Donald Trump’s G7 temper tantrum

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Donald Trump’s G7 temper tantrum

(CNN)President Donald Trump’s views on foreign policy — and, really, everything — are surprisingly simple: He likes people who are nice to him and do things he wants and he doesn’t like people who aren’t nice to him and don’t do things he wants.

So, his views on any given issue or foreign leader are largely informed by how that person has treated Trump in their last interaction — and how much of what he wants that they are willing to give him.
That worldview is important to keep in mind as Trump travels to Canada to attend the G7 summit on Friday, a trip which he has already tried to wiggle out of, is cutting a day short and, if Twitter is any indication, is assuming will be a total and complete disaster.
“The European Union treats us very unfairly,” Trump said as he left the White House Friday morning to head to the G7. “Canada [treats us] very unfairly.”
That’s the latest in a series of increasingly frustrated and angry comments coming out of the White House over the past few days, as its become more and more clear that leaders Trump thought were his friends — French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — have pushed back on his demands, particularly on tariffs.
Trudeau and Trump had a reportedly contentious phone call late last month as the Canadian leader expressed his unhappiness with the United States imposing tariffs on its neighbor to the north for “national security reasons.”
And Trump has repeatedly antagonized Trudeau in the run-up to the G7 meeting.
“Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the U.S. and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things…but he doesn’t bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy — hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!” Trump tweeted Thursday night.
He kept up that drumbeat Friday morning, tweeting: “Canada charges the U.S. a 270% tariff on Dairy Products! They didn’t tell you that, did they? Not fair to our farmers!” (It’s slightly more complicated than that.)
Even Macron, the world leader with whom Trump appeared to have the warmest relations, has come under fire from the President’s Twitter account.
“Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers,” Trump tweeted. “The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.”
That tweet came after — stop me if you’ve heard this one! — a heated phone call between Trump and Macron earlier in the week in which the French President expressed his unhappiness with Trump’s policies on immigration and trade.
Trump expected more capitulation from the likes of Trudeau and Macron because, well, they had been nice to him. They had, of course, done that out of a (mistaken) belief that praising Trump and playing to his desire to be venerated would make him more malleable to their policy wishes.
When he didn’t get the full support of Macron and Trudeau for policies that, well, they don’t support, Trump pouted. Publicly.
“Even as late as Thursday afternoon, Trump was questioning why he would attend a G7 meeting where he’s outnumbered on key issues like trade and climate change. As a series of combative tweets from Macron began emerging late in the day, Trump again raised the prospect of scrubbing all or part of his visit to Canada, asking advisers what the point of attending the summit would be, according to a person familiar with the conversations.”
This my-way-or-the-highway (or take-my-ball-and-go-home) approach is what Trump promised as a candidate for president. Past holders of the office had made terrible deals for the US — Trump would make good ones. He alone knew how to talk to world leaders to get them to do exactly what he wanted. It was all in the art of the deal.
Campaigning is easy. Governing is hard.
And it turns out that simply telling other countries to, say, pay for a border wall (and enjoy it!) or renegotiate broad and complex trade deals isn’t as easy as firing someone on a reality TV show.
That reality makes Trump mad. And when he gets angry, he tweets. Watch his Twitter feed over the next 24-48 hours.

G7: Trump says Russia should be part of summit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

G7: Trump says Russia should be part of summit

Media captionTrump to G7: ‘They should let Russia come back in

US President Donald Trump says he wants Russia to be part of the G7 group of key industrialised nations.

Russia was expelled in 2014 following its annexation of Crimea, but Mr Trump said he wanted the country readmitted.

The build-up to the meeting has seen major disagreements between the US president and other nations over his imposition of trade tariffs.

There are also likely to be disagreements with Mr Trump over Iran and climate change.

The G7 summit, which groups Canada, the US, the UK, France, Italy, Japan and Germany, is being held in the town of La Malbaie in Quebec, Canada.

The leaders of the nations, which represent more than 60% of global net worth, meet annually. Economics tops the agenda, although the meetings now always branch off to cover major global issues.

What did Mr Trump say about Russia?

Mr Trump said he regretted the meeting had shrunk in size, putting him at odds with most other G7 members on yet another issue.

