Trump Breaks His Own Record; Tells Most Dangerous Lie Yet.

By now, Americans have become resigned to a disturbing fact: the President of the United States lies…a lot. Though far from exclusively, many times his lies – that is, his knowing, intentional falsification of fact – have arisen in the context of something that impacted his ego: “The crowd at my inauguration was the largest in history”; (no Mr. President, photos were taken by the U.S. Park Service show it was not); “I’ve passed more legislation at this point in my presidency than other presidents” (nope, not even close); “Between three and five million illegal votes caused me to lose the popular vote” (again, the evidence shows nothing of the sort.). Ok, Ok, we understand. Donald Trump has to be the biggest and the best at everything, and when he so often is not, he simply makes things up to declare his supremacy. 

     While many of Trump’s lies go well beyond mere ego into matters that are dangerous for our country, our President has just told a whopper than severely endangers our standing in the world. Last week, Trump decertified the nuclear deal with Iran. While the deal was controversial, everyone recognized at the time of signing that it was, by its nature, limited to only the nuclear weapons issue. Lots of other concerns with Iran’s conduct remain. But focusing on what was good and bad about the agreement misses a critical point. In order to decertify the deal, Trump had to lie, and he did; not a small lie, not one that involved his ego, but one that said to the entire world that our President would dissemble with regard to important international agreements. And, of course, if he would do so here, no country could fail to grasp that he may well do so in other areas, as he pleases.

     The Iranian nuclear deal was not just an agreement between our country and Iran. Rather, all United Nations permanent Security Council members, plus Germany, were participants. In decertifying the agreement, Trump informed these nations that Iran was not living up to its obligations with regard to halting nuclear weapon development. That was the only grounds upon which decertification could occur. It is not that Trump’s evidence of non-compliance by Iran is merely weak, no such evidence exists. (In fact, he has previously certified Iran’s compliance several times, and nothing has changed since.) All evidence from teams of international nuclear inspectors is that Iran has complied with its obligations. Trump’s wish that there was proof of non-compliance cannot make it not so. Trump’s decision, reported widely in the press, to disregard the advice of his military advisors is further disturbing. What will happen to us if he decides to take us into a potentially nuclear military conflict with North Korea against the advice of his military advisors, over more lies that he makes up? 

     So how has Trump and the White House defended his actions? As they so often do, they altered the focus of the conversation. The President and his political advisors discussed on news broadcasts what they did not like about the deal, how they felt it did not do what it needed to do to have his support, and they asserted that Iran was not living up to the “spirit” of the deal, which, of course, led them to claim the “spirit” involved matters unrelated to stopping Iran’s nuclear bomb technological progress. This was disingenuous, designed to take everyone’s eyes off the ball, off the fact that the President had lied about Iran being out of compliance with the agreement. 

     A new administration can always come up with grounds to assert that it does not like agreements entered into by previous ones. But unless we are to reduce ourselves to the bullies of the world, as a nation we need to abide by our international agreements and not back out on false pretenses not provided for under the deals. Notably, not a single one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council have supported Trump’s lie. Great Britain, arguably our closest ally, has not; neither has France, nor Germany. Russia and China are simultaneously livid at us and delighted. They recognize how much we have hurt our standing with the rest of the world as a reliable broker in matters of international affairs. Count on Russia and China to offer themselves to the world as a better alternative than the lying United States. 

 

(Craig Benedict, a retired prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice, wrote this article.)