The debate in the New York Times and Washington Post over President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran deal, revolves around which tactics America should use to dominate Iran.
At one end of the spectrum of acceptable opinion is the view that President Trump was correct to withdraw from the deal because it supposedly failed to handcuff Iran to a sufficient degree. At the other is the far more common perspective, which is that Trump should have remained in the deal because it is an effective tool for controlling Iran.
In the New York Times, Bret Stephens (5/8/18) argued that the agreement did not achieve what he thinks should be the goal of US policy towards Iran, namely:
to put Iran’s rulers to a fundamental choice. They can opt to have a functioning economy, free of sanctions and open to investment, at the price of permanently, verifiably and irreversibly forgoing a nuclear option and abandoning their support for terrorists. Or they can pursue their nuclear ambitions at the cost of economic ruin and possible war.
Ending American participation in the deal makes sense, according to Stephens, because doing so puts Washington in a better position to threaten to violently destroy Iran in order to make it do want the US government wants. What he means by “support for terrorists” is unclear and evidence-free.
The Washington Post (5/9/18) ran an incoherent piece by US national security advisor John Bolton saying that Trump needed to take the US out of the Iran deal because, since its implementation, Iran has not “focus[ed] on behaving responsibly.” In other words, he opposes the nuclear accord because Iran has proven itself too immature for the freedom from US control that Bolton wrongly suggests it is offered under the JCPOA.
Commentators who differed on Trump’s decision nevertheless shared the premise of those in favor of taking the US out of the deal, which is that Iran belongs under