French President Macron confirmed earlier today what we already knew about Trump and the nuclear deal:
French President Emmanuel Macron said he thinks U.S. President Donald Trump will withdraw from the Iran nuclear accord, dealing a blow to the six-nation agreement reached in 2015 and endorsed by world powers.
“I believe he will get rid of this deal for domestic reasons,” Macron told journalists Wednesday in Washington, adding that he encouraged the American president to stay in the accord during his three-day visit to Washington.
Trump’s opposition to the nuclear deal, like his overall hostility to Iran, is one of the very few constants in his foreign policy views. The president may be famously changeable and unreliable on many other issues, but on this one he has been depressingly consistent. Macron’s explanation for why Trump opposes the deal so vehemently lines up with what we have seen over the last two years. Trump simultaneously pandered to Iran hawks in the GOP and expressed his contempt for Obama with his opposition to the deal, and those seem to be the main reasons why he will renege on the agreement next month.
It should go without saying that these are terrible reasons to scrap a successful nonproliferation agreement, and it is a measure of how awful Trump’s judgment is that he is going to go through with it. It is a mark of how intellectually bankrupt his party is that he will encounter no meaningful resistance from elected Republicans and Republican policy analysts when he does it. Not a single Republican in Congress supported the deal three years ago, and it is likely that only a very small number will object when Trump withdraws the U.S. from the agreement.
U.S. withdrawal from the agreement will be one of the most predictable moves Trump could make as president. He has been announcing his determination to scrap the deal long before he took office, and it is has taken this long only because several people in his own administration kept trying to prevent it from happening. Withdrawing from the JCPOA will also be one of the most needlessly destructive decisions he could make this year.
Even if U.S. withdrawal doesn’t cause Iran to leave the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in angry protest, it is very likely going to cause Iran to answer our withdrawal from the deal with their own. The restrictions and intrusive inspections that Iran hawks claim are inadequate will be lost immediately and very soon after that we will be back where we were five years ago. Tensions between the U.S. and Iran will continue to increase, and there will be greater risk of clashes in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere as a result. Scrapping a deal that major European governments negotiated alongside ours in good faith will be a gratuitous insult to them and will strain relations with some of our most important treaty allies. The U.S. will be declaring to the world that it doesn’t honor its commitments and looks for excuses to back out of agreements even when they are working perfectly. U.S. diplomatic efforts will be undermined for years to come by such a high-profile violation of our commitments, and other governments would have to be out of their minds to take serious political risks to strike bargains with us while Trump is still in office.