“You know, whether you like it or – and it may not be politically correct – but we have a world to run and in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in,” he said.

He found support in the shape of the newly installed Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who tweeted that it was “in the interests of everyone” for Russia to be readmitted.

Canada, France and the UK though immediately signalled they remain opposed to Russian re-entry. A Kremlin spokesperson said they were interested in “other formats”, apart from the G7.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is currently in Beijing, where he was presented with a friendship medal by Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Fellow members of what was then the G8 suspended Russia after it took control of Crimea, saying it would remain until Russia “changes course”.

Presentational grey line

Trump arrives with a bang

By the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, James Robbins

Relations between Donald Trump and America’s leading allies were already at a new low over trade tariffs before the president casually dropped his Russia hand-grenade.

Most G7 leaders think the decision to expel Russia in 2014 was right then, and remains right today. Even Russia itself seems lukewarm about rejoining.

In many ways, this seems to be a deliberate Donald Trump tactic, to distract attention from his war of words with the rest of the G7 over trade and protectionism.

President Trump dislikes the whole idea of the G7: a club of nations which traditionally comes together around shared values rooted in a world order based on agreed rules. Last to arrive, he’ll also be first to leave.

Presentational grey line

What were the exchanges on the eve of the summit?

It was mainly France and Canada v Donald Trump, sparked by Mr Trump’s imposition of steel and aluminium tariffs.

Appearing alongside host leader Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “A trade war doesn’t spare anyone. It will start first of all to hurt US workers.”

For his part Mr Trudeau described Mr Trump’s citing of national security to defend his steel and aluminium tariffs as “laughable”.

Never one to back down, Mr Trump fired off a series of tweets, keeping up the tirade on Friday.

Speaking to reporters before the summit he again criticised other nations for their treatment of the US but predicted tensions would ease and “we’ll all be in love again”.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to take a more conciliatory approach, saying she wanted the EU to act with restraint and proportion in retaliating to the US tariffs.

Unlike Mr Macron and Mr Trudeau, she won’t be having a bilateral meeting with Mr Trump, but insisted on Friday it was not a snub.

The EU has called Mr Trump’s tariffs “protectionism, pure and simple” and are among others in announcing retaliatory measures.

Media captionDairy wars: Why is Trump threatening Canada over milk?

What else can we expect in Quebec?

Mr Trump is leaving early to head to Singapore for his landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, meaning he will miss some of the topics advanced by Mr Trudeau.

The five themes for this year’s summit are:

  • Inclusive economic growth
  • Gender equality and women’s empowerment
  • World peace and security
  • Jobs of the future
  • Climate change and oceans

According to the leaders’ programme, Mr Trump will be around for the economic and security issues being discussed on Friday but will miss climate change, the environment and probably gender equality on Saturday.

The US president was very much the odd man out on climate change during the G7 in Italy last year, later announcing his intention to withdraw from the landmark Paris agreement.

Media captionG7 summit: Trapped in the world’s most secure house

Iran is also a big sticking point. Mr Trump recently ditched the 2015 agreement with Tehran that aimed to curb its nuclear programme. This angered the other signatories who have since sought to shore it up.

Previous G7 meetings have seen huge protests, and about 8,000 soldiers and police officers are expected to be on hand during the Quebec event.

Protester in QuebecImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionA protester with a flare at a protest march in Quebec City, ahead of the summit

More on this story

  • G7 ministers criticise US tariffs and warn of trade war
    3 June 2018
  • G7 demand action on extremist net content at summit
    26 May 2017
  • US tariffs: Allies retaliate with levies on jam, lamps and sleeping bags
    1 June 2018
  • China warns US sanctions will void trade talks
    3 June 2018

Trump Is Tired Of World Leaders Calling Him Out For Being An Idiot

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ‘THE TELEGRAPH’)

 

Donald Trump ‘tired of Theresa May’s school mistress tone’ and will not hold talks with her at G7

It is unclear whether Donald Trump and Theresa May will hold bilateral talks during a G7 meeting in Canada
It is unclear whether Donald Trump and Theresa May will hold bilateral talks during a G7 meeting in Canada CREDIT: EPA/SHAWN THEW

Donald Trump has grown frustrated with Theresa May’s “school mistress” tone, allies of the president have told The Telegraph, as it emerged the pair will not hold formal talks at the G7 summit in Canada.

