President Trump had a good day today. First there was the end of illegal “cost-sharing reduction” payments (subsidies) to insurers under ObamaCare — a laudable end to a totally extraconstitutional executive action by Obama. Hooray! Then Trump went even further and decertified the Iran deal. Double hooray!
Now. Let’s take a second and talk about the Iran deal. I for one have become sick of partisan knee-jerk reactions to every policy issue under the sun. So let’s avoid that sort of thing, and ask ourselves: why is the Iran deal bad, after all? Is it because Obama did it therefore it’s bad? Is it because Tougher Is Always Better in every situation, no matter what?
No and no. There are actual reasons, and I think it’s worth taking a step back and discussing them for a second.
After all, there is a halfway valid counter-view of this. We are not the only signatories to this deal. It’s a multi-party deal involving many of our closest allies (and a couple of countries that, um, aren’t). Many people across the world seem to think it’s our best chance to avoid Iran getting the bomb. And heck, even Gen. Mattis testified that he thought it was in our best interest to continue to honor the deal! And people are saying that America generally, and Trump in particular, will lose credibility when a deal that we negotiate is broken, simply because of a change in the person occupying the Oval Office.
Let me quickly deal with that last point first, before addressing the key shortcomings of the deal. This deal is in the nature of a treaty. The subject matter, the extent of the promises made, and everything else about it scream: TREATY. But it was not ratified by the U.S. Senate. It is not a treaty. And other countries have no business expecting us to treat this as a binding agreement in the nature of a treaty, when they know full well that the agreement has not gone through the treaty process.
On to what is bad about the deal. I’ll try to be less long-winded than usual and sum it up in two concepts: it’s a) too nebulous and b) not effective for its stated purpose.
The agreement appears to encompass secret side deals that Obama never made public. The delivery of cash to the Iranians in apparent exchange for hostages, our seeming promise to be less aggressive in Syria as a trade-off . . . these are things that don’t seem to be written down anywhere where we, the public, can review the terms. Yet it all appears to be part of whatever deal Obama struck. The bottom line is, nobody truly understands what all the terms of the deal actually are. Iran portrays some of the terms differently than Obama does, and there is no single comprehensive document that can settle the matter. This does not work.
And the deal is also ineffective, because Iran can still potentially develop nuclear weapons on military bases that are not truly covered by the inspections regime. In another of the numerous “side agreements” that Obama made, Iran can “inspect itself” when it comes the Parchin military site — which has been suspected of being a nuclear weapons production facility, but which isn’t if you trust the U.N., which I don’t. If the inspectors seek access, that access can be delayed or denied so as to make it ineffective if indeed it happens at all. That is not a good inspection regime, folks.
I’m not sure how much of this Donald Trump understands, but I have no doubt that many of the people around him understand it. Why Gen. Mattis is not disturbed enough by the lack of access to military bases to scrap the deal, I don’t know — but I think Trump is right that it is a one-sided deal (to the extent we know what’s actually in the deal), and needs to be renegotiated at a minimum.
There are more reasons the deal is bad, having to do with ballistic missiles, the lack of provisions dealing with Iran’s sponsorship of terror and other meddling in the Middle East, and so forth. But these are the main issues: the lack of clarity of the deal, and its total ineffectiveness.
So I applaud Trump’s move today. Not out of partisanship, but because I think it’s the right thing for America.
[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]