Trump Goes Rogue In Iran

Dropping out of the Iran nuclear deal has the feel of dropping into the John Bolton phase of the Trump era.  Trump in Full. Trump Extra. The theme is No More Mr. Nice Guy, or America First, Last and virtually Alone. Multilateral Europe is appalled by Unilateral Trump – he pretends to consult, then ignores the old allies, first on Climate change, then trade barriers, and now Iran.  “We have to stop being wimps,” they are saying out loud. But here comes John Bolton with his broad-brush mustache and the truculent air of Steve Bannon. Except that Bolton is a neo-conservative, a gung-ho regime changer, as Bannon never was. Under Bolton rules, military intervention is in again, with our nukes at the ready.

What we are coming to sense about President Trump is that if he does bring the world down on his head, his last thought will be that there’s a Nobel Peace Prize in the ruins, for him.  Ripple effects and bad reviews run far and wide from Mr. Trump’s unplugging of the world’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Proxy warfare between Israeli and Iranian forces stepped up immediately in Syria. European powers snubbed on the Iran deal sound ready to end a sacred alliance with the US.  Donald Trump is being ridiculed for breaking one nuclear agreement while chasing another one with North Korea. But the president himself thinks his battering of Kim Jong Un is forcing progress, as in the release of prisoners this week.  So Trump crowds are starting to chant ‘Nobel, Nobel.’ And the president affirms them humbly: “The prize I want,” he says, “is victory for the world.”

Steve Walt has the opening round on the wonder and the profound worry at a dicey moment in Trump time.  He is a foreign policy analyst at Harvard, who’s made a trademark of tough-mindedness. We’ll also be looking at the wounded Iran nuclear deal through the Persian end of the telescope.  And trying to “follow the money” through the Trump campaign contributions to see if that’s what drives the President’s course.

Ervand Abrahamian is a prominent historian and teacher of the Iranian perspective on the world around it.  There are at least two views that we probably need to distinguish this week — of the revolutionary Islamic Republic, the mullocracy that’s been in power for nearly 40 years; and the view of ordinary people, many of whom hate their government and would love to resist it.


 Eli Clifton published a remarkable piece of research and reporting on-line this week. He made the Trump bailout from the Iran nuclear deal almost simple: it was the handiwork essentially of three multi-billionaires who’d contributed massively to Donald Trump’s campaign and knew what they wanted in return.


Guest List
Stephen Walt
professor of International Affairs, author of Revolution and War and The Israel Lobby
Ervand Abrahamian
historian of the middle east, author of Iran Between Two Revolutions 
Eli Clifton
reporter fellow at The Nation Institute

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