Who would have thought that a mixture of bonhomie, bombast
and bullying from a US leader would be so effective but in Trump's case
it seems to work.
There is the Federal Reserve for example. This week after constant urging and threats aimed at its chairman, the Fed announced a rate cut when interest rates are already at historic lows, the economy is booming, and companies so awash in funds they keep announcing buybacks of their own stock as Google just did ... boosting its stock price by 10 percent overnight.
Then there is Kim Jong Un of North Korea waiting and waiting -- reduced to firing off a short-range missile now and again. He has had the bombast, then the bonhomie and now the subtle bullying. Trump is getting away with it because North Korea needs America's blessing so much more than America is ever concerned about its paltry nuclear arsenal.
Mr. Xi was invited to Mar-a-Lago and given the treatment. Then came
the ceaseless trade negotiations and tariffs, and now the threats of
more tariffs. China's new UN envoy Zhang Jun said Trump's threat on
Thursday to slap a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports
was "irrational" and "an irresponsible act." He also warned of
necessary countermeasures" and said all of it would hurt cooperation
between the two countries on North Korea. The trade balance is lopsided
in China's favor mitigating its threats. In 2018, it was a colossal
$419 billion deficit for the US, which imported over a half trillion of
Chinese goods. China has a weaker hand and a trade war will hurt both
sides but clearly not equally.
In the case of Iran, Ayatollah Khamanei is not having any of it. After Trump abrogated the Iran agreement unilaterally despite Iran scrupulously complying with all requirements, the Ayatollah decided an agreement with the US was not worth the paper it was written on. He is now insisting on the sanctions being lifted before any talks.
no forward movement and Iran holding two British flagged merchant ships
in response to the Iranian one seized by Britain, Trump invited the
Iran foreign minister Javad Zarif to the White House for further talks.
Mr. Zarif declined presumably because it would violate the Ayatollah's
precondition. A petulant Trump sanctioned Mr. Zarif, and we can now
Iran continues to raise the stakes and in early July announced breaches of the nuclear deal including exceeding a limit set on uranium enrichment. That is the present situation: no deal and no limits. It will take a Trump to explain how this is better than having the original deal.
US has also announced it has withdrawn from the Landmark
Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. It was signed with the
Soviet Union in 1987. It prohibits ground-launched cruise missiles with
a range of 310 to 3400 miles. Both countries though have developed
missiles that can be launched from the air or sea. In a world swarming
with missiles and nukes, would it have been wiser to sit down and work
out a new up-to-date version?