To the editor:
If Donald Trump’s silly salute of that North Korean general, following the mostly-empty photo op with dictator Kim Jong-un in Singapore last week, hastens meaningful peace then I’m for it. It may be bizarre diplomacy; but diplomacy is the best alternative to military dead returning home to grieving loved ones.
It’s hard, then, to understand Robert Lee’s June 16 lambasting of the 2015 nuclear agreement negotiated between Iran and five world powers, principally, the U.S. Mr. Lee suggests Iran was given $150 billion in the deal. Conversely, the U.S. Treasury notes that Iran would get less than $60 billion; and, not all of that was under U.S. control. In fact, much of it was under Chinese and European control.
Interestingly, it was Iran’s money to begin with. Money that became assets frozen — necessarily — as part of effective sanctions imposed in response to Iran’s pursuit, and possible weaponizing, of nuclear technology. The end game of tough economic sanctions, the ones championed by Mr. Lee, is getting a misbehaving nation to the negotiating table for some real bargaining and diplomacy.
How else would we have it? No thoughtful citizen really advocates war instead of a real try at diplomacy. Experience since 2001 suggests the U.S. and our allies are good at militarily toppling a foreign regime, but lousy at the expensive work of administering what’s left behind.
Iran had to negotiate diligently with several nations just to recover their own assets — not $150 billion, either; had their stockpiles of nuclear materials reduced; their capabilities clipped to produce more; and, agreed to international inspections. Yes, they might risk cheating along the way; but, there are obstacles, and, the International Atomic Energy Agency, along with President Trump’s own state department, have certified Iran’s compliance.
In pulling America’s participation from that deal, one can reasonably question just what is it about reason and logic that seems to repel Donald Trump? Was the fruit of difficult, skilled work by his predecessor’s state department, combined with international cooperation, just too much for him to bear?
He would leave Iran with their recovered assets, but no U.S. participation in inspections. As the rest of the world increasingly ignores us, it’s unclear if we can effectively enforce re-imposed sanctions.
The president, though, appears to bond well with North Korea’s Kim. As Mr. Trump described him on June 15: “He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
Yep, those negotiations could fit the Trump mold about right.