The US president is said to bristle at the Prime Minister’s approach during phone calls, with Mrs May quick to get into policy details rather than wider conversation.

One senior US diplomat said Mr Trump had expressed annoyance at Mrs May’s frequent demands, which are seen as taking advantage of the UK-US relationship.

Another long-time friend of the president revealed he had privately complained of how Mrs May calls him out in public when he is deemed to have stepped out of line.

A third figure, a former White House official who attended meetings between the pair, confirmed the frosty relationship: “No offence, but she is basically a school mistress. I’m not sure anyone gets on well with her.”

Donald Trump and Theresa May were photographed holding hands in January 2017, raising hopes they could strike up a political friendship
Donald Trump and Theresa May were photographed holding hands in January 2017, raising hopes they could strike up a political friendship CREDIT: NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX / EYEVINE

The comments made to this newspaper chime with a report in The Washington Post on Thursday that Mr Trump sees Mrs May as too politically correct after she rebuked him over claims that parts of London have become “no-go” areas.

Asked about Mr Trump’s reported view of her before the summit in Quebec, Mrs Mrs said: “I just get on and make sure that I’m delivering. That’s the job of any politician.”

World leaders will gather on Friday in Charlevoix, Quebec, for a meeting of the G7 that has been overshadowed by Mr Trump’s decision to hit allies with hefty steel tariffs.

On the agenda for the two-day summit will be economic growth, the future of employment, gender equality, climate change and world peace.

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives in Quebec for the G7 leaders summit 
Prime Minister Theresa May arrives in Quebec for the G7 leaders summit  CREDIT: AFP

However, the discussions risk being overshadowed by a growing rift between Mr Trump and leaders of countries traditionally closely aligned with America.

Mr Trump’s decision to put 25 per cent steel tariffs and 10 per cent aluminium tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union have infuriated allies, as has his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Government sources said Mr Trump was not expected to hold bi-lateral meetings with Mrs May during the trip.

The White House said in a briefing on Wednesday that Mr Trump would hold bilateral meetings with Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron, the leaders of Canada and France.

Donald Trump dismisses reports of rift with Theresa May as ‘false rumour’

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However, there was no mention of Mrs May.

Gordon Brown was once infamously snubbed by Barack Obama when he turned down five requests for a bilateral meeting during a 2009 gathering of world leaders in New York.

The then-prime minister had to settle for what one aide would later call a “snatched conversation” with Mr Obama in a kitchen, causing acute embarrassment when it was later reported.

Mrs May and Mr Trump, who have very different backgrounds and characters, have struggled to develop a close political friendship over the last 18 months.

The Prime Minster became the first world leader hosted in Mr Trump’s White House in January 2017, where the pair were pictured holding hands, but officials admit they are now not especially close.

Conservative MPs call on Donald Trump to delete his Twitter account

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A state visit to Britain offered at that time is still yet to happen and they have clashed a number of times over Mr Trump’s tweets and policy stances.

Former aides of Mrs May have insisted that Mr Trump often expresses his love for Britain during phone calls and adopts a respectful tone. However, few claim their relationship is especially warm.

British officials hope rolling out the red carpet when Mr Trump visits Britain on July 13 for a working trip will help improve relations, with a round of golf and tea with the Queen expected to feature.

But Mrs May is not alone in failing to build a rapport with Mr Trump. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has a frosty relationship with the US president, who often swipes at her country’s trade policies.

Donald Trump will head to Singapore after the G7 in Canada for his summit with North Korean leader Kim- ong-un
Donald Trump will head to Singapore after the G7 in Canada for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un CREDIT: WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES

And many Western leaders have done little to hide their anger at the US president’s decisions over Iran and tariffs, going public with their criticism in recent weeks.

The row over tariffs, which have seen those affected hit back with reciprocal moves, has led to one of the most troubled run-ups to a G7 meeting in years.

