- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Bolton’s Pathetic Case for Reneging on the Nuclear Deal

John Bolton makes [1] the weakest possible case for Trump’s decision to renege on the nuclear deal with Iran:

He decided that this deal actually undermines the security of the American people he swore to protect and, accordingly, ended U.S. participation in it. This action reversed an ill-advised and dangerous policy and set us on a new course that will address the aggressive and hostile behavior of our enemies, while enhancing our ties with partners and allies.

Iran’s nuclear program and the restrictions placed upon it by the JCPOA are notably absent from Bolton’s op-ed, because there is no credible argument to be made that the deal wasn’t doing exactly what it was supposed to do. Like other critics of the deal, Bolton focuses on everything except what the deal does because he cannot dispute the tremendous success it has had in limiting Iran’s nuclear program and establishing the most rigorous verification measures in the world. He refers to the agreement’s “abysmal record,” but he never identifies a single flaw in the agreement that the president has repeatedly denounced as the worst in the world. The deal’s record as a nonproliferation agreement has been outstanding, and that is why Bolton is desperate to change the subject to talk about anything but that.

Bolton claims that Trump’s decision “enhances” ties with “partners and allies,” but this is also risible. As far as the vast majority of our allies and other governments around the world is concerned, Bolton’s statement is absolutely untrue. The only relationship that Bolton can cite to support his claim is the one with Israel, and even this is misleading. Bolton conveniently leaves out the fact that most Israeli national security professionals are opposed to U.S. withdrawal from the agreement because they recognize the value it has for Israeli security, and instead he spends a large portion of his op-ed justifying another ill-conceived Trump decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. U.S. ties with our major European allies are already coming under significant strain as a result of Trump’s initial decision, and those ties will become increasingly strained if the administration forces the issue and tries to penalize European companies for doing business with Iran.

He calls the agreement the “failed nuclear deal,” but in terms of the only thing it was ever meant to do–restricting Iran’s nuclear program–it has been extraordinarily successful and Iran’s compliance has been verified ten times in a row. When Bolton says that the deal has “failed,” he is measuring it against an unreasonable and dishonest standard that no agreement could ever meet. The fixation of the deal’s opponents on Iran’s other, non-nuclear behavior is telling. It shows that they refuse to judge the deal on the merits and instead look for any excuse to blame the agreement for anything that Iran does that they dislike. This is akin to blaming Cold War arms control treaties for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and it is every bit as ridiculous. All of this confirms once again how pathetically weak the arguments against the deal have always been, and it is why no one except for ideologues and Trump loyalists take them seriously.

13 Comments (Open | Close)

13 Comments To "Bolton’s Pathetic Case for Reneging on the Nuclear Deal"

#1 Comment By Beachcomber On May 10, 2018 @ 2:51 am

I for one feel existentially threatened by Iran’s imaginary nukes and am grateful that Trump is going to start another war for Israel to end that threat

And oh yes I forgot: as Canadian-born David Frum taught us during during our triumphant war against Iraq, anyone who doesn’t support this is a traitor to America.

#2 Comment By dover On May 10, 2018 @ 2:59 am

Not wasting any time are they?

Too bad they don’t have the same sense of urgency about immigration, the Wall, the work visas for foreigners, the promised infrastructure projects …

I guess they figure that they’re going to lose in 2018 and 2020 anyway, so they might as well run errands for Wall Street and Israel instead of doing the stuff they promised America.

#3 Comment By Whine Merchant On May 10, 2018 @ 3:34 am

In the world of NeoCons, Netanyahu, and nabobs, we don’t use facts and logic – we use good ole ‘Murican exceptionalism and emotion. It was good enough for the pioneers in Conestoga wagons, and it’s good enough for Trump.

Bolton applies the same pseudo-logic that the military used to cleanse the native tribes from the west after the Civil War. Treaties be damned, we want that land!

#4 Comment By the week in bloodsucking On May 10, 2018 @ 5:33 am

“This action reversed an ill-advised and dangerous policy and set us on a new course that will address the aggressive and hostile behavior of our enemies, while enhancing our ties with partners and allies.”

That’s good to hear, Mr. Bolton. Because so far the effect has been to make “enemies” more aggressive and hostile and to alienate our partners and allies.

All except Israel and Saudi Arabia, of course, which aren’t allies in any formal sense, and which are partners only in the sense that they expect us to fight and pay for their wars.

#5 Comment By Christian Chuba On May 10, 2018 @ 7:12 am

The JCPOA succeeded in the areas which are actually measurable, Iran’s nuclear program. It failed in areas which are vague and hopelessly subjective, ‘Iran’s bad behavior’, how would someone write or measure the enforcement of such a clause?

