Tag Archives: Iran nuclear deal

Which is worse, the Iran deal or the N. Korea non-deal?

Donald J. Trump campaigned for the U.S. presidency vowing to toss aside the Iranian nuclear arms deal brokered by the Obama administration.

He did what he promised to do. We’re now out of the deal, even though our partner nations remain committed to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

So, what does the president do? He goes to Singapore, meets with North Korean despot Kim Jong Un, declares the North Korean nuclear threat to be over after supposedly extracting a pledge to “denuclearize” the Korean Peninsula.

Except that Kim Jong Un didn’t agree to what Trump said he did. Now we hear that Kim is accelerating his nuclear weapon development.

Oh, and the Iran deal actually resulted in the Iranians getting rid of fissile material it could have used to build a nuclear bomb.

All of this comes from the guy who pledged to make the “best deals” in the history of humankind. He promised to end the “disastrous” deals worked out by President Barack Obama’s team in conjunction with our allies.

However, he didn’t get any kind of deal from Kim Jong Un.

Now he’s headed to Helsinki, Finland, where he’ll meet one-on-one — sans national security aides — with Russian strongman/former KGB boss Vladimir Putin.

What in the world can go wrong with that meeting?

Don’t push ‘Mad Dog’ out the door

There’s been some reporting over the past 24 hours about Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and whether the president is looking past the serious grownup he has among his closest Cabinet officials.

Donald Trump announced the ending of “war games” with South Korean armed forces; he declared the United States was nixing the Iran nuclear deal; the president also announced his desire to form a sixth military branch, which he has called a “space force.”

These initiatives all have something in common. The president announced all of them without consulting Secretary Mattis.

Is this the beginning of the end of Mad Dog’s tenure as head of the Pentagon? Oh, man, I hope it ain’t so.

Of all the individuals Trump has selected for the Cabinet, Mattis is the one who — in my mind — has acted like the grownup. He is a serious-minded retired four-star U.S. Marine Corps general. His combat experience makes him a level-headed deterrent to the chicken hawks — such as national security adviser John Bolton — who seem all too eager to send U.S. forces into harm’s way.

When the president tweeted his decision to ban transgender Americans from enlisting in the armed forces, Mattis held the line, saying that he wouldn’t do a thing to change military policy without it going through the proper administrative channels.

Salon.com reports: The president often leaves Mattis “out of the loop” and “doesn’t listen to him,” according to NBC News, undermining this vital role in national security. Trump allegedly believes that Mattis “looks down on him” and “slow walks his policy directives,” sources told the outlet.

Mattis might “look down” on Trump? Really? So what if he does?

I can understand why Mattis, who has served his country with honor and distinction, might take a dim view of Donald Trump’s world view and his utter lack of understanding of what public service is supposed to mean.

For someone who supposedly has a soft spot in his heart for the generals with whom he has surrounded himself, Trump well might be doing all he can to get his premier Cabinet appointment to hit the road.

If that happens, the nation will be the poorer for it.

Why this fixation with Obama’s legacy?

I cannot pretend to know what drives Donald J. Trump to do most of the things he does, even though the public record as we approach the 18-month mark of his presidency does present some interesting questions.

Why does this man appear to be so intent on obliterating his immediate predecessor’s record?

President Barack Obama left two huge policy imprints on the nation before he left after serving two successful terms in office: the Affordable Care Act and the Iranian nuclear arms deal.

Donald Trump has sought to dismantle them both. The ACA remains on the books, more or less, after Congress grappled with ways to “repeal and replace” it with something we’ll call Trumpcare. The ACA became the prime target of the new president almost from the day he took office.

Now we have this withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Secretary of State John Kerry worked day and night under Obama’s guidance to persuade our key allies to sign on to a plan that seeks to prohibit the Islamic Republic of Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Trump calls the Iran deal the worst in history. Has he read it? Does he really know what it says or what it requires? Well, that remains a wide-open question.

Trump’s obsessions with Barack Obama’s legacy has this hideous connection to another fixation he continues to have as it regards the 44th president: his place of birth.

It has struck more than one observer that Trump’s fomenting of the fiction that Obama was born in Africa and not in the United States is a racially tinged vendetta. What’s more, he has been a leader in the effort to discredit Obama’s eligibility because his father — who the president barely knew — was a Muslim. Trump has continued to allow that canard to become a talking point among some Americans who harbor sinister thoughts about Barack Obama’s ethnicity.

