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Trump Sends Pompeo on a Fool’s Errand

The Trump administration antagonized major allies with its decision to renege on the nuclear deal, and they are so oblivious to the consequences of Trump’s decision that they are trying to get allied help to put more pressure on Iran:

Having returned from North Korea on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will begin talks in coming days to persuade allies in Europe, the Middle East and Asia to press Iran to return to negotiations over its nuclear and missile programs, U.S. officials said.

The open question is whether the allies, and above all Iran, will agree to resume full-fledged talks, having just seen the United States withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and renege on its promises under the landmark arms control accord.

Pompeo won’t be successful, and it’s difficult to see why he is bothering. None of the other parties to the deal has any interest in negotiating a new agreement, and they certainly won’t want to bother negotiating with this administration when they have seen how unreliable it is. Our European allies just went through months of meaningless talks with the U.S. over supposed “fixes” to the existing agreement only to see their efforts dismissed and their preferences ignored. They are working on ways to salvage the deal that Trump just sabotaged, and they aren’t going to waste more time and political capital cooperating with an administration that just shafted them for no good reason. No Iranian leader can afford to be seen making an agreement with the U.S. for the foreseeable future. Trump has made it politically toxic for anyone in Iran to support negotiations with the U.S. when he reneged on our government’s commitments. As far as all of the other parties are concerned, there is no need for a new deal, and none of them would trust the U.S. to honor a new deal even if one could be negotiated.

The administration may think that it can “drag” Iran to the table, but past experience shows that coercive and punitive measures just make the Iranian government less cooperative and more determined to resist U.S. demands. Since the U.S. has so few other governments on its side after abandoning the nuclear deal, there isn’t going to be much international support for a new effort to pressure Iran on anything. It turns out that flagrantly violating U.S. obligations and spitting in the faces of all of our negotiating partners is a poor way to build trust. The U.S. is more distrusted and has less international support than before Trump reneged on the deal, and he and his allies have no one but themselves to blame for this situation.

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12 Comments To "Trump Sends Pompeo on a Fool’s Errand"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On May 16, 2018 @ 5:44 pm

It remains to be seen if bullying allies proves successful. It may. Money talks, and U.S. based elites control most trade because it is conducted in U.S. dollars, making almost everything subject to sanctions, whether others like it or not. Most likely, the allies will prove to be vassals, since they are in a kind of immediate World War II stasis, where American armies still occupy all the countries they won away from Nazis and Japanese imperialism.

#2 Comment By KXB On May 16, 2018 @ 6:31 pm

European governments may be bullied, by European gov’ts do have some tools. Namely, they can regulate the hell out of US companies with operations in Europe. Google is already facing problems regarding privacy and competition rules. Facebook is in their sights. If those US companies find themselves squeezed, they may lean on Congress to lean on the WH to change its tune.

#3 Comment By Derek On May 16, 2018 @ 6:52 pm

Yikes, Fran. I don’t want to live in the world you just described, but I can’t rule out that I am; you’re correct about that. We really would be the Evil Empire.

#4 Comment By liberal On May 16, 2018 @ 7:32 pm

Agree with Fran. Europe _could_ fight back by imposing counter sanctions. But they won’t. They’ll whine about it, but they’re not about to start a trade war with the US over this.

#5 Comment By Whine Merchant On May 16, 2018 @ 10:47 pm

and remember who ultimately profits when their enemies squabble amongst themselves…

“One Road – One Belt”

#6 Comment By Procivic On May 17, 2018 @ 1:29 am

Had he not reneged on the JCPOA, Trump could have pointed to the Iran deal as a basis for negotiations with North Korea. However,with the incompetent John Bolton’s offer of the disastrous Libya solution the upcoming summit may have become “toxic” beyond repair.

#7 Comment By Realist On May 17, 2018 @ 4:18 am

“Trump Sends Pompeo on a Fool’s Errand”

Who better to send?

#8 Comment By Prof. Woland On May 17, 2018 @ 12:16 pm

While I agree that the Europeans can be quite squishy–the sanctions threat from the US only goes so far.

While the US does run deficits to Europe, one of the biggest areas where we run surplusses are in financial services.

In other words, Wall Street makes 10’s of billions off of Europe–and if we sanction Europe, and then they counter-sanction financial services–you’ll have Wall-Street aiming its guns at Trump.

He won’t survive that.

#9 Comment By b. On May 17, 2018 @ 12:22 pm

“Pompeo won’t be successful, and it’s difficult to see why he is bothering.”

It is another bad faith effort as part of the “war program related activities” to sell the kinetic “regime change” efforts the perpetrators are set on. Pompeo, at best, will get the EU to agree eventually that it is “Irantransigence” that brought about the next regrettable bombing campaign, or, at worst, he will make clear to them that the US expects them to shut up. Nobody in the Trump administration is concerned with Iran’s decisions and reactions – the denial of relevant agency on any parties outside the US is the bedrock of US impunitivist foreign policy.

That photo, though… Pompeous for President!

#10 Comment By Why not for us, too? On May 17, 2018 @ 4:06 pm

“It turns out that flagrantly violating U.S. obligations and spitting in the faces of all of our negotiating partners is a poor way to build trust. “

Works for Israel, doesn’t it?

#11 Comment By b. On May 17, 2018 @ 5:28 pm

Yemen, Iran and North Korea might take solace in this:

“The blockade is by definition an act of war, imposed and enforced through armed violence. Never in history have blockade and peace existed side by side. From May 24 onward, the questions who started the war or who fired the first shot became momentously irrelevant. There is no difference in civil law between murdering a man by slow strangulation or killing him by a shot in the head. From the moment at which the blockade was imposed, active hostilities had commenced and Israel owed Egypt nothing of her Charter rights. If a foreign power sought to close Odessa or Copenhagen or Marseilles or New York harbor by the use of force, what would happen? Would there be a discussion about who had fired the first shot? Would anyone ask whether aggression had begun?”


The Intercept notes that at the time, only 5 percent of Israel’s trade passed through the straits, and only these straits were closed.

The grandiose display of US unilateral trade tariffs and US unilateral trade sanctions and global coercion of allies contrasts quite educationally with the pretexting of our “ally”.

#12 Comment By Going My Way On May 21, 2018 @ 8:40 am

Our allies should negotiate with Israel first. They pull the foreign policy strings in the U.S.; more so than ever with their cheering squad entrenched in the Trump WH. Not a whimper about the recent killings and maiming in the Gaza? Sad!