JCPOh Crap He Did

Trump decertifies the Iran deal, Puerto Rico still doesn’t have power, and Catalonia is in limbo. Also, there looms a specter of nuclear holocaust. Happy Friday the 13th.

Trump’s decertification doesn’t actually cause the Iran deal to disintegrate, because the actual deal, the JCPOA, is a multilateral agreement between many nations, and our European partners are still gung ho about the whole thing. The certification part comes from congressional legislation that requires the president to say “hey yeah this is still good” or “no these dudes are breaking their promises, punish them please” in which case congress decides what to do. In this case, Trump is asking them to improve the deal. Except wait, I thought that Congress was supposed to... make... laws? Don’t we have a guy to worry about deals with their countries? Yes, and he’s the Secretary of State and Rex Tillerson has effectively been sidelined.

Besides that, it’s totally unrealistic to expect a better deal. We have a fraction of the leverage we had before, since we aren’t going to get Europe to reimpose sanctions, and despite Trump’s claims that Iran was “about to collapse” in 2015 when we made the deal, that’s... not true. Sure, it was a giant economic burden ($160 billion) but you know what was a bigger burden? The Iran-Iraq War, which cost Iran $600 billion, and still took 8 years to settle a tie (credit to Colin Kahl’s excellent article). So no shot at a better deal.

Luckily, Iran has stated it will remain committed to the deal “so long as it remains in the interest of Iran”. So, as I predicted, this will serve only to isolate the US – again.

You know what’s another great way to isolate a nation? Claim that you’re going to stop helping your own citizens because they’re already in debt and can’t afford it. Puerto Rico’s debt (itself a legacy of colonialism) has haunted the island for years, and now Trump wants to withdraw aid because they won’t be able to pay it back. Meanwhile, about 90% of the island still doesn’t have power, 3 full weeks after the storm. So that’s pretty sickening.

And Catalonia is... well, we don’t know. They declared independence, but then delayed the onset of independence in order to push Madrid to come to the table. But Madrid says Catalonia can’t dictate the terms of negotiation. So we’ll see.

Stay tuned. #fpf