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The Trump Administration Looks More Isolated and Incompetent Than Ever at This Week’s Anti-Iran Conference

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15.02.2019

There’s a saying among lawyers: Don’t take a case to the Supreme Court unless you’re sure you’ll win. Diplomats follow a similar rule: Don’t call a large international summit unless it promotes your agenda. By that measure, the 60-nation summit in Warsaw, Poland, this week has been a disaster—another sign of the shallow thinking and clueless incompetence that has marked U.S. foreign policy since Donald Trump entered the White House.

The two-day event, co-sponsored by the U.S. and Polish governments, was originally intended to be a conference of the anti-Iran coalition. But when most of the European nations bowed out, the billing was changed to address Middle Eastern issues in general. Few were fooled; most Europeans, to the extent they attended at all, sent lower-level diplomats rather than heads of state or foreign ministers—a clear signal that they assumed no important decisions or remarks would be made.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the delegates that “regime change” was not U.S. policy toward Iran. But his assurances were drowned out by the appearance of Rudy Giuliani bellowing the contrary to a crowd of activists outside the meeting hall. (Giuliani stressed that he was representing Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, an anti-Iran militia, for which he has long lobbied, but he is, of course, also Trump’s personal lawyer, so if the administration were serious about messaging, he could have been blocked from attending.)

Then there was the video that national security adviser John Bolton released on Monday, in which he said, as if addressing Iranian leaders on the 40th anniversary of their revolution, “I don’t think you’ll have many more anniversaries to enjoy.”

The big rift over all this is that the other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal—which Trump abrogated last year—are still trying to make the accord work. These include Britain, France, Germany, and the European Union, as well as Russia and China. The deal, signed in 2015, required Iran to dismantle its nuclear program and open its facilities to outside inspectors; in exchange, the other powers would lift economic sanctions. Since........

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