American citizens either cheered for U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal or criticized the move as an act that could potentially destabilize the geopolitical shifts in the world. Regardless, you don’t have to agree or even disagree with the president’s decision to understand that the implications could be almost entirely negative.
The federal government’s withdrawal from such a deal officially referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has become one of Trump’s many hard-lining harbinger calls to resume economic sanctions on the Islamic republic. A slew of arguments surrounds the U.S. leaving JCPOA, including constitutionality concerns due to former President Barack Obama’s use of “political, non-binding agreements” instead of Congressionally ratified international agreements. There are also concerns over taxpayer dollars going to a foreign government known for state-sponsored terrorism. Whichever qualm you associate the Iran nuclear deal with, the economic impact could be devastating for the home front and abroad.
First off, we need to consider the concept of “lesser evils” in the debate. In 2015, Obama established the deal to curtail the dawning of a nuclear Iran. Structured as a loosely aligned political, non-binding agreement, the Obama Administration committed–with all five permanent members of the United Nations, Iran, and an observer from the European Union–to incentivizing the government of Hassan Rouhani to stall nuclear development in exchange for a generous foreign aid package and a retraction of standing economic sanctions. Heralded as a one of Obama’s best example of foreign policy during his presidency, American conservatives–especially a then-candidate Donald Trump–largely viewed the deal as an ennoblement of state-sponsored terrorism and a dictatorial regime.
In my own view, I’ve largely held this perspective. Yet, given the new state of affairs we live in with the current economy and the current international balance of power, a withdrawal of a deal is a threat to a loose stability. On the public funding side of things, the aid that was being sent to Iran from the U.S. taxpayers has been eliminated upon a withdrawal from the agreement; however, the presence of affairs leaves an unwarranted specter lurking. That specter is the increase of taxpayer costs and shifting expenditures to overseas contingency forces and defense spending in the region.
Iran’s positioning on the matter leaves fears that military action between the United States, and her allies, and the Islamic Republic of Iran could occur at any time. Once this occurs, the defense funding will instantly increase, a mobilization of forces will be required, and (you guessed it) more taxpayer dollars will be required.
Reason magazine contributor Robert Moore highlighted that war isn’t the only thing that would threaten the American and Iranian people or the two military forces of both countries.
“At a time when we should be reducing our Middle East presence and re-focusing on higher-priority threats, an Iran war would draw us in further, at great expense in both money and lives,” Moore wrote. “Protecting the lives of American service members and minimizing the risk of war should be high priorities for the commander-in-chief. Those responsibilities became significantly tougher this week.”
Consequently, the “lesser evil” construct needs to be kept in mind. What’s the most fiscally responsible approach when dealing with a sporadically changing and undefined rogue state? Keep current costs, though expensive, at the current levels and ensure a wider state of security for the whole world or shift these costs with potential for more expenditure to combat a relentless meddler in Middle East politics?
Lastly, let me remind you that the re-establishment of economic sanctions will further be damaging for the domestic economy and for the Iranian people. Economic sanctions on key state entities and enterprises linked to nuclear development will only ripen the Iranian government’s resolve. They’ll find ways to import the required goods, tech, services, and labor to properly develop a working nuclear weapon by any means. Suffice it to say; economic sanctions don’t work or accomplish even their established goals without expansive economic costs.
Though it may seem relatively non-reactionary, the JCPOA–although expensive, unconstitutional in a degree, and overall a prisoner’s dilemma for the world at large–gave the Iranian government some incentive to behave. Now, financial markets will tumble, oil prices will increase, taxpayers will be abused further, and overall economic stability at home and abroad will deteriorate. You can forget the wonderful regulatory reforms and tax cuts the Trump administration passed. All of it is worthless while the current American presidency continues to request military and interventionist budgets overshadowed by a looming national debt.