Donald Trump recently made the most destructive decision of his presidency. He set it up with an avalanche of lies and then killed the deal that rolled back Iran's nuclear program and prevented them from ever getting a nuclear weapon. Then, he announced his violation of the agreement as if it was a triumph, another campaign promise fulfilled. Trump's misguided decision has done enormous damage to American credibility and broken faith with our closest allies. He has made the world a more dangerous place.
Trump has put us on a path to a new war in the Middle East.
We are disheartened that this president destroyed, in one moment, years of work by America's dedicated diplomats and a corps of outside experts and non-government organizations. But we are not defeated. The network we built to secure the Iran Deal is strong and growing. We are particularly heartened by the addition of mass movement groups like MoveOn.org and Indivisible, who have the power to reach millions of dedicated members. We have already held emergency meetings with some of the 80 organizations and 200 experts in our coalition to pool ideas and chart a new course.
Our first priority is to demonstrate the strong public opposition to a new war, and prevent any Congressional authorization for such a war. We have public and expert opinion on our side. A new survey found that 94 percent of experts on international security think Trump made the wrong choice.
Our great fear is that if the deal collapses because of Trump's violation, Iran could restart its nuclear program in earnest and Trump or Israel — without global sanction or allies to contain Iran — might lash out with military strikes. Israel's massive strikes on Iranian positions in Syria last week could be the harbinger of things to come. "Tension between Israel and Iran is nothing new, of course," warns Washington Post reporter Amanda Erickson, "But the speedy acceleration of violence between the two countries is cause for concern. And it's almost certainly a result of Trump's decision."
Our second priority is to work closely with our European colleagues to preserve the deal. Like the Paris Climate Agreement, Trump's withdrawal does not collapse the deal. Our European allies, Russia, China and Iran can keep the deal going. We are working to provide European governments with ideas for how to protect European firms from punishing sanctions Trump may reimpose. Fortunately, we have already forged strong working relations with the experts at the European Leadership Network and the European Council on Foreign Relations as well as the embassies here in Washington and their respective foreign ministries. We intend to put those relationships to good use.
We will also hold responsible those who advocated violating the Iran Deal. Those who misled us into the Iraq War escaped with barely a dent on their expert credentials. We can't let that happen here. We have to hold those who lobbied against this agreement accountable for what Alexandra Bell at the Council for a Livable World calls an "Iraq War-level mistake."
Finally, given the upcoming elections, it is critical that we work with policymakers to prepare the framework for rebuilding the benefits of the Iran Deal as soon as the policy moment opens up. This will not be just an exercise in wishful thinking, but real policy options. "You can't beat something with nothing" goes the old Washington saying. It's true. We need to give supporters of the Iran accord a concrete plan for how to keep it alive and, if it collapses, how to replace it.
This is a ton of work. No matter the odds, we cannot let this terrible decision stand.
We now feel the pain that so many other progressive organizations have experienced when Trump tore down the treaties, regulations, agreements and visions they had worked so carefully to construct.
But we also feel the anger. We feel the resolve.
We will keep fighting, and together, we can stop Trump's march to war.
In the wake of Trump's #IranDeal violation, we must work to prevent a new war in the Middle East.
Photo: US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks about so-called evidence of Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East at a press conference at Joint Base Anacostia-Boling. Taken on December 14, 2017. Flickr / DoD News (cc)