Iran: Trump Card

Iran: Trump Card

Yesterday, President Trump made the most consequential foreign policy decision of his presidency to date — refusing to recertify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, and reimposing a slew of US sanctions on the country.


America First or America Alone? The coming days will prove crucial in understanding whether this momentous decision boosts or diminishes the position of the US around the world.

In the immediate aftermath, here’s how the crucial players see things:

Trump: This was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It makes no sense to allow Iran to develop long-range missiles. Restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program should be permanent, not temporary. And with Iran making dangerous trouble in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq — and with its constant threats against our ally Israel — why should we allow Iran to make money it can spend on these projects? Fix all these problems, and maybe we can make a new deal that I’ll respect.

Iran: We had a deal. Weapons inspectors, the UN, and the EU all said we kept our end of the bargain. It’s the US that has gone back on its word by restricting our ability to trade and continuing to block our development — at a time when our economy is already struggling mightily. Trump is playing a domestic political game that has nothing to do with us. It makes us wonder why we even bothered engaging. With President Rouhani’s hopes crushed, and hardliners emboldened, expect more mischief-making in the Middle East.

Europe: We did everything we could to find a solution to this problem that everyone could live with. Now European companies doing business in Iran will have to get out or face the prospect of sanctions. Between the Paris Accord, tariffs on steel and aluminum, complaints about NATO spending, and the Iran deal, President Trump has now rebuffed us four times. Time to find new friends?

Russia and China: The more Trump’s decisions cause the US to lose credibility, the more likely America’s spurned allies may eventually turn to us. That said, we both have interests in the Middle East beyond Iran and want nothing less than for a nuclear arms race to break out. If a new deal is eventually hammered out, we would support it.

Kim Jong-un: Trump says that the US “no longer makes empty threats” and that when he makes promises, he keeps them. But how can he expect me to agree to give up my nuclear weapons if he won’t live up to his end of a bargain that outside observers agreed Iran was abiding by? I’m waiting for your answer, Secretary Pompeo.

Bottom line: The Iran deal isn’t dead, but it’s on life support and the prognosis looks grim. While it could be saved if the US’s European allies can find a fix that Trump can accept and Iran will tolerate, global risks have gone up bigly.

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One of the world's most famous political dissidents may die in a Russian prison this week.

Alexei Navalny has been on a hunger strike since March 31 over the authorities' refusal to let his own medical team examine him after he developed signs of tuberculosis. Now, one of his aides says Navalny is "close to death."

The fate of Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic — who was poisoned last summer, allegedly by state officials, treated in Germany, and then jailed upon his return to Russia — is being closely watched both inside and outside the country.

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Watch the episode: Can we fix the planet the same way we broke it?

Ian Bremmer and Bill Maher discussed the global leadership of the United States compared to that of China on a recent episode of Real Time. "The level of corruption in China, the level of corruption in China, even the buildings and the rails you talk about - the average building the Chinese build lasts for 20, 25 years. In the United States, it lasts for 40 to 50. There's a reason why we are still the world's most powerful country," Ian argued. "I'm just saying China's not eating our lunch - that's all."

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody, Ian Bremmer here, kicking off your beautiful spring week from New York City. A little Quick Take. I thought I'd talk today about Russia, going to be in the news this week. Putin doesn't like it when they're out of the news for too long, certainly plenty going on between the US and Russia right now.

I'd say, first of all, to start off, the relationship is in the toilet. We know this. It is the worst it's been since the early '80s. That was true even under Trump. Trump and Putin personally had a pretty good relationship, but Trump wasn't able to get anything really done for the Russians, because both the Republicans in Congress, key members of cabinet under Trump, massive amount of constraints on what Trump could actually do, whether it's trying to bring Russia back into the G7 or recognize Crimea as a part of Russia, or remove or reduce sanctions. None of that actually got done. In fact, the relationship deteriorated over the four years.

But now we've got Biden and the focus is of course, more on human rights. The focus is more on climate change, which means that Russia as a massive energy exporter and particularly in terms of their influence on Eastern Europe and Western Europe on the downstream for gas delivery, for example, something that Biden is much more focused on. So a lot more pressure on the Russians, and the Russians don't care. Their willingness to hit back and show that the Americans are not willing to take any significant risks to constrain the Russians is also fairly significant. And this is playing out in a number of ways.

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