Most of you heard the news on Tuesday that President Moron in Chief had withdrawn the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. Back in July of 2015, I posted an entry asking the detractors of the Joint Plan eight questions, which, of course, no one answered. Donald Trump has been opinionating for years that the Plan was the “worst deal” ever negotiated, and made it one of the cornerstones of his campaign promises to withdraw the United States from the plan. In all that time, he never explained what was so bad about the deal, although we’re finally beginning to have some insight into that based on what he said on Tuesday.
What is the Joint Plan?
The Joint Plan is an agreement not just between Iran and the United States, but also including Great Britain, Germany, France, and most significantly, China and Russia. It took 20 months to negotiate the plan, and followed a previous interim deal (which somewhat confusingly was known as the Joint Plan of Action as opposed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). In essence, the Plan lifts previously imposed sanctions on the Iranian regime in exchange for the Iranian’s offer to stop development of nuclear weapons for a period of 15 years. Iran also agreed to dismantle some of what they had built and agreed to a rigorous program of inspection.
Why Does Trump Hate the Plan so Much?
The answer to that question, most probably, is that it was negotiated on the American part by the administration of Barack Obama. But at least yesterday Trump identified three objections: (1) that it was not permanent, (2) that it didn’t include a ban on developing ballistic missiles, and (3) that it didn’t prevent Iran from acting as a proxy in the Middle East. So, let’s take these objections one at a time:
- Temporary Nature of the Agreement: I’m not sure why this is a fatal flaw. A lot of agreements are temporary. Over fifteen years, that would have been plenty of opportunity to determine whether the agreement was working, and to negotiate either an extension or a new agreement as the old one came to a close. Fifteen years is a life-time in politics.
- Non-Inclusion of Ballistic Missiles: these missiles, for the uninitiated, are long range missiles that can be used to deliver warheads. Not just nuclear warheads, but any kind of warheads. Now, it would have been nice if a prohibition on the development of ballistic missiles was included in the agreement, but clearly the Iranians weren’t willing to agree to that. They were negotiating against six other competent nations. If those nations, collectively, had thought this was a deal-breaker, then the deal would not have been struck.
- Iranian activity through Middle East Proxies: you know who else has proxies in the Middle East? The United States. And Russia. And China. And Great Britain and France. These questions are all interpretive, of what counts as a proxy. It’s not clear how any of this should be measured. Or prohibited. It would be like prohibiting lobbying. You could prohibit the formal aspects of it, I suppose, but lobbying would still take place, just under a different guise.
So, like all agreements, the Joint Comprehensive Plan was not a perfect agreement, but it did exactly what it’s authors wanted: it got the Iranians to stop developing a nuclear weapon. And on the Iranian side, it gave them a chance to revive their economy.
Who were the Winners from the Withdrawal?
- Iranian hardliners.
- The Chinese.
- The Russians.
- Bibi Netanyahu.
In other words, not really the people you want to have winning right now.
Who were the Losers from the Withdrawal?
- Boeing, which isn’t going to get to sell jets already on order to the Iranians.
- Iranian moderates.
- The reputation of the United States of America.
- France, Germany, Great Britain, and the companies they have doing business in Iran.
- American consumers, especially those of us who buy gasoline and enjoy low prices.
- Anybody interested in Middle East stability and world peace.
- Anybody who thinks we might be able to come to some agreement with North Korea.
What are the Iranians and the Europeans Going to Do Now?
Who the hell knows. They’re definitely not happy. The Europeans will probably try to keep as much of the deal intact as possible, but it will get tricky. What happens when the United States starts to sanction European countries doing business with Iran?
And what is Hassan Rouhani going to do now? Who knows? It’s not exactly like his economy is going gangbusters. He had enough to do to keep his economy on track. This will definitely not help.
And why? Most likely because little-hands Donald J. Trump is still jealous of Barack Obama, and is still obsessed with wiping out his legacy.
In the meantime the Chinese and Russians get to expand their sphere of influence in the Middle East. Hey Trump supporters, are you tired of all that winning yet?
 Former Massachusetts Senator and presidential candidate John Kerry was the public negotiator and signatory of the deal on behalf of the United States.