Iran: What Now?

It Wasn’t Difficult To Predict Trump Would Pull U.S. Out Of Iran Deal. What Happens Next Is.


The “will-he-or-won’t-he” hype fostered by many in the media, and encouraged by Trump himself, turned out to be a bunch of BS.

In a brief speech in which he seemed to stick almost entirely to script, Trump called structure of the Obama era deal that forbids Iran from developing nuclear weapons for at least 10 years “decaying and rotten”. And he promised the “highest level of economic sanction” against Iran or any country supporting Iran, without specifying exactly what that means. He also characterized Iranian citizens as “hostages” to a “dictatorship”, which continues to astound us since he’s sending the exact opposite message to North Korea: there, he apparently doesn’t care about human rights and isn’t advocating regime change. Here’s a clip (click on the photo to watch):


When we first discussed the withdrawal in detail about two weeks ago, we were critical of now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s contention that Trump’s action might not spur Iran to accelerate its nuclear program in retaliation. In our piece entitled “Thinking Trump Might Not Back Out Of Iran Deal Is Pie In The Sky“, we said even though we’re not Iran, that’s what we would do.

But now we’re thinking maybe we were wrong: the real power move here might be to try to keep the deal intact, with the U.S. isolated, on the outside.

Iran right now is talking about both: Iran’s President Rouhani said he will talk to the deal’s other signatories about keeping it together, but will also resume uranium enrichment if that doesn’t work out.

Those signatories include Russia and China, who already have a close relationship with Iran, and so might even stand to benefit from the U.S. bowing out. If they’re at the center of a major global security accord that does not include the U.S., their political and economic influence will continue to expand in the region. This is especially crucial to Russia’s aspirations in Syria, and China’s efforts to build a new Silk Road, bridging Asia and Europe via the Mideast.

Even countries more closely allied with the U.S., like France could benefit from the pact continuing. For instance, if the nearly $20-billion contract for Boeing aircraft that’s part of the freshly-killed deal now goes over to Airbus. (And we’ve mentioned several times that France’s President Macron now seems to be the go-to guy when there are diplomatic issues in the Mideast that require mediation from the West, not Trump). A Tweet from Macron seems to strongly indicate it’d be his preference to stay in:


But that could also create new conflicts with allies: in his brief speech, Trump included threats to extend sanctions to any nation that does business with Iran. That means Trump could forbid a French company from doing business in the U.S. if it does business with Iran. This approach actually worked well for him recently in pressuring China to comply with U.S. sanctions against North Korea.



Overhyped U.S. Senate Hopeful In West Virginia Who Was Alarmingly “Surging” According To Several Reputable News Organizations Loses To Not One But Two Other Candidates In Republican Primary.


Of course we’re talking about Don Blankenship, who you’ve seen all over the place in the past few weeks. He of “Cocaine Mitch”, and “Chinapeople” and this ad:


But the infamous coal executive who spent a year in federal prison for his role in safety violations that contributed to the deaths of 29 miners in a 2010 explosion, came in 3rd out of 3 major candidates.

So how did mainstream media get it so wrong? Again?!

They’ll say Blankenship lost all that momentum after Trump posted a Tweet urging Republicans to vote for anyone but him. And maybe we’re underestimating the impact of that. Maybe.

But as fivethirtyeight’s Nate Silver explains, there’s at least one other factor to examine: many news organizations used leaks of “internal polls” as their evidence the race was close, or even that Blankenship was winning. That basically means they talked to someone from Blankenship’s campaign (or one of the other campaigns) who told them that. We hate to single folks out, because the list is a lot longer, but here are a few examples: MSNBC, Politico, The Hill. So that’s something to consider.

Here’s what we think happenedBlankenship provided the best “entertainment value” in the judgment of the media executives who run TV news, and the marketing people who largely run all online news sites. Entertainment = ratings/clicks. Not a far stretch to also (incorrectly) surmise Entertainment = votes. But they thought they learned that from Trump.

That’s why Blankenship was “mistaken” for Trump. That’s why respectable news organisations. cited “internal polls”. We won’t call it “fake news”, because we don’t really think they meant to be deliberately misleading. They’re just still trying to figure 2016 out and don’t want to give Trump singular credit for being Trump.

Blankenship was like a TV show you could tell was gonna be a flop from the previews. Trump is Roseanne. The fact that mainstream media still can’t see the difference is crazy.