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Trump is right on Iran, and wrong with intelligence



P resident Trump's Iran policy has been largely positive. But Trump was wrong on Wednesday to condemn intelligence professionals as uneducated.

Let's start with the good things. Trump has withdrawn from Iran's nuclear agreement and has exerted great pressure on Tehran to negotiate a better deal: one that includes Iran's ballistic missile development and sharpening inspection mechanisms. In addition, the American influence on Iranian misfeasance from Beirut to Baghdad is exercised with far greater impetus than during the Obama administration. CIA officers have been freed from Iranian aggression, and state diplomats have the power to consolidate regional actors against Iranian intimidation. This is important for Middle Eastern political stability, but also for long-term US security interests. Trump has also shown a positive interest in dialogue with more moderate Iranian leaders.

But Trump is mistaken in criticizing intelligence people as uneducated or somehow ignorant. First of all, the vast majority of these professionals are better educated than Trump himself, and certainly more curious about the world. Trump tends to see international affairs as a dull system of transactions best navigated by his impulses in a moment. And while it sometimes works – like getting North Korea away from missile tests and to the negotiating table – about other issues, like Syria, it's a very bad idea.

Still, the most obvious reason why Trump has not criticized the intelligence staff is the most basic: he is the president and they are patriots who have chosen to serve. Many of them could make more money easier in the private sector. They choose America and bureaucratic annoyance over the purchase of wealth.

Ultimately, Trump shouldn't be so scary. He does a good job in Iran, and intelligence professionals work well for America. The two are best to co-exist in joint collaboration.


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