Will Trump Affirm the Empire?

Trump will announce his current decision on the Iran nuclear deal today at 2 p.m. If he withdraws from it, that affirms his support of the American Empire and renewed hostile relations of the U.S. and its allies with Iran. It confirms the empire itself as the moving force in American foreign relations.

The U.S. interest as limited to Iranian nuclear weaponry has already been achieved without significant cost to the U.S. in the current deal. Trump will be irrational if he breaks the deal on the basis of a nuclear concern. This deal already states “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.”

Pompeo, Trump and other anti-Iran politicians have harped on the limited horizon of the deal, but Iran has already committed itself to being a nuclear-weapon free country indefinitely.

It is impossible to believe that the nuclear deal itself is at issue between the U.S. and Iran. U.S. strategists know that the U.S. has an overwhelming set of military advantages over Iran, and the Iran regime knows that it will succumb in any outright war. The U.S. knows that it can inflict great damage on any sort of Iranian military progress, whether in nuclear weaponry or ballistic missiles, at any time it chooses. War with Iran, however, has high costs that the U.S. prefers to avoid. Iran knows this. The U.S. has postponed an outright clash and deferred Iran’s nuclear development by many years through this deal.

But nuclear matters are not all that’s on the table. U.S.-Iran relations are in conflict over two other pressing matters. The U.S. has not succeeded in preventing Iran from improving its ballistic missiles. The U.S. has not prevented Iran from helping Syria and penetrating more deeply into Syria. In addition, the U.S. dislikes Iran’s penetration into South America and its role in Yemen, although these are not major concerns. Yemen is not a big issue, despite Saudi Arabia’s noises.

If the U.S. breaks the nuclear deal, it cannot be because of concern over Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, because such a break only motivates Iran to resume development. The reason, if there is any, is to have a free hand to deal with Iran’s ballistic missiles and Iran’s military in Syria. It is part of the U.S. strategy to end the regime of Assad in Syria and/or to prevent Iran from exploiting its presence in Syria. The U.S. wants to be able to re-impose stiff sanctions and to have its allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, deal with Iran’s military presence in Syria. The U.S. proposes to stay in the deal if Iran halts its missile development and withdraws from Syria.

The U.S. can’t make any of these moves, which amount to low-level war with Iran, without breaking the deal, because the entire tenor of the deal and specific language within it aim at peace and create peace up to a point. Breaking the deal repudiates the peace achieved between Iran and the U.S. and resumes hostile relations. This won’t lead to a better deal, and Trump makes a big mistake if he thinks it will and withdraws for that reason. War hawks and neocons want the resumption of hostile relations. They want stronger military action against Iran.

In its role as superpower and center of an empire, the U.S. places itself in conflict with Iran over Iran’s missile developments and presence in Syria. These are not “natural” problems for Americans. There are no significant threats in Iran’s being a regional power or coming into conflict with Israel, itself a competing regional power. These conflicts that the U.S. has with Iran and similar “problems” are not “our” problems as Americans. They have all arisen because the U.S. became an empire and big-league world player a long time ago. We now are living with this aspect of our government. We do not have to accept it. We can repudiate the empire. Trump will be affirming the empire if he withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal.


8:44 am on May 8, 2018