One day we put Iraq on the list of countries that Iran has allegedly tyrannized, another day, Tillerson accidentally mentions that the Shiite militias were helpful in fighting ISIS, our Kurdish militias tried to break Iraq apart, was that good or bad? I guess it was good because we did it but had Iran done it it would have been evidence of their malfeasance.

It doesn’t matter, our foreign policy establishment is hopelessly corrupt. Nothing will change until we squander our power and we become irrelevant.

#6 Comment By Centralist On May 10, 2018 @ 7:50 am

My Good Sir,

You expect facts to matter in politics? This is the United States of America were we can bomb anyone into submission and wreck havoc on the world while our own culture frays at the center. Every Great Nation falls I just hope it falls after my yet to be born children’s children’s children are long into their old age. I rather not have my future life be in the successor state of a balkanized USA.

#7 Comment By git and stay gone On May 10, 2018 @ 8:46 am

By pulling out of the JCPOA, the US has violated the UN Charter.

I wonder whether that means Haley will have to find a new job. It certainly makes hash of all her pious crap about other countries defying UN resolutions.

#8 Comment By liberal On May 10, 2018 @ 9:34 am

git and stay gone wrote,

By pulling out of the JCPOA, the US has violated the UN Charter.

Right, antiwar.com has an article about that: [2].

One funny thing is all the anti-JCPOA folks tweeting that if Obama really wanted the deal, he should have gotten 2/3 of the Senate to approve it. Apart from the fact that this completely ignores the question of whether Trump should have pulled out of the pact, it also is ignorant of the fact that (for better or worse), the “must have 2/3 of the Senate” bit of the Constitution is a dead letter.

For example, NAFTA was passed as an act of Congress, with 38 US senators opposed. (Aside: the Democrats in Congress came out against it more than the Republicans.)

This stuff has been going on for a long time, and has hte imprimatur of the USSC.

#9 Comment By gnashingofteeth On May 10, 2018 @ 10:14 am

Good morning, children! Who’s excited about sending U.S. troops to Iran, without a declaration of war, to attack targets that attacked Israeli targets that attacked Iranian targets in Syria?

#10 Comment By LouisM On May 10, 2018 @ 12:07 pm

Of course Bolton has a pathetic case for JPOA, the real case is not going to get disclosed nor will the real strategy so they are manufacturing a case just like BushII did.

Of course Israel and Saudi Arabia want war between the US and Iran.
Of course Iran is not a threat to the US (but it is a threat to Europe and as Turkey is a threat to Europe).
The real question is whether Trump is willing to go all the way to war with Iran as lapdog BushII did or whether Trump will:
1) push it to the brink as he did in North Korea and see if any cracks, fissures, collapse develop from pressure alone
2) push it to the brink but tell green light Israel (and Saudi Arabia) to attack Iran while the US covertly provides support but does not get involved in another Mideast war. The theory here is that Iran will collapse economically and militarily like Iraq did from Israeli (and Saudi allied Mideast nations) forces alone because the American people will not support another proxy Mideast war for Israel or Saudi Arabia nor does the US have the money for another Mideast war.

#11 Comment By General Manager On May 10, 2018 @ 12:07 pm

The deep government has so ingrained itself into the very fabric of our national decision making and oversight that I believe the war they want is the war they will get. When have they been denied? Even a brilliant senator like Fullbright was removed when he demanded balance in our ME policies. This is a very dismal situation. Bolton is just the selected monitor to ensure unswerving fidelity to the neocon agenda.

#12 Comment By Anonne On May 10, 2018 @ 12:53 pm

Unreasonable and dishonest… that’s the Republican Party’s M.O.

#13 Comment By speculatrix On May 11, 2018 @ 6:23 am

@git and gone — “violated the UN Charter”

Maybe. I wonder, what is our status in the United Nations now that Trump has violated the Charter that we ourselves helped write? It could to be pretty ticklish, seeing as we provide the lion’s share of the UN’s operating budget. But it’s not that much, and given the potential geopolitical rewards, I’d guess that the Chinese, Russians, and Europeans will step in to take our place.

The more I think about it, the more it seems that pulling out of the Iran deal means pulling out of the UN. Maybe not for a while, but eventually. How long do you stay in an organization for which you express open contempt and whose basic membership rules you violate?

Will Trump use the occasion of moving our embassy to Jerusalem to tell the UN to get out of New York City? Or is that be a little too much “America First” for someone who owns so much valuable real estate around UN headquarters? Or would he perhaps see it as an opportunity to re-brand the iconic Secretariat building as “The Trump League of Nations”, with a blue chip roster of founding members, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, and Tonga?