Rabbi Shmuley: The Moral Foreign Policy of Donald J. Trump

Trump gestures on Iran deal (Chip Somodevilla / Getty)
Chip Somodevilla / Getty

President Donald J. Trump has rid America of the shame of the Iran nuclear deal, which completely overlooked all of Iran’s sins.

In doing so, he has created the potential for reigning in the rogue regime in Tehran, curbing the ascendance of radical Islamists, and advancing a foreign policy that recognizes evil and holds belligerent governments accountable.

Simultaneously, Trump has emerged as a great champion of the Jewish people and a protector of Israel.

The Iran deal was traumatic because it was catastrophic. It allowed the Iranians to pocket billions of dollars to finance terrorism, ballistic missile development, and intervention in its neighbors’ affairs in exchange for biding its time before building nuclear weapons.

Obama promised Iran’s behavior would change, but instead it got worse and escalated threats to American interests. President Barack Obama ignored Iran’s lies and threats in search of a foreign policy achievement to attach to his legacy.

Personally, it was difficult to accept that my president would overlook repeated Iranian promises to annihilate Israel and perpetrate a second Holocaust of the Jews. I lost friends whose ambition, unwillingness to stand up to President Obama, and naiveté toward Iranian intentions allowed them to support the agreement. I feared we would be forced to live with the prospect of a nuclear Iran.

It is fashionable today to divide America into conservatives and liberals. But I am someone who has believes in a muscular foreign policy and who has spent much of his professional life around liberally-minded people, in academia and media.

Liberalism and progressivisim have, of course, many positive virtues. The fatal flaw, however, is a refusal to hate evil. Too many on the left prefer to excuses and give monsters a pass when they make genocidal threats because confronting them might require action rather than appeasement.

To his great credit, Trump has proven to be a man of action when it comes to responding to evil. Unlike Obama, he responded with force to the brutal Syrian regime’s use of posion gas against its own people. As in the case of Iran, Obama preferred to take the easy way out and made a deal with Russia to remove Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons.

Of course, Assad lied and did not dispose of the weapons, but he undoubtedly took the measure of Obama’s naiveté watching him get played by the Iranians.

Supporters of the flawed Iran deal poo-pooed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s revelations about Iran’s past nuclear activities and maintenance of a secret archive of information designed to resume their nuclear program the moment Obama’s deal expired. If they knew Iran was lying all along, why didn’t they speak up? If they knew about Iran’s intentions, why didn’t they insist the archive be destroyed and close the loopholes that allow Iran to ultimately reduce its breakout time – in Obama’s words – “almost down to zero” by the end of the deal?

Trump rightly pointed out that Iran is a threat to the United States. One day it could have missiles that could hit the United States, but it already has the capability of targeting our military bases, and those of our allies, in Europe and the Middle East.

Let’s not forget, as most people have, that the largest number of Americans murdered by terrorists other than on 9/11 were killed by Iran’s terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. That organization continues to attack our allies in Syria.

Commentators have been quick to attack Trump’s decision based on the opposition of our European allies to withdrawing from the deal. They have largely ignored the Middle Eastern allies who are directly and immediately threatened by Iran.

The Saudis have been calling for tougher action against Iran for years. In fact, they are the only ones to suggest publicly the need to use military force.

Iran not only threatens the Gulf states: it also targets other moderate, pro-Western states. Just last week, Morocco cut ties with Iran because Hezbollah sent missiles to the Polisario Front, which is engaged in a terror campaign against the kingdom.

There is only one country, however, that Iran has threatened with annihilation — and that is Israel. The mullahs have repeatedly made genocidal threats against the Jewish state.

Iran has also helped Hezbollah amass more than 100,000 rockets in Lebanon aimed at Israel, and financed and armed Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Iran is trying to establish bases in Syria from which to threaten Israel, and recently launched a drone from Syria that targeted Israel.

President Trump is proving to be Israel’s great defender. He has stood up to the antisemitic president of the Palestinian Authority and said he will not tolerate his policy of paying terrorists for trying to kill Israelis. He ignored apocalyptic warnings of the consequences of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and is moving America’s embassy from Tel Aviv. Now the president has made clear he will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons that could pose an existential threat to Israel.

Trump’s decision to tear up the Iran deal was bold and courageous. More important, it demonstrated a moral clarity that his predecessor lacked. Iran is an evil regime that must be confronted, not placated.

One can only hope the Europeans will sacrifice their desire to advance their economic interests in Iran to the greater good of imposing sanctions on Iran aimed at stopping the full range of what the president rightly called their “destructive” and “destabilizing” activities.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America” is the international best-selling author of 31 books including his most recent, The Israel Warrior. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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