement. If decertification leads to the U.S. breaching our obligations under the nuclear deal, as seems likely, all these costs will increase, and so will the chances of war with Iran.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog [3]. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American SceneCulture11, and The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter [4].

33 Comments (Open | Close)

33 Comments To "For War Hawks, Iran Deal Dump Is Music to the Ears"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On October 13, 2017 @ 12:48 am

Making war in other people’s countries is what an American government captured by globalist financial elites is all about. For elites, such wars, paid for by the deplorable ordinary Americans they loathe, have no downside and carry no risk to them. Lose-lose for the American public is win-win for them, they cannot lose, especially since wars that can’t be won will never end, perfect profit streams.

#2 Comment By 80 Percent Polyester On October 13, 2017 @ 5:39 am

“Cotton was among the fiercest and loudest opponents of the agreement before it was made, and he has continued to look for ways to sabotage it.”

Cotton is one of the biggest Israel money guys in the Senate, if not the biggest. Really whopping contributions – “the Swamp” personified. In return for Israel money he has tirelessly pushed the core Israeli policy of hostility to Iran, so much so that it hardly makes sense to think of him as an American senator anymore.

He’s more like a member of the Netanyahu government who somehow ended up in one of Arkansas’s US Senate seats.

#3 Comment By Early To Rise On October 13, 2017 @ 5:58 am

Does anyone here know any real Americans who are pushing for this policy against Iran?

My family and friends are nearly all real Americans, and not one of them has any interest in ending the deal with Iran. Most of them wish we would get out of the Middle East altogether.

So the question is, who are these people all excited about Iran? Other than politicians who may be working for foreign lobbies?

#4 Comment By Christian Chuba On October 13, 2017 @ 7:16 am

This is pure lawlessness. We are breaking an agreement and by advocating regime change against a govt that has not attacked us or even threatened us in a serious manner are breaking the U.N. charter.

We are doing this while condemning other countries for not following a ‘liberal, rules based world order’ (whatever that is, oh, wait, it is following Caesar’s decrees). Our Hubris will catch up to us, whether it will be by the Almighty that the Haley’s and Cotton’s claim to serve or just the law of reciprocity, I don’t know. No one is more blind than those corrupted by power.

John Quincy Adams, “But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy…She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication…The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.”

He was able to see this because we were not yet intoxicated by power.

#5 Comment By Everything Must Go On October 13, 2017 @ 8:01 am

Screw Trump. I mean really, screw him.

He got my vote because I thought he was going to first crush ISIS and then get us out of the Middle East. Instead he’s intensifying nearly every aspect of our Middle East entanglements.

Now he’s creating a new mess of his own.

And this crap he’s pulling with Iran is for Saudi Arabia and Israel.

America First … really?

#6 Comment By Frederick Martin On October 13, 2017 @ 9:38 am

Of all of the Obama-era foreign policy decisions Trump could pull back, he’s hell-bent on crushing one of the only good ones.

I’d be shocked if he has even an elementary understanding of the agreement. “Moron”, as Tillerson would say.

#7 Comment By Fred Bowman On October 13, 2017 @ 10:14 am

What seem to be missing here is anybody talking about Israel nuclear capability. That’s the “dirty little secret” that nobody talks about. Imho, as long as Iran is in compliance the deal should. Of course Trump and the Hawks in Congress are going to do everything to scuttle it and bring about a war with Iran which will end up being a World War and will necessitate the US returning to a military draft to fight this war. It will be a sad way to “wake up” America to what is being done militarily in their name. But perhaps when they see their little “Johnny and Jill” marched off to war, they’ll see what has been done in these endless, unwinnable wars in the Middle East.

#8 Comment By AR complaint On October 13, 2017 @ 10:31 am

[Tom Cotton gets] “Really whopping contributions – “the Swamp” personified.”

He got a $700,000 check from a single Israel donor in 2014. You think anybody in Arkansas not named “Walton” can match that? No sir. Tom Cotton does what Israel tells him to do. Scuttle the Iran deal? No problem.

It’s time that my fellow Arkansans did for Tom Cotton what those upstanding Virginians did for Eric Cantor back in 2014, and for the same reason: we want our government back from corrupt politicians working for foreign interests.

#9 Comment By SDS On October 13, 2017 @ 11:53 am

I second EVERYTHING said above by all –

#10 Comment By Steve Waclo On October 13, 2017 @ 11:53 am

“…the president made clear over the summer, he didn’t “believe” Iran was in compliance and would not certify again.”

