October 13, 2017

Trump Can't Just Walk Away From the Iran Deal. It's Not an Atlantic City Casino.

Last November, the election results indicated that the nation was disappointed with the performance of its politicians, and so it decided to bring in a property developer and reality TV star to straighten out the government. This decision is akin to being disappointed with your plumber, and deciding to hire an accountant to fix your leaky pipes instead.

Like our fictional plumbing accountant, President Trump has hopefully realized by this point that his experience in the private sector has not adequately prepared him for his new role in public service. As a former Pentagon staffer with nearly a decade in public service, I have some advice for the president: The government is not a business. It cannot and should not operate like one.

When a business runs into an intractable problem, it generally has the option to take a pass and move on to another venture. But in government, there is no escaping intractable problems. The United States government cannot simply decline to address Russia or the Islamic State and move on to something else with a better return on investment, as the president did with his casinos in Atlantic City. Transactional approaches, where leaders seeking to “do a deal” simply throw up their hands and walk away if they fail to get the terms they want, are a tragically poor way to govern, as we have seen in the president’s handing of North Korea, Iran, and strategically important trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Read the full op-ed in Fortune.