Monday, March 19, 2018

So Long to the Iran Deal

Mike Pompeo (Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein)
Trump's staff shakeup is good for hawks — and terrible for Iran.
Almost immediately after the news broke that President Trump intends to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA director Mike Pompeo, media figures speculated that the decision was about Russia. The argument went like this: Tillerson was fired because he had recently criticized the Russian government for its attack using a nerve agent on a former spy living in the United Kingdom. He thereby endangered détente with Russian president Vladimir Putin and so, the critics said, Trump sacked him.
Yet the rumor was exposed as false almost as soon as it was aired. For one thing, Tillerson had been informed that he would be removed days before he made his entirely justified condemnation of Russian behavior. For another, the Trump administration soon came out hard against the assassination attempt. Nikki Haley lambasted Russia at the United Nations. President Trump signed a joint statement with the British prime minister, French president, and German chancellor assigning responsibility to Russia. The Treasury Department announced further sanctions against Russian cyber-warfare.
It was Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon who first reported the real story. Tillerson had been engaged in a months-long defense of the Iran nuclear deal that finally reached an impasse when he took Europe’s side in debates over the agreement. As Trump said later, he and his secretary of state disagreed on important policies such as withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and putting “maximum pressure” on North Korea. When you add his backing of the Iran deal, widespread criticism of his management style, and the fact that he is said to have called his boss a moron, it’s a wonder Tillerson made it this far.
And the Iran deal may not last much longer than Tillerson. Last fall, Trump refused to certify the agreement. In January, he said he was waiving sanctions on Iran for the last time, barring alterations to the deal that strengthened America’s position. Thus began a countdown that will expire in the middle of May. By then, Pompeo likely will have been installed at Foggy Bottom. A longtime critic of both Barack Obama’s Iran policy and the Iranian regime’s international terrorism and domestic repression, Pompeo will give Iran’s rulers plenty of reasons to worry. --->
Read the rest from Matthew Continetti HERE.

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