The US and EU at the crossroads for Iran's nuclear deal

History shows that leadership is critical to formulate and implement strategy.

"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way," according to John C. Marewell.

Over the past three decades, leaders, scholars, and policymakers have implemented policy and strategy on a global scale that shaped the world's future.  While some of the policies brought about positive impact, others had horrible consequences, such as the expansion of terrorism, destruction, and war.

Among the policies that harmed the world was Obama's disastrous Middle East policy, especially regarding Iran and Syria.  Obama's patience, inaction, and indifference toward Iran and Syria gave Iran a free hand to act aggressively toward its neighbors, while Iran's sponsorship of terrorism enabled Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to starve and bludgeon his country's population into surrender using chemical weapons.  Iran supported Assad through its Revolutionary Guards, who recruited and trained Hezb'allah and militias in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  Iran and Assad took advantage of the Obama administration's passivity in the Middle East.

In January 2017, as Obama left office, the world was a lot less stable than that of his predecessor.

Leaders have different notions about how to face the crucial tasks, often forcing them to make tough decisions.  As declared aptly by American director and comedian Woody Allen, "one path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction.  Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

In the wake of the second anniversary of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran deal, there is a growing rift between the United States and Europe over how to engage with Iran via the JCPOA.

For Europe, the nuclear deal facilitates and opens a vast consumer and energy market to companies.  The French energy giant Total signed a $5-billion investment gas deal with Iran this month, with its chairman and CEO, Patrick Pouyanné, stating, "We're here to build bridges, not walls" in an interview with Agence France-Presse at the signing ceremony in Tehran.

U.S. senators, meanwhile, are demanding action against Iran and calling on the secretary of state to denounce Iran for its violations of the deal as well as its belligerent activities.  Several Republicans in Congress wanted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to deny certification this time around so that Congress can restore some sanctions.

Four senators – Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) – wrote to Tillerson on Tuesday.

"The law Congress passed to hold Iran accountable requires the Secretary of State and president to certify that this deal is in the vital national security interest of the United States," Mr. Cotton said on Fox News.  "I simply wouldn't certify that if I was the secretary of state or president."

The defeat of Obama's doctrine, which was most obvious in its policy of appeasement toward the fundamentalist regime of Iran, is now witnessed in the fate of JCPOA and will definitely have great consequences in the future.  The events revealed that the Iranian regime, despite having access to a vast new cash stream as a result of President Obama's Iran deal, nevertheless continues to prioritize illegal military activity over serving the needs of its people.  Its refusal to render aid to its stricken provinces after devastating storms shows in stark terms how the deal has been an unmitigated failure.  Since the nuclear agreement was adopted last year, the latest rocket launch by Iran was the fourth of its kind, in defiance of a United Nations resolution.  Iran is using the cash it has received from the Obama administration's ransom payment for just such military expansion, as well as its terrorist activities.

On Jan. 9, 2017, five Iranian vessels under the command of the IRGC approached the USS Mahan and two other U.S. ships as they were entering the Strait of Hormuz, south of Iran.  A newly emerged video clip shows a top IRGC commander threatening to unleash terror in the United States.  Hassan Abbasi, who is known as an IRGC strategist and theorist, threatened to lead "global guerrilla organizations" against the United States' military and vulnerable targets: "If only 11 people carried out 9/11, do you realize that the possibility exists for us to do what we want?  We don't need nuclear weapons."

On May 25, 2017, less than a week after the election, IRGC Air and Space Force commander General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh said: "I announce today that in recent years we have built a third underground factory for the manufacture of missiles[.] ... We are going to develop our ballistic power."

A former United States ambassador to the United Nations had a profound thought about the Iran nuclear deal.  "For the first time in at least eight years, I can say that we have a president of the United States who is completely and totally opposed to the regime in Tehran," said John Bolton at the Free Iran Rally in Paris.  "[President] Trump had made clear during the election campaign and in numerous statements – and even in tweets – since that he completely opposes the nuclear deal signed by Obama," Bolton added.

"I believe President Trump understands how it would be extraordinarily dangerous for the world to have a nuclear Iran," said Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the Free Iran Rally.  "You only need to read his speech in Saudi Arabia to see that he is laser-focused on the danger of Iran, not just to the freedom of the region, but the freedom of the world.  He realizes how dangerous for the world it is to have an ayatollah who is a theocratic dictator and a madman.  And he also realizes, as we do, that the only way we're going to have stability in the Middle East and stability in the world is exactly the theme of your conference: a free Iran, built on the principles that we all share."  Then he said: "Not only do we have regime change, but we have an alternative, and that alternative is you.  It's a democratic alternative.  It's a force for change.  It's well organized.  It has popular support."

Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate, specializing in political and economic issues relating to Iran and the Middle East. @hassan_mahmou1

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