Mrs May said that while she has made clear to Mr Trump that the tariffs are “unjustified”, she urged the EU to ensure its response is “proportionate”.

She said: “I made my views clear of the steel and aluminium tariffs. We disagree with these, we think they are unjustified. Obviously the EU will be responding.

“We will be working with others in the EU to ensure that response is proportionate, that it is within WTO rules. I will continue to put the argument for the importance of those trade relationships around the World.”

Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip are greeted as they arrive at CAF Bagotville airfield 
Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip are greeted as they arrive at CAF Bagotville airfield  CREDIT: GETTY

Mr Macron, widely seen as having developed one of the warmest relationships with Mr Trump among world leaders, did little to hide his frustration before the gathering.

“You say the US President doesn’t care at all. Maybe, but nobody is forever,” Mr Macron said, appearing to cite the fact that Mr Trump will someday leave office.

Mr Macron also made reference to the joke that the G7 has become the ‘G6 plus one’, saying: “Maybe the American president doesn’t care about being isolated today, but we don’t mind being six, if needs be.

“Because these six represent values, represent an economic market, and more than anything, represent a real force at the international level today.”

Mr Trump referred to the trade row in a tweet on Thursday night, adding he was looking forward to seeing Mr Trudeau and Mr Macron.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

The US president is reportedly unhappy at having to attend the G7, coming on the eve of his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

The US president fears being lectured to by other world leaders and would rather spend the time preparing for his talks with Kim, according to US media reports.

Concerning N. Korea: Are S. Korean People As Clueless As The Trump Administration?

Concerning N. Korea: Are S. Korean People As Clueless As The Trump Administration?

 

President Trump always try’s to play himself off as a macho man when it comes to talking about war issues even though he hid behind his daddy skirts 6 or 7 times in being a coward to stay out of Vietnam. It is no secret that Mr Trump adores ‘strong men’ like Mr Putin, Xi Jinping and Duarte and that he wishes that the U.S. Constitution didn’t exist and that we here in the U.S. should adopt a policy like China has where Xi Jinping is now ‘President For Life.’ You very well know that if Hillary was the President he would not be in favor of such a policy. The issue, just like every thing else in this world (in his eyes) is all about him. What he has proven himself to be over and over again is an habitual liar, ignorant of all reality, a total egomaniac, and a complete fool. I also believe that once the midterm election is over and the Democrats demolish the Republicans in the Congress and the Democrats retake the Senate, probable 51-49 or maybe 52-48, the Republicans will turn on Mr. Trump and he will be impeached. It is not like the Republican establishment likes this crooked fool, but he is the only horse they have in the race so they have chosen to forfeit all semblance of integrity and to stay with him, until after November.

 

 

North Korea’s Vice Minister of the Foreign Ministry, Ms. Cloe who specializes in North Korea-American relations said the following about Vice President Pence’s ‘Libya’ comments. She said “Mr. Pence is a ‘Political Dummy’ for comparing Libya to North Korea. As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out of the mouth of the U.S. Vice President.” Mr. Adam Mount, the Director of the ‘Defense Posture Project’ at the Federation of American Scientist said he believes that the comments made by Mr. Pence and Mr. Bolton were the “most explicit regime change threat yet” from the Trump Administration.

 

Why I asked the question in the title about if the people of South Korea are as clueless as people like Mr. Trump are is because of the following pieces of reality I would like to share with you now. First, I would like t compare the situation on the Korean Peninsula with the situation in Israel/Gaza/West Bank. The majority of the people of Israel know very well if there was no secured border with the Palestinians this latest “March of Return” that Hamas has instituted would have wiped out all the Jewish people and there would no longer be a Nation of Israel. Reality is that most of Israels neighbors, PA, Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, they do not want peace with Israel, they want there to be no such thing as a Nation of Israel. Now, if there is indeed to be only one Korea, that Korea will be under the direct control of Kim Jong Un, the man will accept nothing less as this is his ultimate goal in life. Now concerning the Nuclear Site that North Korea supposedly blew up yesterday. The CIA as well as some of China’s news outlets said over a month ago that this site, the interior of this mountain had caved in, so they had no ‘active’ nuclear site. The only way they could have rebuilt this site with all of the sanctions going on was if China financed them and helped to physically rebuild it, reality is that Xi Jinping told Kim Jong Un no when Kim visited China last month. This event played well into China’s wishes. No nukes on their door step, blow up the nonexistent Nuke site, play nice with South Korea and the U.S. and see what kind of concessions can be obtained from the U.S. and their allies. Trump has spoken lately of removing the 45,000 Marines that we have stationed at the border between the two Korea’s and this past week he also called off some of the military exercise events we have each with the South Korean military in an attempt to please Mr. Kim. If Mr. Kim cannot simply march his army into South Korea at this time he is trying to get a lot of loans or credit so that he can get the South Korean government to open trade with the South. This in a sense is like the China model of keep the government in place but get revenues and technologies from the West to make your Communist government stronger with the influx of revenues. China is and has been using this model to take over all of Asia as they do ‘play the long game.’

