President Trump Withdraws US From Iran Deal

JCPOA_Signatures Iran Deal

President Donald Trump announced he is withdrawing the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) document, otherwise known as the Iran deal.

NY Times:

President Trump told President Emmanuel Macron of France on Tuesday morning that he plans to announce the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, according to a person briefed on the conversation.

Mr. Trump’s decision unravels the signature foreign policy achievement of his predecessor, Barack Obama, isolating the United States among its allies and leaving it at even greater odds with its adversaries in dealing with the Iranians.

The United States is preparing to reinstate all sanctions it had waived as part of the nuclear accord — and impose additional economic penalties as well, the person said.

A second person familiar with negotiations to keep the 2015 accord in place said the talks collapsed over Mr. Trump’s insistence that sharp limits be kept on Iran’s nuclear fuel production after 2030. The deal currently lifts those limits.

President Trump has made no secret of his wish to nullify the agreement, but had also sent some mixed signals, included declining to reimpose sanctions on Iran in January. Speculation turned towards withdrawl again with the arrival of new NSA John Bolton and freshly sworn-in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both outspoken critics of the deal.

NY Times:

The decision fulfills one of Mr. Trump’s oft-repeated campaign promises, and came despite intense personal lobbying by European leaders and frantic attempts to craft fixes to the deal that would satisfy him.

The president’s own aides had persuaded him twice last year not to take this step.
But Mr. Trump made clear that his patience with the deal had worn thin, and with a new, more hawkish set of advisers — led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the national security adviser, John R. Bolton — Mr. Trump faced less internal resistance this time.

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44 thoughts on “President Trump Withdraws US From Iran Deal

  1. Just my own opinion on this separate from the news items:
    A) This was inevitable when the Obama administration circumvented the normal process for treaties and cut Congress out of their clear power to ratify. One way or the other it was not going to be continued once a R president or Congress came to power. Should have done it the right way to start with.
    B) Just about every defense of the deal relies on some amount of trusting a country whose standing policy and Friday chant is “Death to Israel, Death to America” to be a fair and good faith partner.
    C) In withdrawing from this agreement, Trump had better have some plan going forward, which I suspect he does not. The very real possibility is this will bring even more chaos not because of the JCPOA, but he will declare a win then ignore any fall out and not plan for what is next. (see Fall of ISIS)

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    • We’ve done many deals of this sort with countries. There wasn’t’ anything unique about this deal.

      The defenses of the deal, regarding this criticism, relate to having an intensive inspection routine which they have been following. We had arms control agreements with the USSR for petes sake. They weren’t good guys and didn’t exactly agree to stop being malign in a variety of ways. But we worked hard to form agreements with them. Agreements that had far less intrusive and comprehensive inspection routines than in this deal. Even commie pinkos like Reagan were for them. If we could get SALTy with the Soviets than this deal fits easily in the same concept.

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    • On A since the GOP was going to oppose anything Obama proposed treaty wise you are saying he should have i stead either bombed Iran or done nothing?

      On point B, you are verging on the nonsensical. Of course Iran wasn’t trustworthy. That is why the deal included onorous and intrusive monitoring provisions that succeeded in closely monitoring Iran as evidenced by the Neocons being utterly unable to find any proof that Iran has cheated.

      On C, probably not. The question is what the Europeans do and as a result of their choice what Iran does.

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      • on A) Nothing would have been preferable to giving the Iranian Regime billions both in sanction relief and millions in strait cash for little to show for it, as their military spending went up over 40% since then. It is a false argument to say it was bomb them or sign this deal with no other option.
        B) Define and cite “succeeded in closely monitoring Iran” when we have decades of corruption and complicity on the part of the IAEA, and the wording of the agreement gives Iran wide latitude (changed 24-hour access to “daily” access, etc), has on restricting inspectors from sites they really don’t want looked into with no penalty whatsoever. You cannot say “of course they are not trustworthy” then put your hope in an agreement that doesn’t hold them accountable anyway. Read the actual text of the JCPOA there are no penalties at all to violating or delaying inspections other than “snapback” to previous sanctions, which is a hollow threat since they previously mentioned money transfer already relieved the regime.
        C)I don’t think he has a plan, and the sanctions will take time to set in after the financial windfall the JCPOA gave the Iranian regime. Europe wants to do business with Iran, so we will see if their is a coalition of the willing to enforce sanctions. I doubt it, but we will see.

