By Zahra Sadat Khezri

Trump confused about geography and national security strategy: ex-senator

November 5, 2017 - 20:0

Peter Woodard Galbraith, a former Democratic senator from Windham County, says Donald Trump is confused about geography as he is about security strategy. In declaring in his new Iran strategy on October 13, Trump used the phrase “Arabian Gulf” rather than “Persian Gulf”.

“It appears that Donald Trump is as confused about geography as he is about national security strategy,” Galbraith tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.
Galbraith says, “I have consulted six respected atlases. None show an Arabian Gulf.  There is an Arabian Sea.”

In his speech on Oct. 13 when he announced his new Iran strategy, Trump refused to certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal despite repeated confirmations by the UN nuclear watchdog that Tehran is honoring its commitments.

Like many other analysts, and politicians Galbraith says Trump is seeking to roll back what his predecessor Barack Obama did.

“Donald Trump’s main motivation as U.S. president is to undo what his predecessor Barack Obama did. Since the JCPOA was President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement, he has decided to undo it, just as he is trying to undo Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act (a U.S. law that expanded health care for Americans).”

“No Israeli national security official actually wants the deal to fail.”

‘Trump’s action undermines everyone’s confidence in America’s word’

As a former diplomat, Galbraith said Trump’s “decision to decertify the JCPOA has nothing to do with Iran’s implementation of the deal or any rational U.S. strategy.”
Trump’s approach to the landmark nuclear deal has already shaken the confidence of Washington’s allies in America’s word.
He says, “Trump’s action undermines everyone’s confidence in America’s word.”
Galbraith asks, “Why would any country make a deal with the United States if the U.S. president decides unilaterally that he is not obliged to honor it?”
The Trump administration has already withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In a document issued in August, the U.S. State Department also officially informed the United Nations that it will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
“The consequences of Trump’s actions extend far beyond Iran. At various times, he has said he would not honor U.S. mutual defense obligations with NATO, Japan and South Korea. He has said he won’t honor trade deals with Canada and Mexico,” Galbraith explains. 

In his speech, Trump also called Iran a rogue state. Responding to him, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the world is now witnessing the United States is a “rogue” country by contesting the UN-endorsed nuclear agreement.
But Galbraith, who was also former U.S. Ambassador to Croatia, says, “Neither the U.S. nor Iran is a rogue state.”  He says, “The U.S. happens to have an erratic and unqualified person as U.S. president who is in office only because Americans choose their president via an Electoral College. Trump lost the popular vote by a huge margin of 3 million votes. The Electoral College is an anachronism that was created in the 18th century to preserve slavery in the southern states.”

‘Saudi Arabia is reflexively anti-Iran’

Expect Israel and Saudi Arabia the entire world is supporting the 2015 nuclear deal - officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - between Iran and great powers. Both Tel Aviv and Riyadh praised Trump’s strategy towards Iran deal announced last month.

However, Galbraith says Israel apparently opposes the nuclear agreement but security officials in Tel Aviv want the agreement to remain.

“Almost all the economic benefits of the deal for Iran come from Europe and not the U.S.”

“It is good politics in Israel to oppose the nuclear deal but no Israeli national security official actually wants the deal to fail. Israel has no options to contain Iran’s nuclear program if the deal falls apart. Saudi Arabia is reflexively anti-Iran and wishes to accommodate the U.S.”

According to documents released by the WikiLeaks, Saudi royals had pushed for a U.S. attack on Iran.

The al-Saud family has upped its rhetoric against Iran since the conclusion of the nuclear deal in 2015. Most probably royals see the deal as a bulwark against their wishes.

‘Trump has no strategy if nuclear deal falls apart’

The former diplomat says some Democratic and Republican lawmakers are concerned about Trump’s hawkish approach toward the nuclear deal, adding Trump has no strategy if the deal falls through.  “Democrats and some Republicans are rightly concerned that Trump has no strategy for what happens if the nuclear deal falls apart.”

The Trump administration has been seeking to renegotiate the nuclear deal, asking other parties to the deal, including the European partners, to rewrite it. However, the European Union has strongly dismissed any renegotiation of the deal.

On October 13, Trump has asked Congress to decide about the nuclear agreement. He threatened if the deal is not changed he will terminate it.

“The decision to decertify the JCPOA has nothing to do with Iran’s implementation of the deal or any rational U.S. strategy.”

As former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations in Afghanistan, Galbraith seems quite confident that the European Union will not submit to U.S. pressure to impose sanctions against Iran again if Congress ditches the deal. “Our European allies certainly will not agree to reimpose sanctions so the U.S. has no leverage to negotiate a better deal.”

EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini has said the nuclear deal is an international agreement and Trump cannot unilaterally terminate it.

On whether the JCPOA will survive without the U.S., Galbraith says, “I hope the JCPOA survives even without the U.S. It is up to the Europeans to resist any U.S. secondary sanctions. Almost all the economic benefits of the deal for Iran come from Europe and not the U.S.”

He also said, “I would advise Iran against responding to Trump in kind, and even against using too harsh language. If your enemy is about to jump off a tall building, there is no need to push.”  

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