During the primaries, Trump received some undeserved credit on this issue early on because he claimed that he didn’t want to “tear up” the deal as soon as possible. As the campaign wore on, however, Trump adopted the same rejectionist position that his primary opponents had taken, and then pledged that he would make dismantling the deal a top priority. Trump’s Cabinet members have prevented him from following through on that so far, but it seems unlikely that they can keep doing so. Undermining or reneging on the deal would be a dangerous and foolish thing to do, but all signs point to Trump’s strong interest in doing just that.
The right nuclear deal with Iran, if honored, monitored, and effectively enforced, might reduce the real risk of a dangerous turn for the worse in the nuclear age. It is a worthy goal and should be pursued, as should the establishment of a new nonproliferation regime with much greater enforcement capabilities. The costs of failure on such efforts are clearly enormous. But one lesson of the past 70 years has been what happens when the Atomic Age has a country looking and devoting its precious resources too heavily in one direction. I worry that, in making a deal with Iran on nuclear weapons its No. 1 national security priority, the Obama administration may be overlooking or exacerbating other problems that will haunt America and the Middle East for years to come. As was the case in 1945, and as it has been ever thus, the Jornada del Muerto is paved with good intentions.