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        • The options prior to the JCPOA was to bomb them as the neocons wanted, or do nothing and hope that sanctions would both bite harder and be sustained even though Obama achieved that remarkable sanction regime based on the presumption that it’d bring Iran to the table. It seems a large leap to think that Europe and especially Russian and China would have sustained the sanctions had America been seen as not interested in negotiating in earnest. What is this alternative action you refer to? I agree that the JCPOA should have been ratified as a treaty, but since that was never going to happen what was the alternative? Scrap it?

          On the eve of the JCPOA being negotiated Iran was a couple of months away from accumulating the enriched uranium to assemble a weapon. This was the breathless assessment of both the neocons and more sober minded proliferation experts. The JCPOA was finalized July 15th 2015. It’s been roughly 41 months since then. If Iran has been cheating or otherwise evading the inspection regime then where is the Iranian nuclear bomb? Was the concrete poured into their breeder reactor actually Styrofoam? Was all that enriched Uranium they handed over actually cotton candy? Why is it that the worst that Bibi could muster for evidence against the deal was 15 year old info that Iran had a weapons program that everyone already knew? Where is the proof that anything of significance has been slipping past the inspection regime? Is there anything more substantive to the criticism other than accusing the IAEA of corruption?

          Considering how Trump is unilaterally reneging on the JCPOA America is basically ceding the moral backing to do anything beyond beating our chests and asserting that we’re America and we do what we’d like. I certainly agree that it’d take a shocking feat of diplomacy to reassemble the Obama coalition regarding Iran and one that I suspect is entirely beyond the capabilities of this administration. In a worst case scenario (hopefully unlikely) Europe could pass waivers to try and shield their companies from secondary sanctions and continue trading with Iran while also leaving the US out in the cold to veto a condemnation on it at the UN for reneging on the JCPOA. I am trying to think of a best case scenerio but it seems Pollyanna-ish. The Iranian regime collapses from the economic shock of this decision? I suppose that’s the best case scenario but calling it unlikely seems to be wildly optimistic.

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          • Trump can unilaterally withdraw it because President Obama unilaterally imposed it. Which is why presidents unilaterally doing any deal such as this is a bad idea on general principle. It wasnt going to happen anyway isnt an excuse, rather that proves why you have a process. Congress, elected representives of the people, did not want it approved.

            The lead up to the JCPOA; if the option was to bomb them or else then you are asserting that the Commander-in-Chief at the time, Barack Obama, was going to bomb Iran if there was no agreement. We know that was never going to happen, intoning “neocon” does not change that. President Obama picked a course he wanted, and when congress wouldnt go along he acted. That decision had the consequence that it could then be withdrawn on the whim of his successor.

            If you want to take Iran’s word for it that they are complying, do you also believe them when they chant “death to America” and when Khamenei states ““It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” If they are to be believed, we must believe them in all things.

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            • If Iran believes everything they hear from this country then they should absolutely believe we aim to topple their government and put in one that is pliant to our desires. That everything up to an air war is ready and waiting until they are crushed. However i’m sure all of us feel that way.

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              • So base on your assumption there, their obvious answer to them fearing US aggression is to promise to wipe a third country off the map and that is perfectly logical and excusable? Is that your argument? The regime that is oppressing the Iranian people is not in any way accountable for their years of actions and funding of worldwide terrorism, its all a logical response to what “they hear from this country”?

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                • We cut arms control deals with the Soviets and they made the Iranians look like pikers when it came to threatening countries and murdering their own people. At least the Iranians threats are impotent and the JCPOA was going to keep them impotent.

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                  • The SALT treaties are interesting but I’m not sure how much of a comparison you can make here. Those were much more two countries on-relatively-equal terms. Quite the assumption that the Iranian threats are impotent, if they are really that impotent then why the urgency to make the JCPOA in the first place, or now to save it?

