The Detroit Jewish News asked experts on Israel, foreign policy, religion and/or other relevant fields to answer important questions on everyone’s mind in the midst of the recent news from the Middle East. Here are some of their answers.
The U.S. just pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Will this be good or bad for the U.S. in the short run? What about in the long run?
The Iran nuclear deal, which in effect permits Iran to obtain nuclear weapons by 2030 on the assumption that by then concessions and trade will have brought Iran into the comity of nations, seems ill-conceived. Since 2015, Iran’s regional actions have become more, not less aggressive. The P5+1 probably should never have allowed sunset clauses. Now that Trump has walked away, Iran could benefit — and the U.S. suffer — by splitting the U.S. from Europe and China, and by finding ways to evade inspections while at the same time expanding trade with Europe and China. But Iran could also be disadvantaged if the remaining parties oblige it to maintain the current inspection regime and U.S. secondary sanctions cripple European trade with Iran. It’s far too early, I think, to tell what will actually happen and what the long-term repercussions will be.
The same answer about pulling out of the Iran deal goes for harm to U.S. interests. This administration is so permissive of Saudi priorities and so tied to the current Israeli leadership that Washington has lost most of its objectivity and credibility throughout the region, as well as with European allies. Counting pullouts from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Global Climate Accords, the U.S. no longer has a reputation as a reliable partner for negotiations, including the ones currently pending with North Korea. This administration peddles the idea that harshness works best in talks; we should remember instead the forthcoming approach the Reagan administration finally took in building arms control with the Soviet Union — “trust but verify.”
Dr. Michael Pytlik:
If there were a competent, fully operable State Department, foreign policy or a credible bargainer for the U.S., it might be good, but there is none of that currently; therefore, it is not good in the short term. In the long term, perhaps something akin to what was recently torn up could be re-implemented. In the short term, I would predict more actions and reactions that are not desirable, and given the world in which we live, and the area of the world we are speculating about, it is in no one’s best interest that the agreement was torn up now. The current administration in Washington has very little credibility among its own allies much less its adversaries. This action further erodes the credibility of the United States in the region.
Trump’s decision to pull out of the JCPOA, aside from the implications for Iran, Israel and the Middle East, further tarnishes the image of the United States as a mediator of world conflict, which may discourage other states (such as North Korea) to see President Trump as someone who negotiates in good faith. Moreover, once again the president has decried a policy of his predecessors as a “bad deal” and boasted that he will come up with a better deal. The decision to pull out of the JCPOA, therefore, is vindicated only if he delivers on this boast and comes up with a better deal. It is hard to envision what this better deal would look like. And then there is the lingering concern that hovers over all of his rhetoric and announcements — that his aim is less about the issue in question and more about misdirection and distracting the American people from the scandal and corruption engulfing his administration. After all, if the Iran Deal and the U.S.Embassy in Jerusalem are headline news, the Mueller investigation and Michael Cohen are not.