 

I’ll make this last paragraph about the ‘Libya stupidity’. Here are the reasons why the tragedy that is Libya of today will not ever happen in North Korea. 1) There is no Islamic insurgency of any kind in North Korea. Libya is and was inundated with believers of Islam, unless a strong Dictator can come into this country and wipe out all of these fundamentalist of Islam, Libya is going to stay a cesspool for many decades to come. 2) The people, the citizens of Libya had/has no strong Super Power backing them on one of their borders like North Korea does with China. President Xi Jinping of China has made it perfectly clear that China will not tolerate a Regime Change in North Korea. He has made it plain that they will not allow a democracy or a ‘friend’ of the United States to occupy the space that is the North Korea of today. Trump has at times made comments about maybe doing a first strike against North Korea to get rid of all of their nukes. These comments were made despite the comments of Xi Jinping that if North Korea is attacked first, China will join in that war to support North Korea, thus creating a nuclear war, world war 3 with China and probably with Russia joining in with their ally, China. China will not tolerate a ‘Libya situation’ on their border so only people who are ignorant of these realities  or someone who is simply a stupid fool (Bolton, Pence, Trump) would make such “ignorant and stupid remarks.” The American people must face up to the fact that all of the rest of the world already knows, we have a Lunatic sitting in Our Oval Office!

Iran And America’s ‘Dumb-Ass’ In Chief: No Plan, Just Stupidity And Lies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE)

 

he suspense is over. Two weeks after President Trump ruptured the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran to a chorus of questions about the administration’s “Plan B,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday outlined a new U.S. strategy for contending with the persistent challenges posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

There’s only one problem with the strategy: It’s not a strategy at all, but rather a grab bag of wishful thinking wrapped in a thinly veiled exhortation for regime change in Iran.

Actually, there are about a dozen other problems with the strategy that Pompeo articulated—that being the number of benchmarks that the speech laid out as the prerequisites for any “new deal” that he insisted the administration is “ready, willing, and able to negotiate” with Iran. Despite this nod to the possibility of new negotiations, the substance of Pompeo’s remarks forecloses any realistic avenue for diplomacy with or around Iran’s current leadership. And it will exacerbate existing frictions around a variety of diplomatic and trade issues with all of America’s traditional partners

Instead, the speech heralds an unabashed embrace of go-it-alone maximalism that is not only likely to come up short on Iran, but will also backfire across an array of U.S. interests and allies in an unpredictable fashion. Trump’s alternative to the Iran nuclear deal is a dead end, one that will alienate our allies, disregard vital partners such as Russia and China, and divorce U.S. policy on Iran from even the slightest pretense at multilateral support or realistic objectives. What a terrible waste of U.S. leverage and leadership.

Trump’s alternative to the Iran nuclear deal is a dead end.

MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER

For a president with brash ambition and only the crudest understanding of international politics, maximalism has understandable appeal, not the least of which is that it seems to present a compelling alternative to the approach pursued by Trump’s predecessors. President Obama sought an explicitly limited bargain with Tehran under a framework for issue-specific diplomatic engagement that was first advanced during the latter days of the Bush administration. This was a purely pragmatic calculation that reflected the urgency of Iran’s burgeoning nuclear infrastructure and the absence of any meaningful consensus with U.S. allies and other key stakeholders around the full suite of challenges posed by Tehran.