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                    • Is it an assumption? Seems a pretty safe one. I mean your argument inverts easily. If we believe the Iranians mean it when they say “Death to America” and “We’ll wipe Israel off the map” then the fact that death was and has not been delivered to America and the fact that Israel was not and has not been wiped off the map (as of a google search 30 seconds ago) demonstrates the Iranians impotence.

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                • There are various harder and nicer factions in Iran. Yeah the hawks are loud and nasty. That isn’t all of Iran. Most hawks are.

                  As North said someplace and i added earlier, we had arms control agreements with the frickin USSR. They never apologized or agreed to play nice. But we had good agreements that helped us. How is Iran any different? They aren’t worse or scarier than the Soviets. Our agreement with the USSR and Iran were about the biggest, scariest issues: nukes.

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            • I’m not denying Trump can do it. I’m just pointing out Obama had very limited options. I note that, as per usually with the people who decry JCPOA you’re eliding the core point- what should have been done instead? You can sneer that Obama wasn’t going to bomb Iran to stop their bomb- I am inclined to agree. He was elected twice on an explicit policy of reducing the US’s entanglement in the Middle East. That leaves us with letting Iran get the bomb then. They were only a couple months out. The options were: cut a deal (the JCPOA); attack; or do nothing and Iran gets the bomb (and the sanctions regime maybe collapses, maybe doesn’t). What else was there?

              I’ll take Iran at their word that they would like death to America and to wipe Israel off the map. That the regime are a bunch of Islam-fondling mouth breathers isn’t being debated. I’m certainly not taking Iran’s word that they’re complying; neither is anyone else. That’s why we have the IAEA and everyone else in there snooping around and making sure Iran is complying. That’s why every scientific and non-partisan expert organization on the planet has agreed that so far Iran has been in compliance with the JCPOA and has been moved much further away from having the capability to create a nuclear weapon. And again you’re eliding the main point: If Iran has cheated, if the JCPOA was ineffective then where is the Iranian Nuclear Bomb? They were only months away from having it. Where is it? You’d think with all Trump’s saber rattling that demonstrating a nuclear weapon would be advantageous to Iran right about now. So where’s the bomb?

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              • limited options for Obama is fair, and to be fair to Obama it’s not like there is a “win” here as there was a lot of mistakes made prior to his administration that lead to this point. I would argue his administration further limited those options when the decision was made that, apparently, a deal must be struck with Iran at all cost instead of working through the normal channels for a treaty of this kind.

                So what should be done instead? If the JCPOA had stood on its own without the cash transfer, and as we learned later the 5 nations of the security council making side deals changing the scope of it, it probably would have been a stronger document and argument. By whatever measure you want to use, sanctions at the time were putting pressure on the regime to the point they wanted that fiscal relief. Could that have continued? yes but who knows if that alone would have brought significant change. Assuming as much means assuming, as you pointed out earlier, the Russias and Chinas of the world are going to not throw them a lifeline. There is an issue here with you assertion of “where is the bomb. Everyone, Obama administration included as part of their argument for urgency, stated they were close. So the question is were they not that close, has the deal crippled their production, or are they hiding it better. I personally suspect a combo of 1 and 3, but might be wrong.

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                • So we’re clear “working through the normal channels” in this case simply means there would have been no treaty. But with that stipulation your analysis seems fair enough.

                  But now we’re down to “every scientific and objective indicator we have says the Iranians are complying with the deal; have been moved a significantly greater distance from nuclear capability and are not closing that gap while the deal holds but we know better because the Iranians are bad dudes and we feel it in our gut so we’re gonna dump those gains for what is in this mystery box.”
                  And that’s ominously close to what Bush W and his gang were saying about Hans Blix in the run up to the Iraqi war. Maybe the Iranians greeting us as liberators is in that box? Second try’s a charm?

                  Oh snap! Saddam’s’ weapons of mass destruction! Maybe that’s where the Iranian bomb is! Did we ever figure out where they are? Maybe they’re with Mohammed! Do you think Bibi could get us a line to Abraham? He’d help us out surely. I know America’s more into Jesus but let’s face it; he wouldn’t be throwing in with Trump on this- the hippie.

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                  • Congress has the enumerated power to ratify treaties in the US system of government, so yes, if you cannot do something within that framework it should not be done. That should apply equally to Obama, Trump, and whoever follows him.

