Many of the harshest critics of the Iran nuclear deal appear to be advising Trump to proceed cautiously:
But many of the deal’s most ardent critics are now saying: “Slow down.”
As the reality of Donald Trump’s White House win sinks in among nuclear deal opponents, some are insisting that pulling out of the agreement is unwise. Instead, they say, Trump should step up enforcement of the deal, look for ways to renegotiate it, and pursue measures to punish Iran for its non-nuclear misbehavior. Such a multi-pronged, get-tough approach may even give Trump cover to fend off any criticism he may get for keeping the deal.
It’s a remarkable moment for the anti-deal crowd, which includes Israel’s prime minister, Saudi princes and Republican lawmakers. Many tried to keep the deal from ever being reached, accused outgoing President Barack Obama of appeasing an enemy and used the agreement to knock Democrats during the 2016 campaign. Now that they have a shot at scuttling the deal they hate so much, they are urging caution.
The official reason given by critics of the deal is that the key leverage points have already been lost; tearing it up and starting over would leave the US in a much worse negotiating position. The real reason is that the deal is, in fact, a considerably more significant diplomatic accomplishment than its critics have been willing to acknowledge. People who, in 2014, were howling about an Iranian bomb in eighteen months are now howling about a bomb in eighteen years. Whether the Cheeto follows this advice remains uncertain, but my bet is “yes”; he’ll have enough other stuff on his plate in the short-term that he won’t want to stir things up with Iran.