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Trump’s Bankrupt Iran Policy

The head of the Trump administration’s Iran Action Group, Brian Hook, spoke [1] at the Hudson Institute earlier today. He repeated the administration’s preposterous demands for Iran and feigned interest in negotiations:

Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “have all made clear that we are ready to negotiate and to have those discussions,” Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, told the Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank.

“There hasn’t been any aversion to meeting with the Iranians,” he added.

Hook stressed the goal was a “comprehensive deal” with Iran, based on a tough set of conditions Pompeo laid out in May.

The Trump administration’s willingness to “negotiate” with Iran is very much like its readiness to make a “deal” with the Palestinians: the other side is expected to make extensive concessions in exchange for nothing and will be punished severely until they agree to these humiliating terms. It is no wonder that the Iranian government has no interest in “negotiations” that amount to capitulation. Even if the U.S. had not reneged on the nuclear deal and proven that it can’t be trusted to honor its commitments, it would be extremely unlikely that Iran would be open to making more concessions than it has already made on the nuclear issue. Once the U.S. reneged on the deal, that made it politically impossible for any Iranian leader to negotiate with Washington. Once the U.S. started reimposing sanctions without justification, it became clear that the administration’s real goal was not a “new deal” but the destabilization and toppling of the regime.

The administration’s feigned interest in diplomacy is an unpersuasive attempt to dress up a cruel and destructive policy of collective punishment as something more reasonable. Hook claimed that the administration is open to negotiating a “treaty” with Iran to cover all outstanding issues, but no one believes this is serious. The Trump administration can’t even honor a nonproliferation agreement that cost the U.S. nothing, so why would anyone believe they would be willing to honor a “comprehensive deal”? Many of the things that would be contained in the “comprehensive deal” are also obvious non-starters for Iran, so why would Tehran even consider talking about them?

Trump’s policy is deeply hostile to both the Iranian government and the people of Iran. Why would the Iranian government want to talk to people that have no respect for them, refuse to honor commitments to them, and actively seek to harm them? The simple answer is that they have no reason to talk to the U.S. as long as Trump is in office, because Trump’s idea of “negotiation” is to demand that they give up everything in return for nothing.

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7 Comments To "Trump’s Bankrupt Iran Policy"

#1 Comment By Taras 77 On September 19, 2018 @ 9:31 pm

The US long-held definition of diplomacy and negotiations=complete and utter capitulation by the other party.

#2 Comment By Start Ups On September 19, 2018 @ 10:08 pm

“the other side is expected to make extensive concessions in exchange for nothing and will be punished severely until they agree to these humiliating terms.”

Trump and his people act like junior mafiosi, and seem genuinely to share a mafiosi ethic – loyalty above all, rule by violence and cruelty.

Trouble is, they don’t have the offer their victims can’t refuse. The victims are refusing to deal. They’re finding new allies, resources, and hope. This isn’t the way things are supposed to go in the movies that inspire Trump and his cronies, they’re not quite sure how to proceed, so they just keep doling out the humiliation in the expectation that eventually it’ll work.

It’s not too much to say that some of that new hope for those who Trump et al are humiliating and attempting to coerce comes from inside the US itself, where the disgusting crimes and excesses of US allies and the catastrophic foreign policy blunders and excesses of the last four presidents are finally registering with the American people and in our politics. There there will be more cause for hope after the fall elections.

For the interventionists and neocons, whether they like Trump or hate him, part of his administration or forever banished from it, their moment of near total power wasn’t under Bush II. It’s right now. This is it. The high water mark.

And Trump is now their face, the world historical face of interventionism, a final, evil bloom of neoconservatism, of massive, incompetent, sadistic, failed efforts to coerce the world and micromanage the Middle East in particular.

So no. Trump’s victims won’t deal. Why should they? Soon Trump will be gone. Soon those who have taken such obvious pleasure in humiliating them will have a very different vantage on the world.

#3 Comment By rayray On September 20, 2018 @ 11:06 am

@Start Ups
“And Trump is now their face, the world historical face of interventionism, a final, evil bloom of neoconservatism, of massive, incompetent, sadistic, failed efforts to coerce the world and micromanage the Middle East in particular.”

And it’s not just in foreign policy. It’s in everything. To be clear, one takes a job with the administration, one cooperates with this administration at one’s professional, personal, and moral peril.

Trump has been doing this for his whole career, burning his allies for the smallest short term gain, telling lies, destroying the legacy value of his company, covering up incompetence with bullying, covering up his licentiousness with bribes, covering up selfishness with “conservative values”, covering up racism with “conservative values”.

He stains anyone who comes near.

#4 Comment By Jay C On September 20, 2018 @ 2:49 pm

Just BTW, has anyone from the Administration outlined (or even given a hint about) what exactly these “negotiations”, “discussions” or “comprehensive deal” might cover? Or what actions, exactly, the Iranians are supposed to do (it’s pretty much a given that “lifting sanctions” is the sole American action proposed)?
I’m also pretty sure that the Trump gang’s notion of “negotiations” is basically a one-sided set of demands: but do we even know what said demands are?
(Besides requiring the entire Islamic Republic government to 1) resign; 2) reinstall a Shah; 3) commit mass suicide ?)

#5 Comment By Fred Bowman On September 21, 2018 @ 10:54 am

Why would any government want to deal with America’s Reneger-in-Chief and his administration. Seems to me, Iran was living up to it’s side of the bargain, until Trump “scuttled it”. So why would Iran go along with another deal?

#6 Comment By Urs Senn On September 22, 2018 @ 8:35 pm

Good to see a conservative gets it.

From a hardcore liberal.

#7 Comment By Formerly Team USA On September 23, 2018 @ 2:54 pm

@ Fred Bowman – “Why would any government want to deal with America‚Äôs Reneger-in-Chief and his administration.”

Trump showed how deeply divided we are. About basic things. In the future it’s not just Trump they won’t want to deal with. They won’t deal with us at all. And why would they?

As power jags back and forth between parties whose most prominent and active members disgust and polarize most people (both int the US and abroad), all anyone negotiating with us can hope for is that whatever deal they strike with one administration will not be immediately renounced by the next. Only the shortest term aims will be negotiated with us, because there is no US consensus anymore about permanent or even long-term things.

Some of the foreign leaders and interests who’ve been dealing with Trump will get whiplash when the next administration comes in. Their deals will disappear, in some cases overnight. They may even end up getting investigated, embargoed, or sanctioned just for having dealt with Trump instead of waiting him out.

Schizoid Washington. Not much fun for our old friends and allies, not one bit. Only big-time users like Saudi Arabia and Israel seem to be benefiting, but over the longer haul, they and their supporters are probably headed for the biggest, hardest falls of all.