Trump’s “Maximum Pressure” Blows Up in His Droopy Face

If Iranians are ever going to talk to the US again they have to restore their leverage first

Ali Vaez and Gerard Araud put Iran’s recent moves in their proper context:

Iran’s violation of one of its less consequential commitments under the deal should be seen for what it is: a calibrated response to compel the remaining deal signatories (Europe, Russia, and China) to counter the U.S. “maximum pressure through sanctions” campaign, just as was its downing of an unmanned drone. But it also should be seen as a warning shot, a signal that should economic pressure remain, Tehran is likely to up the ante and accelerate its nuclear program.

Iran’s logic seems straightforward: If its leaders ever agree to negotiate with an administration that is holding a gun to their heads, they will do so only after first having restored their leverage by partially resuscitating its nuclear program. In short, the risky gambit implies any path to negotiations risks passing through another perilous nuclear standoff.

Vaez and Araud make an important point that tends to get lost in discussions of the failed “maximum pressure” policy: even if Iran wanted to negotiate right now, they traded away the leverage they had four years ago.

Iran’s government has many reasons not to talk to Trump, but one of them is that they currently have nothing that they would be willing to give up to obtain the sanctions relief they were already promised the first time.

There is no chance that they are going to make deeper concessions on the nuclear issue, and if they aren’t going to obtain sanctions relief in exchange for compliance then it was always just a matter of time before they stopped complying with a deal that gives them nothing.

All of this has happened because of a destructive Trump administration Iran policy aimed at killing a successful nonproliferation agreement in order to provide a pretext for conflict. The blame for all of this rests with Trump and his hawkish advisers.

The Trump administration’s demand that Iran give up all enrichment is an obvious non-starter, just as it was for a decade until the U.S. and its allies realized that they would have to compromise on this point to make any progress. When the U.S. insisted on this in this past, Iran greatly expanded its nuclear program:

It was only when the U.S. learned to live with minimal domestic Iranian enrichment that Iran was willing to agree to the other restrictions on its program. Iran was prepared to give up the vast majority of its program as long as it was able to retain some of it and exercise the rights it believes it is entitled to under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

By refusing to accept that, the Trump administration makes the exact same mistake that its predecessors made for years. Repeating that mistake is likely to produce similar results, and that makes war more likely if only because Iran hawks will use any excuse to agitate for one.

Meanwhile, the president remains mired in mindless hawkish talking points:

Practically everything in this statement is a lie. Iran was not violating the deal at any point between its implementation in 2015 and last week. It didn’t get access to anything like $150 billion of its own money. Trump recites these numbers that he has been fed by propagandists without understanding anything that he’s talking about.

Sanctions relief in exchange for compliance was the heart of the deal. He is the one that has ripped that heart out when he illegitimately reimposed sanctions despite their ongoing compliance, and he is so oblivious that he can’t grasp that he is the one responsible for everything that is happening.

The only true part of the president’s statement is that Iran did exceed the limit on their low-enriched uranium stockpile. As Vaez and Araud explain, this is not a prelude to seeking nuclear weapons, but an attempt to get the relief that they were promised all along.

The Iranian decision to breach this limit is a direct consequence of a “maximum pressure” campaign that has given Iran every incentive to violate an agreement that the U.S. already shredded more than a year ago.

This is what brain-dead, reflexive opposition to a successful diplomatic agreement gets you, and Trump and the Iran hawks own the consequences.

Source: The American Conservative

  1. jm74 says

    Under the JCPOA agreement Iran is entitled to increase the limit on low-enriched uranium in the event that the agreement was violated. US violated the agreement as do the French, UK, Germany and EU, not sure about Russia or China.

  2. Mary E says

    Absolutely the US and their looney tune president own the consequences of whatever happens now..Iran had been compliant and it was proven by the international group that was checking on them – quite often, really. But the US has Iran’s almost $2 Billion and are refusing to give it up…and for what? The US is playing a very dangerous game in which they will be the losers. Washington’s people are liars besides being very greedy and hegemonic. They deserve what will be coming their way…in spades.

  3. Reggie Martin says

    First of all who gave the USA the right to tell another country what it can do and what it can’t do if I were them I would whack them personally these chicken hawks get a free pass to cause harm to millions of people government people need to grow some balls

    1. Mary E says

      Its not the government people, it is the White House and the rest of the totally criminal executive branch of the US government…

  4. Canosin says

    what else to expect from a degenerated political establishment in DC??? the gun boat policy of the past doesn’t work in the 21st century….. superpower no more

  5. Augustus says

    Instead of worrying about Iran we should concern ourselves about getting nukes out of the hands of the real nuclear maniacs….the Zionists. Iran doesn’t even have nukes and here we are worrying about them instead of the real menace…Israel.

    1. Mary E says

      But Israel is a blood brother (literally!) of the top dogs in Washington and New York Wall St)

      1. silver7 says

        That’s why Iran and the JCPOA now is an obvious distraction from Israeli nuke power and always has been. Blood brother does everything to keep it quiet, possible out of fear also.

