Trump’s Bonhomie, Bombast and Bullying

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.

China’s 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.

With 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 guess why.

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.

The 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, and 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?

Last week also the Democratic swarm was fighting to select one of them to try and replace Trump.  In this country with the mainstream media firmly under corporate control, a progressive candidate will have to work a miracle.

Dr. Arshad M. Khan
Dr. Arshad M. Khan
Dr. Arshad M. Khan is a former Professor based in the US. Educated at King's College London, OSU and The University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. Thus he headed the analysis of an innovation survey of Norway, and his work on SMEs published in major journals has been widely cited. He has for several decades also written for the press: These articles and occasional comments have appeared in print media such as The Dallas Morning News, Dawn (Pakistan), The Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Monitor, The Wall Street Journal and others. On the internet, he has written for, Asia Times, Common Dreams, Counterpunch, Countercurrents, Dissident Voice, Eurasia Review and Modern Diplomacy among many. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in its Congressional Record.