Winners and losers from nuking the Iran Deal

Published 6:28 pm Sunday, May 13, 2018

The decision by President Donald Trump to nuke the Iran deal will certainly create some winners and losers. Check this to see whether this decision will benefit you or cost you.

Often, my students will ask me which person, party, or policy is “better.” They rarely get a direct answer from me. Instead, I let them know the pros and cons of each decision as fairly as I can, and let them figure out whether it would be “worth it” to them. After all, that’s a lot like life, right? Some deals are better for you than others. Some decisions will benefit you in some ways, and cost you in others. 

Often, politicians don’t present it that way. You’d think every policy is going to benefit everyone bigly, but it doesn’t always work that way. For example, the steel and aluminum tariff issue was presented as a “win” for everyone in America versus the rest of the world, especially China. But it’s only likely to help you if you own a steel or an aluminum company, and most likely if you work there. Consumers and businesses trying to purchase products made of steel and aluminum will feel differently about the costs they’ll have to pay. Farmers are already paying the price in terms of foreign markets closing to them.

It was the same way with the Iraq War. When George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and even Donald Trump crowed about their support for the war, we were only told the benefits (getting rid of Saddam Hussein, finding weapons of mass destruction, stopping terrorism, cheaper gas, and bringing democracy to the Middle East) and nobody played straight with us about the costs. We lost brave soldiers and we are still paying for the conflict, while the region still has plenty of terrorists and WMD concerns. The current regime is much better than Saddam, but those gas prices are still much higher than they were in 2002, when they averaged $1.35 a gallon.

Speaking of gas prices, oil consumers are going to be hit especially hard by America’s retreat from the Iran deal. The year before the deal, gas prices in America averaged $3.36 according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA). They fell to $2.43 in 2015 and plummeted to $2.14 in 2016, all while we had sanctions on Russia for trying to rebuild the Soviet Union at the expense of their neighbors. We’ve already seen fuel prices climb on the expectation that Trump would pull out of the deal, based on his rhetoric. It won’t be a cheap summer for driving.

Others are staying in the deal, so the Europeans should still get their less expensive oil from the fifth largest producer in the world, Iran. Russia and China are staying in the deal. They’ll also be among the winners.

There are other winners, besides American oil producers who can go back to charging more.  These include the Iranian hardliners: Ayatollah Khamenei, who is the Supreme Leader as well as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. These hardliners had been marginalized by the moderates, reformers who captured the presidency and the Majilis, the Iranian legislature. Hardliners were benefitting from black market deals and were badly hurt when the sanctions fell. Moderates even won reelection, and began jailing folks like ex-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who wanted to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Now, hardliners win and those who enjoyed Iran’s move toward moderation and the prospects for democracy will lose. The average Israeli will lose, when attacked by an emboldened Iranian Revolutionary Guard and their new power in Syria, but scandal-plagued Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be a winner, as he can distract the people from his corruption charges.

We will have the security of Iran not getting a nuke, though the likelihood of the country making their own or buying it elsewhere are just as likely as before, except we won’t know because we just got rid of those intrusive weapons inspections on Iran. Plus, our own nuclear capability and deterrence were more effective defenses than any deal or non-deal. But regardless, there will be winners and losers from our exit from this Iran deal.