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Trump strategy on Iran is working, and makes Obama look weak

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trump rouhani iran 2x1Michael
Gruber/Getty Images; Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images; Samantha
Lee/Business Insider

  • President Donald Trump has outraged and defied establishment
    experts on Iran, but his policies are deeply hurting Iran without
    any tangible blowback to the US.
  • Former President Barack Obama and his top officials warned
    against many of the exact moves Trump has made, but none of their
    gloomy predictions have come true.
  • The world has overwhelmingly chosen the US over Iran when
    pressed by the Trump administration’s sanctions.
  • Iran remains in the nuclear deal and even its long-time
    clients are abandoning it. 

President Donald Trump has, at almost every turn, defied experts
on Iran policy to take a very aggressive track against Tehran.

Despite this, Trump has yet to suffer a single tangible
consequence, or any of the nightmare scenarios which former
President Barack Obama warned against. 

Under Trump, the US has withdrawn from the Iran deal, which
Obama officials warned could
send the country sprinting towards a nuclear weapon. Iran remains
in compliance with the deal today.

Trump’s White House will sanction Iran’s oil exports in November,
and despite warnings of oil prices spiking or European firms
picking Tehran over Washington, oil prices are steady and even
Iran’s long-time client, India, has cut ties.

Despite the pain Iran took from Trump’s sanctions, experts
contacted by Business Insider expect it to remain in the deal.
They said the country has very few remaining economic lifelines,
and publicly breaching the deal to go nuclear could snuff out the
remaining embers. 

The US military in Syria has repeatedly and stiffly beaten back
Iranian and Iranian-linked forces when challenged.

Under Obama, the US sought to give Iran a wide berth in
Syria
as it worked behind the scenes to get the Iran deal
done. In the Strait of Hormuz, a key waterway outside Iran,
Iranian ships would frequently
harass and threaten US Navy ships
. Under Trump, Iran has
stopped these provocations.

“The president is doing the opposite of what the experts
said, and it seems to be working out,” Michael Lynch, the
president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research told the New York
Times

Iran is struggling and the US is fine


iran sanctions
Alistair
Bell/Reuters


Since Trump took office, Iran has weathered a series of
withering economic and military setbacks.

While Iran remains in the deal that sought to relieve the
sanctions burden on its oil exports, it has lost out hugely as
international businesses overwhelmingly choose not to
provoke Trump’s ire by buying Iranian oil.

Iran’s military, mostly at Israel’s hands, have been
repeatedly and fiercely targeted
by airstrikes
, to which it offered limited responses. While
the US and much of the world dread the prospect of a nuclear
Iran, Israel has made it clear that it will take direct and swift military
action to destroy the nuclear capabilities
of regional rivals
like Iran. 

Arguably, the US has damaged its international reputation
and relations with European partners in the deal, but it’s
unclear whether this has done any tangible damage to US
businesses.

Arms control experts widely argued that the withdrawal from the Iran deal
would show North Korea that diplomacy with the US was
pointless
, but relations between Trump and Kim Jong Un appear
almost entirely based on mutual good faith at this point.

Trump is breaking all Obama’s rules and coming out on
top


trump obama
Win
McNamee/Getty


Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, spent the years
before the Iran deal traveling Europe asking banks to
do business with Iran
, a country the US designates a state
sponsor of terror.

When Trump entered office, Kerry continued his work to help
Iranian business
in private meetings with officials in the
country. 

Kerry and Obama obviously sought to have Iran integrated in
the world economy as a key part of their signature foreign policy
achievement, and it appears not to have worked.

Of course, Trump benefits from having the Iran deal in
place, which curbs Iran’s ability to either saber rattle or
actually pursue a bomb. Iran’s poor business climate, human
rights record, and internal strife
have also scared off
businesses that may have in principle wanted to transact with
Tehran, aiding Trump’s crackdown.

Obama officials frequently argued that the US couldn’t unilaterally pressure
Iran
, but under Trump, the rial has tanked.

Obama officials argued that the nuclear deal sought to
address the narrow issue of nuclear proliferation and nothing
else, not even getting US detainees freed or curbing Iran’s
regional military ambitions and open threats to Israel.

But under Trump, the US has addressed all of its grievances
with Iran, from funding terror, to escalating fighting in Syria,
to testing missiles, and even oppressing its own people, all
while Tehran stays in the deal.

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