The story of Trump's war against the Iran Deal vis-a-vis international law, order, and institutions could be a case study against populist leaders and populism. Iran's Ahmadinejad attempted to do the same by calling international agreements "nothing but a bunch of ripped up paper." Then he proceeded to introduce his own “global management plan.” Why follow the established norms when you can rebuild the world in your own image? Trump’s hubris and disregard for international agreements is not unlike Ahmadinejad or other populist leader’s perception of the world. As stated by former US negotiator Richard Nephew, Trump would likely renegotiate and sign a worse deal if it was called the Trump Iran Deal!
Just think about the amount of energy and resources spent on dismantling the JCPOA, an international agreement that is working according to worldwide consensus. For what? That is perhaps the nature of populism. It’s based on reactionary thinking and offering quick fixes aimed at appeasing the masses. The great irony this time around is that the masses supporting Trump were riled up by Trump himself who is now offering a fix to a deal that is not broken.
In the short term that may work. Populist leaders may manage to bully their opposition around and strong-arm their worldview on other countries by threats or offering incentives when needed, but it’s only a matter of time before the whole scheme falls apart. As a matter of fact, thus far, European leaders seem to not be budging and remain determined to implement the agreement.
You only have to look at the fate of populist leaders in Iran or Latin American countries to see how quickly they manage to lose support. Populists thrive on demonizing the "other." They always look to find internal and external enemies to blame in order to extend their survival. Populists exploit fear and reject criticism from even their closest allies. The JCPOA and Iran are those external boogeymen for now (something not unique to the current US administration). However, eventually, all populist leaders, including Trump, will lose popular support since nationalistic and protectionist policies, more often than not, leave the country in tatters. This is a pattern history has demonstrated over and over again.