- - Tuesday, May 8, 2018


Once more, President Trump has done what he said he would do if elected president. Barack Obama’s “very bad deal” with Iran is history. Let the hand-wringing begin.

Mr. Trump vowed to cancel that nuclear deal on many occasions during the 2016 presidential campaign. Once president, he repeated the vow that the European skeptics of the deal must negotiate the safeguards that would prevent the mullahs in Tehran from resuming their pursuit of a nuclear arsenal when the pieces of the deal begin expiring in 2025. If a reminder is needed, that’s only seven years away.

The so-called holy men in Tehran are furious, just like not-so-holy Trump critics in Washington and in certain European capitals. The Iranians are furious because they can no longer deal with the weak and compliant president who bought the scheme which no one outside the Obama inner circle defends as “good.” No one can defend it because it’s indefensible.

Mr. Trump’s disavowal is classic Trump out of the pages of his 1987 best-seller, “The Art of the Deal.” His style of deal-making, he wrote, “is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing to get what I’m after. Sometimes I settle for less than I sought, but in most cases I still end up with what I want.”

Barack Obama and his chief negotiator, John Kerry, aimed low, desperate to get something they could call “the signature” of the Obama years. They were oblivious of the fact that Iran had lied for years to hide its plans to design, build and test nuclear weapons, as documents from Iran’s “Project Amad,” disclosed 10 days ago by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, clearly reveal. The Iran deal at best merely delays the mullahs’ ultimate objective. Iran wouldn’t need to break the deal to get what it wants because Messrs. Obama and Kerry designed and supplied the needed loophole.

President Emmanuel Macron of France decried the American repudiation of the deal Tuesday, as expected, but when he was in Washington last month he agreed that Iran “shall never possess any nuclear weapons not in five years, not in 10 years, never.” Brave talk, but the difference between the two presidents is that Mr. Trump understands that such a brave talk requires more than wishing to make it so, and understands that the United States will always have to do the heavy lifting to confront a mutual foe. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, rushed to Washington in recent days to try to persuade Mr. Trump to learn to love the deal everyone knows is bad.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, is dedicated now to scorning everything President Trump does, but he sang a different tune when President Obama was pushing his scheme for a vote three years ago. He recognized the risk then that Iran would, in his words, “use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals,” and “under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power.”

Everyone in Washington knew Mr. Obama was playing games with the Constitution’s clear requirement that compacts with other nations be made by treaties, subject to ratification by the U.S. Senate. But Mr. Obama knew the Senate would never ratify such a treaty, so he resorted to an “agreement,” something that he could pretend was not a treaty.

Ben Rhodes, the deputy national-security adviser, boasted to The New York Times how he constructed a “narrative” — some people might call it a “lie” — to promote the agreement. He told the newspaper that it was easy because of the inexperience of many reporters covering the issue. He could have more accurately called it the willing complicity of many reporters.

“The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old,” Mr. Rhodes told The New York Times,” and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

The usual suspects will now say the usual things about the return to reality. Mr. Trump’s announcement “plunges America’s relations with European allies into deep uncertainty.” His action “raises the prospect of increasing tensions with Russia and China.” He could “imperil his talks with Kim Jong-un.”

President Trump recognized the mess Mr. Obama made, and has started doing something about it. When Iran and its “friends” in the West get over their fit, the United States and those allies can write another agreement, this time called a treaty, subject to constitutional requirement of ratification by the U.S. Senate. That will be the “good” deal.

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