But in practice, the narrow transactionalism of the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), contributed to its eventual unravelling by Trump. An unavoidably imperfect solution to only one aspect of the Iran problem ensured that the continuation—and in many cases, the exacerbation—of Tehran’s regional malfeasance loomed all that much larger. In the aftermath of the deal, the real and present dangers of Iran’s support for violent proxies, its military entrenchment in Syria, and its relentless domestic repression seemed even more resistant to external pressure or inducements. And with the clock ticking on the expiration of some of the JCPOA’s restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities, skepticism around the nuclear deal’s value eroded the durability of the deal in Washington. It’s worth noting that Iranians felt a corresponding buyer’s remorse, having overestimated the ripple effects of reopening their economy, their compliance assured by the lack of obviously better alternatives.

Trump felt no such constraint. Having made his name as a wheeler-dealer, he disdains half-measures and is convinced he can find holistic fixes to protracted problems. Which is why his new secretary of state articulated an ambitious laundry list of demands for a new deal in his speech today—including a full accounting of Tehran’s past nuclear work, an end to Iran’s support for terrorist organizations, the release of unjustly detained dual-nationals.

Who can rightly argue against these as the aspiration objectives of U.S. policy? The difficulty, of course, is that the speech offered no realistic pathway to achieving them. Insisting on an unequivocal end to the full inventory of Iranian misdeeds is not a starting point for a serious negotiation. It’s magical thinking to suggest that after 40 years and at the apex of its regional reach, the Islamic Republic will proffer a blanket capitulation in exchange for the promise of a future treaty with a government that has just jettisoned an existing agreement.

DIPLOMACY OUT THE DOOR

In this sense, Pompeo’s speech made clear that the administration has no interest in negotiating with Tehran. For that matter, the framework outlined in his speech underscores the administration’s contempt toward key U.S. allies and diplomatic partners, whose cooperation proved critical to securing the nuclear deal in the first place and whose diplomats have been working for months in good faith with the State Department to devise some path to salvage and strengthen the nuclear accord.

Pompeo hailed multilateral support for the goals of U.S. policy toward Tehran. However, he acknowledged that Europe may choose to preserve the 2015 accord, which built on more than a dozen years of British, French, and German diplomacy. “That is their decision to make,” Pompeo said airily, adding: “They know where we stand.” Presumably the same applies for other vital stakeholders, including Russia and China whose extensive political and economic ties to Tehran proved crucial in prior diplomatic wrangling.

Pompeo’s implication was clear: To achieve its voluminous (and in places, redundant) objectives on Iran, the Trump administration is prepared to break with its core allies. And more pointedly, thanks to American dominance of the international financial system, Washington sees little cost to either the threat or its implementation. Financial sanctions leverage the indispensable role of the U.S. dollar and the U.S. market, and their dissuasive influence is not lessened by the formalities of national sovereignty. The implied risks have already sent firms around the world rushing to wind down business in Iran, and in the short term there may be little that European indignation can do to blunt or reverse this.

Related Books

The costs to American prestige and influence will surely be higher. Four decades of U.S. policy toward Tehran underscore how difficult it is to make real progress against the perennial threats posed by this regime. The nuclear deal itself is testament to the vital role of a broad coalition that was constructed through dogged diplomacy, led by both Republican and Democratic administrations, around a shared consensus around achievable goals. Resentment of American imperiousness will seep far beyond the usual suspects. After all, if the Trump administration is prepared and capable of bending Iran, a major player in regional politics and energy markets, to its will in order to enforce its mandates, where else might Washington choose to apply this awesome power?

THE REGIME-CHANGE DRUMBEAT

Pompeo did offer one alternative to diplomacy—regime change in Iran. The speech was littered with flamboyant expressions of official American appeals to the Iranian people and the declaration that “unlike the previous [Obama] administration, we are looking for outcomes that that benefit the Iranian people, not just the regime.” Asked how quickly the new “strategy” might be implemented, Pompeo showed his regime-change hand, emphasizing:

“At the end of the day, the Iranian people will decide the timeline. At the end of the day, the Iranian people will get to make a choice about their leadership. If they make the decision quickly, that would be wonderful. If they choose not to do so, we will stay hard at this until we achieve the outcomes that I set forward today.”

