Team Trump Should Be Careful What It Wishes For

Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN's Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Jason Miks.

May 9, 2018

Team Trump Should Be Careful What It Wishes For

President Trump's decision to walk away from the Iran nuclear agreement is a blast from the past – specifically about 15 years ago, suggests Stephen Walt for Foreign Policy. It's more about regime change than stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons. But Team Trump should be careful what it wishes for.
 
Reinstating sanctions is unlikely to bring about the collapse of the regime, just as it didn't in Iraq or North Korea, Walt writes. But even if the regime did fall, "the result is not likely to be a stable, well-functioning, and pro-American regime. US-sponsored regime change in Iraq led to a civil war, a brutal insurgency, and the rise of the Islamic State. Ditto with foreign-imposed regime change in Libya," Walt says.
 
"The United States has also intervened repeatedly in places including Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Syria in recent years, and all it reaped was additional instability and fertile ground for terrorists. And let's not forget that the original US-backed regime change in Iran[…]spawned the anti-Americanism the United States has had to deal with ever since the 1979 revolution. And don't forget that many prominent opponents of the regime — including leaders of the so-called Green Movement — also support Iran's nuclear program and aren't about to become Washington's lackeys even if they were somehow to come to power."
 

The Danger of a Hacked Off Iran

Since the nuclear deal was reached in 2015, Iran has generally restricted its hacking to its own neighborhood, Andy Greenberg writes for Wired. But for the past decade, "Iranian state-sponsored hackers have slowly built up their capabilities." Now that Trump has walked away from the agreement, Tehran's relative restraint might not last.
 
"When the US last tightened its sanctions against Iran in 2012, then-president Barack Obama boasted that they were 'virtually grinding the Iranian economy to a halt.' Iran fired back with one of the broadest series of cyberattacks ever to target the US, bombarding practically every major American bank with months of intermittent distributed denial of service attacks that pummeled their websites with junk traffic, knocking them offline," Greenberg writes.
 
"Three years later, the Obama administration lifted many of those sanctions in exchange for Iran's promise to halt its nuclear development; Tehran has since mostly restrained its state-sponsored online attacks against Western targets.
 
"Now, with little more than a word from President Trump, that détente appears to have ended. And with it, the lull in Iranian cyberattacks on the West may be coming to an end, too."

Europe's Mission Impossible?

President Trump's decision to walk away from the Iran deal has left European nations who backed the agreement (see yesterday's Global Briefing for some theories on why they did) on a collision course with the United States, writes Christiane Hoffmann for Der Spiegel.

"Europe, Russia and China must now make an offer to Iran. That is the only way to help reformers in Tehran stand up to hardliners in the country who would like to continue building a bomb. Thus far, Iran has adhered to the agreement even though many of the economic benefits the country had hoped to reap from the deal have failed to materialize. Now, it will be important to prevent European companies from pulling out of Iran," Hoffmann writes.

"That, though, will be difficult. Trump has threatened companies with punitive measures should they continue doing business in Iran. And the incoming US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, tweeted on Tuesday that 'German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.'"

"It still isn't clear how far the US will go to force Europe into an anti-Iran alliance. Trump could exert economic pressure, of course, but he could also take a further step into security policy. He could threaten to weaken NATO solidarity if Europe doesn't join forces against Iran. That would be a catastrophe."

The Coming Clash Within Team Trump?

The entry of Mike Pompeo and John Bolton into the Trump cabinet underscores the fact that the big divide in the Trump administration isn't between hawks and doves. "By any reasonable standard, all of Trump's officials are hawks," argues Thomas Wright for Politico EU. Instead, it's between "litigators and planners" – and that could mean trouble ahead.
 
"The litigators, led by Trump and deputized to Bolton, see national security policy as a way of settling scores with enemies, foreign and domestic, and closing the file. They will torpedo multilateral deals, pull out of international commitments and demonstrate American power before moving on to the next target," Wright says.
 
"The planners insist that the administration must have a plan for the day after the score settling. They know American foreign policy is a marathon, not a sprint. They are thinking about the US position in Asia after a preventive strike, the future of the Iranian nuclear program after abandoning the JCPOA, and the health of alliances after trade wars. They worry that the litigators will get the United States into a whole lot of trouble with no way out — so they urge caution."
 
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "now has a consequential choice to make: Does he align with [Defense Secretary James] Mattis, believing that this sage warrior will be vindicated over the medium and long term? Or does he jump aboard the Trump-Bolton train of disruption?"
 

Germany's Big, Bold Experiment

Germany's politicians might make a point of publicly worrying about the recent influx of refugees to the country. But with an aging population – and the need for more immigrants – officials are undertaking a low-key but massive experiment in integrating newcomers, writes Paul Hockenos in The New York Times. It could prove to be a model for all rich countries.
 
"Of course, what Germany would like is skilled immigrants who apply through official channels and land at airports with luggage and work contracts, not victims of conflict and famine arriving at the border with backpacks," Hockenos writes. But the country is "going with what it's got: an abundance of young, overwhelmingly male foreign nationals, a relatively small segment of whom have advanced education or professional training."
 
"This sort of rapid, large-scale labor-force integration has never been done before, which makes Germany a giant laboratory for what could well be the future of the European work force. The plan is to teach refugees the German language and cultural norms, and then the skills necessary to join German workers in factories and hospitals. Overall, Germany plans to spend 3.2 billion euros, or about $3.8 billion, a year on integration."

 

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