Trump’s behavior and his public statements throughout his presidency betray a dark side of the man. The Charlottesville, Va., riot and the moral equivalence he drew between racist rioters and those who opposed them speaks volumes to many of us.

The “birther” lie that Trump simply won’t disavow does as well.

Thus, I believe it is reasonable to presume that Donald Trump’s concerted effort to dismantle so much of Barack Obama’s legacy is born flatly out of racism.

Sickening.

Why is no deal better than a bad one?

I am still trying to digest the implications of Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of a deal that would prohibit Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The president railed against the deal struck in 2015 as a terrible agreement. He said he couldn’t in good faith keep the United States involved in a pact that had the endorsement of virtually all of our major strategic allies.

Here’s the question for which I cannot find an answer: Why is “no deal” better than a bad deal that could be improved?

U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry — who happens to represent the Texas Panhandle in the House of Representatives — questions the wisdom of backing out of the deal without trying to persuade our European allies to work even harder to hammer out a better deal.

Did the president exhaust all of our diplomatic options? Every single one of them? Were there no avenues to explore? None? Anywhere?

The defense secretary and Joint Chiefs chairman both concurred that Iran was complying with the strict inspection protocol that had been written into the deal. Trump said Iran wasn’t. Who do we believe? No need to answer that one. I know who I believe — and it isn’t the commander in chief.

The president’s first task is to protect us from our enemies. I do not believe Donald Trump has fulfilled that task by tossing the Iran nuclear deal into the trash bin.

Let’s remember this fact that hasn’t yet been discussed fully in the hours since Trump’s announcement: Iran was a signatory to the agreement; if the Iranians remain a part of it, the deal sticks; if they don’t, all bets are off and they will resume their quest for a nuclear weapon.

Do you feel safer now? Neither do I.

POTUS contradicts top military brass on Iran

Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford are two serious men with equally serious outlooks on the state of the world.

So, when these two men tell U.S. Senate inquisitors that Iran is not cheating on the deal that was worked out in 2015 to prevent development of an Iranian nuclear weapon, you’d like to believe the president would take that into account. Yes? Umm, no. It didn’t happen.

You see, today the president of the United States, accused the Iranians of rampant cheating on the deal. Thus, he present an opinion that goes directly against the view expressed by his two top military advisers. Then he announced that the United States is pulling out of the 2015 agreement negotiated by the Obama administration and several our nation’s key strategic allies.

I’ll add here that Secretary Mattis is a retired four-star Marine Corps general, the same rank as Gen. Dunford.

However, I guess I should remind us all that Trump boasted during the 2016 presidential campaign that “I know about ISIS than the generals, believe me.”

I guess he knows more than the generals about Iran’s adherence to a nuclear deal, too.

As a constituent of the president, I am going to believe the analysis provided by “Mad Dog” Mattis and Gen. Dunford before I accept anything that comes from the Liar in Chief.

Not all Republicans are applauding Trump’s Iran decision

Republicans across the nation generally are applauding Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear arms deal.

Democrats universally oppose the president’s decision.

But wait! There’s this from a key congressional Republican, who I happen to know fairly well. U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, said today he wishes Trump would have delayed a pact pullout so that he could find a way to improve the agreement worked out in 2015.

“I have no doubt that the [Iran deal] was flawed and that for years Iran has been deceptive about its nuclear and other programs,” Thornberry said.

“My preference would have been to give our European allies a few more months to strengthen the deal, but now that the president has decided that the United States will withdraw, we must have two critical priorities.”

“One is to further enhance our own military capabilities,” the Clarendon Republican added. “The other is to strengthen our alliances. A strong, international effort is required to curtail Iran’s aggressive behavior in a number of areas.”

Indeed, the president has decided to stiff our European allies, all of whom strongly lobbied Trump to remain a party to it. Trump didn’t go there, preferring to keep a pledge to toss the Iran nuclear deal aside.

I ought to add that Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford both testified before Congress that Iran was abiding by the agreement requirements. Moreover, the agreement placed strict inspection protocols in place to ensure that Iran complies with the demand to rid itself of nuclear weapons technology.

The president today has tossed all of that away. In the process he has sent a clear message to our allies that the United States of America no longer is to be trusted to keep its word.

Which brings me back to Chairman Thornberry’s statement. How are we going to “strengthen our alliances” to ensure “a strong international effort” when the president has ignored the pleas of our allies to keep this deal intact?

