Diplomacy versus Delusion

Author: Gary Hart

Effort is required to sort through a patternless brief history of the current U.S. administration for any clues as to its foreign policy principles.  Despite the challenge this presents, certain factors do seem to reoccur: reversal of virtually all initiatives of the previous Obama administration; rejection of cooperative trade and security agreements, including those negotiated by previous Republican Presidents; adoption of policies that favor the United States even at the cost of trusted allies; and adopting what was known several decades ago as an “I’m alright, Jack” attitude toward the rest of the world.

[Based on a British movie that placed Great Britain first and sought to make it great again.  “We’re the best and to hell with everyone else.”]

But even these xenophobic and nationalistic attitudes (they cannot be called principles) fail to begin to explain what quite possibly, if not probably, could motivate the current administration to turn its back on the Iran nuclear agreement of 2015 (JCPOA for Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

This agreement, to which Great Britain, France, and Germany are signatories and which Russia and China support, severely limits Iran’s ability to produce fissile material necessary to make a nuclear weapon for at least fifteen years but the agreement goes further.  The first paragraph of the JCPOA reads: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons.”

The agreement provides for ongoing inspections for compliance with its terms by expert investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with special focus on the Arak and Natanz nuclear facilities.  One, among many, expert states; “The IAEA has certified that-some minor violations aside—the Iranians have implemented the agreement.”

An overwhelming number of experienced diplomats and scientists of both political parties have endorsed and strongly supported the agreement as manifestly in America’s and the world’s security interests.  In addition to its merits, it is also a symbol of the faithfulness and dependability of the United States to its international commitments.

Now comes a new Secretary of State and National Security Advisor who adamantly oppose the JCPOA but have no alternative plan to replace it except direct military confrontation. For without the agreement, “the IAEA inspectors would leave Iran and the [nuclear weapons] program would restart at full bore.”

No cogent argument as to how ending the JCPOA and a consequent Iranian nuclear weapons arsenal makes America, the Middle East, and the world safer.  That is because there is none.  For those who really want confrontation with Iran, the agreement is a hindrance.  Do not let a Western security alliance, they seem to say, get in the way of bringing American military might down on Iran and risking a very wide war in the Middle East, another one to join Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

In a recent article summing up the case for the agreement by a noted theoretical physicist, Jeremy Bernstein, he concludes: “One cannot say with any certainty whether the countries that will remain in the agreement will be able to constrain the Iranians, who have made absolutely clear that they will not agree to any modification of it.  The notion that President Trump has of somehow getting a ‘better deal’ is delusional.  There is no better deal.  The Iranians have everything they need to make nuclear weapons—including uranium. The JCPOA is our best, and perhaps our only, chance of preventing Iran from getting the bomb.”

If the president is delusional about something as important as the Iranian nuclear agreement, about how many other significant matters is he delusional?


10 Responses to “Diplomacy versus Delusion”

  1. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    >>>>>If the president is delusional about something as important as the Iranian nuclear agreement, about how many other significant matters is he delusional?

    Do you want me to answer that? Heh.

    Seriously, what is he not delusional about?

    I have grave concerns about the future of the JCPOA because I don’t believe that the president has any idea about what that agreement entails. But, also because there are serious political analysts who are not 100% on board with this agreement so long as Iran behaves the way it does in other areas. And, particularly in the current political environment, the JCPOA needs strong supporters who will focus on the benefits it allows to the exclusion of any real or perceived negative aspects of it.

    This is not a time for ambiguous support of the JCPOA. And, so, I hope you will write more about this because the future of this agreement is anything but secure.

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    “Is there anybody out there!?”

  3. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    A blog is only as good as the conversation it fosters in the comments sections.

    And, that goes for excellent blogs like MoP, too!

