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The Folly of Pompeo’s Anti-Iran ‘Coalition’

It isn't realistic to burn bridges with major allies and then turn around and ask them for help.
The Folly of Pompeo’s Anti-Iran ‘Coalition’

The Trump administration wants to create a coalition of the gullible against Iran:

Washington wants to build a global “coalition” against the Tehran regime and its “destabilizing activities,” the State Department said on Thursday, after pulling out from the Iran nuclear accord to the anger of US allies.

The plan is to be detailed on Monday by the top United States diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in his first major foreign policy address since taking office in April.

We don’t yet know the specifics of what Pompeo will say next week, but we can already be fairly confident that this “coalition” isn’t going to include very many states. Reneging on the nuclear deal means that some states are going to withhold cooperation that they might have given if the U.S. hadn’t trashed a successful nonproliferation agreement, and others will agree to join the so-called “coalition” only after extracting a much higher price from the U.S. than they would have been able to get in the past. Abandoning U.S. commitments to its allies naturally produces resentment, and it makes U.S. promises less meaningful. Reimposing sanctions that affect foreign companies gives other governments additional incentives to reject U.S. proposals.

It is absurd to toss aside a carefully-negotiated, multilateral agreement and then expect the same governments that you just insulted and betrayed to support your agenda. The U.S. was able to build a broad international consensus on the nuclear issue because most governments agreed in principle that preventing nuclear proliferation was a priority. There is no similar international consensus on other issues, and there isn’t likely to be one.

It isn’t realistic to burn bridges with major allies and then turn around and ask them for help. If the U.S. had wanted our allies’ assistance on other matters, it should have paid attention to their concerns and preferences before reneging on the deal. Making requests so soon after spitting in their faces isn’t just incompetent diplomacy, but practically invites reprisals. Pompeo should be working on repairing the damage that reneging on the deal has caused to relations with several of our major allies. The fact that he isn’t doing that confirms that his efforts at “coalition”-building aren’t going to get very far.



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