The United States, Germany, Russia, France and the United Kingdom entered into an agreement with Iran in 2015, which has been effective in keeping Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
Iran had agreed to limit sensitive nuclear activities and allow scrupulous international inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency in return for the lifting of crippling sanctions.
Because the six-nation accord had been successfully negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry under the aegis of President Barack Obama, it was almost predictable that President Trump would pull out of the agreement. He did so in 2018, even though the UN’s certified monitors advised that Iran was in full compliance with all the terms of the deal, and all the other signatories and the European Union were highly pleased with it.
Trump unilaterally abandoned the deal, and reimposed sanctions on Iran and the nations that trade with it. After Trump ordered the assassination of two of Iran’s military leaders, the country announced it considers the deal dead. Thus, Iran will probably resume production of highly enriched uranium, something all nations to the deal and the UN strongly oppose.
By Trump unilaterally breaking this important international nuclear agreement without cause, America’s powerful reputation in the world for honoring international agreements was significantly damaged, just as it was badly wounded when Trump abandoned the Paris Climate Accords, which will officially occur on Nov. 4.
It is not in America’s national security interest to have in office a president who goes out of his way to curry favor with traditional enemies while offending NATO allies.
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the president a moron for repeated reckless behavior, and former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis resigned when he realized that the president would not listen to sound advice and was a threat to world peace. Mattis and Tillerson were proven right, when on Jan. 3 the president ordered the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani in Baghdad. That would probably never have happened if the prudent Tillerson and Mattis were advising him. U.S. officials knowledgeable of the Middle East knew what such an assassination might trigger.
It happened because Trump is now surrounded by the likes of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has always favored an aggressive stance with Iran. The most immediate effect of the Suleimani killing was a vote in the Iraqi Parliament to demand U.S. troops leave the nation. Because the president has threatened to destroy over 50 cultural sites in Iran, the United Nations may be asked to censure the United States (for committing war crimes).
Are Americans safer today because Suleimani and his assistant were assassinated? Universal opinion is that the United States is now at far greater risk of attack, both at home and around the world.
How may the Iranians react to the assassinations? It has been suggested that cyber attacks may be expected, or terror attacks against our troops, who are stationed all over the world. Perhaps the Iranian leadership may take a more nuanced and personal view of matters and decide not to attack U.S. interests, but to target Donald Trump directly.
They know of his megalomania and obsession for his vaunted name. They know of his passion for money. Might the Iranians limit their actions to perhaps just attacking his properties around the world? Its leadership knows that he has been impeached by the House of Representatives and realize that he is unpopular with millions of Americans, who abhor his policies and immoral behavior.
The Persians, who have dealt with tyrants for centuries, may elect to not act against U.S. forces or civilians, but instead limit their attacks to just Donald Trump, his family and corporate interests. Indeed, the government of Iran may simply encourage a legal authority (mufti) to issue a fatwa, as Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini did in 1989 against Salman Rushdie for publishing “The Satanic Verses.” It called for Rushdie’s assassination. Such fatwas can remain in effect for decades.
Whatever happens cannot have a happy ending for the average American or the average Iranian. One remembers the words of Samuel Butler, who warned, “As the ancients say wisely, have a care o’ th’ main chance, and look before ere you leap; For as you sow ye are like to reap.”
Paul R. Dunn lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.