Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Iran Deal Pullout or Not, American Interests Come Before Internationalism

In Trump and Iran: Has he traded peace for bloodshed?, New Jersey Star-Ledger editorialist Tom Moran argues against President Trump’s pullout of Barack Obama’s Iran deal:

It's not clear what will happen next, except that the United States will be more isolated than ever on the world stage. It follows Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, his abandonment of the Pacific Trade Partnership, and the new steel tariffs imposed on some of our close allies.

My emphasis. Moran repeated the isolation charge in the last paragraph:

We have a dangerously ignorant and impulsive president who is listening to poisonous advice from extremists. We are increasingly isolated, in a day when nearly every challenge, from climate to terrorism, requires international cooperation.

I left these comments:

There may be valid reasons to criticize Trump’s move. Treaties are complex. The U.S. probably should not have signed the agreement in the first place. However, once in it, one must be concerned with America’s future credibility and reliability that it will honor previous commitments across different Administrations when considering whether to pull out.

That said, whatever the arguments for or against pulling out of prior American commitments like the Iran deal--I believe Trump’s pullout from Paris was right, but from the Pacific Partnership was wrong--fear of being “isolated” should not be one of the concerns. The American government’s job is to protect Americans’ rights and security, regardless of how unpopular the policies may be in the world. Cooperation is valuable: Americans have a lot to gain from freedom of trade and migration or from multi-nation security agreements. But this cooperation is only valuable up to a point. It is not an intrinsic good. Agreements are not good simply because they are agreements. Don’t confuse mutually beneficial cooperation with national self-sacrifice. Sometimes the right thing to do is to go it alone. American interests should never be sacrificed on the altar of Internationalism.


It should also be remembered that Obama refused to submit the treaty to Congress for formal ratification. This may be strictly legal, constitutionally (although I have my doubts). But when Obama made an end run around Congress, he made it as easy for future Administrations to arbitrarily alter or scuttle the deal as he had committing the U.S. to the deal. The same thing happened with Obama’s Paris Climate deal--no Congressional ratification, Trump pulls out without Congressional approval. When you rob the American people of a full and open debate through the ratification process--in effect, ruling more like a King than serving as president--you get what you asked for.
Related Reading:

"Tear Down This Wall": Reagan’s “Isolated” but Successful Drive to “Win” the Cold War

Trump’s Leadership on Paris Withdrawal versus Obama’s Delusions of Unearned Greatness

Buchanan’s Anti-Free Trade Tirade Under Cover of TPP ‘Fast Track’ Debate

NAFTA, Whatever its Flaws, Was a Good Thing

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