Wait, what?!

What does Trump know that the IAEA has been unable to learn and at the risk of compromising intelligence sources, why has he not shared that knowledge? As with many of the man’s “beliefs”, such attitudes do not make issues remotely true.

We don’t need to stir the Iran pot, for goodness sake. Has not this man kicked enough hornets nests around the world?

#11 Comment By Stephen J. On October 13, 2017 @ 11:58 am

I believe the “War Hawks”are leading Trump into another war. Therefore, I asked on:
February 4, 2017
Will There Be War With Iran?
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#12 Comment By Steve in Ohio On October 13, 2017 @ 12:35 pm

“Cotton is one of the biggest Israel money guys in the Senate, if not the biggest. Really whopping contributions – “the Swamp” personified. In return for Israel money he has tirelessly pushed the core Israeli policy of hostility to Iran, so much so that it hardly makes sense to think of him as an American senator anymore.”

Cotton is wrong on this issue, but he’s hardly a Swamp politico. He understands the dangers of mass immigration and looks likely to replace Jeff Sessions as the leading immigration hawk in the Senate. Unfortunately, I suspect he has presidential ambitions and being pro Israel is a must in GOP primaries.

Rand Paul, on the other hand, like his dad, is good on foreign policy, but doesn’t get the immigration issue. People like me who want a non interventionist FP and low immigration seldom have candidates that believe in both to support. I had high hopes for Trump, but he seems to have too many generals around him telling him the wrong things.

#13 Comment By the times they are a’changing On October 13, 2017 @ 1:23 pm

“Cotton is wrong on this issue, but he’s hardly a Swamp politico. He understands the dangers of mass immigration and looks likely to replace Jeff Sessions as the leading immigration hawk in the Senate. Unfortunately, I suspect he has presidential ambitions and being pro Israel is a must in GOP primaries. “

No it’s not. It was a litmus test for the old neocon Establishment GOP, and it’s gone the way of Eric Cantor. You have to go to New York, DC, or some left coastal city to find anyone who gives a goddamn about it, and those places don’t vote Republican anyway.

Politicians who take the Israel dollar care about it a lot, naturally. And Cotton’s near the top of the list.

#14 Comment By jk On October 13, 2017 @ 2:04 pm

Don the Neocon..

We can keep the military in the end-stateless, goal-less, sinkhole known as Afghanistan for decades, STILL subsidize the defense of rich EU and Asian countries, fight the latest “Al qaeda offshoot” everywhere on the African continent but we can’t afford universal healthcare like US welfare baby Israel or about every other developed country, or restore power or drinking water in a US territory.

“NO KIN IN THE GAME”: STUDY FINDS MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WITHOUT DRAFT-AGE SONS WERE MORE HAWKISH”

[6]

That explains “lifetime bachelor” Graham’s behavior!

#15 Comment By Kent On October 13, 2017 @ 3:09 pm

To our neocon friends:

1. Even though Iran and Iraq are 4 letter words and share the first 3, they are very, very different animals. Iran is an industrial state of 85 million capable of designing and building effective rockets. It is highly unlikely the US can defeat Iran in a conventional war on its own turf.

2. Even if we did defeat them, there is nobody there yearning for American style pseudo-democracy. While they are not perfectly happy with their own government, they’ll be dammed if they’re going to accept one from us. So you’d have to put millions of American troops in harms way against the civilian population essentially forever.

And a note on the President. I don’t believe he knows or cares a thing about Iran or their capabilities. What he does know, after watching Fox News for the last 8 years is: Obama bad. So the only reason, I’m certain, that Trump cares about this is because it was an Obama initiative.

#16 Comment By Robert Charron On October 13, 2017 @ 3:34 pm

It appears that Trump’s strategy is to insult and ruin Ran’s economy to the point where he can get Iran to do something that will allow him to declare war against Iran because they attacked us.

And how many countries has Iran invaded in the last 200 years? And how many countries has Israel invaded in the last 80 years?

As I recall we made a regime change in the Iranian government when we had the CIA along with the English intelligence by replacing the elected Prime Minister of Iran with the despotic, tyrannical Shah.

As an American, Trump has desecrated our flag with his flat out lies, not the NFL athletes who simps knelt during the National Anthem.

