Donald Trump’s preferred foreign policy MO: assail status quo, withdraw from stable and acceptable status quo, cause diplomatic fallout, rebrand old status quo as his own idea, re-engage status quo (sometimes with minor changes).
Case in point: NAFTA. Trump’s USMCA deal is essentially NAFTA. Indeed, it’s so similar to NAFTA that many pundits and experts just call it “new-NAFTA.” Now, it seems like Trump’s trying to pull a new-NAFTA with Iran. First, some context. The Obama Administration with John Kerry as Secretary of State managed to do the impossible in master diplomacy by working with Iran to limit their nuclear capabilities in exchange for sanctions relief, which largely bolstered trade. Trump comes into office and kills the deal for no discernible reason besides the fact the deal was an Obama trophy. Fast forward to now when tensions with Iran are at a precarious peak, and Trump seems poised to open negotiations with Iran. The kicker? His great deal looks a lot like Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal.
Politico reports as follows: “At times, analysts and former officials say, it sounds like Trump wants to strike a deal that essentially mirrors the agreement that his White House predecessor inked — even if he’d never be willing to admit it. Iranian officials seem willing to egg him on, saying they’ll talk so long as Trump lifts the sanctions he’s imposed on them and returns to the 2015 Iran deal.” Essentially, Trump backed out of Obama’s deal out of sheer petulance, tried to be a big boy, failed, and now wants to return to the Obama-era status quo.
Worse yet, now the Iranians have more power at the negotiating table, making the US in a weaker position. Just yesterday, a British oil tanker was seized by Iran. They’re using sharp power, yes, but doing it as softly as possible – leveraging their “nothing-to-lose” diplomatic position as a bargaining chip. First the drone fiasco, now the oil tanker. Remember that Iran is now enriching uranium beyond the Obama deal’s stipulated maximum? They’re even doing that slowly just to buy time with Trump and Europe. Advantage Iran, thanks to Trump.
My whole point in writing this article is simple: Trump, whether you like him or not, is bad for America. He’s baggage. He weighs us down. He doesn’t have even the faintest idea of what he’s doing. Americans lose with Trump, and the stakes are high. We lose with his trade war, we lose with his tax cuts, we lose with his slapdash diplomacy, we lose with his bad appointees. Our livelihoods depend on his appalling decision making. Tired of winning with Trump? No way. I’m tired of him letting everyone score goals on us.