Iranians see Trump as Dangerous – but to Iran or the US?

By Saeid Jafari, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

When US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump went head to head in their first debate on Sept. 26, Iran took up a significant part of the foreign policy discussion.

During the debate, Republican Trump challenged Democrat Clinton’s policies while serving as secretary of state 2009-2013, saying, “You started the Iran deal. That’s another beauty where you have a country that was ready to fall; they were doing so badly. They were choking on the sanctions. And now they’re going to be actually probably a major power at some point pretty soon, the way they’re going.”

The former first lady, however, defended the nuclear deal with Iran.

She said, “When I became secretary of state, Iran was weeks away from having enough nuclear material to form a bomb. … I spent a year and a half putting together a coalition that included Russia and China to impose the toughest sanctions on Iran. And we did drive them to the negotiating table. And my successor, John Kerry, and President [Barack] Obama got a deal that put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot.”

Looking back at Clinton and Trump’s Iran-related remarks over the past few months, both in the preliminary debates or in their campaign speeches, it becomes evident that neither’s tone is soft toward Iran the way Obama’s has been. But which of the two do Iranians see as the better option?

Nasser Hadian, a prominent professor of international relations at Tehran University, told Al-Monitor, “At a first glance, it might seem as if Trump is the worst option for Iran mainly because he is constantly talking of dismantling the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA]. He threatens Iran, talks of the damages [to US interests] of the nuclear deal or the need to attack and destroy Iranian boats in the Persian Gulf. But if we look at the bigger picture, Trump can first of all jeopardize the legitimacy of the US global dominance and this might be more favorable for Iran. Even today, you see many high-ranking Republicans who are willing to vote for Clinton so that Trump doesn’t win because in US society as well as in the international arena, Clinton is viewed as a reasonable individual.”

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