By Mohammed Mazhari

Trump exited JCPOA to prepare Americans for possible hostile act against Iran: academic

September 25, 2020 - 14:10

TEHRAN – An American academic tells the Tehran Times that Donald Trump’s move in withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal – JCPOA - was meant to prepare “U.S. citizens for any possible future hostile actions targeting Iran.”

Colin S. Cavell, a full professor of political science at Bluefield State College in West Virginia, also says another reason for this action was that Trump wanted to negate the international nuclear agreement clinched by his African American predecessor, Barack Obama.
The following is the text of the interview:

Q:  What were the motives that prompted Trump's administration to unilaterally withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran?

A:  Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of the U.S. from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal, on May 8, 2018, was done largely for two reasons:  1. to negate an international agreement negotiated by his African American predecessor, Barack Obama, declaring it “the worst deal ever negotiated” and 2. to lambaste Iran as a country that is untrustworthy to abide by this or any agreement, thus preparing U.S. citizens for any possible future hostile actions targeting Iran.

Q:  How do you assess Trump’s foreign policy in the last four years?  Is the foreign policy a determining factor in winning the November presidential election?

A:  Donald Joseph Trump took office as the 45th U.S. President on Friday, January 20, 2017.  His foreign policy actions to date have included:

January 23, 2017:  Trump withdraws the U.S. from the Trade-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement with Asian countries.

January 27, 2017:  Trump issues his first travel bans against nationals from six Muslim countries from coming to the U.S. (the ban is later expanded).

April 17, 2017:  Trump authorizes a cruise missile strike on Syria.

May 20-27, 2017:  Trump sets off on his first excursion abroad as President, visiting first Saudi Arabia, then Brussels and Italy.

June 1, 2017:  Trump withdraws the U.S. from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

June 5, 2017:  Trump initially supports Saudi Arabia after it severs ties with Qatar.

June 16, 2017:  Trump reinstates trade and travel restrictions on Cuba.

July 5-8, 2017:  Trump delivers an address in Warsaw, Poland emphasizing civilizational struggle for the survival of the West.  Then travels to Germany and attends the Group of Twenty conference and meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

August 8, 2017:  Trump threatens North Korea with “fire and fury” if it continues to threaten missile launches on Guam.

September 19, 2017:  Trump threatens to “totally destroy” North Korea in order to defend U.S. allies.

October 13, 2017:  Trump announces he will not certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

November 3-14, 2017:  Trump attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vietnam and announces his America First vision on trade.  Travels to other Asian capitals.

December 6, 2017:   Trump breaks with U.S. precedent and recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

March 1, 2018:  Trump imposes tariffs on foreign-produced steel and aluminum, especially on China.

April 4-December 1, 2020:  U.S. and China engage in tariff-trade war.

April 13, 2018:  Trump orders airstrikes on three Syrian facilities which he says manufacture or house chemical weapons.

April 6, 2018:  Trump administration announces a “zero-tolerance policy” against illegal immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere.  Children of parents entering the U.S. illegally will be separated from their parents.

May 8, 2018:  Trump unilaterally withdraws the U.S. from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran and other signatories.

May 14, 2018:  Trump moves the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

June 12, 2018:  Trump has a summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, and both call for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

June 19, 2018:  Trump withdraws the U.S. from the United Nations Human Rights Council citing the Council’s bias against Israel.

July 16, 2018:  Trump holds a two-hour summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.  Discussions are not made public, though a subsequent press conference announces Trump’s doubts regarding Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

September 30, 2018:  The U.S., Canada, and Mexico announced the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement, a trade agreement to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

October 2, 2018:  Trump expresses support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

December 19, 2018:  Trump says he will withdraw U.S. troops from Syria declaring that the Islamic State (ISIS) group has been defeated.

January 23, 2019:  Trump recognizes unelected politician Juan Guido as interim president of Venezuela claiming the government of Nicolas Maduro to be illegitimate.

January 25, 2019:  After a 25-day shutdown of the U.S. federal government, the longest in history, Trump relents on Congress not providing any funds for his southern border wall.

May 9, 2019:  Trump raises tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25%.

June 30, 2019:  Trump becomes the first U.S. sitting president to visit North Korea.

July 6, 2019:  Trump Administration bans those traveling through another country from applying for asylum requiring applicants to remain in the country of origin.

October 6, 2019:  Trump withdraws U.S. troops from Kurdish-controlled northern Syria.  The subsequent deal allows Kurds to withdraw while Turkish, Russian, and Syrian forces take over the northern border area.

October 11, 2019:  Trump reinforces the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with fighter jets, missile technology, and three thousand troops while blaming Iran for September 14, 2019 attacks on Saudi oil facilities at Abqaiq though Yemeni liberation fighters claimed responsibility.

October 26, 2019:  Trump announces that the Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed by U.S. forces in northern Syria.

January 3, 2020:  U.S. drone strikes kill top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Baghdad, Iraq along with Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.  Soleimani led to numerous defeats of Daesh/ISIS takfiri forces in the region.