#17 Comment By simon94022 On October 13, 2017 @ 3:54 pm

We will really find out who the Swamp creatures are now.

Any congressman or Senator who votes for new sanctions against Iran – a country that poses virtually no threat to the United States – exposes himself as a bought-and-paid-for tool of Saudi Arabia and the jihadist fanatics the Saudis support.

Let them be counted!

#18 Comment By Ollie On October 13, 2017 @ 4:26 pm

No president in history has been more feckless and reckless than Trump. The danger demands that the 25th amendment be asserted.

#19 Comment By Why Does The Heathen Rage? On October 13, 2017 @ 4:49 pm

“So the only reason, I’m certain, that Trump cares about this is because it was an Obama initiative.”

I’ve heard this before, but if it were true than why is Trump helping the Saudis wreck and starve Yemen? That was an Obama initiative too.

That’s why I now think that it’s not really the Obama connection so much as the Netanyahu connection that drives Trump.

In other words, it’s less that Trump wants to undo what Obama did and more that he wants to do what Netanyahu wants.

#20 Comment By Joe F On October 13, 2017 @ 5:05 pm

Any notion of American excellence has now been erased. Our country will not soon recover all that Trump has tossed away and as citizens, we cannot absolve ourselves from blame. We have elected the most odious leader in our history and have allowed (mostly) a Republican Party to participate in government without having made a single contribution to the welfare of the American republic. Cotton is not alone in his folly that dismisses all real national interest. Like others, there have been many times I have despaired at the state of affairs in our Country, but this is different. Trump and his vandal allies I believe have inflicted permanent and irreversible damage to our country.

#21 Comment By Joe F On October 13, 2017 @ 5:07 pm

One follow up to earlier post: with this action, Trump has proven beyond doubt that the Mullah regime in Iran is a far more trustworthy nation than the United States. Well done Donald

#22 Comment By Liam On October 13, 2017 @ 5:21 pm

Regarding the 25th amendment option: how far down the line of succession must one go to find someone who has solid, bona fide cred to stop this inanity?

#23 Comment By picture window On October 13, 2017 @ 5:45 pm

The Economist today opines that Xi Jinping has more clout than Donald Trump.

And I read on TAC that Trump is p***ing away our wealth and power doing favors for Israel and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, like scuttling the Iran deal and picking fights with the Iranian government. And I conclude that the reason that the Economist may be right about Xi Jinping is because Trump is doing what I read about in TAC, wasting our time, blood, money, and focus on appeasing a bunch of goddamn foreigners in the form of the Israel and Saudi lobbies.

Pretty damn grim.

#24 Comment By cka2nd On October 14, 2017 @ 1:52 am

Why Does The Heathen Rage? says: “I’ve heard this before [that Trump opposes the Iran deal ‘because it was an Obama initiative’], but if it were true than why is Trump helping the Saudis wreck and starve Yemen? That was an Obama initiative too.

“That’s why I now think that it’s not really the Obama connection so much as the Netanyahu connection that drives Trump.

“In other words, it’s less that Trump wants to undo what Obama did and more that he wants to do what Netanyahu wants.”

I’ve been wondering about the anti-Obama explanation for Trump doing this, but I question whether his actions have to do with Israel or the Saudis, too. If it was simply and only the latter, he’d be doubling down in Syria, wouldn’t he? I still don’t really get why he is so driven to undo the Iran nuke deal, and neither Obama, Israel nor Saudi Arabia satisfy me as the answer.

#25 Comment By rick On October 14, 2017 @ 10:17 am

I’m amazed at how many people blame others for “swaying” Trump as though he was a true anti-interventionist. It’s like no one paid attention to anything that came out of his mouth. He’s a moron.

#26 Comment By Jj On October 14, 2017 @ 5:52 pm

3 countries applauded Trump on decertifying Iran deal. Israel, Saudis Arabia and UAE. All are providers and supporters of Al Qeda, ISIS and all other terror groups. All are rogue states and bigger threat to US interest than Iran. The only difference is that these 3 countries have huge lobbies in Washington.

#27 Comment By jfetzer2012 On October 14, 2017 @ 10:18 pm

Having voted Democratic in the past (including for Bill twice and for Barack twice, too), I was favorably impressed that Trump promised to end the wars in the Middle East and to reallocate American resources to benefit Americans.

A study by Boston University and University of Minnesota established that the reason Trump beat Hillary was that residents in rural counties who had suffered casualties in Middle East was judged him to be the less likely to continue them.

