Excerpt from: Arlene from Israel, Mar.14, 2018
I want to close with a fascinating analysis by Evelyn Gordon of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: “How the Embassy Move Signals Big Changes to the Iran Deal” (Emphasis added):
“The decision to relocate the U.S. embassy has turned out to be a strategic building block in Trump’s effort to renegotiate the nuclear deal with Iran.
“To understand why, consider the dilemma facing his administration when it first took office. Without a serious American threat to scrap the nuclear deal, there was no chance that even America’s European allies–much less Russia, China and Iran–would agree to negotiate a fix for some of the deal’s biggest flaws. Yet conventional wisdom held that the administration would never dare flout the whole rest of the world, along with virtually the entire U.S. policy community, by withdrawing from the deal. So how was it possible to make the threat seem credible short of actually walking away from the deal?
“Enter the embassy issue. Here, too, conventional wisdom held that the administration would never dare flout the whole rest of the world, along with virtually the entire U.S. policy community, by moving the embassy. Moreover, the embassy issue shared an important structural similarity with the Iran deal: Just as the president must sign periodic waivers to keep the Iran deal alive, he must sign periodic waivers to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv.
“Consequently, this turned out to be the perfect issue to show that Trump really would defy the world and nix the Iran deal if it isn’t revised to his satisfaction. In fact, the process he followed with the embassy almost perfectly mimics the process he has so far followed on the Iran deal…
“…The third time, he signed the waiver once again [to prevent sanctions on Iran from being reinstated], but explicitly threatened that this would be the last time.
“If it weren’t for the embassy move, this threat would be treated in capitals around the world as so much bluster. Instead, world leaders are forced to take it seriously…
“The Iran deal didn’t motivate Trump to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. The primary reason to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem was because it was the right thing to do…
“But it just goes to show that the right thing is also sometimes the smart thing….if anything meaningful does come of this effort–even if only a modest improvement, like cracking down on Iran’s ballistic missiles–it will be largely because Trump did the right thing on Jerusalem.”
Gordon wrote this before Tillerson was fired. Trump’s choice of Pompeo, it seems to me, further signals the world that he is serious on Iran. (There are reports that Tillerson was sacked in good part because of how he was handling Iran.)