Remember the Eighth of May. History may recall it as the day the United States abandoned its belief in allies. Donald Trump’s exit from the Iran agreement puts Washington — rather than Tehran — in violation of an international deal. For the first time in decades, the US is acting without a European partner. The 2003 Iraq war was backed by Britain, Spain and others — along with halfhearted efforts to coax France and Germany. Mr Trump, by contrast, has isolated America from the rest of the west without serious effort at all. Who else could unify the post-Brexit UK with Europe?
The first casualty of Mr Trump’s move is any semblance of a global order. The US now finds itself in a lonely group with Israel and Saudi Arabia on one side of a toxic international breach. On the other are China, Russia, Europe and Iran. To that list we should almost certainly add Japan, India, Australia and Canada. It is hard to see how the gap will not widen. Mr Trump was deaf to the unanimous pleading of America’s closest allies. Two of their leaders, France’s Emmanuel Macron, and Germany’s Angela Merkel, even trekked to Washington in the last fortnight to press their case. They came away with nothing.
特朗普此举的第一个牺牲品是仅存的全球秩序表象。美国现在发现自己与以色列和沙特阿拉伯组成了一个孤单的小集团，处在一个有毒国际裂口的一边。而另一边是中国、俄罗斯、欧洲和伊朗，几乎肯定还可以加上日本、印度、澳大利亚和加拿大。看不出怎么能阻止这一鸿沟加大。特朗普对美国最铁杆盟友异口同声的恳求充耳不闻。其中两个盟国的领导人，法国总统埃马纽埃尔•马克龙(Emmanuel Macron)和德国总理安格拉•默克尔(Angela Merkel)甚至在过去两周亲自到华盛顿陈情，结果都无功而返。
A third senior ally, Boris Johnson, Britain’s foreign secretary, pointed out that the world had “no Plan B” to the Iran nuclear deal. That was another way of saying that the alternative to “jaw jaw” is “war war”. Mr Trump has landed Europe with a dilemma it did its best to avoid. He is giving America’s leading Nato allies a choice between upholding a deal they brokered — and that Iran has honoured — or signing up to an “America first” war party over which they have no influence. The first will trigger US sanctions on European banks and energy companies that continue to do business with Iran. The second would mean forfeiting their best judgment and risking a Middle Eastern conflict that would hurt Europe far more than America. Falling in line with the US would also come at a steep political cost. Mr Macron’s domestic poll ratings fell after his “flattery offensive” on Mr Trump.
It would also mean embracing Mr Trump’s alternative take on reality. The US president said on Tuesday that the 2015 nuclear deal had brought Iran “to the brink” of developing nuclear weapons. Europe’s leaders point out that Iran was within three months of achieving nuclear breakout before the deal was struck. The agreement put that clock back to at least a year. Iran agreed to unscheduled inspections and strict limits on its nuclear research and enrichment activities for 10 to 15 years. Mr Trump has handed Iran the pretext to restart its nuclear programme at any time. The same applies to Mr Trump’s claim that the deal had spurred a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race. No such race was taking place. It might start now.
Europe’s response will largely hinge on how Iran reacts. Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, said on Tuesday that the ball was in Europe’s court. If the three Ms — Merkel, May and Macron — find a way to sustain the deal, Iran is likely to stick to it. That fork leads to a deepening western split. Washington would levy sanctions on European entities. Europe would be forced to retaliate. For years, America’s allies have chafed at Washington’s imposition of secondary sanctions. The fallout over Iran may be the unilateral straw that breaks the camel’s back. It goes without saying that Russia, China and others will continue to do business with Iran. They will also reciprocate in the event of US financial penalties.
Such tit-for-tat will not occur in isolation. The knock-on impact on Mr Trump’s trade talks with China, and hopes of sustaining China’s pressure on North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to denuclearise, would be radically uncertain. Asia — like Europe and the Middle East — is watching Mr Trump’s evolution with mounting anxiety. It is unclear how he thinks his Iran brinkmanship could boost prospects of a serious nuclear deal with Mr Kim.
这种一报还一报的过招不会孤立发生。对其他大事（包括美中贸易谈判，以及寄望中国对朝鲜的金正恩(Kim Jong Un)保持高压态势以迫使其弃核）产生的连锁影响将极不确定。亚洲（与欧洲和中东一样）正越来越焦虑地关注特朗普的演变。对于他在伊朗问题上祭出的“边缘政策”如何能够提振与金正恩达成严肃核协议的可能性，不清楚特朗普自己是何种看法。
There was once a debate about whether to take Mr Trump seriously or literally. The answer is both. Now he has a team that shares his America First instincts. John Bolton, his national security adviser, has long argued the US should launch strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Mr Bolton has never met a nuclear inspector whom he believes is worth trusting. The parallels with the build-up to the Iraq war are troubling. Few countries wish to see a repeat of that blunder. On Tuesday, Mr Trump all but declared war on Iran. That will be consequential enough. The collateral damage to America’s global standing may be even worse.