Some pundits have speculated that, since the world is a manifestly dangerous place, perhaps President Donald Trump’s “diplomacy” by intimidation and bullying is precisely the sort of bare-knuckles approach murderous authoritarians understand. “Look,” goes this line of argument, “Trump has already succeeded in forcing a face-to-face summit with North Korea’s dictator, something none of his predecessors achieved.” The North Koreans, of course, have long sought the international recognition such a summit meeting confers, and that was why previous U.S. presidents rejected the proposal.
Whatever comes of Trump’s June meeting in Singapore with the North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un, the president’s boasts that his actions are taken in the pursuit of “World Peace” are farcical. Nothing is clearer than that Trump is driven by insecurity and spite, determined to undo President Barack Obama’s legacy. His decision to tear up the nuclear deal negotiated with Iran by Obama, our European allies, Russia, and China—a treaty with which Iran was clearly in compliance—will move the region closer to conflict and possibly even war. Trump claims the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), did not punish Iran for its support of terrorism or halt its ballistic-missile program. True. But as Obama has written in response to Trump’s decision, “Every aspect of Iranian behavior that is troubling is far more dangerous if their nuclear program is unconstrained. Our ability to confront Iran’s destabilizing behavior—and to sustain a unity of purpose with our allies—is strengthened with the JCPOA, and weakened without it.”
Trump’s bombastic “America First” foreign policy leaves little room for the concerns or interests of allies. President Emmanuel Macron of France, Germany’s Angela Merkel, and the UK’s Theresa May all pleaded with Trump to abide by the JCPOA, which was endorsed by the UN Security Council. He ignored them, as he has ignored our allies in taking the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. When it comes to Shia Iran, Trump is aligning the United States with Saudi Arabia, the other Sunni kingdoms, and of course with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s belligerent prime minister. All these countries would like to see a U.S. military confrontation with Iran.