Sunday, March 3, 2024

Correcting the Mistakes of the Last Four Years

Just after Donald Trump was sworn in as president on January 20th 2016, the man hurriedly rushed to sign a string of executive orders. Among such was the blockade of citizens of seven Muslim countries and the rescinding of the Iran nuclear agreement.  This was one of the most critical workings of the Obama administration.

The Iran story began in 1979 during the Iranian revolution, an event at which the Shah of Iran was deposed by the masses with the help of the military. The Shah who was the last monarchy of the country had ruled in the exclusion of the ordinary people. This undemocratic regime had been fully supported by the United States turning a blind eye to the tyranny that was taking place in that country. The regime served the interests of the US in the middle of a Cold War.

Historians tell us that in 1953 Mohammad Mosaddegh who ruled over the country was overthrown with the help of the British and American intelligence services. In his stead they placed Fazlollah Zahedi as prime minister of the country. The monarchy was allowed to thrive and they ruled the country as they pleased as they were fully aware of the total backing of the Americans. The reason for all this was of course the oil in the country.

In 1979 tables turned as the masses chose to be ruled by a religious leader, an Ayatollah as the cleric is referred to. The mob overran the American embassy and held the diplomats hostage from the presidency of Jimmy Carter to that of Ronald Reagan. Most will remember the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan administration. This was an attempt to release the American hostages via the back door.

Ultimately the hostages were released but the relations between the two countries were far from mending. In fact right after the revolution, the Americans started sponsoring Saddam Hussain, the leader of the neighbouring Iraq which was at the time Sunni led while Iraq is Shia. What the Americans were trying to achieve with their actions was to do some balance of power in the region. Iraq and Iran had a bruising border war that lasted for nine years.

At the end of the war, Iraq was financially in a bad shape and this prompted Saddam Husain to attempt a takeover of the neighbouring oil rich Kuwait. The rest is history as this action brought about Operation Desert Shield which progressed to the actual war known as Operation Desert Storm. Meanwhile Iran was expanding her horizons while America was pounding her former ally.

The diplomatic relations that were none existent between the US and Iran sort of thawed during the presidency of a more liberal and friendly disposed Rafsanjani. His successor, Ahmadinejad whose name President Bush was never able to pronounce became a thorn on the side of the Americans. The fellow was carelessly radical and a lot of what he passed in his public speeches about the US never made any sense.

Going forward, President Obama came to do as much as he could with his administration to mend the totally fractured relationship. In fact the relationship was non-existent. This was a measure to tame the ambitious Iranian nuclear program that was quickly advancing the development of a weapon’s grade plutonium in their program.  

For decades Iran had been placed under economic sanctions by the US and her allies. The country was so resilient in thwarting the sanctions. This was a country that was already addicted to consuming American products and they had slowly overcome the addiction by looking elsewhere in the international community. When sanctions effected in 1979, Iran had a fleet of more than sixty Boeing aircraft and going forward in getting them repaired was through cannibalising others and of course getting spares through the black market.

When Trump campaigned for the presidency, he made it clear that he would sign an executive order on his first day in office to revoke the deal. And indeed he fulfilled his promised. Now that same order has been reversed by Biden on his inauguration day, it means the two countries will once again resume their journey together.

While Trump remained in office, he never did a thing to improve international relations worldwide. In fact he was dragging America in the mud in that field. The only thing he did which he claims a lot of credit on is to be able to come to the negotiating table with the North Korean leader Kim. However, their historic Singapore meeting has not borne any fruits even though Trump insists that it was a milestone.

Beside correcting the Iranian deal, Biden has targeted Trump’s legacy by revoking several of his orders and programs. In all, he signed seventeen executive orders in his first day in office and a majority of them were redirecting the country’s foreign policy. Among those dealing with domestic policy is the cancellation of the Keystone pipeline permit.

In the overall, a majority of the orders are aimed at addressing key foreign policy issues such as the Iranian deal. During the Trump era, foreign policy was so neglected and therefore there is a reason why Biden has to start on the first day. So the US has once again become a partner in the Paris Climate Agreement.

While the country remains deep in the middle of a crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Trump had pulled the country out the membership of World Health Organization. That has equally been reversed. Top in the list of the executive orders is the 100 Days masking challenge.

Usually presidents are judged on what they would have achieved at the end of their 100 days in office. Certainly this masking challenge will help bring down the number of those dying from the disease. With Biden in the driving seat, it is going to be mandatory to wear a mask when entering a federal building.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper