The Iran Obsession Has Isolated the U.S.
Mike Pompeo delivered an embarrassing, clownish performance at the U.N. on Tuesday, and his attempt to gain support for an open-ended conventional arms embargo on Iran was rejected the rest of the old P5+1:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Tuesday for an arms embargo on Iran to be extended indefinitely, but his appeal fell flat at the United Nations Security Council, where Russia and China rejected it outright and close allies of the United States were ambivalent.
The Trump administration is more isolated than ever in its Iran obsession. The ridiculous effort to invoke the so-called “snapback” provision of the JCPOA more than two years after reneging on the agreement met with failure, just as most observers predicted months ago when it was first floated as a possibility. As I said at the time, “The administration’s latest destructive ploy won’t find any support on the Security Council. There is nothing “intricate” about this idea. It is a crude, heavy-handed attempt to employ the JCPOA’s own provisions to destroy it.” It was never going to work because all of the other parties to the agreement want nothing to do with the administration’s punitive approach, and U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA meant that it forfeited any rights it had when it was still part of the deal.
Opposition from Russia and China was a given, but the striking thing about the scene at the U.N. this week was that major U.S. allies joined them in rebuking the administration’s obvious bad faith maneuver:
The pointedly critical tone of the debate saw Germany accusing Washington of violating international law by withdrawing from the nuclear pact, while Berlin aligned itself with China’s claim that the United States has no right to reimpose U.N. sanctions on Iran.
The Trump administration has abused our major European allies for years in its push to destroy the nuclear deal, and their governments have no patience with any more unilateral U.S. stunts. This is the result of two years of a destructive policy aimed solely at punishing Iran and its people. The administration’s open contempt for international law and the interests of its allies has cost the U.S. their cooperation.
Underscoring the absurdity of the Trump administration’s arms embargo appeal were Pompeo’s alarmist warnings that an end to the arms embargo would allow Iran to purchase advanced fighters that it would use to threaten Europe and India:
If you fail to act, Iran will be free to purchase Russian-made fighter jets that can strike up to a 3,000 kilometer radius, putting cities like Riyadh, New Delhi, Rome, and Warsaw in Iranian crosshairs.
This is a laughably unrealistic scenario. Even if Iran purchased advanced fighters, the last thing it would do is send them off on a suicide mission to bomb Italy or India. This shows how deeply irrational the Iran hawks’ fearmongering is. Iran has already demonstrated an ability to launch precise attacks with drones and missiles in its immediate neighborhood, and it developed these capabilities while under the current embargo. It has no need for expensive fighters, and it is not at all certain that their government would even be interested in acquiring them. Pompeo’s presentation was a weak attempt to exaggerate the potential threat from a state that has very limited power projection, and he found no support because his serial fabrications about Iran have rendered everything he says to be worthless.
The same administration that wants to keep an arms embargo on Iran forever has no problem flooding the region with U.S.-made weapons and providing them to some of the worst governments in the world. It is these client states that are doing the most to destabilize other countries in the region right now. If the U.N. should be putting arms embargoes on any country, it should consider imposing them on Saudi Arabia and the UAE to limit their ability to wreak havoc on Yemen and Libya.
The Secretary of State called on the U.N. to reject “extortion diplomacy.” The best way to reject extortion diplomacy would be for them to reject the administration’s desperate attempt to use America’s position at the U.N. to attack international law.