                    All the idicators you are referring too are data points collected at the whim of the Iranian regime, with no penalty if they are not truthful. Pointing to getting 100% on a grade-it-yourself test, it is absolutely fair to then look at the history and characteristics of the test taker.

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                    • Yes, thus it was not a formal treaty and Trump was able to abrogate it just as Obama was able to enact it. None of this is something I’ve argued against. I am mystified by you seeming to conclude that since Obama couldn’t formalize the agreement as a full fledged treaty then he shouldn’t have done the agreement at all. Had Obama taken that position then the sanctions regime itself would never have been put in place either.

                      But the inspections system is not remotely at the whim of the Iranian regime and Iran has nothing to do with the act of assessing their own compliance nor do they control the assessments being made by every foreign (and our own national) intelligence service along with every NGO and other independent body of experts. So again we’re left with “screw what the experts and everyone else says, we say their cheating! Because they’re evil and our guts!” Just like before Iraq II. Hell, the lines are even coming from one of the same mustached Muppets that parroted it before.

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                      • There is no mystery to it at all. Obama did the agreement, and under the exact same authority that he did it Trump undid it. You can argue as to whether he should or not (I think he should not, you think he should have) but there is no rationale that Trump doesn’t have the right to pull out of it. Whether he should or not is a debate.

                        Iran has everything to do with assessing their own compliance because the JCPOA language allows it. Just one example is that they have refused IAEA access to all military bases, and the IAEA doesnt press the issue out of fear of giving Trump an “excuse” to end the agreement (obvious todays events change that sentiment). Section T of the agreement is so vaguely worded when discussing the IAEA authority to inspect “activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device” that Russia effectively told Iran to ignore it and the IAEA Dir. Gen. Amano said ““Our tools are limited…In other sections, for example, Iran has committed to submit declarations, place their activities under safeguards or ensure access by us. But in Section T I don’t see any (such commitment).”. U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231 endorsed the deal while also limiting ballistic missle testing, since violated by the Iranian regime. That resolution also has a travel limit that the head of the Quds forces has repeatedly and publically flaunted. Everyone is not agreeing that Iran is complying. Not even close, unless you are prepared to add the UN Security Council, IAEA Dir. Gen. Amano, Rueters, Nikki Haley, Der Speigel, and many others to some vast conspiracy.

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                        • Ok, so we agree Obama wasn’t going to start a war with Iran over their closing in on a bomb. I think he was right to ink the JCPOA because it obviously prevented them from achieving a bomb as they were on the verge of doing. You seem to think that he shouldn’t have in favor of doing… something. That amazing superior outcome that isn’t a war and isn’t letting Iran get the bomb but isn’t definable. Often it seems to involve sanctions even though Obama’s sanctions regime was instituted as part of the process of creating the JCPOA.

                          You’ve gone here from alluding to general Iranian noncompliance to quibbling around the edges. Dir. Gen. Amano seems to think Iran is in compliance as far as I can tell:
                          https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/iran-is-implementing-nuclear-related-jcpoa-commitments-director-general-amano-tells-iaea-board
                          And I still don’t see any reason why we should believe anything this admin says about Iran after what happened when people believed that same theme when virtually the same character were peddling it on Iraq.

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                          • In sticking to the points we do agree with for a moment, I do not trust Trump Administration with this at all. I think he is pulling out of the deal as his “win” with little plan as to what to do next. I don’t like the JCPOA but if you are going to kill it you better have a plan B and other than the sanctions he announced today I’ve yet to see a plan. My fear is this will be like declaring a “win” over ISIS collapse and then moving to something else while chaos ensues as it did there.
                            Agree that sanctions alone do not work. we have sanctioned Cuba, Korea, and Iran among others for decades with various degree’s of non-success to show for it. They are a tool, but too often used alone and ineffectively.
                            I would differ that its quibbling around the edges. Amano can say, and mean it, when he says everything they are inspecting is complying, but when there are areas they are not allowed to inspect, such as military bases, that really doesn’t mean a whole lot. The inspections are only as good as the access. My argument is in a country nearly the size of Alaska with some truly forboding terrain and a regime that likes its secrets, I’m skeptical even on the best of terms they would be successful inspecting everything. That Iran openly rejects access to certain sites only reinforces this opinion.
                            Doing “something” isn’t an altogether unfair charge but I still contend that it wasn’t just War or agreementd. You cannot blame Obama solely for something that goes back to the Carter administration as far as origins to these issues. I do believe this agreement made things worse not better, which is of course a matter of opinion and debate. The financial windfall the JCPOA and associated events brought to Iran, to me, outweigh almost everything gained, even if you take the gains at face value. While we disagree on how far they may or may not have come to a weaponized device, they certainly have not lost any ground from wherever they were.

