By The Intercept
In a short video clip that went viral across the globe this week, President Joe Biden concluded a speech in North Carolina with a stirring call for unity among Americans. Then he turned away from the podium and appeared to reach into thin air for a handshake. The clip amused Biden’s many detractors, who allege that the U.S. president is suffering from cognitive decline, though others dispute that interpretation of the video.
Whether or not it was a sign of his deteriorating mental acuity, the image of Biden seeming to shake hands with no one is an apt metaphor for his administration’s many diplomatic failures since coming to office. At the top of the list is Biden’s inability to achieve his basic aim of reentering the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. That’s where the handshake comes in: It looked as if Biden was pronouncing himself ready to enter into an agreement, but with no one on the other end. While there have been questions about the functioning of Biden’s brain following such incidents, what really may be plaguing the president is a lack of heart.
In 2018, President Donald Trump exited the Iran nuclear agreement in a fit of pique aimed at undermining a key diplomatic achievement of President Barack Obama. Biden initially campaigned on a pledge to return to a deal that places Iran’s nuclear program under strict controls in exchange for sanctions relief.
It should have been an easy win, reversing a dangerous foreign policy decision made on a whim by Trump. However, more than a year into his presidency, Biden has utterly failed to find his way back into the deal. Instead of preserving one of the major diplomatic accomplishments of the Obama administration, in which he served as vice president, Biden is effectively siding with Trump’s position. The nuclear agreement is now on the brink of collapsing entirely — and the blame for it lies squarely with Biden.
The impasse in the current talks, according to reports, is an issue that Trump injected into the diplomatic mix exactly to prevent his successor from reviving the deal: the listing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.
The 2019 listing of the group by Trump was not…
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