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.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

More Show less

Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

More Show less

In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

More Show less

When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

More Show less

YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

More Show less

Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal