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Columnists Donald Trump Jacob Heilbrunn US Politics

Sorry Europe, President Trump doesn’t have an Iran plan

Despite the high-profile visits of recent weeks, it's the American influence of Bolton that has won out.

May 8, 2018

9:37 PM

8 May 2018

9:37 PM

With Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, American foreign policy is getting radioactive. “We cannot prevent a nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the agreement,” Trump declared with his habitual understatement. The only thing missing was another shot at Barack Obama for bothering to negotiate with the mad mullahs.

Trump had no time for Europe, either. All the air kisses in the world from his French coeval didn’t stop Trump for a second from bidding au revoir to the deal. Nor did the administration any heed to dire warnings from Russia or China.

Instead, Trump’s terse speech suggested that the spirit of George W. Bush has once more begun to inhabit the White House. His claims about Iran secretly working on its nuclear program was reminiscent of the bogus intelligence that Bush relied upon to sell the 2003 Iraq War. Hovering nearby was national security advisor John Bolton, who didn’t even have to shear his bushy moustache to join the administration. Now Bolton is busy urging Trump to revive the regime change policies that seemed to be discredited after the 2003 Iraq War, but are now making a comeback.

It was Trump’s own personal regime change—sacking Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster—that helped smooth the path to his more truculent foreign policy. It’s time, his speech suggested, to go on the offensive against the terror regime in Tehran that has held the Iranian people hostage for four decades. A regime that foments chants of death to America must suffer its own expiration. And so on.

Whether Trump really wants to go to war is another matter. “The United States no longer makes empty threats,” he declared. Without explaining what it is that he is threatening to do. As poor Boris Johnson, who traipsed around the capital of the free world for the past few days plaintively seeking an audience with Mr. Big, only to be rebuffed, pointed out, there really is no Plan B. Today, Johnson tweeted, “Deeply regret US decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. UK remains strongly committed to the JCPoA, and will work with E3 partners and the other parties to the deal to maintain it. Await more detail on US plan.” He will be awaiting a while. Sorry, Boris, there is no planning for a plan. Other than the one announced by his national security adviser Bolton in the New York Times in 2015: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”


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