The international nuclear agreement with Iran was working when Donald Trump decided to withdraw the United States from the pact. At the time, the White House said its new approach would be even more effective: at the president’s behest, the Trump administration would impose a “maximum pressure” campaign that would keep Iran in line and produce great results for the world.
That approach has clearly failed. By any fair measure, Iran has become far more dangerous and taken steps that appear to be far more provocative. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday recommended that everyone look at reality with their heads tilted:
Pompeo defended this approach to reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia, saying, “There is this theme that some suggest that the president’s strategy that we allowed isn’t working. I would argue just the converse of that. I would argue that what you are seeing here is a direct result of us reversing the enormous failure of the JCPOA.”
He was referring to the formal name of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
This is an amazingly bad argument for two reasons. The first, obviously, is that the JCPOA wasn’t failing at all. In fact, Trump knew it wasn’t failing because his own team told him in 2017 that it was working exactly as intended – leading the president to have “a bit of a meltdown.”
Trump didn’t want to be told the truth; he wanted to be told his false assumptions were correct. Pompeo may want to believe the JCPOA wasn’t working, but his bogus assertions don’t make it so.
Second, as Business Insider’s report added, Pompeo’s comments gave away a bit more than the cabinet secretary probably intended. The Kansas Republican, who has accused Iran of being responsible for an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend, specifically told reporters that we’re now seeing the “direct result” of the Trump administration’s policy on the Iran deal.
Or put another way, had the Republican White House not “reversed” course on the JCPOA policy, we wouldn’t see Iran becoming increasingly dangerous.
Pompeo clearly hasn’t thought this through.