As you are probably already aware, President Trump announced last week that the US would no longer be a party to the nuclear anti-proliferation deal struck with the Iranian government in 2016 and would reinstate the economic sanctions that were previously in place, a move that has been widely criticized.
In fact, criticism of the move was my first reaction when I became aware of the announcement. After some further though about the issue, however, all I can assuredly say about it is that I don’t have enough information to form a position. I have never read the deal itself, and I am merely on the outside looking in. But there are a few different angles to look at it from in order to lean in one direction or another.
The first aspect of it is a very simple one concerning constitutional order in that treaties aren’t binding until they’ve been ratified by the Senate. Similarly to the Paris climate accord, the Iran deal was never ratified and thus never came into effect, and might as well have never existed at all. It may very well be that Trump was stating the obvious in an odd way with his announcement – he has no authority to enforce it and, instead, is obligated to follow the laws that are in place concerning the Iranian government. I think this is exactly what he should be doing in order to preserve constitutional order, regardless of popular opinion on the matter.
Another aspect to look at is that the deal, as far as I am aware, is sort of like gun control – it deals with only one method of the madness and not the madness itself. And I think that many observers in the region have trouble understanding the value proposition involved in the deal when the Iranian regime are able to freely pursue questionable goals in the region with the force of conventional violence all while carrying on economically in a somewhat untouchable and sanction-free manner. In other words, the deal was nearly all upside for Iran while other countries in the region get little reprieve from its heavy-handed approach to domination and are instead harried and harassed conventionally via proxy and occasionally directly. It probably is not enough to tell them, and it is rather glib to suggest, that the stability issues they are dealing with now is likely superior to dealing with being dominated with nukes. I’ve read about some of the more vocal objections to the deal from regional partners, and the judgement call about the deal as it pertains to their security for themselves more aptly rests with them. Even so, however, the optics of Westerners giddily lining up to do business in Iran as its government pursues regional domination with the might of the sword are appalling. It amazes me that we can be so completely tone-deaf when it comes to the security of others.