The Weakened Iran Deal – Is this The Biggest Opportunity?
By Graham Vanbergen: I, for one, was willing to give Donald Trump a chance to prove himself against the political and media melee that gripped the world since the spectacle of his inauguration on the 20th January 2017, which in itself was embroiled in a numbers mudslinging contest.
He was, after all, going to “drain the swamp in Washington DC.” Many looked to Trump to at least achieve that.
Then the scandals erupted. From the crass profiteering of office, including corruption claims of misuse of taxpayer money to multiple never-ending sackings of impropriety and infighting. Scaramucci, Flynn, Bannon, Comey, Manafort are all names synonymous with a chaotic administration unable to get a grip on the most basic workings of government. Son-in-law Jared Kushner is accused of having involvement with senior Russain officials that leads to a renewed Russiaphobia bringing all the elements of a McCarthy era back from the grave. Then there are the sexual scandals that will dog this president for, well, ever and ever.
But, for all that, secretly, I thought that the scale of distraction, his isolationist and protectionist attitudes to the wider world, renegotiating vast trade deals and antagonising many so-called allies – that the world might just become a little calmer. I thought all these complications and diversions to the world order would put on exhibition what the model of global domination really was – just thuggery.
Sadly, I was wrong. Trump has presumably thought through his next plan. He has obviously decided that the global humanitarian crisis going on right now, that sees more people displaced from their homes than from WW2 is not enough. He has decided that there are quite simply not enough ‘real’ conflicts going on, that not enough innocent civilians are dying, starving or being trafficked. Obviously, Donald Trump, supported by his administration and half the population of America has decided – enough is enough. This global crisis is just not enough of a crisis. The scale of death and destruction – needs a good and proper stoking.
America failed in a bid to stoke a conflict on the borders of Europe when it fomented the crisis in Ukraine. America has so far failed in its bid to create a de-facto global conflict over Syria. The Korean peninsula hasn’t worked out so well as the worst kind of peace might have suddenly broken out, one without Amerca’s permission. So it has decided to stoke the biggest hornet’s nest of the all – Iran.
America has withdrawn support for the one agreement holding all the sabre rattling actors in the region at bay. The Iran deal is a nuclear disarmament agreement. It’s also a deal that stops a consequential nuclear arms race.
The Guardian reports today that: “In the almost three years since the (Iran) deal was signed, not only has the IAEA confirmed that Iran is complying with the deal but the Trump administration – the very administration now violating the deal – has repeatedly verified Iran’s compliance. The US secretary of defence, James Mattis, said the verification mechanisms in the deal are “robust”, and the head of the IAEA called them the “world’s most robust”.
So, Donald Trump, as I say, supported by his administration and the American people think that the raised possibility of conflict involving Israel (population 8.5 million) and Iran (population 80 million) and the Gulf region itself, is the best thing they could think of. The lift has not hit the top floor with Donald Trump.
There are a few consequential outcomes here but not many.
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Iran could simply expel nuclear weapons inspectors and continue to develop their own nuclear weapon. They could raise support for terrorism and proxy wars as they are. Other Gulf states like Saudi Arabia could try to get their own nuclear weapons in their own defense. Other surrounding states could easily respond to Iranian escalation with yet more escalation – that is the way.
This would inevitably draw Israel in deeper and subsequently, of course, the United States. The US would then call on a coalition who would have little option other than to support an ever spiralling and out-of-control geopolitical battle that eventually pulls in Russia, China and its allies into the arena of combat. The Syrian conflict would turn into a bloodbath. The hostility would intensify and then advance across its borders. The Middle East could erupt like never before.
But, there’s a but.
Let us not forget the palpable anger of those who worked tirelessly for the Iran nuclear deal to work in the first place. The European Union, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China and Russia all got Iran around the table to agree a landmark agreement to stop the escalation of nuclear weapons programs, not just in Iran, but actually in the Mid-East more widely.
Some countries also have a vested interest in the Iran nuclear deal. With sanctions lifted, China, Russia, India, Japan and others were all able to trade.
With no evidence from any source of Iran breaching its nuclear deal, Iran now has many supporters, more than America wants. America does not want Russia, China and India to economically benefit for all sorts of reasons – economically and geopolitically.
So what next?
With any luck, something really good could come out this very bad situation, that is, if the level-headed continue to be so.
Iran, emboldened with new and very powerful friends, no matter how tentative, might stick to the aforementioned agreement. The EU, UK, Germany, France, Russia and China, representing well over half of humanity and two-thirds of the global economy could, and I say this with one eye closed and all digits crossed – support Iran to the literal hilt.
Other than the UK, this is the one chance the European Union, Russia and China have to push back, make a point and isolate American global thuggery on the basis of a true humanitarian goal. This could be a pivotal moment. It will be difficult but these moments are never easy. The Iran deal took twelve years to negotiate, the EU in particular has economically much to gain from this hard fought-for deal. It is likely to react to protect its interests.
Trump’s strategy has only three outcomes. Nothing happens, the usual happens – or a lot happens. If nothing happens, expect to see the media react to the demoniser’s playbook of stoking up trouble. The usual would be war, this time it would reach a new human catastrophe not witnessed with the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya combined. The EU27 does not want a repeat of Libya’s migration crisis heading its way, the last one pushed the EU project to new limits unthought of a few years ago. Likewise, Russia and China have every reason to support this deal to the end.
The latter, a lot happens, could actually be positive if world leaders suddenly take leave of their senses and actually become World Leaders.
A new world order could prevail. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has just reported that global military spending has reached a new historical peak of $1.7 trillion. The world is armed to the teeth, the Middle East especially so, in expectation of the worst. If it did and did so on the scale of expectation, the global economy would practically collapse. Political alliances would dramatically change, the world order would disintegrate.
America has just proven itself to be the new bogeyman on the international geopolitical block. It is headed up by an unstable administration whose warped worldview sees nothing but enemies hiding in the dark. It wants a destabilised world because that’s what America does best.
Could other world leaders now have not just the excuse they need but the collective courage to pull back from the brink and go with their convictions? Macron, Merkel and May, supported by their government do not believe in withdrawal from the Iran deal, nor does the EU27 collectively. Nor does Putin, Xi Jinping or Narendra Modi and many others. Outside of the Mid-East, America is almost completely isolated on this one.