President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran has created intense turmoil with both allies and enemies in the Middle East — which will almost certainly lead to greater problems and serious unrest in the region and perhaps even elsewhere.
Buried on page 8 of the May 9 issue of the Herald-Leader was the news that the U.S. is withdrawing from the five-nation nuclear agreement which had ended Iran’s nuclear weapons program. No allies followed our lead; all remain in the agreement. This will lead to real and continuing trouble.
In the days following, Israeli forces have attacked Iranian forces in Syria, and war tensions are again high in the Middle East. Thoughtful U.S. and foreign commentators have criticized Trump’s decision and the Israeli attacks. Most call the move ill-advised and likely to lead to greater bloody chaos, opening the way to greater confusion and potentially wider fighting.
The Trump administration has tried to detract from this situation by drawing attention to the release of American prisoners by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and the possibility of a Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore to address Korean issues and move toward a full peace in the 68-year old Korean War.
Maybe Kim and Trump will come to a more comprehensive agreement at a later date, and perhaps Kim will honor it; but history and new demands suggest that is very iffy.
In the meantime, Trump’s decision to renounce the Iran nuclear deal must give pause to politicians and diplomats in other countries as to whether any American agreement is going hold up over time, or at least in Trump time. His appointment as national security adviser of super-hawk John Bolton, rejected as unsound by three previous GOP presidents, to replace the solid Gen. H.R McMaster has undoubtedly contributed to Trump’s erratic behavior and greater worry among our allies.
What is surprising, almost shocking, is the lack of public concern about where all this is leading. Attention is riveted, if at all, on Trump attorney Michael Cohen and the unfolding story of major corruption and money-switching involving at least one Russian billionaire.
Yet only a few radio and TV commentators have noted that this certainly is relevant to Special Counsel Robert Meuller’s investigation of Russian interference in the last presidential campaign. Republican senators and Congress folk are looking the other way and not commenting — like Caesar fiddling while Rome burned.
A crisis is gradually building in American politics. When President Richard Nixon tried his “dirty tricks” in the 1970s, both parties’ congressional leadership — pushed by the Washington Post’s revelations about the Watergate break-in scandal — led to the president’s impeachment and subsequent resignation before trial.
The result was a restart of government under President Gerald Ford. Fortunately, that was a quieter time internationally. Not so now. If we do not straighten out and corral the dictatorial and shortsighted tendencies of Trump, we will suffer much greater defeats and losses, both domestically and internationally, and our country will have brought disaster on itself.
Sen. Mitch McConnell should stop pussyfooting around. Time to show loyalty to the country and Constitution other than following Trump’s every tweet.
Sen. Rand Paul, who recently said he wished we had remained in the Iran deal, should fight the would-be tyrant. Kentucky Republican congressmen must do their part, all of whom face elections this fall. People are becoming more angry.
John D. Stempel is a former Navy officer, 25-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and former director and professor emeritus of the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce.