FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Coming Crisis with Iran

Photo by DAVID HOLT | CC BY 2.0

With the appointments of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and John Bolton as national security adviser, Donald Trump has signaled his preparedness by the May 12deadline to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and ramp up pressure on North Korea if it refuses to denuclearize.  The two moves would have interactive consequences: casting aside the Iran nuclear deal is likely to be read in Pyongyang as indicating that the US cannot be trusted to keep its commitments. It might also be read as a signal that should nuclear talks with Trump fail, a US attack on North Korea’s missile and nuclear sites could be in the offing.

The always precarious state of US relations with Iran, and with the Middle East as a whole, will be blown apart should Trump nix the nuclear deal.  Iran is likely to immediately resume production of nuclear-weapon grade materials. US relations with its European allies will be deeply unsettled, another bitter pill will be added to relations with Russia and China (both of which endorsed the nuclear deal), the Israeli far right will be emboldened to join in pressuring (and perhaps attacking) Iran, and the Saudis and others will be encouraged to produce their own nuclear weapons.

Most important of all, ending US participation in the nuclear agreement will bring it closer to war with Iran.  In John Bolton we already have a top official who is on record as favoring an attackon Iran’s, as well as North Korea’s, nuclear facilities.  That record is consistently wrong in its predictions about Iran; Bolton made it appear that war was inevitable and negotiations with Iran a fruitless alternative.  Especially worrisome is his obliviousness to international law and to the human consequences of belligerent actions.  Bolton can therefore be expected to push for a preventive war (not preemptive war, as he maintains) on Iran just as he argued after 9/11 for invading Iraq.  To some observers, only defense secretary James Mattis stands between Trump and war with Iran, a slim reed indeed.

We should keep in mind that the nuclear deal is working.  The International Atomic Energy Agency has several times judged Iran to be in compliance with the agreement.  Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster apparently agreed and argued for continuing to certify it—perhaps one reason they are gone.  Numerous scientists and military professionals argued during the Obama years that the agreement was a breakthrough in keeping Iran denuclearized.  In short, the agreement is in the national security interest of the US. Withdrawing from it would be a gross, and dangerous, disservice to that interest.

In my new book, Engaging Adversaries, I suggest that the nuclear deal with Iran could be the basis for a normal relationship with Iran that might work in favor of other US policy objectives in the Middle East.  These would include resolving the conflict in Yemen, loosening of Iran’s ties to Hezbollah and its support of the Syrian regime, and undercutting Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s confrontational strategy with Iran.

More articles by:

Mel Gurtov is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University, Editor-in-Chief of Asian Perspective, an international affairs quarterly and blogs at In the Human Interest.

April 26, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
As Trump Berates Iran, His Options are Limited
Daniel Warner
From May 1968 to May 2018: Politics and Student Strikes
Simone Chun – Kevin Martin
Diplomacy in Korea and the Hope It Inspires
George Wuerthner
The Attack on Wilderness From Environmentalists
CJ Hopkins
The League of Assad-Loving Conspiracy Theorists
Richard Schuberth
“MeToo” and the Liberation of Sex
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Sacred Assemblies in Baghdad
Dean Baker
Exonerating Bad Economic Policy for Trump’s Win
Vern Loomis
The 17 Gun Salute
Gary Leupp
What It Means When the U.S. President Conspicuously and Publicly Removes a Speck of Dandruff from the French President’s Lapel
Robby Sherwin
The Hat
April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail