When President Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal two weeks ago, critics warned the move would undermine U.S. credibility just when it was needed most: on the eve of negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear-weapons and missile programs. If Mr. Trump was willing to rip up the Iran deal, which had won the blessing of the United Nations Security Council and America’s biggest allies, why would Kim Jong Un believe the U.S. would abide by any new agreement?
The counterargument from Trump loyalists was mainly to blame President Obama for failing to make the Iran deal binding. If it had been ratified as a treaty by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, the agreement would have been harder to depart. But Mr. Obama evidently believed that ratification was unattainable, unnecessary to ensure his successors’ compliance, or both. But what is done by executive action can be undone by executive action. America’s credibility, therefore, wasn’t on the line—even if Mr. Obama’s might have been. Continue reading