This advocacy comes at a genuinely precarious moment for Iran’s internal politics: fissures within the establishment, generational change and the diffusion of information technology, the deep alienation among at least some proportion of the population, and anticipation around succession that had begun to prompt consideration of what comes next, not simply who comes next. A simple, peaceful transition was always a long shot as a short-term hope. But the Islamic Republic’s slow-motion metastasis, combined with the opportunities for political entrepreneurship around succession, offered the first real sprigs of optimism that the end was somehow in sight.

But Iranians are wildly nationalistic and have been steeped in an especially conspiratorial interpretation of the role of the United States and other great powers in their own history. The 1953 coup, in which America and Britain expedited the downfall of a populist prime minister, has been assimilated as an article of faith about U.S. meddling and its counterproductive consequences.

Given this context, Pompeo’s copious sympathy for the plight of the Iranian people will fall flat on a population whose economic prospects are directly targeted by this administration and who the president has banned from even stepping foot in the United States. And his subtle appeal for regime change will elicit a nationalist backlash that will almost certainly subsume the embryonic openings for anti-regime activism.

Iran won’t bend, and it probably won’t break either.

THE PROBLEM WITH ANTI-SOLUTIONISM

The realistic outcome is that Trump will not get his bigger, better deal or his advisors’ hoped-for regime change; Iran won’t bend, and it probably won’t break either. That appears to be an acceptable alternative outcome for the Trump White House. Iran will remain in the penalty box, an international pariah state subject to severe economic pressure and, at least in theory, robust regional deterrence. As former senior Obama administration official Jake Sullivan noted last week: “The punishment isthe strategy.”

This is an approach that vaguely parallels what my colleague Natan Sachs has described as “anti-solutionism” as applied by the Israelis to their own enduring security dilemma—the conviction that “there are currently no solutions to the challenges the country faces and that seeking quick fixes to intractable problems is dangerously naïve.” Instead of reaching for a grand bargain, the game plan is open-ended confrontation, with the goal of limiting the immediate risks and damages.

There’s only one problem with this approach as a long-term mechanism for managing Iran: In terms of advancing American interests in peace and stability in the Middle East, it’s manifestly inferior to the arrangement Trump just discarded, the nuclear deal.

A how-to guide for managing the end of the post-Cold War era. Read all the Order from Chaos content »

UAE says Iran wasted no time in undermining regional security

 

UAE says Iran wasted no time in undermining regional security

The United Arab Emirates said on Saturday Iran had wasted no time in undermining regional security since it sealed a nuclear deal with world powers last year.

“Against all optimistic expectations, Iran wasted no time in continuing its efforts to undermine the security of the region, through aggressive rhetoric, blatant interference, producing and arming militias, developing its ballistic missile program, in addition to its alarming designation as a state sponsor of terrorism,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed told the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders.

(Reporting by Yara Bayoumy and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

China applies its own maximum pressure policy on Pyongyang

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNBC NEWS)

 

China applies its own maximum pressure policy on Pyongyang

  • Beijing appears to have gone well beyond U.N. sanctions on its unruly neighbor, reducing its total imports from North Korea in the first two months this year by 78.5 and 86.1 percent in value — a decline that began in late 2017, according to the latest trade data from China.
  • Trade with China is absolutely crucial to North Korea’s survival.
  • Estimates vary, but it is believed that roughly half of all transactions in the North Korean economy are made in foreign currencies, with the Chinese yuan being the most common.That gives Beijing tremendous leverage, though for political and national security reasons it has generally been reluctant to exert too much pressure on Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

STR | AFP | Getty Images
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

As the U.S.-North Korea summit looms, President Donald Trump‘s maximum pressure policy on North Korea may be working — thanks to China.

Beijing appears to have gone well beyond U.N. sanctions on its unruly neighbor, reducing its total imports from North Korea in the first two months this year by 78.5 and 86.1 percent in value — a decline that began in late 2017, according to the latest trade data from China. Its exports to the North also dropped by 33 percent to 34 percent both months.