  4. Gary Hart Says:

    I know the feeling, Elizabeth. I am not clever enough to stir up serious debate and exchange of ideas, and I fear to much focus on my ancient campaigns might have bored people or chased them away. But a delusional president is serious stuff and must be taken seriously by serious people. He doesn’t read, study, or seek the advice of experts outside his narrowing circle. In a vacuum, delusions set in. That’s tolerable if the issue is the color of the drapes in the White House. But Iran off a nuclear leash is serious stuff and the well established experts I’m in contact with a very, very worried. Since there is no logic to his administration, he does not feel the need to explain how violating an Iran agreement in our interest will help him negotiate a similar agreement with North Korea. It would be laughable if it were not so deadly serious. Anyway, I’m here to communicate and I greatly appreciate your loyalty. GH

  5. Edward Goldstick Says:

    Senator Hart et al.,

    I understand your distress at the silence via a rear view mirror because, to some degree, I lived it in the late 70’s and early 80’s when I terminated a path towards government service after Reagan took office. In stark contrast to that era, my greater concern now is the growing penury of strong backstops and intelligent filters in the current administration. I am increasingly no more comfortable with this group without Trump as the ultimate “decider”…

    … and that applies to the GOP leadership in the Congress and around the country as well.

    Thank you for your efforts and equally clear self-awareness that we never dip our toes into the same river twice…

    Peace be with you.

  6. Neil McCarthy Says:

    I agree on the need for conversation. But the real need is for a strategy to get rid of Trump. Gary Hart is a student of history and, as such a student, knows that very little has been accomplished in America other than in the context of crisis. And by “crisis” I mean an event or series of events that has a significant, observable and detrimental impact on a large number of lives. Hence, the Depression gets us the New Deal; WWII (soldiers fought and died and citizens rationed) gets us the post-war order;the draft and the possibility of death in southeast Asia gets us the protests and ultimately the end to the War in Vietnam; the Civil War gets us the end of slavery. How do we get rid of Trump without an experienced crisis. A lot of the people I talk to — and I ran for Congress and make a habit out of talking to lots of people –are bored and do not care. They think Trump is a mess but they don’t think he has really caused any trouble yet. I do not agree with them. But that’s hiw they feel.


    PS I am not looking to revisit past campaigns. I want a strategy to pursue the next one.

  7. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I can imagine you do, Senator Hart. 🙂

    But, your blog stands out as an exemplar in terms of promoting civil discourse and attracting those who wish to uphold that practice. The world needs more places of refuge like this.

    As for the president’s JCPOA delusions, serious people like the experts you’re in contact with need to get out amongst the people and talk about the great benefits of this agreement to the US and rest of the world and set the record straight about what the Iran nuclear deal was meant to do, what it wasn’t meant to do, and what Iran has agreed to do and what it has already done for its part.

    Trump’s delusions, misrepresentations and outright lies need to be corrected in a way that doesn’t further alienate his supporters but rather invites them to explore another narrative.

    It should be clear by now that you can’t beat Trump at the only game he knows. The only way to begin to nullify his impact may be through calm discussion and persuasion throughout the public square. This can make a difference in a way that reminds me of a famous Robert Kennedy quote about ripples turning into mighty currents that I’m too exhausted to repeat here.

  8. Elizabeth Miller Says:


    I’m glad you asked because I have a few suggestions for future campaigns … not surprisingly. 🙂

    But, that will have to wait until later in the week …

  9. Gary Hart Says:

    I concur with Neil that America is best in crisis, either internal, a depression, or external, a threat to security. Governing in between is usually a muddle and increasingly a sand-box ideological fight. Instead of guns and abortion, the real struggle now is between internationalism and isolationism, responsible immigration policy versus walls, and public education versus class education. As to the need for responsible and thoughtful campaigns, we will not be able to return to that era until partisan media (Fox, Sinclair) plays a smaller role and serious journalism, print and electronic, returns, tweets and twitter are for teen agers, and the public must face serious policy decisions head on. Parties now are fund raising mechanisms and are declining to be replaced by what we do not know. Diplomacy and statesmanship are now more important than ever, but in retreat. The big international challenges, climate, arms control, mass migration, collaborative markets and trade regulation, cannot be solved by the US alone and certainly not by resort to me first nationalism. There is a new campaign strategy in all this somewhere. To be continued. Gary


    Elizabeth is correct,we should get more interest in this best of blogs, but not the Senator of old, his career as that is neither one thing or t@other as far as his being a force to be reckoned with based on a wisdom and substance rare in politics.

    I think the Syria action, with Mattis, Macron and May, onside or perhaps leading Trump, might be a new dawning of some awareness amongst the Trump brigade, that ball is a team sport, and that presidents must play it.Whatever the rights or wrongs of the resulting decisions

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