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.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

China's GDP grew a lower-than-expected 4.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2021, a whopping three percentage points less than in the previous period. It's a big deal for the world's second-largest economy, the only major one that expanded throughout the pandemic — and now at risk of missing its growth target of 6 percent for the entire year.

Normally, such a drastic slowdown would have put the ruling Communist Party in a tizzy. But this time, Xi Jinping knows this is the price he must pay for his big plans to curb rising inequality and boost the middle class at the expense of the CCP's traditional economic mantra: high growth above all else.

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Religious tension rising in Bangladesh: Clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Bangladesh have surged over the past week, leaving at least four people dead. After an image was posted on Facebook showing the Quran at the feet of a statue at a Hindu temple, Muslims burned Hindu-owned homes and attacked their holy sites. Both sides have taken to the street in protest, with Hindus saying that they have been prevented from celebrating Durga Puja, the largest Hindu festival in the country. Such acts of sectarian violence are not uncommon in Bangladesh, a majority-Muslim country where Hindus account for nine percent of the population. Indeed, as Eurasia Group's Kevin Allison recently warned, unverified social media content stoking inter-ethnic conflict is a massive problem throughout South Asia, where for many people Facebook is synonymous with the internet.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Read Ian Bremmer's wide-ranging essay in Foreign Affairs that puts in perspective both the challenge, and the opportunity, that comes from the unprecedented power of Big Tech.

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here on the road, something we haven't done very much recently, but will increasingly as we try to move through COVID. And I want to talk to you about a new article that I just put out in Foreign Affairs that I'm calling "The Technopolar Moment." Not unipolar, not bipolar, not multipolar, technopolar. What the hell does technopolar mean?

It means that increasingly big technology companies are themselves geopolitical actors. So to understand the future of the world, you can't just look at the United States, Europe and China. You need to look at the big tech companies, too.

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China gets away with a lot these days in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and elsewhere. That's because over the past decade, its economy has experienced explosive growth, making it an indispensable trading partner for almost every country in the world. At the same time, China has been expanding its share of the global economy, and is now set to overtake the US as the world's biggest economic powerhouse in the near term. We take a look at China's annual growth rate and share of the global economy based on GDP over the past decade.

The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What is the legacy of Colin Powell?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell tragically died of complications of COVID-19. He was the first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first Black National Security Advisor and the first Black Secretary of State. And he leaves a legacy of a long career, dedicated almost entirely to public service.

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Can this guy defeat Viktor Orban? Hungary's opposition movement of odd bedfellows has finally settled on the person they think has the best chance of defeating PM Viktor Orbán at the ballot box: Péter Márki-Zay, a politically conservative small-town mayor from southeastern Hungary, who beat out left-leaning European Parliament member Klara Dobrev in a weekend poll. Márki-Zay has a lot going for him: as a devout Catholic and father of seven it will be hard for the ultraconservative Orbán to paint him as a progressive threat, even as Márki-Zay reaches out to reassure left-leaning groups that he will protect LGBTQ rights. What's more, Márki-Zay has little political baggage: until recently he was a marketing executive. But can the relatively inexperienced Márki-Zay keep the various opposition factions happy? The stakes couldn't be higher: since taking power more than a decade ago, Orbán has deliberately made Hungary into an "illiberal" state, cracking down on the press, undermining the rule of law, and clashing with the EU. Bonus: if Márki-Zay stays in the news, you get to say "Hódmezővásárhely" the name of the city he currently runs.

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Colin Powell's legacy

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