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President Trump announces the U.S.' withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House on May 8, 2018. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump’s core foreign policy idea could be described as the Withdrawal Doctrine: He has already withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord. He has also threatened to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and South Korea and to reduce American support to NATO.

What’s new: Trump announced on Tuesday that he will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal — the greatest manifestation of his Withdrawal Doctrine to date, and one with grave risks for U.S. security interests.

Trump’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known, has four particularly detrimental effects:

  1. Jeopardizes the U.S. national security interest of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
  2. Isolates the U.S., nurturing solidarity between the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia at its own expense.
  3. Strengthens Tehran’s ruling autocrats, who can once again blame the evil Americans for Iran’s economic woes.
  4. Complicates North Korea negotiations. The U.S. cannot credibly commit to honoring a future agreement after tearing up an existing one that everyone considered to be working.

President Trump has righty sought to constrain Iran’s ballistic missile development and to push back against its support for terrorist groups in Syria and across the Middle East. But those objectives can be pursued without leaving the nuclear deal, just as President Reagan managed to engage the “evil empire” in arms control while at the same time checking Soviet expansion in the developing world and confronting communist ideology.

The bottom line: The stakes for pulling out of the Iran deal are higher than for any of Trump’s prior withdrawals. He urgently needs a Plan B to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons but has yet to present one.

Michael McFaul is a professor of political science and director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University and the author of “From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia.”

Go deeper

Big Tech lobbies hard against looming antitrust bill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big Tech CEOs, including Apple's Tim Cook and Google's Sundar Pichai, have been jawboning lawmakers as a Senate committee takes up a key antitrust bill Thursday.

Why it matters: The bill prompting this lobbying frenzy could upend how tech's giants do business, and tech's critics see this as a "now or never" moment for Congress to check the industry's power.

Biden stock market gets Trumped

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

U.S. stocks markets performed worse during the first year of Joe Biden's presidency than during the first year of Donald Trump's presidency.

By the numbers: The S&P 500 rose 19.3% between the market close before Biden's inauguration and yesterday's market close, compared to a 24.1% increase for Trump during the similar period.

First look: Biden's Year One turnover

Expand chart
Data: Brookings Institution; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Low first-year turnover among President Biden's senior staff marks a "return to normalcy" and a sign of stability after the Trump years, says a new Brookings Institution report reviewed by Axios.

Driving the news: The departure of five out of 66 "A-Team" officials puts Biden's departure rate as the third lowest since Ronald Reagan's presidency, above only George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush, the report found.

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