It is important to understand that there is no relationship between what Trump says and what Trump does. He will say whatever he thinks will appeal to those around him at the moment, and make him look like a big, tough guy.
Beth Hurd is Professor of Politics at Northwestern University where she teaches politics, religion, and international relations. Below is her interview with ILNA about Trump's uncoming desicion about JCPOA.
ILNA: We are approaching to the May 12th. Trump has threatened that if European countries don’t retrospect JCPOA, his country will withdraw from this deal. Although JCPOA is an agreement about Iran nuclear issues, the European countries have increased their pressure on the matter of Tehran regional activities and defensive missile program. Do you think these pressures are applying in order to satisfy U.S President?
Hurd: Yes, most likely the Europeans are trying to make it look like they are “tough” on Iran so as to make it more likely that Trump will back down from his position.
ILNA: Do you think these pressures have satisfied Donald Trump so that he remains in JCPOA?
Hurd: I do not think that anything the Europeans can do will satisfy Trump. He is interested in actions that appeal to his base of American voters and actions that make him look “tough” and “strong.” There is very little forethought or strategy beyond those simple factors.
ILNA: Many believe that John Bolton's election (APPOINTMENT, actually) as national security advisor and Mike Pompeo as secretary of state will mean taking more radical policies from the White House against Iran and possibly withdrawing from the nuclear deal. Do you think these changes have been made in order to withdraw from the agreement?
Hurd: No, I do not think these changes were made because of Iran or Iran-US relations. Trump has a very unstable cabinet and cannot seem to keep anyone around him for more than a few weeks or months. He is a disastrous leader and very few of his actions can be taken as seriously premeditated or carefully thought-through. He’s like a young child: impetuous and self-centered. There are those in the US media that refer to the Trump White House as a “daycare."
ILNA: While Trump said in his Presidential campaign that the United States would definitely end this deal, we see a year and a half since his arrival at the White House, but he has not yet done that. What causes Trump to stop making this action?
Hurd: It is important to understand that there is no relationship between what Trump says and what Trump does. He will say whatever he thinks will appeal to those around him at the moment, and/or make him look like a big, tough guy. As for the reason that he has not pulled out of the agreement this may have to do with the fact that virtually everyone, from both parties, including Sec. Mattis (his own defense secretary) have defended the deal as “robust” and a good idea (see here).
ILNA: Many believe that Trump does not intend to withdraw from the nuclear deal, but wants to reduce the cost by creating a negative psychological environment and advertising that will prevent foreign investment in Iran which would cause Iran's lack of interest in the nuclear deal. How much do you agree with this analysis?
Hurd: This sounds implausible to me. It seems to involve too much analysis and second-guessing where there is very little needed. Trump is not thinking in this sophisticated a way about foreign investment in Iran. He’s saying whatever he feels like at the moment, and even that changes with the wind.
ILNA: From the outset, Trump claimed that Iran was not committed to its commitments and expressed that in October and January, but then CIA chief Mike Pompeo said in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting that Iran was committed to its agreements. Do not these confessions make it harder for Trump to quit the nuclear deal?
Hurd: Yes. Of course they do.
ILNA: If United States leaves JCPOA, How do you think of Iran would response to this issue? Does Iran contemplate a scenario of JCPOA without U.S. or does Iran revert to the conditions before the nuclear deal?
Hurd: That is difficult for me to say but my guess would be that Iran would contemplate a JCPOA without the US, which would be an excellent idea. If I were Iran I would not respond to Trump’s bluster and would get on with creating good relations with the rest of the world.
ILNA: How do you evaluate the Europe will react if U.S withdraw from the agreement? Will they be willing to engage in economic cooperation with Iran, or will they restrict their economic relations and political cooperation in the face of economic sanctions by the United States?
Hurd: I would expect a mixed reaction (and perhaps slightly variable by country) but overall I would anticipate that the Europeans would seek to continue economic cooperation with Iran.
ILNA: If Washington withdraws from JCPOA, do you think it will affect on meeting with Pyongyang and make North Korea distrustful?
ILNA: If America withdraws from the nuclear deal, should we see more clashes between Iran and the United States in the Middle East and tensions in Western Asia?
Hurd: Unfortunately the situation in Syria is quite tense and US withdrawal from the deal may be read as a signal that the proxy war for and against the Assad allies and other parties will be allowed to intensify. This would be a tragic side effect of the failure of the US to live up to its diplomatic commitments with Iran and the international community. Many, many Americans are simply biding our time until the next election. As a US citizen, and speaking on behalf of many of my friends and neighbors here in Chicago, I want to express my embarrassment and apologies to the people of Iran for the juvenile behavior of our current president.
Interview: Kamran Baradaran