The Russian war in Ukraine understandably gets most of US foreign policy news coverage. But we should not ignore the 18 month effort, or lack thereof, of the Biden administration to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal.
That agreement, concluded seven years ago next week, was the greatest foreign policy peace achievement of the Obama administration. It ended years of potential war with Iran over their alleged efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, even tho there were none. It also set the stage for possible diplomatic re-engagement with Iran that vanished in 1979 during the Iran hostage crisis.
Tragically, the JCPOA lasted less than 3 years when Obama’s successor Trump dumped it May 8, 2018. His reasons were utterly cynical, designed to burnish his image as the great negotiator who could coerce Iran into a better deal with punitive new sanctions.
Idiot negotiator would be a more appropriate Trump moniker. His delusional policy failed spectacularly. Rather than submit to Trump’s blackmail, Iran simply ignored US demands, remaining in full compliance with the JCPOA for a full year before committing enrichment violations throughout the remainder of Trump’s tenure. Iran never got near Trump’s phony negotiating table.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Vice President Biden, who was an ardent supporter of the deal as Obama’s VP, harshly criticized Trump for his withdrawal and vowed to return to it as president.
Eighteen months later, President Biden, instead of channeling his former boss Obama on Iran, is foolishly following Trump’s dysfunctional Iran policy. He’s kept on all the Trump sanctions that he criticized as a candidate. He could have returned to the deal with a presidential order as he did on Day One with Trump’s Muslim ban, and his withdrawing from the WHO and the Paris Climate Accords.
Biden’s negotiating team, using the Trump playbook, pretends that Iran must make endless concessions for the US to return to an agreement they unilaterally withdrew from for no reason.
Politics, both domestic and international, is at work sabotaging an opportunity to end possibility of war with Iran and bring Iran back into the world community. Fear of alienating anti Iran hardliners in Congress and fear of offending our best Middle East allies Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are making US return to the JCPOA more and more unlikely.
Once again, an opportunity to promote peace and understanding throughout the world is lost as the US chooses to ignore peace…while risking senseless war.
Walt Zlotow became involved in antiwar activities upon entering University of Chicago in 1963. He is current president of the West Suburban Peace Coalition based in the Chicago western suburbs. He blogs daily on antiwar and other issues at www.heartlandprogressive.blogspot.com.