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                            • Fine, I think the JCPOA is far from flawless but was about the best outcome Obama could have been expected to extract out of that shit sandwich of a scenario he was saddled with. Yes, Iran got to get access to a bunch of their own money back. It bears emphasizing that Iran was under stress because of the pervasive sanctions and the pervasive sanctions were the produce of the process that produced the JCPOA. If there was no JCPOA process then there’d have been much fewer to no sanctions and Iran wouldn’t have been in the same distress. Remember also how high oil prices were while they were sanctioned. Iran lost out majorly by not being able to sell their oil earlier and you can’t disconnect the sanctions from the JCPOA. Russia, China et all weren’t going to sign on to a sanctions plan without the promise of a comprehensive negotiated deal with Iran.

                              As to the effecatiousness of the inspections and the JCPOA
                              I must confess I’m still baffled. Do you think Iran is still 2 months away from creating a bomb? Even after they shipped their enriched uranium out of the country? Even after they dismantled their centrifuge cascades and let the IAEA seal them under constant surveillance? Yes, Iran is a big mountainous country but setting up the infrastructure to develop a nuclear bomb isn’t like growing a marijuana pot in your closet. It’s a sprawling mess of machines and it leaks radiation all over the place. You can’t pack it up and move it without a trace with a few weeks lead time. You can’t just Windex the traces of it away. Trump’s and Netanyahu have had the entire US and Israeli services looking for any concrete hint that the Iranians have a concealed nuclear system going and they’ve come up with nothing. I mean the nothing is knowable 100% but every indication suggests the JCPOA has achieved it’s principle goal which was to set Iran back from developing a nuclear weapon and freeze them in that set back position.

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  2. The Art of the Deal: 21st Century Edition.

    1 Loudly renege on a deal that the other party is following, isolate own country diplomatically, prove that America will not follow deals we make and saber rattle for war.

    2 Jet off to make a high stakes deal with a long term opponent. Make long term promises on behalf of America.

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    • It’s consistent in the sense that its exactly what the respective regional US allies want. South Korea wants to ramp down tension with North Korea, while Saudi Arabia and Israel want to ramp up tension with Iran.

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      • Oh yeah SA and Israel don’t’ like it. The question though is whether we should be letting the interests of SA and Israel guide us. Plenty of Israeli military and Intell figures have said they are for this agreement so it’s far from a monolithic belief that Israel is against it. Bibi and Israeli hawks are against it, but they are just as bad as our hawks. I’d say it’s actually in our long term interest to not be so aligned with SA. It would be better to draw Iran more towards the West, which is completely sporked now. That leaves us more dependent in the Mid East on those freedom loving “pro west” Saudi’s.

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        • What you say is all correct and I largely agree (esp about a long term pivot toward greater Persia and away from the GCC).

          But it does mean that everyone going on about ‘America alone’, ‘America is isolated on this’ aren’t correct- the USA just isn’t on the same page as Western Europe.

          Of course the same error was made when talking about the 2003 Iraq war (don’t forget Poland), but, uh, that wasn’t the biggest error made.

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          • I usually stop reading after someone says i’m correct. Nothing good ever comes after that. However in this case i agree to the point that we aren’t all alone so to speak. However our sanctions are likely to be on the useless side. Euro and Russian businesses, or US corps with sufficiently foreign subsidiaries, will be more than happy to gobble up Iranian business. American sanctions might be a nuisance or even a bit more but they aren’t going to move the Iranians.

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      • I guess there’s an argument for that approach. We’ve been officially undermining the non-proliferation regime at least since Bush II. Still it’d be nice if someone could make the case for how exactly our interests align perfectly with those in Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

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  3. Obviously the answer to this issue is “a thermonuke in every american’s pot”.

