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Tom Nichols: Trump Finally Learning Foreign Policy Is Not A Reality Show

Nichols says Trump thinks, "Well, I backed off of this bad decision and now I have to say something, so I'll say sanctions."

Today Stephanie Ruhle had on Tom Nichols, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College, to talk about the op-ed he wrote for USAToday.

She asked him why he believes Iran sanctions are just a fig leaf for Trump.

"From an impulsive decision he wanted to back off of once he realized foreign policy isn't a TV show. it's kind of a fig leaf now that he says 'I pulled back and scared them and made clear I'm serious and will put back more sanctions' and frankly, our allies don't seem very cooperative about this, because he blundered in without talking to them and prepping the ground and doing homework the way one would do before thinking about a military strike like this.

"And so I think sanctions are a kind of, just a magic word that says 'Well, I backed off of this bad decision and now I have to say something so I'll say sanctions.'"

Ruhle asked him to elaborate. "I love how you put it, they're a magic word but they're just a whole lot of nothing if they are not impactful. What exactly are they and who will they hurt? Because John Bolton right there said 'maximum pressure' was sanctions. Maximum what?"

"You know, the problem with this administration is it uses words without ever defining them or I think in some cases, without ever understanding them. I think Bolton fully understands all of this. I think Bolton has been doing this for a long time and maximum pressure is a phrase the president likes. So he says it.

"You know, there are things we can do. We can make it harder about Iranian money passing through any kind of American financial institutions. But in the end, part of the reason the Iran deal --and I was not a proponent of the Iran deal but I was also not a proponent of getting out of it - part of the problem is you have is, the other major players in this deal have decided to stick with it.

"If the United States says let's rally and tighten sanctions and plug all the holes and make sure there are no gaps, you have the Europeans and Russians and the Chinese, kind of shrugging and saying, 'This was never our idea, so good luck, you're on your own."

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