Obama Staffers Try to Undermine U.S. Foreign Policy

It is hard to be surprised these days, but this New York Times op-ed by former Obama staffers Steve Simon and Jonathan Stevenson is genuinely shocking: it urges European countries to withdraw their diplomats from the U.S. and expel American ambassadors. Seriously:

After months of swaggering hesitation, President Trump finally announced the United States’ withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran, to which Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and the European Union are also parties. This action tramples on European leaders, who urged Mr. Trump to exercise restraint in the interest of international security and multilateralism.

Trump’s decision didn’t “trample on” European leaders, it expressed his disagreement with them.

[M]ere words aren’t going to dissuade this White House. Since taking office, Mr. Trump has treated Europe like a doormat, questioning the value of NATO…

Trump: NATO is very important to me.

…ridiculing the mission of the European Union…

This apparently refers to Trump’s criticisms of EU trade policies.

…and dismissing European exhortations on policy matters.

The President of the United States is under no obligation to obey “European exhortations on policy matters.”

So the Obama staffers’ indictment of President Trump is weak, to say the least. But their weak indictment is the rationale for a shocking recommendation:

The European Union could, for instance, announce the withdrawal of member-states’ ambassadors from the United States. Isn’t this what states do when diplomatic partners breach solemn agreements, expose them to security risks and threaten to wreak havoc on their economies? That is, after all, what the administration is threatening to do by courting the risk of a Middle Eastern war and applying secondary sanctions to European companies. Depending on the American response, European capitals might even follow up with expulsion of American ambassadors.

The authors go on to recommend that the Europeans “target the United States commercially” so as to damage the U.S. economy, a measure they acknowledge to be “radical.”

There is no chance, of course, that European countries will follow the advice of these former Obama officials. On the contrary, they will “trample on” Simon and Stevenson by “dismissing [their] exhortations on policy matters,” to use the authors’ own overwrought language. This is just the latest manifestation of an administration that refuses to go away, and continues to try to damage the United States even after voters have repudiated its policies.