Former Secretary of State John Kerry lamented that President Trump has “shut the door” on diplomacy while discussing the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani on CNN.
Kerry echoed his thoughts in an Op-Ed for the New York Times, writing that he believes
President Trump blew up the Iran deal out of “disdain” for anything the previous Obama administration accomplished.
What did we turn over to President-elect Trump in 2017? Iran was in compliance with the nuclear agreement. Our allies were united with the United States. There were no missile attacks on United States facilities. No ships were being detained or sabotaged in the Persian Gulf. There were no protesters breaching our embassy in Baghdad. Iraq welcomed our presence fighting ISIS. And Iran would be unable to move toward a nuclear weapon without our knowing it through inspections authorized by the agreement.
None of our allies thought the work was over after the deal was struck. But we had laid a foundation of diplomacy from which other issues might be addressed. In 2016, we defused deep disagreements with Iran over prisoners and averted conflict when American sailors inadvertently entered Iranian waters and were detained by Iranian forces. We were working with allies to deepen sanctions on Iran for its involvement in Yemen, its transfer of weapons to Hezbollah and its actions in Syria, its human rights violations, its threats against Israel and its ballistic missile program.
The nuclear agreement would have been justified if it did nothing more than prevent Iran from building a bomb. But it also created opportunities for the United States to bring pressure on Iran on other issues. President Trump could have built on that, with the luxury of knowing that the urgent, immediate nuclear threat had been put back in the bottle.
We know what Mr. Trump did instead. He put his disdain for anything done by the last administration ahead of his duty to keep the country safe. He alienated our allies. He recklessly rushed ahead without any strategy. We have been left with an incoherent Iran and Iraq policy that has made the region more dangerous and put Americans at greater risk.