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There are some days when I sit down to write a post because I’m so damn befuddled by what the subject could possibly be thinking, that he would have advanced such a ridiculous, hare-brained idea. That’s true tonight, as The Daily Beast reports that Donald Trump is considering a French proposal to offer Iran $15-billion in sanctions relief in return for satisfying several conditions:
- Iran would have to come back into compliance with the nuclear accord it signed with the world’s major powers
- Tehran would also have to agree not to threaten the security of the Persian Gulf or to impede maritime navigation in the area
- Tehran would have to commit to regional Middle East talks in the future.
Let’s talk about the lunacy of Trump offering blandishments to Iran to return to the nuclear agreement which Trump himself called one of the worst ever negotiated by a U.S. president. If this deal went forward you’d have Iran complying with the JCPOA, while the U.S. stubbornly remained outside it. Would the obscene irony of this be lost on anyone?
As for not threatening the security of the Persian Gulf, would that include Saudi Arabia ceasing to fund and arm Sunni terror groups launching terror attacks inside Iran, not to mention support for ISIS in Syria? Or is Iran supposed to agree not to respond to threats to its own security by its adversaries?
The notion of regional talks (point 3) is half-baked: who would be involved? What would they talk about? What would the goal of the talks be? This point clearly is intended to force Iran to agree to end its regional involvement and support of groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis and Syria. And I see no reason Iran wouldn’t agree to this in return for a few conditions of its own: that Israel cease its own interventions in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere. And that Israel agree to a negotiated resolution to its conflict with the Palestinians. And that Saudi Arabia cease its interventions in the affairs of nations in the region like Bahrain, Qatar, Syria, Libya, Yemen, etc. After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
The problem with the Israeli-U.S. approach to Iran is that it is totally one-sided. Iran is always the aggressor. It is never responding to incitement and violence directed at it. Until there is some recognition of reciprocity–that Iran is defending, and has a right to defend itself and its interests–there can be no progress toward stability and security for all in the region.
As I wrote in a post last night, this scheme, while certainly devised with the best of intentions, has all the ingredients of the North Korean summits which ended in abject failure for Trump. The president loves the grand gesture, throwing caution to the winds in order to gain all the glory. He still has his eyes on the prize…Nobel, that is. That may work in real estate deals. But when you’re dealing with international diplomacy and intractable conflicts festering over decades, if not generations–grand gestures and Hail Mary passes tend to fall flat.
The danger of this approach is that after the hopes raised by these grandiloquent plans fizzle, the bitterness of the failure festers. That tends to lead to even greater violence and hate down the line. We have seen this regarding Israel’s rejection of a solution to its conflict. North Korea has returned to testing ever more dangerous nuclear missiles. The Taliban have stepped up their attacks against Afghan targets.