NYT: ‘Mr. Trump, You Have Squandered The World’s Trust’

"The North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is erratic and frightening, but why would it help matters to eliminate any confidence Mr. Kim might have in Mr. Trump’s word?"

Via The New York Times Editorial Board

At a crucial moment, Donald Trump is forcing the world to confront core questions it really shouldn’t have to ask: Can he be trusted? And, more saliently, can America be trusted? His threats to jettison the Iran nuclear deal are undermining America’s credibility as a negotiating partner and weakening America’s ability to lead the free world as it has for 70 years.

In his rush to bulldoze President Obama’s accomplishments, Mr. Trump has withdrawn from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, leaving China with a freer hand to set trade rules in Asia; abandoned the hard-won 195-nation Paris Agreement to address climate change; and sowed grave doubts about his commitment to NATO, the bedrock alliance that has kept peace in Europe after World War II.

Now, Mr. Trump is threatening to torpedo the 2015 nuclear deal, which imposed strict limits on Iran’s nuclear program in return for a lifting of international sanctions. He has hinted that next month he will not certify that Iran is complying with its commitments, even though the head of America’s Strategic Command just said that it was. The certification is required every 90 days; a failure to provide it could lead to the re-imposition of American sanctions and cause the agreement to unravel.

Perhaps the most immediate consequence of reneging on the Iran deal is that it will make it even harder, if not impossible, for the president to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is erratic and frightening, but why would it help matters to eliminate any confidence Mr. Kim might have in Mr. Trump’s word?

Such a reckless choice on the Iran deal would also free Iran to resume unfettered nuclear activities and constitute a slap in the face to major powers — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — that worked with the United States and Iran for two years to negotiate and implement the deal. Those nations are now feverishly trying to persuade Mr. Trump to stick with America’s commitment.

It would be one thing if Iran had violated the agreement, but the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors the nuclear program 24/7, has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance. Mr. Trump didn’t even bother to try to make a case against Iran when he lashed out at it during a speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week.

One unanswered question is whether the United States would be violating international law if it reimposed sanctions on Iran without cause or otherwise undermined the agreement. In the United States, most legally binding international agreements take the form of treaties, which require approval by two-thirds of the Senate, and executive agreements, which are entered into by the executive branch and don’t require Senate action. The Iran deal is a political commitment that is not legally binding, though some experts believe that the United States has an obligation to comply since the deal was codified in a United Nations Security Council resolution.

While Mr. Trump’s Republican and Democratic predecessors often pursued significantly different domestic policies, on the whole their foreign policies did not radically diverge from administration to administration. And for good reason: America and its leaders, whatever their failings, have largely taken their international responsibilities seriously and found value and security in adhering to laws, legal obligations and political commitments that reassure allies, constrain enemies, advance stability and promote democracy and human rights. If he shrugs off previous commitments without clear cause, Mr. Trump may find that world leaders will start to wonder if his successors will treat his deals as indifferently as he is treating his predecessors’.

The issue is not that presidents don’t sometimes renege on predecessors’ agreements. In 2002, President George W. Bush abandoned the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. While that was an unwise move that stoked Russian suspicions about the West, Mr. Bush was not acting capriciously. He relied upon the treaty’s agreed-upon withdrawal clause and had a strategy for improving relations with Russia going forward.

President Ronald Reagan called the SALT II arms control treaty “fatally flawed,” yet he found a way to live with it as part of a strategy that used an arms buildup to pressure the Soviets.

A bellicose stance toward Iran is just one part of the incoherent and inconsistent foreign policy that Mr. Trump described to the United Nations General Assembly. He elevated “sovereignty” as his guiding principle for international relations and used it as a rationale for threatening Iran, North Korea and Venezuela, then gave kid glove treatment to Russia — which has not only seized territory from Ukraine but has also sought to undermine America’s own sovereignty — and China, which has expanded its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Given the standard that Mr. Trump is setting for foreign policy reversals, his own decisions could eventually be overturned by his successor. But the damage to America’s standing as a trusted, reliable partner won’t be so easily repaired.

6 comments on “NYT: ‘Mr. Trump, You Have Squandered The World’s Trust’

  1. Curt A Tyner says:

    The dotard in chief is worse than evil he is ignorant, stupid, disloyal, childish, foolish, destructive, dangerous, a liar and a multitude more, and oh yes, an assh*le. Nobody and I mean NOBODY should ever trust him. I don’t blame foreign leaders for not, it would be a mistake.

    The American people are learning this the hard way because the republican wimps in the congress are enabling this bullsh*t and we will all pay heavily if the dotard in chief starts WW III and don’t think that he can’t.

  2. carl l snyder says:

    Curt, quit beating around the bush, and tell us how you really feel…..

  3. Greg Pinelli says:

    Hi diddily dee…How about stepping few feet back from the New York Times BS and try to see the world for how it exists Geopolitically..and not thru the lens of an embittered newspaper who Bomber in Chief lost the election.

    First! NATO has been a security sucking waste of time that provides NOTHING that Europeans, if they weren’t so cheap and gutless, might provide for themselves. The Cold War is Dead! Russia is not going to role into Germany with tank divisions and snarling hordes of infantry. The Euros love NATO because it saves them a great deal of money and real discussions about which of them wants to actually shoulder self defense.

    Second…the Climate Change blah blah was another boondoggle that is paid for by the US and has ZERO capacity to force anyone who doesn’t want to to shoulder responsibility…SOUND A LOT LIKE NATO???

    Lastly…Personally I’d be happy as President to encourage a very strong Regional alliance between the US and Iran. They are our natural bulwark against a great number of things that we seem to insinuate ourselves other words, all kinds of dead end crap.
    However..Trump was very clear BEFORE being elected that he thought the Nuclear deal with Iran was not in our interests…I don’t agree but why is anyone shocked by his attitude now??? By the by..Iran IS testing ballistic why are they doing that? To what end?

    • Frank C says:

      Well said Greg – particularly the WTF part about Iran testing a missile recently – that little factoid seems to be omitted from the common narrative – and the “what did you expect” part about Trump’s perspective.

      On NOKO, I find this entire missile process to be an enormous con game – on both sides. There is something more going on here that I believe will become clear in time. Maybe its just an escalation of the decades same old tune NOKO and the rest of the world dance to every decade or so.

      All kinds of things don’t add up, yet. One thing that will become harder and harder to believe will be Japan not having a dozen of more moles embedded at top levels of NOKO with the capability of executing a decapitation as needed. Another hard to believe issue is the use of ICBM’s in this day and age – seems like a losing technology versus, say, embedded nukes within major population centers. Just a lot of stuff doesn’t add-up yet.

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