Trump's embarrassing circus of Iran policy failure

None of this madness was ever remotely necessary

President Trump.
(Image credit: Illustrated | MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images, javarman3/iStock, Lyubchik Prokopchuk/iStock)

Future historians, gazing at our era from the comfort of their oceanfront Nevada houses, will surely have particular difficulty processing the brain-gobbling chain of events that has led the United States and Iran to the brink of a needless military confrontation this month. Thanks to a series of daft and counterproductive maneuvers, the Trump administration has deliberately blown apart a well-functioning, multilateral agreement with Tehran, reignited Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, and ratcheted up military tensions in and around the Persian Gulf. It adds up to an unmatched record of policy failure, a uniquely Trumpian spectacle of lies, hubris, and delusion that threatens to drag the United States into a war that not even the president seems to want.

None of this madness was ever remotely necessary. When he took office, President Trump inherited the fully functioning Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran Deal, from the Obama administration. The agreement, negotiated jointly with China, Russia, Germany, France and the U.K., was designed to keep the Iranian nuclear program effectively muzzled, in return for a significant loosening of U.N. economic sanctions. Under the terms of the deal, Iran's stockpiles of low-enriched uranium were dramatically reduced, its underground enrichment facility at Fordo converted to a research center, and its heavy water reactor at Arak (designed to produce weapons-grade plutonium) substantially modified. Most of those restrictions were to remain in effect until 2031.

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David Faris

David Faris is an associate professor of political science at Roosevelt University and the author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. He is a frequent contributor to Informed Comment, and his work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Indy Week.