I've been thinking about this for almost half a year. About institutions and promises made by the people running them. And I'm not sure I have the answers I was looking for.

Let's start with a couple things: it's not clear to me any country aside from America made any meaningful promises in the Paris Climate Accord. A great deal of them just took their internal projections of what was going to happen anyway and slapped the words "Climate Goal" on the top of the page. And it was, it appears, non-binding – it didn't obligate us to spend money on anything, just suggested we wanted to.

But here's the issue with withdrawal: it weakens all promises all future Presidents make. Don't get me wrong – the President doesn't have power to direct money, and should stop pretending to. But diplomacy is hurt when you cannot come to an agreement in principle without extremely costly unilateral delays and losing the trust of your counterparts in other countries.

Trump says a lot of things, and I'm not sure he even means most of them, but surely he wants the ability to make a credible promise. If any agreement he makes is immediately reversed by his successor, no long term understanding can be reached. How can we make deals with North Korea without all 500+ members of Congress in the room? Why should anyone trust us on climate ever again?

The opposite issue is that, we ought not be infinitely bound by prior promises. Particularly reckless ones. But a non-binding promise can just be ignored. There's no benefit to explicitly withdrawing. We should have substantially more continuity between administrations – at some point, we should all admit, their job is to operate the single continuous enterprise known as "The American Federal Government". Treat it well. Do not destroy people's trust in that institution.

I think that one action was a mistake, a meaningless one, and utterly avoidable. And there's so much else going on in American government, I know this isn't the most important thing. But it is important, and I think we can learn from it, in the institutions we help run every day.