Trump on Deal or No Deal: ‘Tactically Very Unpredictable, Strategically Very Predictable’

“Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war”; “What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate” – Trump Quotes

May 9, 2018 (UPDATED) — Trump loves uncertainty. It works for him. It is uncertainty about how far he is willing to go, militarily and diplomatically, that has moved the needle on North Korea. It is uncertainty about his approach to the Iran deal and to trade that has French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel scurrying to Washington, hopeful of winning concessions from the White House.

It keeps friends and foes off guard, giving the US president, more often than not, the advantage of surprise.

What is his end game? About that there is no uncertainty. Trump wants to protect and create American jobs. That is the ambition that underscores his negotiations. It is perhaps the sole constant in the ever-whirling White House, and it is one that is drawing attention at home and abroad–belatedly it has begun to attract supporters, even from the other side of the aisle, some argue.

The end goal, they argue, is entirely worth accepting some uncertainty.

Not the European Union though. It has rebuked Donald Trump over his move to break the Iran nuclear deal, telling the US president he does not have the power to unilaterally scrap the international agreement.

In a statement delivered on Tuesday night EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said the US should reconsider its position, but that it was not within the power of the country’s president to end the accord.

Speaking in Rome the EU’s Ms Mogherini said Europe “regrets” Mr Trump’s new policy, but added: “As we have always said the nuclear deal is not a bilateral agreement and it is not in the hands of any single country to terminate it unilaterally. ‘The deal belongs to each and every one of us.”

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated between Iran, the EU, US, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany, was signed by his predecessor Barack Obama in 2015.

But in US the deal is politically-charged because it is seen as a key legacy as Barack Obama. It is also opposed by Israel, a close US ally in the region. — and most importantly, it was one of Trump’s several election campaign promises which he has been delivering even at the cost of isolating himself in the Beltway, on the Hill and globally.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has criticized Trump’s decision to pullout of Iran nuclear deal. She tweeted: “Pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal is a big mistake. It makes America less safe and less trusted. Iran is now more dangerous. What’s plan B? Anyone who thinks bombing is the answer is woefully misinformed.”

She added, “I helped negotiate the crippling international sanctions that brought Iran to the table. It would be much harder a second time, now that our credibility is shot….It will also be harder to deal with other threats like ballistic missiles and terrorism. Now we have no leverage and Iran is free to do what it wants.”

European leaders regret on Trump’s announcement was followed by former President Barack Obama’s usually long statement saying the Trump decision may have put the US on a path to war.

Former secretary of State in the Obama administration, John Kerry, said the withdrawal “breaks America’s word.” Former vice president Joe Biden said it will “isolate the United States from nearly every world power.” And former CIA director John O. Brennan called it “foolish” and “dangerous.”

Christopher Ruddy, a friend of the president’s, said Tuesday’s decision represented “classic Donald Trump negotiating tactics.”

“He’s saying, ‘I don’t like the deal, I’m ripping it up, I’m starting anew and I’m going to fix things,’ ” said Ruddy, chairman of Newsmax. “It’s a hardball tactic that he’s taking, but it’s in keeping with how he approaches things.”

Europeans long argued that the U.S. demands behind Trump’s decision to pull out of the international deal amounted to a violation of the pact — something they were not willing to do. Trump’s decision Tuesday left bitterness among the European delegation, some of whom felt that the US team stopped working in good faith in the final weeks as it appeared that Trump had no appetite for salvaging the deal.

But within Trump’s orbit, the president was cheered for following through on something he vowed to do as a candidate, The Washington Post reported. In a statement designed to use the foreign policy announcement to galvanize Trump’s supporters, campaign manager Brad Parscale said, “Over and over again, President Trump has proven that a promise made is a promise kept.”

Trump himself has felt confident that his decision to withdraw would not cause global disruption — in part because of experience. When he considered withdrawing from the Paris climate accord and moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, some advisers warned that those moves would result in significant upheaval in America’s relationships with key allies, not to mention economic and security challenges.

Ultimately, however, the backlash to both decisions failed to register with Trump and he has concluded that critics overstated their case. This has made the president feel more bullish about heeding his instincts to be a disrupter on the world stage, according to a White House official cited by WP.

“One of the funny things about Trump is that he’s tactically very unpredictable but strategically very predictable,” Gingrich said. “He actually has a broad policy consistency, whether it’s tax cuts, conservative judges, deregulation, the Iranians, the North Koreans. He’s willing to listen to you, but he’s not willing to be persuaded to give up his strategic principles.”

Commenting on Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the international deal, senior associate at The Wilson Center, Michael Kugelman, said in his tweet: “Leaving the #IranDeal will have far-reaching and deleterious geopolitical consequences–including in South Asia and especially #Afghanistan, where the US is fighting its longest-ever war–that will go well beyond matters of nonproliferation and US-Iran relations. Not good.”

So why did Trump torpedo Obama’s Iran deal?

According to The Washington Post, the lobbying campaign to save the Iran nuclear agreement was intense and had taken months. British Prime Minister Theresa May raised the deal with President Trump in more than a dozen phone calls. French President Emmanuel Macron pressed him on it during an elaborate state visit. So did German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a one-day work trip in April. And the Europeans made a Hail Mary pass Monday in the form of a White House visit by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

But for Trump, the decision to torpedo one of President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy achievements had effectively been made last October, when he declared that Iran was not in compliance with the deal and called on European allies to negotiate better terms.

The foundation was laid even earlier, in fact, as Trump declared the Iran accord one of the “worst” deals in U.S. history at his campaign rallies — even mocking its architect, former secretary of state John F. Kerry, as weak for having fallen off his bicycle during a visit to Geneva for negotiations.

For Trump’s longtime advisers, the only surprise in Tuesday’s announcement shredding the Iran deal was that it took the president 15 months to make.

“The administration just said, ‘Okay, we’ve been telling you all through the campaign and the last year and a half this is where we are, and guess what? This is where we are,’ ” said former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally.

Two famous Trump quotes ring a bell as his critics continue to bash him on reneging deals:

“Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war”
“What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate.”

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