By Mohammad Mazhari

Scholar says U.S. less reliable of a partner now than it was before Trump

January 11, 2022 - 10:3

TEHRAN - A professor from Hamline University says that the U.S. reputation suffered greatly during the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency so that the U.S. is now “less reliable of a partner”.

“The U.S. is less reliable of a partner now than it was before Trump.  This may be the new political reality with the USA,” David Schultz tells the Tehran Times.

During his presidency, Trump left certain international agreements, including the Paris climate accords and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Talks started in April 2021 to restore the nuclear deal after President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. is willing to return to the agreement. Talks are still underway in Vienna and some progress has been made, but Iran is seeking guarantees that the U.S. won’t abandon any possible agreement again.

Indeed, U.S policies in recent years under the slogan of “America first” have caused the world to be more cynical about Washington’s reliability. 

Schultz says American leadership entails “diplomatic, cultural, economic, and military tools all coming together to support international agreements and institutions that support U.S. interests.”
 
Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What is your expectation about the Vienna talks? While American officials blame Iran for its stance, some European and Russian parties are talking about improvement in the negotiations. 

A: I have very low expectations for these talks.  Even though in theory both the U.S. and Iran want an agreement, in reality I do see the politics or incentives lining up.  For Iran, as it gets closer to a critical mass in terms of enriched uranium, the hardliners see little incentive to reach a deal, especially given that they cannot trust the U.S. not to pull out again.  For the U.S., while Biden would like to resolve the Iran issue to move on to Russia and China, he is distracted by the latter two and he also faces both internal political pressure and pressure from the Saudis and Israel not to compromise.  Overall, an agreement is possible but difficult and it is hard to see what the terms would be.

Q:  Even when certain governments reach an agreement with the U.S. and abide by it, there is no guarantee that the U.S. won’t leave it. Trump’s abrogation of the 2015 nuclear deal – JCPOA – is an example. Given such an experience, how can other countries trust the U.S.?  

A: This is one of the major stumbling blocks in terms of reaching an agreement here. The U.S. is less reliable of a partner now than it was before Trump.  This may be the new political reality with the USA.

Q: Many American politicians and political leaders are talking about U.S. leadership (except Trump who raised the motto of America first). What are the main requirements of such a leadership? 

A: U.S. leadership requires American engagement in the world.  The retreat inward makes that more difficult, as well as possibly the growing reluctance after Afghanistan to use force as an alternative.  Leadership requires diplomatic, cultural, economic, and military tools all coming together to support international agreements and institutions that support U.S. interests.

Q: What are your comments on Trump's criticism of Biden? Is he a serious rival to Biden in 2024?

A: For now Trump remains a serious rival to Biden in 2024 if both decide to run.  There is a lot that can happen between now and the 2022 midterm elections.  Remember, in 1982 Ronald Reagan looked certain to lose and then won big in 1984.

Q: To what extent does U.S. foreign policy draw the attention of the American public?

A: Right now foreign policy is a minor issue for the public.  The economy, the pandemic, and crime are far larger issues.
 

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