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Donald Trump’s latest unwise move -setting up a massive nuclear crisis with Iran

Trump is setting up a massive nuclear crisis with Iran, The Week,

David Fari   Republican analysts and officials spent most the week taking a macabre and unearned victory lap, celebrating President Trump’s rub-out of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and the tepid Iranian response. 10 Jan 2020 Lee Smith, in the New York Postcalled it “a strategic victory for President Trump,” that could result in “a political masterstroke.” The Daily Wire‘s Ben Shapiro, with his trademark magnanimity, declared on Twitter that “deterrence worked, you f—ing numbskulls.”
Dead Soleimani Fever even spread to the theoretically sane, with Time columnist Ian Bremmer calling it “a win for Trump” and claiming that negotiations are now more likely. It’s all a bit premature. While Iran chose not to further escalate this week, the situation remains combustible. The most significant danger is still an Iranian decision to pursue immediate nuclear breakout, something the president’s blundering and blustering has made much more likely.

First, the fog of war created by the president’s decision to assassinate Soleimani led to tragedy, as Iran seems to have accidentally shot down a planeload of innocent civilians. While most of the blame goes to whichever incompetent Iranian operator pulled the trigger, the reality is that all 176 of those people, including 63 Canadians, would be alive today if the U.S. had not carried out its hit on Soleimani. For another, we should remember that a month passed between the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the outbreak of WWI.

More importantly, just because both the Trump administration and senior Iranian leadership seem to share an aversion to full-scale war and pulled back from the brink this time doesn’t mean that the Soleimani killing was costless for the U.S.

The day after the Iranian response, the seldom-seen Teleprompter Trump showed up to deliver a short, sober speech. “As long as I’m president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon,” President Trump said on Wednesday. He said this before saying “good morning” to the assembled crowd. The specter of an Iranian nuke is still, ostensibly, the overriding goal of American policy vis-à-vis Iran. Yet everything that Trump has done since the day he took office has made an Iranian nuclear breakout more likely.

Trump’s speech was, of course, full of the kind of obvious lies that truly seem to have driven his policymaking. For example: “The very defective JCPoA expires shortly anyway,” the president claimed. Yet most provisions of the Iran Deal, including prohibitions on enrichment activities, were scheduled to run through 2030. Feel free to critique these sunset provisions all you want, but that’s not “shortly.”
The need to lie shamelessly about what was actually in the Iran Deal stems from the total and dangerous incoherence of the Trump administration’s policies. Binning the Iran Deal and re-imposing crushing economic sanctions on Iran might at some point conceivably restrict the regime’s ability to exert power beyond its borders in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. Yet so far it has had the opposite effect of causing Iran to lash out unpredictably and redouble its efforts to use proxies as implements of power projection. The goal of this mischief was not to draw the U.S. into war, but rather to convince the administration that the costs of incinerating the Iran Deal were greater than the benefits and that Tehran has no intention of reining in or cutting off its regional proxies.
At the same time — and I can’t believe that this actually needs to be said — shredding a nuclear agreement that Tehran was complying with makes it more likely that Iran will develop and test a nuclear weapon. For the Iranians, the U.S. walking away from this agreement proves that we can never be trusted, and that negotiating their nuclear rights away is both fruitless and counterproductive. The regime has already restarted enrichment activities it had verifiably halted under the deal, and after the Soleimani killing, announced they would not observe any of the restrictions in the JCPoA.
This is what actually makes war a terrifyingly real possibility. The Trump administration has drawn a bright red line around an Iranian nuclear breakout. It threw away one of only two things standing between the regime and a nuclear weapon. One was the Iran Deal. The other, of course, is war, a massive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities that may or may not work anyway. And unlike the assassination of Soleimani, an aerial assault on the Iranian homeland will not be met with only a volley of artfully aimed missiles.
The Soleimani gambit is thus doubly ominous. It further eroded any chance of negotiations between Iran and the U.S. And it has now given trigger-happy Iran hawks inside the Trump administration false confidence about how far it can push things with Iran……….. 

January 13, 2020 - Posted by | politics international, USA

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