During his presidential campaign, then candidate Trump made wide ranging, radical promises and pronouncements whose sole purpose was to excite and rally his support base.
His supporters hailed him as a disruptor who was going to shake up the establishment. He railed against Wall Street and promised to ‘drain the swamp’ if elected president.
Trump never passed up any opportunity to spruik his credentials as a tough and skilled negotiator who will get things done and done quickly.
Trump’s presidency opened with the disastrous, chaotic and amateurish implementation of his signature immigration policy via an executive order which, initially, was struck down by several courts.
The second iteration of the order remained bogged down in court as it was the subject of an appeal. This wasn’t exactly the start Trump had anticipated.
His administration then quickly switched its attention to the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, one of Trump’s core campaign promises.
Trump the deal maker was supposed to unleash his charm and negotiating skills to ensure passage of the bill in congress. But instead, what was on display throughout the process was Trump the bully, absolutely lacking masterly in political negotiations.
In the end, house speaker Paul Ryan pulled the pin on the legislation in the eleventh hour. The bill never saw the light of day.
Then there was the now infamous 2018-2019 government shutdown that went down as the longest in US history. His bullying tactics did not produce the intended result.
Trump appears to be employing the same unhinged, chaotic and brinkmanship approach in his conduct of international relations and diplomacy. He promised to label China a currency manipulator on day one of his presidency only for him to back down once he assumed office, going as far as making a state visit to Beijing in 2017.
But since then, the relationship between China and the US has been oscillating between mutual trade negotiations and an all out trade war.
Trump’s attempt to get the hardline North Korean regime to give up its nuclear ambitions hasn’t gone exactly to plan. Although the two leaders finally managed to meet at a summit in Singapore in 2018, not much progress has been recorded. North Korea has resumed missile testing.
HIGH STAKES GAME
That has largely been Trump’s story since his election as US president but the latest stoush with Iran portends consequences like no other that he has been involved in thus far.
A revelation that the US president ordered military strikes against targets in Iran only for him to call off the operation when it was underway not only exposes Trump’s shaky credentials as the commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military force but also his propensity for ratcheting up the heat in his dealings with opponents in order to obtain a favourable outcome.
His brinkmanship approach to handling the standoff with Iran certainly raises that much higher the political temperature in a region that is a powder keg which, because of its geopolitical sensitivities, is just waiting for a trigger to erupt into an all out war.
What is not in question in my opinion is that a war between the US and Iran would inevitably have far reaching consequences for the region and the rest of the world.
Such a war would lead to political instability in the region and potentially suck in Israel, a country with many sworn enemies in the region including Iran which never hesitates to take the opposite side in any conflict involving Israel.
Conflict in the region would potentially be a precursor to economic turmoil that will inevitably cascade across the world because of the region’s critical role in the global oil supply chain.
Another consequence of war with Iran could be the spillage of proxy wars in the region potentially bringing the US and Russia into direct military conflict given the strong links between Iran and Russia.
According to the Swedish based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Russia was one of Iran’s main arms suppliers between 2007 and 2016.