January 28, 2020:  Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced a new plan to end Palestinian-Israeli conflict by awarding most of the West Bank and Jerusalem to Israel and weakening U.S. support for a two-state solution to the ongoing conflict.

February 5, 2020:  Trump acquitted by a 52-48 Senate vote of abuse of power charges related to pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden, his 2020 likely presidential opponent.

February 29, 2020:  U.S.-Taliban agreement to end U.S. 18-year war in Afghanistan with the U.S. pledging to withdraw troops within fourteen months.

March 13, 2020:  Trump declares national emergency over the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and prompting Congress to spend trillions of dollars on response.  Trump alleges that China is responsible for what he calls the “Chinese Virus” or the “Kung-Flu” virus.  [Compilation influenced by Foreign Policy article “Trump’s Foreign Policy Moments:  2017-2020”, 2020].

Given these actions, one may conclude that Trump is pursuing a nationalistic ‘America First’ strategy, not engaging in regime-change wars initiated by previous administrations, while adhering to maintaining U.S. military presence in the Middle East (West Asia) region, and strongly shifting U.S. support for Israeli hegemonic ambitions.  Trump will run his 2020 re-election campaign as a ‘peace president’ who has not initiated new overt wars.  Foreign policy actions of the U.S. president play a dominant role in presidential elections only so long as domestic economic issues remain stable and more or less secure.  With the U.S. economy contracting 32.9 percent in the second quarter of 2020, exacerbating the largest financial crisis in U.S. history, it is unlikely that foreign policy will take precedence in the upcoming election so long as Trump does not initiate a war before November.

Q:  Isn’t it likely that Trump would initiate a war against Iran if he becomes certain that he will be a loser in the November election?  

A:  President Trump has characteristically suggested that he will resort to any mechanism, subterfuge, stratagem, ploy, or artifice to advance his own personal interests, including his reelection as the U.S. president for another four years.  The one consistent aspect of Trump is that he is highly unpredictable in specifics that he will undertake albeit specific in that it will consist of actions of self-aggrandizement.

“President Trump praised Saudi Arabia after its agents cut up and killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi in late 2018 stating in November 2018 that de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman was a good friend and reliable buyer of U.S. military equipment.”

Q:  Trump supports the protest outside the U.S. while calls for suppressing the demonstrations at home.  How can an observer analyze this contradiction?
A:  Trump is aware that most U.S. citizens have little knowledge of what the country does in its foreign policies, so he is largely exempt from consequences arising from such actions unless it involves war or threat of war.  Internally, Trump has adopted a full-court press strategy of stoking racism by targeting Black Lives Matter protestors as dividing the country and wreaking havoc in American cities.  Sending federal officers, often unidentified, into Washington, DC, Portland, Washington, Chicago, Illinois, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Kansas City, Missouri, and elsewhere plays favorably to Trump’s base who are in support of white supremacy and, hence, favor ‘law and order’ tactics.

Q:  How do you read the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia?  Isn’t it inconsistent with American values and democracy to support tyrannical regimes like Arab sheikhdoms because of economic interests? 

A:  The first U.S. president, George Washington, warned of foreign entanglements in his 1796 Farewell Address adding:
It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements (George Washington, September 19, 1796).

However, since the twentieth century, the U.S. finds itself ensconced in entanglements with many countries through multiple treaties, both multilateral and bilateral.  As a country that was birthed in opposition to monarchy, however, it is interesting how the U.S. has now become largely tied to monarchs, dictators, and wholly undemocratic regimes in many parts of the world, particularly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  I must remind your international readers that the U.S. pledged in its 1776 Declaration of Independence its belief that all men are created equal with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and, yet, some 244 years later, many are still trying to secure such basic rights for African Americans, Latinx, Native Americans, et al.

Q:  What is your comment on Western states’ approaches toward human rights? Canada sold a record amount of military hardware to Saudi Arabia in 2019. Britain has also resumed arms sales to the country, despite concerns about Saudi human rights violations in Yemen.  Why do we see these kinds of double standards?

A:  The United States and Canada are Western capitalist countries.  The driving motor of capitalism is the accumulation of profit, a surplus extracted after accounting for materials, plant, and labor power used in the manufacture of a product.  Profit is the return on capital invested, in other words, it is ‘surplus value’.  Every capitalist is primarily motivated by the search for constantly expanding markets, and they wish to sell to any and everyone everywhere they can, so long as it is profitable.  President Trump praised Saudi Arabia after its agents cut up and killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi in late 2018 stating in November 2018 that de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman was a good friend and reliable buyer of U.S. military equipment.  Trump stated:

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!  (November 20, 2018)

Such a farcical statement would only play well in a Monty Python movie.  Thus, on pain of extinction, many capitalists would sell their families down the river if they believed they would benefit from the action.


Washington, George.  September 19, 1796.  “The Address of Gen. Washington to the People of America on His Declining the Presidency of the United States.”  Lancaster, PA:  The American Daily Advertiser.

“Trump’s Foreign Policy Moments:  2017-2020”.  2020.  Foreign Policy.  New York, NY:  Council on Foreign Relations.  []

Trump, Donald J.  November 20, 2018.  “Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia.”  Washington, DC:  The White House.  [].


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