Lessons from the End of the Iran Deal

Dismissing those who see President Trump’s decision to abrogate the nuclear agreement with Iran as an invitation to catastrophe, Ray Takeyh argues that the deal “contained the seeds of its own destruction” and urges policymakers to learn from its failure:

In contravention of decades of bipartisan arms-control policy, the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] conceded an indigenous enrichment capacity to an adversarial nation; Iran was allowed to continue enriching uranium while modernizing its atomic infrastructure. This original sin was the most consequential one. . . .

Another of the Iran deal’s fatal flaws was the notion that it’s possible to segregate arms control from all other areas of concern with Iran. . . . The events since the Iran deal’s conclusion in 2015 demonstrate the folly of this approach. There is always an implicit connection between an adversary’s regional behavior and the durability of a nuclear accord. . . . In the end, the Islamic Republic could not implant its flag across the Middle East and aggravate Arab civil wars and sustain the JCPOA. Thus, in any future talks, the U.S. can’t allow Iran’s regional behavior to be excluded from consideration.

Yet another lesson here for future diplomats is that any restrictions negotiated on Iran’s nuclear program must be permanent ones—no more sunset clauses. This is hardly a provocative posture, as it was the Obama administration’s own stance prior to 2013. . . . Given the contentious history of U.S.-Iran relations, any future accord [also] has to be submitted to the Senate as a treaty. John Kerry [believed] that so long as the United Nations and the Europeans affirmed his agreement, it would be protected from its American detractors. He was dead wrong; Congress rejected the JCPOA and every Republican presidential candidate denounced it. . . . This was hardly the necessary foundation for sustaining an agreement that was bound to be controversial. . . .

All this is a high bar for an agreement. And it may come to pass that arms control should not define America’s priorities as it once more contemplates the post-JCPOA environment. The Islamic Republic is a crippled revolutionary state on an inexorable path to extinction. It is ideologically exhausted, financially depleted, and suffering from imperial overstretch. As Washington turns a page from the JCPOA, it may consider ways of empowering Iranians to reclaim their country and make all the arms-control discussions superfluous. That is now the Trump administration’s charge, and its most important challenge.

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More about: Donald Trump, Iran, Iran nuclear program, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Nikki Haley Succeeded at the UN Because She Saw It for What It Is

Oct. 15 2018

Last week, Nikki Haley announced that she will be stepping down as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the end of the year. When President Trump appointed her to the position, she had behind her a successful tenure as governor of South Carolina, but no prior experience in foreign policy. This, writes Seth Lispky, turned out to have been her greatest asset:

What a contrast [Haley provided] to the string of ambassadors who fell on their faces in the swamp of Turtle Bay. That’s particularly true of the two envoys under President Barack Obama. [The] “experienced” hands who came before her proceeded to fail. Their key misconception was the notion that the United Nations is part of the solution to the world’s thorniest problems. Its charter was a vast treaty designed by diplomats to achieve “peace,” “security,” and “harmony.”

What hogwash.

Haley, by contrast, may have come in without experience—but that meant she also lacked for illusions. What a difference when someone knows that they’re in a viper pit—that the UN is itself the problem. And has the gumption to say so.

This became apparent the instant Haley opened her first press conference, [in which she said of the UN’s obsessive fixation on condemning the Jewish state]: “I am here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to underscore the ironclad support of the United States for Israel. . . . I am here to emphasize that the United States is determined to stand up to the UN’s anti-Israel bias.”

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More about: Nikki Haley, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations, US-Israel relations