Home/Daniel Larison/Trump and Iran

Trump and Iran

President Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com, European External Action Service/Flickr

Scott McConnell asks what we could expect from Trump on foreign policy, specifically on Iran:

The greater neoconservative goal, of course, is the prevention any American rapprochement with Iran, keeping the sanctions going till they have a president willing to start a war on the country. How does Trump fit into that?

I have tried to avoid writing about Trump as much as possible over the last few months, because it is generally a waste of time to attempt to analyze the policy views of an opportunistic demagogue, but since the question has been asked here I’ll try to answer it. As far as I can tell, Trump endorses the hard-liners’ position on the nuclear deal. He has characteristically denounced it in the most hyperbolic terms, he is preparing to share a stage with the only other presidential candidate that can match him in demagogic rhetoric to repeat these denunciations, and two of the groups sponsoring the rally that Trump will attend are among the most fanatical hawkish organizations in the U.S. He has also repeated some of the most ludicrous and dishonest hawkish talking points about what the deal requires of the U.S. For instance, he recently repeated the lie that the deal obliges the U.S. to defend Iran from an Israeli attack:

He then claimed that there’s something in the Iran deal saying if someone attacks Iran, “we have to come to their defense.” And so he interpreted that to conclude, “If Israel attacks Iran, according to that deal, I believe the way it reads… that we have to fight with Iran against Israel.”

This is complete and utter nonsense, so it doesn’t surprise me that Trump believes it (or at least claims to believe it). This is the sort of deliberate distortion of the deal’s contents that hard-line “pro-Israel” hawks like to indulge in. Rubio said something similar to this in his questioning of Kerry earlier in the summer. It should tell us everything we need to know about Trump’s views on foreign policy that he buys into these lies and repeats them. There are all kinds of reasons not to trust Trump’s judgment, but his statements on the nuclear deal are sufficient to prove that his foreign policy judgment is horrible.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles