The Protection Racket

Donald Trump has a pattern: take something that is working well – DACA, S-CHIP, JCPOA (the Iran nuclear agreement) – break it just a little, then “negotiate.”

So much of the current crisis atmosphere is due to his love of chaos and his mistaking a protection racket for negotiating.

He broke DACA and set up a six-month timetable for Congress to do something about it. The Republicans in Congress refused to reauthorize S-CHIP.

One of the concessions to the Republicans in Congress in the JCPOA was that the president would have to certify that Iran was in compliance every three months. Trump has used that to call into question the United States participation in the deal. Meanwhile, opponents of the deal are explicitly using Trump’s position as a protection racket to get the Europeans to take steps that would damage the deal.

They are particularly active today on Twitter, perhaps because a helpful article by Philip Gordon and Robert Malley was just published. It’s stuff like this:

It’s others, not them, of course, who want to “blow up the deal.” What Dubowitz and others advocate is a “fix” to the “fatal flaws” of the deal enacted by Congress, with no consultation with Iran or the other parties to the JCPOA. That’s not how it works. What Dubowitz and his allies want Congress to do is to enact a bunch of things that will put the US in violation of the deal. They believe, and are tweeting, that this will give Donald Trump leverage to destroy the deal unless the other parties accede to their demands.

Nice store you got there. Would be a shame if it got trashed, the windows broken.

They also are peddling a bunch of lies.

You can find lies on Dubowitz’s timeline too. The US harbors a bunch of people, evil or stupid, who back the deal because they want to “give” (they often use that word) Iran a “massive nuke capability”. Well, no.

They object to a number of things about the JCPOA. That it was not negotiated for all eternity, as no other agreement ever has been. That it does not take every vestige of nuclear technology from Iran. That it does not punish Iran for whatever it is they feel a punishment is warranted.

Those conditions would have made the JCPOA impossible to negotiate. Iran was a party to the negotiations, and no nation will give up everything.

What is it these opponents of the deal want? Ultimately, it looks to me like they want Iran gutted and laid out to die. In the more immediate future, they are moving toward a war with Iran, although they strenuously deny that.

The IAEA inspectors find no breaches by Iran of the agreement. The other parties to the agreement – Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the EU – are satisfied with that. Additional agreements can be negotiated on missiles (explicitly not a part of the JCPOA, because there never would have been an agreement), further nuclear issues, and other issues of concern. But the opponents focus on “fixing” the JCPOA by destroying it.

Looks to me like some bad faith there.

The article by Gordon and Malley is worth reading for more specifics on the JCPOA and its opponents. I recommend it.


Cross-posted to Balloon Juice.