Trump Further Isolates America by Withdrawing from Iran Deal

Donald Trump
American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017 (ANG/Annie Edwards)

President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from the nuclear agreement his predecessor, Barack Obama, negotiated with Iran in 2015.

All the other parties — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia — want to keep the deal in place. Trump’s only allies on the issue are the Arab Gulf states and Israel, which consider Iran a regional threat. Read more “Trump Further Isolates America by Withdrawing from Iran Deal”

Trump Divides West on Iran

Donald Trump Angela Merkel
American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

President Donald Trump is expected to announce today that he will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, despite pleas from allies to remain in it.

The 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers lifted economic sanctions on the country in return for strict controls on its nuclear program. Read more “Trump Divides West on Iran”

Europe Doesn’t Know How to Handle Trump, Macron Runs Tight Operation

Angela Merkel Donald Trump
German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17, 2017 (Bundesregierung)

Stephen Walt argues in Foreign Policy that the diplomatic crisis around the Iran nuclear deal shows European leaders don’t know how to handle an American bully:

[I]nstead of getting tough with Trump and warning him that Europe would both stick to the deal and defy any subsequent US effort to impose secondary sanctions on them, [France, Germany and the United Kingdom] chose to mollify and flatter Trump instead.

It seems to no avail.

It pains me to admit it, but Walt has a point:

[T]he European response to Trump shows how successfully the United States has tamed and subordinated the former great powers that once dominated world politics. After seventy-plus years of letting Uncle Sam run the show, European leaders can barely think in strategic terms, let alone act in a tough-minded fashion when they are dealing with the United States.

I do think this is slowly changing. Trump is a wake-up call. The EU is rushing new trade agreements with Japan and Mexico. France is leading efforts to deepen European defense cooperation outside NATO. The Balts and Scandinavians are remilitarizing.

But deferring to America is a hard habit to kick. Read more “Europe Doesn’t Know How to Handle Trump, Macron Runs Tight Operation”

Locating the “Real” Country, Putting Germany First and NATO Solidarity

Andrew Sullivan is always worth reading, but, in the case of his latest column, I do think Noah Smith has a point and Sullivan falls into the trap of conflating Brexit and Donald Trump voters with “real England” and “real America”.

This is a mistake conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic make. The small towns and countryside aren’t the “real” country. They’re half the country. Or, in the case of Trumpists, a third of the country. Their views deserve to be taken seriously, but so do those of big-city liberals.

Or as Smith puts it:

What we should NOT do is elevate one segment of the populace to Special Real American status, simply because they fit a certain classic stereotype or because they are more intolerant and angry than the rest.

Related to this discussion is Nabila Ramdani’s argument in UnHerd for retiring the label “Gaullist” in France. (Charles de Gaulle is to French politics what Ronald Reagan is to American conservatism.)

de Gaulle’s base consisted of white, Roman Catholic conservatives who had a quasi-mystical faith in their rural nation. There was no place in Gaullism for the millions of immigrants from France’s former colonies, nor did it adapt to globalization and the spread of Anglo-Saxon culture.

Emmanuel Macron’s project is a belated attempt to reconcile these facets of modern France and it meets strong resistance in La France profonde. Read more “Locating the “Real” Country, Putting Germany First and NATO Solidarity”

Please Don’t Worry About World War III

American EA-18G Growler jet
An American EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush on deployment in the Mediterranean Sea, June 9, 2017 (USN/Matt Matlage)

It’s been a while.

As balances become clearer, life is better sorted and all that jazz, I find myself pulled, like the United States in the Middle East, back to the fray.

As it happens, I’ve found I can — and in some ways, must — do an update there and again on Geopolitics Made Super. The point of this blog remains the same — to take something in the headlines, something that is oft-Googled, and break it down to the basic geopolitical building blocks what creates behavior. If you want the hardcore angle, please do see my work over at Stratfor — who does not, by the way, represent or endorse what I write here. This remains a personal blog, in which I hope that those who stumble upon it are given the basics necessary to understand the world just beyond the headlines. The rest of you nerds who come by, I hope you have a good time.

So what have I been up to? Well, being part of the concerted push this week against the notion that we are going to fight World War III has been a big part of it.

We’re not. Not over Syria. I mean, it’s possible. But so is a meteor. So is the Second Coming. And since you probably don’t spend much time worrying about those, you shouldn’t worry about World War III either. But let’s delve into why. Read more “Please Don’t Worry About World War III”

Trump Drives European Allies into Arms of China and Russia

Theresa May Donald Trump
British prime minister Theresa May speaks with American president Donald Trump the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, January 27 (10 Downing Street/Jay Allen)

European allies warned Donald Trump he could drive them into the arms of China and Russia if he decertified the Iran nuclear deal — and that is exactly what’s happening.

In a rare joint statement, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom reiterate their commitment to the 2015 agreement:

The nuclear deal was the culmination of thirteen years of diplomacy and was a major step toward ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program is not diverted for military purposes.

European foreign-policy coordinator Federica Mogherini is even more adamant:

The deal has prevented, continues to prevent and will continue to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Trump nevertheless refuses to confirm Iran’s compliance and has threatened to withdraw from the agreement unless it is somehow improved.

China and Russia, the other two signatories, have made common cause with the Europeans, virtually isolating the United States. Only Israel and the Arab Gulf states support Trump. Read more “Trump Drives European Allies into Arms of China and Russia”

Trump Leaves Iran Nuclear Deal in Limbo

Count on Donald Trump to find a worse way than outright cancel the Iran nuclear deal.

The American president announced on Friday that he will no longer certify Iran’s compliance with the agreement but not withdraw from it either.

The compromise is unlikely to please Iran, which has kept its end of the bargain, nor other world powers, which want to keep the deal in place. Read more “Trump Leaves Iran Nuclear Deal in Limbo”

Worry More About Iran Than North Korea

North Korea’s nuclear program is more advanced than Iran’s yet it is not the one that should keep Americans up at night, argues Adam Garfinkle, a foreign-policy expert.

President Donald Trump has threatened “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if North Korea continues to provoke the United States.

Garfinkle doesn’t share his sense of alarm. Read more “Worry More About Iran Than North Korea”

Donald Trump Wants Conflict with Iran

By all accounts, Iran is complying with the 2015 multilateral agreement that curtailed its nuclear program. The country is giving full access to inspectors, who have found no violations.

The only person upset by this is Donald Trump.

The New York Times revealed earlier this month that the American president had only reluctantly certified Iran’s compliance with the deal.

Now the same newspaper reports that he has instructed his team to find a way to declare Iran noncompliant — whether it is or not.

Congress requires the president to certify every three months that Iran is meeting its obligations under the agreement. If Trump doesn’t, then lawmakers have sixty days to restore sanctions that were rescinded in 2015. Read more “Donald Trump Wants Conflict with Iran”