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Trump’s Disdain for Diplomacy Backfires Again

The Trump administration has discovered [1] too late that keeping open diplomatic channels with adversaries can be useful:

The White House secretly reached out to Iran in December to propose creating a direct channel to negotiate the release of prisoners held by each side, according to U.S. officials and people briefed about the discussions, marking the first U.S. diplomatic overture to Iran on the issue under President Donald Trump.

However, Iran didn’t respond and, despite at least three subsequent offers from Washington, so far has refused to engage with U.S. officials on the offer, according to the people briefed about the discussions. The apparent impasse leaves uncertain the fate of at least four Americans currently in Iranian detention.

One of the additional benefits of the nuclear deal that Trump and his allies so frequently disparage and want to dismantle was the establishment of regular diplomatic contacts between top American and Iranian officials for the first time in decades. Simply by virtue of having held lengthy negotiations and developing a good working relationship, top officials from both governments were able to communicate directly and constructively to resolve other disputes. The brief standoff over the detained American sailors was quickly brought to a peaceful conclusion because of these contacts, and it was also possible to secure the release of Americans wrongfully detained by the Iranian government. By shutting down those contacts and declaring its unremitting hostility to Iran at every opportunity, the Trump administration threw away a valuable means of advancing U.S. interests and aiding U.S. citizens in trouble. Now that the administration seems to sees the advantage in negotiating with Iran for something, it can’t fall back on the channels created by the diplomatic success that Trump denounces. There is always a cost to rejecting engagement, and the benefits of doing so are elusive.

Ideally, Iran would release the prisoners it has wrongfully detained without any further delay, but failing that the U.S. should be in a position where it can negotiate effectively for their release. The best way to do that short of reestablishing full, normal relations with Tehran would have been to maintain the channels that were created during the negotiations over the nuclear deal. Because Trump and his officials burned those bridges as part of their obsession with Iran, they are now finding that Iran is much less receptive to their overtures.

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6 Comments To "Trump’s Disdain for Diplomacy Backfires Again"

#1 Comment By David Nash On February 8, 2018 @ 1:48 pm

Trump is a whining putz whose ignorance is matched only by his ego… what else is new.
He has successfully demeaned, degraded, demoralized, and dominated all the weak sisters who gravitated near his black hole personality, and still has demonstrated incompetence at learning the job he was hired to do. A truly Great leader, who will MAKE America Grate Again.(That wasn’t a typo.)

Just wondering when he will declare bankruptcy for messing up this gig (like he has every time before).

#2 Comment By Whine Merchant On February 8, 2018 @ 4:30 pm

This is exactly who displayed himself to be for all of his public years, so why is anyone surprised? His base will post screeds about some sort of ‘long game’ or paranoia about HRC being a supernatural criminal, but the fact is that we are seeing the man elected to the White House, with all his pettiness and juvenile antics.

#3 Comment By Brendan Sexton On February 8, 2018 @ 9:21 pm

It’s amazing that in the 21st century, the USA is just (re-)discovering that diplomacy has value. I am so embarrassed by this man. And his gang of yes-men and women.
And we did it to ourselves.

#4 Comment By Mia On February 8, 2018 @ 10:19 pm

So what is your take, give all of this hot air diplomacy of Trump’s, on his push for a really expensive military parade? I personally cheered when I read Tammy Duckworth’s takedown of him recently in the headlines. Trump’s a total poser as a political leader and in way, way over his head.

#5 Comment By Realist On February 9, 2018 @ 3:33 am

For a man in his seventies, Trump sure is stupid.

#6 Comment By rayray On February 9, 2018 @ 11:43 am


“Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.”

– King Lear