On Tuesday, May 8, 2018, President Trump finally announced that the United States would officially withdraw from the Obama administration’s unconstitutional 2015 deal with the Islāmic Republic of Iran.
After many months of anticipation in the wake of the president’s decision of October 13, 2017 to de-certify the deal, those worried whether the Trump administration would follow through on its promises have been radiantly reassured.
This day was indeed a great day for America, and a great day for the besieged people of Iran.
For those who acknowledge the Hand of Providence, it is no coincidence that the United States made such a decision on V-E Day — the 73rd anniversary of the defeat of the Islāmic Republic’s Hitlerian kin.
President Trump should be hailed as a giant of a leader for this momentous example of moral authority and clarity. The decisions made by this administration up to this point genuinely make it a possibility that the Islāmic regime in Tehrān could actually be destroyed in the nearer, rather than distant, future.
“Good Trump,” as Ben Shapiro likes to say, has most certainly prevailed in this case.
Still, beyond the euphoria of justice being served, there is always a future in front of the glorious moment.
President Trump is now faced with a crucial choice — one on which all the heroism of this day’s pronouncement depends.
Two days after President Trump made his preliminary decision to de-certify the deal, on Sunday, October 15, 2017, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told NBC’s Meet the Press that the United States would remain bound by the deal, but would negotiate with the Iranian regime to improve the agreement’s favorability to American and international security interests. “I think you are going to see us stay in the deal,” she said.
Though many months have passed and the president has now decided that the United States will instead fully discard the deal, he ended his speech with these words:
…[T]he fact is [the Iranians] are going to want to make a new and lasting deal, one that benefits all of Iran and the Iranian people. When they do, I am ready, willing, and able. Great things can happen for Iran, and great things can happen for the peace and stability that we all want in the Middle East. There has been enough suffering, death, and destruction. Let it end now.
It is not a surprise that President Trump said this, and, from a certain point of view, one could say, it is a good thing. It shows a president who is strong and will not be swayed, but who is entirely open to dealing with his overseas enemies peacefully if circumstance permits.
Nevertheless, in this particular situation, the president should be uniquely wary of negotiation as a tactic — especially in light of what happened the last time.
President Trump’s confidence in his ability to artfully orchestrate a deal which prevents the Islāmic Republic from finally producing a deliverable nuclear weapon, while also incentivizing compliance, is admirable, but it is also in need of cautious guidance.
Indeed, the general layout of Donald Trump’s approach to diplomacy in all quarters consists of a confident, dominating first impression which then establishes for the other party who is in charge; then demands and concessions are discussed freely.
There are many merits to this technique, and the tough-talking approach certainly is a potent method for garnering a favorable outcome, even for both parties.
Yet an effective method for dealing with Western businessman and political leaders may not be applicable to every civilization or culture. Indeed, once one exits the gentile world of the West, the rules change.
The concept of gentlemanly negotiation with hostile nations is perfectly rational to the West, but such conduct could not be any less so to the rest.
The modern Western world, though possessed of a proud and highly successful military tradition, is partially the extraordinary product of practices associated with free market capitalism and mercantile entrepreneurship. For this reason, American and Western society places great emphasis upon people, whether in business or simply in interpersonal relations, attempting to settle rather than exacerbate disputes. If every citizen is a potential buyer of some product, then bustling, yet peaceful, market squares are significantly preferable to rivers of blood in the streets. Businessmen — though perpetually wishing to succeed and defeat their competition — know perfectly well that violent urges for conquest can only be satisfied through winning sales strategies, rather than simply slaughtering their opposition and their families.
Therefore, for Westerners, the “mature” solution to keep competition fair and humane is negotiation — all parities putting their immediate ego-gratification aside in order to arrive, in theory, at a mutually amicable, “win-win” outcome. Consensual exchanges of money for products, deals, mergers, and peaceful compromise between disputing concerns is part of the miraculous means by which a capitalist civilization actually converts rational self-interest into altruism.
Non-Western societies — particularly that of Islām — do not function this way at all.
Islām is a creed of war, with its system of ethics derived from the requirements of a society based upon war, conquest, and the pursuit of their spoils. Though the Arabs most certainly had a lively and oft-romanticized network of merchants and trade routes which stretched from Makah to the borderlands of China, the doctrine of Islām is far more concerned with war and Jihād than mercantile economics.
The values of Islāmic civilization also view business and entrepreneurship quite differently from the Western eye. Just as in India, where the merchant or vaiśya caste is second from the bottom, Islām sees merchants as invariably inferior to the noble warriors.
