CANBERRA – U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal is a global tragedy likely to unsettle an already volatile Middle East and a world in some disarray. Trump has pulled out of the deal not because it was flawed, but because it was working as intended and this posed an insurmountable obstacle to potential military strikes on Iran. As a consequence, Trump’s decision will worsen relations with Europe, destabilize the Middle East, complicate negotiations to reverse North Korea’s nuclearization and damage the global nuclear order.
There are two “structural” explanations and a host of personal reasons for Trump pulling out. Most importantly, the neoconservative hawks, back in charge of U.S. foreign policy, are determined to follow the Washington playbook of militarized responses to foreign crises. They believe in using U.S. power to remake the world in their image, disdain arms control treaties, view the need for allies as evidence of U.S. military weakness not diplomatic strength and want to eliminate regimes not weapons. To dedicated ideologues, multiple past failures do not prove the policy’s inherent flaw, merely that it wasn’t fully implemented. Thus National Security Adviser John Bolton is an unrepentant cheerleader for the 2003 Iraq War.
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