The only time I met Donald Trump was at a small event for politically mature journalists at the White House last April. After milling about with my fellow scribes in the press room—it’s a lot smaller and shabbier than it looks on TV, like Jim Acosta—we were ushered into the Roosevelt Room near the Oval Office. The President, secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross, and a few aides (Steve Bannon, Michael Anton, Reince Priebus: wot larks!) soon joined us. After a brief presentation, the President took questions. Mine was about Iran.
During the campaign, I noted, the President had regularly decried the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, i.e, the 2015 Obama Iran deal in which the U.S. shoveled more than $100 billion to an ailing Iran, some of it in hard cash stacked up on palettes (we weren’t supposed to know about that), in exchange for—what? For exporting terror far and wide and pretending not to pursue nuclear weapons for a few years. Was the President going to follow up on his promise to scrap the deal?
“We can never let Iran have nuclear weapons,” he said, and went on to note the peril that Iran posed for Israel and the world.
Well, here we are a year on and, yep, another promise kept. It is worth watching President Trump’s brief announcement of his decision. There was no twitteresque excoriation, no taunting nicknames, no anacoluthonic digressions: just the cold hard facts about a murderous regime that had been thrown a lifeline by an administration whose naiveté about international relations was matched only by its arrogance. When he unveiled the deal to the American public, Barack Obama assured the world that the agreement was “not built on trust — it is built on verification.”
Ha ha ha. Tell that to Benjamin Netanyahu, whose somber presentation of evidence that Iran had been systematically, flagrantly flouting the terms of the deal all along sent chills up the collective spine of all sensible observers of world affairs.
Yesterday, Donald Trump abruptly dispelled what one journalist called “the Obama mirage,” the pleasant reverie that by subsidizing a state held captive by a murderous ideology and hatred of America and Israel, one was somehow paving the way for peace and comity. The expensive Joint Comprehensive Plan of Inaction, as it should have been denominated, did nothing to impede Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Anyone could have seen that. Netanyahu provided irrefragable evidence of their beaver-like pursuit of nuclear weapons and the rockets to deliver them.
No, the Iran “deal” actually guaranteed that the malevolent mullahs tyrannizing over that unfortunate country would have essentially a free hand to develop and deploy those weapons. By ending the deal and imposing a raft of harsh sanctions on Iran, and on any country that trades with Iran, President Trump has deprived the world’s largest exporter of terror its economic oxygen. It will flail about for a bit and probably strike out feebly here and there.
Soon—if not quite soon enough—its tantrums will subside. Perhaps the suffering people of Iran, already exhausted and resentful of the theocratic madmen who have ruined their economy and their lives these last three decades, will finally rise up and overthrow these cruel, medieval throwbacks. Obama did nothing to help the people of Iran the last time they rebelled. President Trump, I’d wager, will not be acquiescent in the face of another challenge to tyranny.