  6. CHUCKMAN says

    “Trump’s “Maximum Pressure” Blows Up in His Droopy Face
    “If Iranians are ever going to talk to the US again they have to restore their leverage first”

    Yes, who negotiates with a gun to his head? Only someone who is defenseless, but that certainly does not characterize Iran.

    By what degradation of language are such proposals as America’s even called negotiation?

    What we see is an effort to conduct international relations along the lines of the age-old Mafia protection racket: pay-up or something really bad is going to happen to you. That is world leadership in the twenty-first century?

    It sets a terrible precedent, just as Trump’s tearing-up a valid, working treaty did. A treaty which involved the interests of a number of other states, none of whom agreed with Trump. The interests of five permanent members of the Security Council plus those of Germany and the EU are involved.

    Yet Trump felt entitled just to ride roughshod over all of them?

    Imagine a businessman suddenly ripping-up a written, multi-party contract, one already in force and operating smoothly for about four years? Here we see precisely that situation, except the international sphere lacks the courts and law enforcement which protect contracts in any advanced country.

    Who can trust the United States? What is its word worth? Very little apparently, which of course only compounds the current situation with Iran, just as it does the one with North Korea. Ultimately, the question arises, who will want to do business with the United States? Given America’s relative economic decline in the world, that is just the opposite of what it should communicate to the world’s people to foster investment and trade.

    The attitude which should prevail is the one, ironically, we see in Russia: open for business, reasonable, “right this way, partners.” I say “ironically” because not all that many years ago, Russia was a country understood as understanding none of those things.

    Now, it very much is the United States of Donald Trump which understands none of those things.

    The author’s points are valid, but there are yet more.

    The mob running the White House wants Iran to “throw the kitchen sink” into a new deal. What was a clear nuclear-upgrading treaty should become a “and a number of other things” treaty.

    At the very least, they want Iran’s missile technology degraded or removed.

    A ridiculous expectation in today’s world of missile defense and satellite launching and ultimately all kinds of important projects in space. Much of future scientific work and even manufacturing will be done in space.

    Iran has a lot of smart young educated people who want to pursue careers in science or technology and build companies. Why should they be arbitrarily excluded?

    Of course, all the grotesque pressure comes ultimately from Israel, by way of American oligarchs who make massive campaign contributions when their terms are met, and through the dedicated efforts of government-service apparatchiks like Bolton and Pompeo.

    Israel has worked tirelessly to hurt Iran as a rival for influence in the region. It has nothing to do with genuine security, as Israel pretends. Non-nuclear countries do not attack nuclear ones, and Iran has committed no aggression of any kind in its modern history.

    The only kind of security involved is Israel’s sense of security in doing whatever it pleases to anyone anywhere in the region without effective objection, a miniature replica of America’s global behavior.

    In a bitter irony, the invasion and destruction of Iraq, done largely at the behest of Israel (Ariel Sharon was a long and fervent advocate) in a terribly bloody war with at least a million deaths, actually increased Iran’s relative influence in the region. So much for the foresight of those who play with the lives of others as though they were game pieces.

    What a way for America to run a country and try running the world – almost rabid efforts at destroying someone’s economy accompanied by grotesque threats and terrible displays of war machines, all reflecting no more worthy purpose than securing campaign contributions and political allies back home. And it comes at the same time America conducts a massive trade war with China and a huge campaign of vilifying Russia and hurting its interests. Then there are the smaller destructive works underway such as those in Venezuela. And all the vast and impetuous mass of sanctions and tariffs involved affect everyone else of consequence too.

    The whole crisis further highlights America’s relative decline. The country’s leadership – and it’s not just Trump, although he is by far the loudest and most uncouth – has become openly arbitrary and demanding in efforts to counteract its decline, and no one responds well to that. Iran will certainly resist, assisted, hopefully, by such powerful associates as China and Russia and even India.

    But Europe, too, is feeling the unwarranted pressure and the unfairness, the effort to skew the entire planet’s affairs in America’s favor. It is undoubtedly thinking hard about future relations with the United States.

    If Trump’s efforts do not lead to war, they may very well lead to international economic collapse with all the tariffs and sanctions and reduced volumes of trade plus the threat to oil transport. But if, somehow, we avoid either of those outcomes, I think there can be no question this impossibly arrogant and ignorant President has effectively “greased the rails” for the emerging multi-polar world, one which effectively will end America’s privileged and much-abused authority.

    Trump’s legacy will not have been to “make America great again,” whatever that slogan is supposed to mean, but to speed the very changes in the world to which the slogan was a response

    1. P J. says

      Thanks for an excellent article. My only comment is you could leave out the word
      ‘apparently’ !

    2. Mary E says

      Just a note to comment on this, which is right on…The US, first of all, does not know the 1st thing about diplomacy, let along broker a win-win deal with the other country and secondly, Washington has reneged on every deal it ever made, including the one that the US and NATO made with Russia after WWII..which was that the Western powers would not go farther Eastward toward Russia than they already were…but guess what? their war machines and troops are sitting right on Russia’s borders waiting for Russia to make a ‘nervous’ mistake, which they will not do.

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