President Hints To His “Buddy”, French President Macron, That He’s Flexible On Iran. But Once Macron’s Gone, We Think That’ll Prove Fleeting…
Trump closed his joint press conference with the French President with these words: “We can change and be flexible. In life you have to be flexible, and as leaders of countries you have to show flexibility.” And he hinted rather slyly that he might’ve worked something out with Macron, saying “nobody knows what I’m going to do on the 12th, although Mr. President, you have a pretty good idea…” (Trump does seem to have genuine affection for the man–plus he puts on one hell of a military parade). May 12th is the next deadline for re-certifying the Iran deal. Here’s a clip (click on the photo to watch):
But with Macron out of earshot, just listen to who Trump will be taking his cues from. Here’s incoming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his confirmation hearing last week (click on the photo to watch):
You really think so? You really think if Trump kills the deal Iran won’t suddenly make nukes a priority? You sure about that? (We’re not Iran, but we would.)
And we don’t even really know what new National Security Adviser John Bolton is advising, because he didn’t need to be confirmed by the Senate. But judging by his many appearances on Fox, (yes we do watch Fox, so you don’t have to), he may be even more convinced there’s no benefit to staying in, and little threat to pulling out.
And remember: everything’s a zero-sum game to Trump, which is why Macron’s been trying to craft “side deals” to the original Iran deal that Trump could count as “wins”. And he seems to be going a step further now: packaging these “side deals” into something Trump can call a “new Iran deal”.
But if Macron’s successful at this maneuver, he’s the winner, not Trump. He will have saved the Iran deal. He will have solidified France’s position as the world’s diplomatic leader at least when it comes to the Mideast. (In November, it was he, not Trump, who negotiated with Saudi Arabia to allow the President of Lebanon to leave the Kingdom. Despite Trump’s coziness with the Saudis). Trump may shout “America First” and say he doesn’t care if America abdicates its global leadership position if it costs us less money. But we think even though Trump says he doesn’t care, he does.
So keeping Trump in the Iran deal will be one hell of a diplomatic feat.
At The Same Time, We Don’t Believe Trump Killing The Iran Deal Will Negatively Impact Talks With North Korea
We keep reading about this: if Trump kills the Iran deal, how can North Korea ever trust the U.S.? Especially since any possible deal with North Korea is likely to look a lot like the Iran deal (except for the fact that North Korea already has nuclear weapons)?
The most obvious answer is that a deal with North Korea will be Trump’s. The Iran deal was Obama’s.
But more interestingly and perhaps more importantly, South Korea has quietly been deploying a strategy aimed at handing Trump a series of “wins”. It let him “win” huge concessions in a renegotiated trade deal. It let him “win” the Olympics (telling Trump, according to Trump, the games would not have been a success without him), it even seems poised to let him “win” the Korean War (doing all the dirty work while asking for Trump’s “blessing” in talks on this with the North).
So Trump’s view of the Korean Peninsula has got to be pretty positive by now: it’s a place where he “wins”. And that may be teeing him up to believe he can rack up another “win” in his negotiations with Kim Jong-un. Honestly, let’s hope so.
A Quick Note On The Latest DACA Ruling
A federal judge in D.C. ruled that the Obama-era program allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents as children to stay in the U.S. must continue, because the President’s reasons for killing it were “virtually unexplained”. (Although he stayed the ruling for 90 days so the Trump Administration could come up with a reason).
But of course Trump will never be able to say why he really killed DACA: Because he thought Democrats would give him his wall to get it back. And it worked. They would’ve. Except then people around him and people on Fox told Trump it wasn’t enough; he needed to get more. And that’s when the deal blew up in his face.
A Quick Note On Trump’s VA Nominee, Ronny Jackson
If Jackson ends up withdrawing, this disaster will trace directly back to Trump, and his decision to name his personal physician to the post without bothering to do any real vetting. Politico has a pretty detailed (and damning) analysis. Which is why Trump is now trying to place blame on “a bunch of politicians that aren’t thinking nicely about our country“. We’re sure we’ll have more on this for you tomorrow.