Ibn Khaldūn (1332 – 1406) — considered, in fact, by many Westerners as among the greatest historians in the history of world literature — expresses the Islāmic opinion of merchants quite plainly in his monumental 1377 work, the Muqaddimah. The mindset and entrepreneurial daring of the businessman, he says, require
cunning, willingness to enter into disputes, cleverness, constant quarreling, and great persistence. These are things that belong to commerce. They are qualities detrimental to and destructive of virtuousness and manliness, because it is unavoidable that actions influence the soul. If evil and deceitful actions come first and good [warrior] qualities later, the former become firmly and deeply rooted and detract from good qualities, since the blameworthy influence of the evil actions has left its imprint upon the soul, as is the case with all habits that originate from actions.…
Deceitfulness [for many traders] becomes their main characteristic. Manliness is completely alien to them, beyond their power to acquire.
Masculinity itself is offended by the subtle strategy a businessman must employ to convince the consumer to purchase the product or service on offer.
This is a perfect example of a society in which honor is gained through glory in war, and glory consists of riding out to obtain another person or community’s wealth by force. Manliness involves possessing the courage and strength to defeat and kill one’s enemies — and in this case in particular, regardless of whether they are heavily-armed combatants or defenseless civilians.
This, to be sure, is not peculiar to Islām. All societies, including those of pre-modern Western Europe, saw war as the primary means for a person of “quality” (meaning of aristocratic, non-mercantile) birth to obtain wealth. From the epics of Homer up until 1914, in fact, war was often partially motivated by economic concerns — namely the government or principality in question coveting the tax revenue of this or that tract of land. The stigma associated with entrepreneurship still has its echoes in such small yet derisive things as the “tradesmen’s entrance” to a fashionable townhouse. Derisive because in aristocratic societies hard work was for peasants, while glory and leisure were for the “well-born.”
America, however, was itself created precisely through hard work and entrepreneurship, and rejects the aristocratic, feudal structure by which the ancient world operated. And, ironically, part of the West’s unique power was embodied in its tradition of economic liberty, in which the tradesmen sometimes far surpassed the aristocrats in wealth and influence. This was never the case in other civilizations, especially Islām.
The Islāmic view of the negotiating table is also the exact opposition of that of the average American business magnate.
On account of Islām’s derisive attitude toward the ways of tradesmen and its emphasis upon the values of the warrior — not to mention its pre-ordained destiny of world-rule — resolving international disputes through negotiation is not a tactic designed to garner the Muslim warlord’s respect (see Israel).
A look at Islāmic history reveals that ironing out a settlement between two parties — especially between Muslims and non-Muslims — most certainly does not happen on equal ground.
The institution of dhimmitude was born when Muḥammad violently conquered the Jewish tribes of Arabia, and the Jews and Muslims negotiated an agreement that the Jews could still work their land but be required to hand over half their income and produce to the Muslims in exchange for their lives. The Jews would then live as third-class non-citizens with barely any rights while Muslims profited freely from their hard labor.
In short, in Islām, negotiation is not what happens before war, it is what happens after the war, when those negotiating have already been defeated — and are begging for mercy.
The Obama administration’s spineless behavior in its negotiation of the Iran nuclear deal showed the Islāmic regime that the United States had already been defeated.
And defeated it will be if President Trump the businessman-in-chief is not wary of another Islāmic tradition. One apparent irony of Ibn Khaldūn’s opinion of traders is that some deceive their customers. This is because Muslim merchants are committing the sin of deceiving Muslim consumers. Where Islām forbids one Muslim to lie to another, deception is more than acceptable when practiced by Muslims against non-Muslims in the cause of Islām. Another irony is that Muḥammad himself was indeed a merchant in his youth; but sadly Islām achieved its success through Jihād and war, not through entrepreneurship.
Such sacred deception, taqīyah, is a method of civilizational war perfectly engineered to outmaneuver Westerners who are always willing to parlay like gentlemen. Everybody can agree to a perfectly decent settlement — but the Muslim warrior has the Allāh-given right to lie. What has Iran done? Violated what they know is an utterly worthless deal. Any promises made are never to be trusted — by the doctrine of Islām itself.
For all of these reasons, the only contact the Trump administration should have with the Islāmic junta of Tehrān is this simple ultimatum: “Last chance — disarm or taste your own medicine.”
The indescribable good which President Trump has done depends entirely upon wiser counsel prevailing than his businessman’s instinct to strike deals.
In the meantime, the American people should swell with pride, and the imprisoned or exiled people of Iran should rejoice.
“…[T]he future of Iran belongs to its people,” the president said. “They are the rightful heirs to a rich culture and an ancient land, and they deserve a nation that does justice to their dreams, honor to their history, and glory to God.”
If the president proceeds with the informed caution this perilous task requires, Donald Trump could very well be one of the greatest presidents in American and world history. Liberating 80 million people who yearn to breathe free would certainly deserve heirship of Reagan’s legacy.
When the United States has not celebrated total victory since May 8, 1945 — if the cards are played correctly — V-E Day 2018 could be one to remember indeed.