Now we find he is sending more troops to Afghanistan and provoking tensions with Iran to benefit his master, who has turned him into a puppet for Israel. This is intolerable and has to be brought to a rapid end lest the nation suffer more and more serious damage.

The 25th Amendment has to be brought into play and used to remove this man from office. He has demonstrated (to me, conclusively) that he lacks the knowledge, intelligence, discipline and temperament to serve as our President. Let it happen sooner than later. The nation is at risk.

#28 Comment By Patricus On October 14, 2017 @ 10:37 pm

Those who call Trump a moron play right into his hands. The moron got elected to the presidency somehow. He outmaneuvred all the proffessional pols and defeated Hillary with half her funds. He made a pretty good living in real estate. Similar people called Reagan the “amiable dunce”. It is good to be underestimated.

It distresses me that Trump wants to spend tax dollars and run up the debt. Almost no one in our government wants to restrain spending. Iran, Isis, China and Russia are tiny threats vs the 20 trillion debt.

Good for Trump in the way he has upended the establishment and the media. Long overdue. Will the establishment ever retrieve its power and influence?

#29 Comment By jim fetzer On October 14, 2017 @ 11:56 pm

Having voted Democratic in the past (including for Bill twice and for Barack twice, too), I was favorably impressed that Trump promised to end the wars in the Middle East and to reallocate American resources to benefit Americans.

A study by Boston University and University of Minnesota established that the reason Trump beat Hillary was that residents in rural counties who had suffered casualties in Middle East was judged him to be the less likely to continue them.

Now we find he is sending more troops to Afghanistan and provoking tensions with Iran to benefit his master, who has turned him into a puppet for Israel. This is intolerable and has to be brought to a rapid end lest the nation suffer more and more serious damage.

The 25th Amendment has to be brought into play and used to remove this man from office. He has demonstrated (to me, conclusively) that he lacks the knowledge, intelligence, discipline and temperament to serve as our President. Let it happen sooner than later. The nation is at risk.

#30 Comment By fear of the known On October 15, 2017 @ 7:59 am

Trump continues to mystify me.

His undermining of the Iran deal has made a lot of people who didn’t vote for him very happy.

I suppose there’s really not much rhyme or reason to what he does. Just infantile lashing out, infantile flailing.

I wish he would start lashing out at foreign H-1B workers. Or at the obstructionists in Congress who are refusing to build the wall.

Indeed, I wish he would start lashing out at the so-called “adults” in his administration who are advising him to intensify our entanglements in the Middle East instead of reducing them and ultimately getting us out – the same types who pushed us into fighting and losing stupid, needless wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria, and who are now trying to start the biggest, stupidest war we could possibly fight in the Middle East.

#31 Comment By unhappy Trump voter On October 15, 2017 @ 8:29 am

@fear of the known “His undermining of the Iran deal has made a lot of people who didn’t vote for him very happy.”

And it made a lot of people who did vote for him very unhappy.

#32 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 15, 2017 @ 9:16 am

‘This is intolerable and has to be brought to a rapid end lest the nation suffer more and more serious damage.
The 25th Amendment has to be brought into play and used to remove this man from office.’

Good grief. Every pres. before Pres Trump has been (in my view) overly supportive of Israel. Israel has a right to exist, but whether we need support her every decision is another matter.

What is hurting the country are the policies established long before Pres Trump came into office.
—————————–
“And it made a lot of people who did vote for him very unhappy.”

Hmmmm . . . ditto with the caveat that it depends on the actual impact. In my understanding of how much money is at stake, I doubt our allies will shift from their positions and will press ahead —
if that is the case and they move forward without us — as I suspect they will —

Our departure won’t mean much. And that would have been self defeating.

#33 Comment By Rehmat On October 15, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

Trump’s tail is being pulled by the pro-Israel warmongers because they know Israel after defeated twice (2000 and 2006) by Hizbullah fighters is very scared to face Iranian army without American boots.

As far Trump’s decertification of nuclear agreement with Tehran is concerned – the only leader who is going to his butts would be Netanyahu. The leaders of Russia, China, France, Germany and EU have already refused to follow Trump’s decision.

Dr. Noam Chomsky in his in his upcoming book “Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy” claims that US-Israeli anti-Iran propaganda is based on lies because both countries are afraid of an “independent Iran”.

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