Always hawkish on Iran, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R – SC) and John McCain (R – AZ) both made a big deal of opposing President-elect Donald Trump during his campaign, but now that he’s won, they’re trying to shoehorn him into the position of spoiler for the Iran nuclear deal.
The plan appears to be to portray Trump as having been on their side on Iran in the first place, with the expectation that he’ll go along with them instead of with his actual comments during the campaign. A flurry of new anti-Iran sanctions is the first goal, with the idea being for the US to overtly violate the already signed P5+1 nuclear deal.
It’s unlikely Trump will go along with the plan, however, both because he clearly doesn’t owe any political favors to Graham and McCain, and because despite his criticism of the Iran deal, he promised during the campaign to simply be as tough as possible in enforcing the pact.
In practice, the US can’t unilaterally derail the entire P5+1 nuclear deal, and violating it would be counterproductive, threatening to turn allies against the US, as well as dramatically weakening America’s ability to strictly police the deal.
Indeed, much of the expectation that a Trump win would spell the end of the nuclear deal was the product of the Clinton campaign, in an attempt to make him look reckless on the matter. Trump instead talked of renegotiation, which while likely unrealistic, is well short of the sort of fight McCain and Graham hope to pick.
If anything, reports that rest so heavily on comments from the senators may portend the start of a battle between the new president-elect, who styles himself the ultimate “outsider,” and two figures who stand as the arch typical pro-war insiders in the US Senate.