The figures suggest that instead of being sidelined while North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his surprising diplomatic overtures to Seoul and Washington, China’s sustained game of hardball on trade with Pyongyang going back at least five months may have been the decisive factor in forcing Kim’s hand.

Trade with China is absolutely crucial to North Korea’s survival.

It accounts for the largest share of the North’s dealings with the outside world and provides a lifeline to many of the necessities Pyongyang relies on to keep its nation fed and its economy from breaking down. Estimates vary, but it is believed that roughly half of all transactions in the North Korean economy are made in foreign currencies, with the Chinese yuan being the most common.

That gives Beijing tremendous leverage, though for political and national security reasons it has generally been reluctant to exert too much pressure on Pyongyang.

That reluctance is clearly wearing thin.

The statistics need to be taken with a dose of caution. Neither country is known for its commitment to transparency. Even so, more specific data reveal an even tougher, targeted crackdown, according to Alex Wolf, a senior emerging markets economist with Aberdeen Standard Investments:

— China’s exports of refined petroleum have collapsed over the past five months — to an annual rate of less than 4 percent of what it exported last year. With the pace on a downward trend, he believes, total exports could actually fall further.

— North Korean steel imports from China have also collapsed in 2018, and the same goes for cars. Wolf notes that it’s unclear if China is blocking such exports or North Korea simply can’t afford them. But either one, he wrote in a recent report for the company, would be a clear signal the North’s economy is “under a great deal of stress.”

“While China’s role over the past few months has often been overlooked or little understood, it appears a strategy could be emerging: China wants to play a central role in ‘resolving’ this crisis, but wants to do it on its own terms,” he wrote. “It’s increasingly clear that Chinese pressure is a driving force and China will play a central role in any future talks.”

Kim announced in his New Year’s address he would reach out to the South to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. He then agreed to hold a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27 and with Trump after that. But to the surprise of many, Kim suddenly showed up in Beijing first for a summit with President Xi Jinping last month, underscoring the continued primacy of China in North Korea’s foreign relationships.

Lu Chao, director of the Border Study Institute at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, noted that China accounts for almost 80 percent of the North’s total trade, meaning the onus for implementing U.N. sanctions has been mainly borne by Beijing, whose enforcement has created “huge pressure on North Korea.”

“There is no doubt China is doing more than ever when it comes to sanctions,” he said, adding restrictions on sales of textile and seafood products to North Korea imposed by China last autumn “have dealt a huge blow to the country.”

“China has played a very important role in promoting the current change of the situation,” he said.

The decrease in trade isn’t just about politics.

China’s economy is also dealing with overproduction in many industries and its demand for North Korean imports is low. Efforts at joint development projects have languished and difficulties suffered by Chinese firms in North Korea — especially problems receiving payment — have soured enthusiasm for cross-border trade.

But the deficit presents an obvious dilemma for the Kim regime: the more it depletes its foreign reserves by buying in excess of what it sells, the less money it has to buy anything at all. Normally, that would lead to inflation — and even hyperinflation — as imported necessities become scarcer and people who can afford to do so dump their holdings in the local currency to buy safer U.S. dollars or Chinese yuan.

Georgetown University economist William Brown said he believes the North’s current account deficit has risen dramatically since the strengthening last November of sanctions on North Korean exports by China, which he said are by now “certainly biting.”

“Why is Kim venturing his offer now? My impression is he is feeling very strong pressure from China’s virtual embargo on North Korea’s exports, and what he must see as a gradual ratcheting down of needed imports, even petroleum,” Brown wrote in a recent blog post. “This is an enormous economic hit of a sort the country has never had to deal with on this scale.”

Brown believes an important indicator of the North’s economic health will be movement of the unofficial but widely used exchange rate for the North Korean currency, which has been surprisingly stable at around 8,000 to the U.S. dollar for years but should now be under intense inflationary pressure.

“China is giving us the chance, and (we should) use it cleverly to get what we want out of the nuclear program and systemic reform,” he added. “It’s not so impossible if you realize everyone, even young Kim, can benefit.”