"Brooks and Marcus on Trump quitting Iran deal, Gina Haspel grilling" PBS NewsHour 5/11/2018
SUMMARY: New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus join Amna Nawaz to analyze the week’s news, including President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, reactions from voters in Elkhart, Indiana, where President Trump held a campaign rally on Thursday, the contentious confirmation hearing of CIA director nominee Gina Haspel and more.
Amna Nawaz (NewsHour): And now to the analysis of Brooks and Marcus. That’s New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus.
Thanks so much for being here.
Let’s jump in.
Earlier this week, one of the biggest stories, David, obviously, the President making good on his promise to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. That’s despite the protest of a lot of U.S. allies.
Politically, was that a smart move?
David Brooks, New York Times: I think so.
One of the things you notice with the President is that he comes from a background where basically, in the real estate business, he worked with a lot of thugs and he cultivated a lot of thugs, and he was a little thuggish himself.
But, in my view, that helps him, for all his drawbacks, understand thugs. And so North Korea, he understood that being tough with a thug produces some results. And we’re in a better situation with North Korea than we were otherwise.
He’s been much tougher on the Chinese in trade. And a lot of people thinks he’s adopted the right policy, because sometimes you have got to just stand up to people. And Iran, I have very mixed views about whether Trump did the right thing.
But President Obama, the argument he made for it, which is that Iran would moderate and become a more familiar member of the company of nations. That has turned out to be clearly false.
They are the most genocidal nation on the face of the earth. They export violence, terror around the earth. And so Trump standing up to them at least has some legitimacy. It’s possible that he understands people like that better than people who have higher SAT scores.
Amna Nawaz: You wrote in your column this week thug is going to thug.
Amna Nawaz: But, Ruth, looking ahead to North Korea now, how do you break from a deal like this one, and then legitimately go into negotiations with North Korea to say, no, we’re going to stick with whatever deal we agree to?
Ruth Marcus, Washington Post: Kind of a good question. I have had that question myself.
I think, in general, there’s legitimate questions about the Iran deal, both whether it was the best deal that could have been gotten and whether it had the hope for effect on Iran’s behavior.
But the question really is, is pulling out of it — and I was a supporter of the Iran deal, so despite those concerns. But even if you weren’t, is pulling out of it better or worse than staying in, and not just because of the impact on Iran? Because of the impact on our relationships with our allies.
Thug’s going to thug, but we’re not thugs, and we have to continue to maintain decent relations with our allies. Now we’re talking about threatening them, betraying the agreement that they agreed with, and going after their companies with secondary sanctions.
And then you have this question about, if you have proven that your word as a country can’t be trusted beyond the course of a single President, doesn’t that get priced into the price of negotiating with North Korea?
And he will say, well, yes, you, but, he, Kim Jong-un, yes, you say this, but what happens next time around? So, giving a little bit less.
So, all in all, I think — you asked about whether it was better for him politically. He promised it. It may make his base happy to see him thugging around. But I think, as a strategic matter of the U.S. national interest, not better.