5 October 2017   Leave a comment

The Washington Post is running an article that asserts that US President Trump plans to decertify the Iranian nuclear deal and will make a speech next week arguing that the deal is not in the US national interest.  As indicated in an earlier blog post on 3 October, Trump’s Defense Secretary Mattis has testified before the Senate Armed Service Committee that the US should uphold the agreement.  The Post is suggesting that Trump would refer the matter to the US Congress which would then have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran.  None of the other partners to the agreement (China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Iran, and Russia) appear to be willing to renegotiate the agreement.  Under those circumstances it is not clear what would happen to the agreement.  If the Congress does not reimpose sanctions, then the agreement would probably stand.  If the US decides to reimpose sanctions, then Iran would likely pull out as well.

There is a curious contradiction coming out of this news.  If the US does pull out of the agreement without any clear evidence that Iran has violated the terms of the agreement, then the rest of the world will likely ask whether the US can be trusted to honor its word.  This doubt will undoubtedly affect North Korea’s perception of any deal that the US might offer to defuse the current nuclear impasse.  I suspect that North Korea would not sign any agreement with the US if it pulls out of the Iranian agreement.  Which leaves war as the only option for for sides.


One of the reactions to the Catalonian independence referendum has been an increase in Spanish nationalism, a political force that had been somewhat dormant in Spain because of its association with Spain’s fascist past.  The reaction may be simply a response to a fear that Spain will be pulled apart–there are other separatist movements in Spain, such as sentiment in the Basque region–, but it may also be part of the nationalist movements responsible for the British exit from the European Union or the rise of the right-wing party, Alternative for Germany, in Germany.  Nationalist sentiment is also highly visible in the US, China, Russia, and India, to speak only of some of the great powers.  A similar increase in nationalist sentiment preceded World War I in 1914.

Regions in Europe that Have Movements Toward Greater Autonomy or Independence


The US relationship to Puerto Rico is difficult to articulate.  The US gained control over the island in the Spanish-American War of 1898 and anyone born in Puerto Rico is a natural born citizen of the US.  But Puerto Ricans cannot vote in federal elections, pay no federal income tax, and have no vote in the US Congress.  In the most recent referendum held in Puerto Rico in 2017 on its future, 97% of the voters favored statehood but only 23% of the registered voters actually voted so no action was taken.  But the relationship between the US and Puerto Rico has always been shaped by early colonial attitudes prevalent in the US in the early 20th century.  Those attitudes were best expressed by Senator Beveridge (Indiana) who said in a speech in 1898:

“The opposition tells us that we ought not to govern a people without their consent. I answer, the rule of liberty that all just government derives its authority from the consent of the governed, applies only to those who are capable of self-government. We govern the Indians without their consent; we govern our territories without their consent; we govern our children without their consent. I answer, would not the natives of the Philippines prefer the just, humane, civilizing government of this Republic to the savage, bloody rule of pillage and extortion from which we have rescued them? Do not the blazing fires of joy and the ringing bells of gladness in Porto Rico prove the welcome of our flag? And, regardless of this formula of words made only for enlightened, self-governing peoples, do we owe no duty to the world? Shall we turn these peoples back to the reeking hands from which we have taken them? Shall we abandon them to their fate with the wolves of conquest all about them? Shall we save them from those nations, to give them a self-rule of tragedy? It would be like giving a razor to a babe and telling it to shave itself. It would be like giving a typewriter to an Eskimo and telling him to publish one of the great dailies of the world.”

The language resonates with the tweet of US President Trump on Puerto Rico: “They want everything to be done for them”.  Apparently, some attitudes never change.

Albert J. Beveridge

Posted October 5, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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