And here is the response from POTUS No. 44

I don’t do this normally; I prefer to populate my blog with my own thoughts on issues of the day.

I’ll make an exception here. Former President Barack Obama has issued a lengthy response today a decision by his successor, Donald Trump, to abandon a deal that seeks to prohibit Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

As always, you are welcome to share this with whomever you wish.

Take it away, Mr. President …

***

There are few issues more important to the security of the United States than the potential spread of nuclear weapons, or the potential for even more destructive war in the Middle East. That’s why the United States negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the first place.

The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working – that is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current U.S. Secretary of Defense. The JCPOA is in America’s interest – it has significantly rolled back Iran’s nuclear program. And the JCPOA is a model for what diplomacy can accomplish – its inspections and verification regime is precisely what the United States should be working to put in place with North Korea. Indeed, at a time when we are all rooting for diplomacy with North Korea to succeed, walking away from the JCPOA risks losing a deal that accomplishes – with Iran – the very outcome that we are pursuing with the North Koreans.

That is why today’s announcement is so misguided. Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated. In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one Administration to the next. But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers.

Debates in our country should be informed by facts, especially debates that have proven to be divisive. So it’s important to review several facts about the JCPOA.

First, the JCPOA was not just an agreement between my Administration and the Iranian government. After years of building an international coalition that could impose crippling sanctions on Iran, we reached the JCPOA together with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia, China, and Iran. It is a multilateral arms control deal, unanimously endorsed by a United Nations Security Council Resolution.

Second, the JCPOA has worked in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program. For decades, Iran had steadily advanced its nuclear program, approaching the point where they could rapidly produce enough fissile material to build a bomb. The JCPOA put a lid on that breakout capacity. Since the JCPOA was implemented, Iran has destroyed the core of a reactor that could have produced weapons-grade plutonium; removed two-thirds of its centrifuges (over 13,000) and placed them under international monitoring; and eliminated 97 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium – the raw materials necessary for a bomb. So by any measure, the JCPOA has imposed strict limitations on Iran’s nuclear program and achieved real results.

Third, the JCPOA does not rely on trust – it is rooted in the most far-reaching inspections and verification regime ever negotiated in an arms control deal. Iran’s nuclear facilities are strictly monitored. International monitors also have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, so that we can catch them if they cheat. Without the JCPOA, this monitoring and inspections regime would go away.

Fourth, Iran is complying with the JCPOA. That was not simply the view of my Administration. The United States intelligence community has continued to find that Iran is meeting its responsibilities under the deal, and has reported as much to Congress. So have our closest allies, and the international agency responsible for verifying Iranian compliance – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Fifth, the JCPOA does not expire. The prohibition on Iran ever obtaining a nuclear weapon is permanent. Some of the most important and intrusive inspections codified by the JCPOA are permanent. Even as some of the provisions in the JCPOA do become less strict with time, this won’t happen until ten, fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years into the deal, so there is little reason to put those restrictions at risk today.

Finally, the JCPOA was never intended to solve all of our problems with Iran. We were clear-eyed that Iran engages in destabilizing behavior – including support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel and its neighbors. But that’s precisely why it was so important that we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Every aspect of Iranian behavior that is troubling is far more dangerous if their nuclear program is unconstrained. Our ability to confront Iran’s destabilizing behavior – and to sustain a unity of purpose with our allies – is strengthened with the JCPOA, and weakened without it.

Because of these facts, I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake. Without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East. We all know the dangers of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. It could embolden an already dangerous regime; threaten our friends with destruction; pose unacceptable dangers to America’s own security; and trigger an arms race in the world’s most dangerous region. If the constraints on Iran’s nuclear program under the JCPOA are lost, we could be hastening the day when we are faced with the choice between living with that threat, or going to war to prevent it.

In a dangerous world, America must be able to rely in part on strong, principled diplomacy to secure our country. We have been safer in the years since we achieved the JCPOA, thanks in part to the work of our diplomats, many members of Congress, and our allies. Going forward, I hope that Americans continue to speak out in support of the kind of strong, principled, fact-based, and unifying leadership that can best secure our country and uphold our responsibilities around the globe.

 

Thanks, Mr. POTUS, for putting screws to our allies

Did anyone out there realize the irony of today’s decision by the president of the United States to withdraw from a deal that aims to deny Iran the ability to acquire nuclear weapons?

