News ID: 214526
Published: 0315 GMT May 05, 2018

JCPOA and Trump unilateralism

JCPOA and Trump unilateralism

By Heshmatollah Razavi*

It was exactly one hundred years ago, in 1918, when then US president Woodrow Wilson, who was a political science professor, issued a 14-point declaration, one of the most important of which was about establishing an international organization to facilitate peace and order.

Right now, in 2018, one hundred years later, current US President Donald Trump says he has decided to pull out of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which was signed by five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Trump's threat to pull out of JCPOA implies that while 100 years ago, the US president was seeking to establish an international organization in favor of peace and security, now the current president seeks to abandon the treaties which have been concluded under the peaceful settlement mechanisms of an international organization, UN, which came to existence as a substitute for the League of Nations, whose formation was proposed by Wilson.

Even though the US did not join the League of Nations because of Senate disapproval, the US administration during World War II tried hard to realize the formation of such an international organization and the establishment of the UN was the outcome of those relentless efforts.

But why did the League of Nations collapse and World War II follow?

In part, because great powers of the time, preferred solving their disputes by resorting to power politics rather than seeking peaceful settlement of disputes: Japan left the League of Nations and attacked Manchuria. Germany left the League in 1933 while Italy left it in 1937 following the invasion of Abyssinia and the Soviet Union was expelled in response to the invasion of Finland.

Now, the US president threatens that he will pull out an international deal reached under the supervision of the Security Council of the existing international organization (the UN) unilaterally.

Not only has the US president threatened he will get out of JCPOA, but he has left the Paris climate change convention and late last year decided to do the same with regard to being a member of UNESCO. Likewise, he has turned toward unilateralism and withdrawal from a number of other bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and imposing barriers on free trade.

In few days, the US president will announce his decision on sticking to JCPOA or leaving it. If he pulls out of the agreement, similar to what a number of great powers did before World War II, he has opted to resort to power politics and its dangerous consequences.

By pursuing such political behavior, he will help rising instability in the Middle East and chaos in view of respect to multilateral agreements and international organizations functions.

However, there is one more important thing and that is the kind of reaction from European countries in the face of Trump's unilateralism.

Except for China, the four other partners of JCPOA are European countries and three of them are permanent members of the Security Council. Do they want to give way to the US president to go his own way by violating multilateral agreements, the JCPOA in this case?

These four European countries know very well about 'appeasement' and its aftermath between the two world wars. These days the UN Security Council has been paralyzed over making a right decision on the conflict in Syria as an independent and sovereign country.

Incapability to solve disputes through peaceful means and resorting to power politics is a step back at a time when populism is a real threat to democracy and tries to circumvent established order and its functions.


* Heshmatollah Razavi is a journalist.

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