Did anybody really think President Donald J. Trump wasn’t going to pull out of the Iran deal? He’s said all along he would and this Commander-in-Chief’s number one public image rule is that, unlike most politicians, he honours his word.
Trump’s other big rule is that anything Obama has done he’ll undo. And Obama’s biggest achievement, according to his admirers and former staffers, was the Iran deal, which – in theory anyway – stopped Tehran from acquiring nukes while strengthening democratic forces within the troubled Muslim state. The pride with which Team Obama held up the deal was precisely why Team Trump wanted to destroy it. And with his new hawkish cabinet — a war cabinet, as Jacob Heilbrunn called it recently —any obstacles to his tearing up the deal were removed.
As one former Trump White House adviser put it to me yesterday, “Obama’s boys are panicking.” According to him, the Obama-adoring media had been frantically trying to undermine Trump’s determination to pull out the deal. That, he said, explained a lot of the anti-Trump scare stories in the press over the weekend. The Observer, for instance, reported that Trump, after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had hired a dirty tricks PR firm to dig up dirt on the Obama aides who had accomplished the Iran agreement. “Biggest fake news ever!” according to my source.
Yes, yes, Europe’s governments — Macron, Merkel and Boris Johnson — have all pressured the President like crazy to keep the deal in tact. But they’ve failed. People will desperately try to interpret a wiggle or a wobble in Trump’s bluster. But John Bolton, perhaps the greatest Iran hawk on planet earth, is his new national security adviser. Now it’s over to the other signatories — and other world powers to try to moderate his impulses. But Trump is feeling cocky after the success of his North Korea ‘mad man’ diplomacy, and he has the world’s biggest military. Next stop, regime change, and watch how quickly the Iran hawks start pushing for it.