Hint: Trump isn’t helping.

Donald Trump has made a habit of bashing Iran.

In an October speech, he called Iran a “dictatorship” of “murderous” leaders, accusing them of spreading “death, destruction, and chaos all over the globe.” He also decertified the Iran nuclear deal, calling it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States ever entered into.” And as a final insult to Iranians, Trump recently referred to the Persian Gulf as the “Arabian Gulf,” a needless gaffe that state TV in Iran quickly exploited.

These moves may have played well with Trump’s base, but have they actually advanced America’s interests? Or have they just bolstered the Iranian regime?

Suzanne Maloney is the deputy director of the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution and an expert on Iran. In this interview, we discuss the irony of Trump’s hostile approach to Iran, the consequences of his decision to decertify the nuclear deal, and whether his actions have been a gift to hardliners in Iran.

Our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows.

Sean Illing

How have US-Iranian relations changed since Trump took office?

Suzanne Maloney

I think it’s clear that this administration is pursuing a much more combative policy toward Iran than President Barack Obama, who tried earnestly to engage with adversaries, particularly Iran. Iranians by and large were supportive of any American efforts that promised to increase their access to the international community, to improve their economy, and to resume Iran’s status as a more normal state rather than the pariah status that it had degenerated to under the leadership of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

So the Obama administration was trying to create some degree of normalcy in the diplomatic relationship and to treat the Iranian regime with a degree of respect that Read More Here