Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Trump Fumbles Iran

Trump has been a special kind of stupid regarding Iran--the kind of stupid a person would be if that person were to treat Fox News as gospel, or believe tabloid journos over intelligence experts. I've tried to plumb where Trump's mindset is with regards to Iran. I can tell you where my thinking has been--I think the nuclear deal was great and had some reverberating effects diplomatically, and that Trump is stupid because he doesn't understand why "Trust but verify, then renegotiate in ten years or so multilaterally" was a better cure for any alleged Iranian nuclear pretentions than "Let them do whatever without any promises with respects to inspections, while also piling on sanctions that made a conflict inevitable." 

Trump's understanding of the US relationship with Iran is basically poor.  He somehow, ludicrously, believes that Iran came out better in the deal, and that releasing to Iran their own long-withheld funds is a kind of gift. He thinks confiscated Iranian assets are a gift to Iran. They are gifted with their own money. 

So stated like a multiply-bankrupt con artist. How outstanding. 

But what does a weakening of the Iran deal do for Trump's hand elsewhere--like North Korea?
Oh, it is weakened, because now foreign deal makers realize the US word is not worth as much as it used to be. Because a faithless man is in charge. 


mikey said...

I would tend to differ with you in a key regard.

Simply stated, Trump NEEDS a war. Heads of state who are in a very bad state domestically have long used a war to take the pressure off them at home and rally the population to a common cause.

He KNOWS he can't start a war on the Korean Peninsula. Not with the economies of South Korea and Japan at immediate risk, the entire population of greater Seoul to be sacrificed and the actual peer-competitors China and Russia in the immediate theater of operations.

So that leaves him Iran. With Mueller closing in, his administration in tatters and precisely zero major legislative accomplishments, he's been planning a war with Iran for months. When the 90 day certification period, came up, he lit the fuse.

Even better, with CentCom and the Fifth Fleet already in theater, he doesn't even have to tip his hand by massive troop movements like he would if he was going to war in Korea.

Nope. No blunder. He's doing exactly what he planned to do...

Vixen Strangely said...

I feel like, whenever I want to start a sentence regarding Trump with "He has to know that...", I find myself staring off into the middle distance because he simply does not know things. It's not in the awkward way that, say, Mitt Romney described Syria as being Iran's route to the sea was, or the various contortions of fact that resulted in Republicans managing to talk about a US-led coalition against ISIS as if Obama was doing nothing to fight ISIS at all. It's not even in the obvious awkward way that Trump himself treats titles like "prime minister" and "president", and, apparently, governor of the Virgin Islands, as interchangeable, and seems to really believe that in addition to getting pallets of cash, Iran is still, somehow, capable of making a nuke in a way that would evade inspectors entirely and would even want to. The Bush Administration pulled off the invasion of Iraq despite continuing weapons inspections that never showed what they hoped to see--I don't credit Trump's guys with the same strategic thought. For that same reason, I can't even quite say that Trump "KNOWS" he can't start a war on the Korean peninsula. He's probably just been told "no", followed by maps and pictures and a black and white cookie and 20 minutes of "good boy phone time".

A war could be a short-term "wag the dog" distraction to get the press onboard with treating him as a "war president" and having the usual berks make patriotic mouth noises about respecting the commander in chief and the "people we put in harm's way". Except we are in Afghanistan and elsewhere. We just lost four servicemembers in Niger. He could be swinging hard on that tip right now, but I don't think he gets it. He makes Tom Cotton and Netanyahu happy, I guess. But the realities of an Iran war are just fucking weird--

Russia and Iran and Syria, for one thing. Not sure what his relationship or desired relationship with Russia is, but open war with Iran seems to make that very problematic. ISIS is a diminished regional threat, but not eradicated, and Iran is also fighting them. Iraq has never been quite as stabilized as one might like. Kurds want independence, Turkey's leader is clearly going iron-fisted dictator loony. Starting it with Iran just feels like pulling out the entirely wrong Jenga piece at this point. But that's just me, thinking like a responsible global citizen. Mattis and McMaster bot h seem pro-Iran deal. It chagrins me that Nikki Haley, with the least foreign policy experience of any of them, is the one who seems to have got Trump's ear on this one.

Also, I don't know that he gets his "common cause" with a war, especially one with the long-term consequences this one poses. Without a staged provocation--a "remember the Maine" moment, he isn't getting 50% of the US on board. Post-Iraq, I want to believe that many Americans will say, in the words of a not so great president: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, won't get fooled again.

mikey said...

Oh, indeed.

War with Iran has significant consequences - not so much with Russia or Syria as with the global economy. Unlike in Syria, there's very little chance of direct conflict with Russian troops or airmen, but Iran's strategic position along the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz makes it a fairly straightforward proposition to just 'turn off the tap' of about a quarter of global oil shipments. Instant global recession.

When I say 'Trump has to know...', it's very true. His advisers are repeatedly TELLING him these things. But as I said, he NEEDS a war. He'll listen to the way his advisers describe the consequences of war in Korea and in the Gulf, and he'll conclude that war in the Gulf is the better choice.

Russia under Putin is quite pragmatic, and will take economic advantage, but they don't really care about 'relations' with the US in the way we think of it...