By naming retired general Michael Flynn – a fierce foe of the Iran nuclear pact – as his national security advisor, president-elect Donald Trump has put his administration’s money where his campaign mouth was. Flynn is a staunch advocate for revoking or re-negotiating the Iran deal.
Or has he? By naming retired Marine general James Mattis – an avowed opponent of scrapping the Iran deal – as his Defense Secretary, Trump appears to have set his administration on a course of conflict and infighting on this crucial issue. Since that is reportedly Trump’s style of business administration, this may not be surprising.
Unfortunately for Flynn, however, there will be no re-negotiation of the deal without support from its other adherents – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union; and such support is very unlikely to be forthcoming. The best that Flynn can hope for – despite Trump’s confidence in his deal-making genius – is a return to the status quo ante, when the US tried to pressure Iran with unilateral sanctions – sanctions which, by the way, remain in place as part of the Iran deal, as recently reiterated by Congress.
The likely result is a return to the abject pre-deal failure of unilateral sanctions. If Iran chooses to restart its nuclear program, the only antidote is likely to be unilateral military action. Collateral damage will include a lingering reluctance on the part of responsible nations to enter into any agreement with such an unreliable partner as the US will have shown itself to be.