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America’s bitter polarization exacts a price on its credibility abroad

5 73 1028
01.03.2019

It appears that President Trump decided that a bad deal with North Korea was worse than no deal, a reasonable conclusion that suggests he and his team were approaching this important issue with the seriousness it deserves. One of the challenges with North Korea is trying to get an agreement that locks in concessions at the start, because history tells us that Pyongyang will not follow through, fully implement or honor its commitments. But, in truth, the United States does not have a great track record of honoring its international commitments, either.

It’s always useful in a negotiation to put oneself in the other side’s shoes. If you were a North Korean statesman, you’d surely study the last important international agreement negotiated and signed by an American president: the Iran nuclear deal. In exchange for the elimination of 98 percent of Iran’s fissile material, thousands of centrifuges and its Arak nuclear reactor, as well as the installation of cameras and inspectors everywhere, the United States agreed to waive sanctions against Iran and allow Western companies to do business with the country.

But even under President Barack Obama’s administration, Iran never really got much access to the international economic system. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif explained to me on several occasions that, despite the language of the deal, the Obama administration approved barely any........

© Washington Post