    Only when ever god fearing christian ‘murican has his or her own nuke will we be safe from these evil Eyeranians.

    /peace out.

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  4. takes of various temperatures
    1) the JCPOA was probably ok and probably worth sticking with
    2) the Obama administration was more interested in a visible win and legacy building than long term sustainable solutions when hashing out the JCPOA – see also, Paris Climate agreement
    3) the 2nd term Obama administration foreign policy was pretty bad even by its own standards. Feckless, vacillating, and temporizing on any issue that popped up. Lip service but no action on institution building. Pushed most of the problems inherited from the Bush administration to the next one. (which they thought would be Clinton, but again, fecklessness)
    4) nuclear nation-states telling non-nuclear nation-states that can’t have nukes is pure imperialism – even if the states telling other states what to do are only using carrots.
    5) Trump isn’t going to start a war with Iran. Mattis, Dunford, and CENTCOM would tell Trump and Bolton, sure we can significantly degrade Iranian military forces, but we’re going to need All These Things. and Trump is going to balk at All These Things. Plus, I’m old enough to remember all the times the Bush Jr administration was going to start a war with Iran imminently.
    6) A war with Iran will guarantee overwhelming Democratic control of the federal government by Feb 2021.
    (eta forgot one)
    7) Sanctions are basically worthless as a foreign policy tool.

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  5. I’m still on square one of why is Iran our enemy?

    Yes, I know they fund Hezbollah, who are bad actors and I know they issue belligerent talk towards Israel and I know they are maneuvering for regional hegemony against their enemy the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
    But these are all things that our allies in the region have done, or are doing, or are doing worse.
    We have lived with a nuclear Pakistan, India, China, and Russia.

    And the history of forcibly pulling nuclear weapons from those that want them isn’t very good.

    I bring this up because, like with Iraq in 2003, there is this unquestioned assumption that this nation is our existential enemy, which forecloses all other options besides yet another war.

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    • I’m still on square one of why is Iran our enemy?

      Mostly because they want to be. Partly because they make a habit of supporting various bad actors and trying to destabilize governments.

      We have lived with a nuclear Pakistan, India, China, and Russia.

      The Pakistan/Indian situation is already monstrously bad, with two nuclear armed foes and state sponsored terror groups around to stir things up.

      When India went nuclear, Pakistan needed to because they’re close rivals. Iran is rivals with a lot of groups. SA has already announced if Iran gets nukes then they’ll need them, I would think Egypt might have too as well, there’s probably a few others.

      The Libyan and Syrian civil wars would have been a lot more interesting if the govs had nukes when they fell apart. A lot of these countries (and yes, Pakistan) don’t look any more stable now than Libya looked 10 years ago, some look less.

      Now MAYBE if everyone gets nukes everyone starts behaving like an adult and they give up their various aggressions on each other… but that doesn’t seem like the way to bet given the histories and previous behaviors. Another alternative is some of the state sponsored fanatics go to heaven on nuclear terrorism.

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      • “Partly because they make a habit of supporting various bad actors and trying to destabilize governments.”

        Yeah, it’d be terrible if a nation did that. Absolutely horrible. Completely unconscionable. By the way, did you see the latest interview with that Prince from Saudi Arabia?

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      • This is such a backwards reading of Libya with regard to non-proliferation. There’s no evidence to suggest Quaddafi would have used a nuclear weapon on Benghazi or another rebel city and the opposition was far too weak to capture one. They were about to be slaughtered which was the whole justification for our ‘kinetic-military-I-swear-it-isn’t-a-war-thingy.’ Remember from the rest of the world’s perspective the Libyan government had come into compliance in 2001 and was rewarded by being overthrown by 3 official nuclear powers. We keep giving these regimes reasons to pursue nuclear weapons then wondering why they do it.

        To Chip’s point I think we really need a better reason to call Iran an enemy than destabilizing the region. Our two best buds over there are arguably far bigger exporters of destruction and chaos than Iran. Why we give them a pass despite no strategic value in the relationships since roughly 1991 remains a mystery. Maybe someone with connections to the smoking man or the Deep State or whatever can explain it.

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