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Donald Trump’s reckless Iran policy casts doubt on the US as global leader

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Irrespective of whether Iran is responsible for the recent attacks on Gulf shipping, the crisis now unfolding is fundamentally one manufactured out of thin air by the Trump administration. The implications go beyond the threat of a major war and consequent worldwide economic crash. Donald Trump’s reckless, incoherent Iran policy also throws into question the viability of the role of the United States as the global leader.

The US achieved its hegemonic status in the world system not simply through raw strength, but also by convincing the second-tier capitalist powers that it could manage that system in their interests as well as its own. Washington could be relied on to confront and put down challenges to the capitalist order, expand and deepen its reach, and handle crises as they arose. It was through responsible management of the system in the interests of western capitals and state power more broadly (if not of humanity as a whole) that the US secured consent from its allies to lead this new form of empire.

The 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, brokered by the Obama administration and signed by the permanent five members of the UN Security Council, Germany and the European Union, was an example of this hegemony in action. The deal was only superficially about the always implausible threat that Iran would build a nuclear weapon and then use it in a suicidal attack on a US ally. The deeper strategic purpose was to bring Iran in from the cold,........

© The Guardian