Here’s how I see it: Seventy-three years ago today, the shooting stopped in Europe, ending one phase of World War II; the result of that was to build alliances with nations across the continent, those with which we fought side by side and, yes, those we opposed.

Those nations had lined up in favor of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. They lobbied Donald J. Trump to stay the course, to improve it, to renegotiate a better deal if he saw fit. What’s more, didn’t Trump campaign for president in 2016 on a pledge to negotiate the “best deals” ever?

The president today — on VE Day — stuck it to our “allies,” the nations we helped liberate from tyranny in World War II.

The president has managed to isolate this nation from much of the rest of the world in its effort to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which no self-respecting civilized nation anywhere on Earth wants to see happen.

I should point, too, that the deal struck by the Obama administration in concert with several other nations provides for the world’s most vigorous inspection process, which has resulted in Iran ridding itself of many centrifuges used to enrich uranium, the key component in the making of nuclear bombs.

Donald Trump, though, wants to speak directly to the hardliners among his inner circle of advisers — and to those voters who continue to abide by the fiction that isolating the United States from this country strengthens American interests.

It does nothing of the kind! It weakens the United States in a world that is shrinking at an accelerating pace.

I fear the president once again has failed to “make America great again.” He instead has made us untrustworthy among those with whom we once fought side by side.

What in the world? GOP lining up in favor of Iran deal?

I do believe that hell has frozen over. It’s official, I’m tellin’ ya!

U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry has said out loud that he “would advise against” Donald Trump pulling out of the deal that seeks to prohibit Iran from developing a nuclear arsenal.

That’s right. Thornberry, who usually stands foursquare behind the president’s idiocy, is now sounding downright reasonable and rational in urging the president to back off his threat to pull out of the Iran nuke deal.

Thornberry said this on Fox News Sunday: “Secretary (of Defense James) Mattis talked about the inspectors that are in there. Does Iran kick those inspectors out so that we lose what visibility we have there?” he asked. “The Europeans are not going to reimpose sanctions. So where does that leave us and Iran? You need to have a clearer idea about next steps if we are going to pull out, and especially given the larger context of Iran’s aggressive activities in the Middle East.”

This comes from a lawmaker who initially opposed the Iran deal. Why? Well, beats me. Maybe it was merely because it was struck by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

According to NBC News: Other Republicans have said they are hoping that the Trump administration modifies the agreement so that it addresses certain holes such as not addressing Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Thornberry is far from the only former deal critic to take another look at it.

Trump says he plans to announce Tuesday whether he is pulling out of the deal. I hope he modifies his initial blanket opposition, despite the urging of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who calls the deal a disaster and an invitation for Iran to go to war with Israel.

As for Thornberry’s change of heart, I certainly welcome whatever influence the Clarendon Republican might wield with a president who, um, listens to nobody.

Trump continues his rampage

Donald J. Trump is having a busy week, indeed.

The president has taken direct aim at (a) the Affordable Care Act, (b) the Iran nuclear deal and (c) the United Nations. To what end? To show the world he’s putting “America first” and that he doesn’t care what the rest of the nation that didn’t vote for him thinks about the policies he is dismantling.

* Trump this week declared his intention to discontinue the subsidies the government pays to reduce health insurance premiums for Americans who need them to purchase insurance under the ACA. He’s seeking to destroy former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, no matter how many millions of Americans he hurts along the way.

* The president has decided against recertifying the Iran nuclear pact that Obama’s foreign policy team negotiated with five other nations. It seeks to demand that Iran quit developing nuclear weapons. International analysts say Iran is complying with the deal; Trump says the Iranians aren’t complying. Hmm. Who do you believe, the experts or a pathological liar?

* Trump has decided to pull the United States out of UNESCO, a UN-affiliated organization dedicated to developing world peace through collaborative educational, scientific and cultural reforms. That sound pretty nefarious, right? He cites an alleged “anti-Israel bias” in the UN. So, he’ll just pull us out of UNESCO. That’ll teach ’em.

The president just cannot stop doing things that make many of us angry. Sure, he pleases a lot of folks around the country with this so-called “no-nonsense” approach to domestic and international policy.

In my own view, though, he is forsaking policies only because they were crafted by his predecessor, the fellow Trump defamed by suggesting for years he wasn’t qualified constitutionally to serve as president; it’s that “birther” thing.

As for the UNESCO pullout, Trump is managing to anger allied nations who do not view the world through the same distorted prism the president uses.

But, by golly, he’s telling it like it is.