After President Donald Trump went to DEFCON CAPSLOCK in the Twitter war with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, he confirmed what many have suspected: He is following a formula, and it works.
The formula is roughly the following:
- In a gridlock situation, shake the box and let the dice fall into a new position. If nothing good comes from it, shake it again and see if opportunities arise. If they do, pursue them.
- In a negotiation, start by creating leverage out of thin air through outrageous threats.
- Walk back the threats as part of the negotiation of give and take.
- The president wins bigly and ends up in a better position than he started.
- Rinse and repeat.
Remember “rocketman”? Many thought Trump was unhinged, ready to start a world war. Pundits were declaring that it was highly irresponsible and would ruin any chance of peace. Then they met for peace talks.
The Trade War
Remember the tariffs against the EU? Critics were hysterical about how this would spiral into a trade war like the one that created the Great Depression in the 1930s. What happened? Trump and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker recently announced that they are working towards a “zero tariff” deal.
What started out as something scary turned out to be a negotiation tactic to get concessions from the EU. It worked. The result may be fewer tariffs. Who would have thought?
The story of Russia is a little different because of the Russia collusion fantasy. Trump has not been as strong-worded against Putin as many would have liked, but in action he has been the strictest president since Ronald Reagan. In this case, action speaks louder than words. Putin is receiving the message loud and clear: Trump may be saying nice things in public, but he is tough where it counts.
Putin respects that. He understands that Trump is not a push-over like President Barack Obama and is therefore willing to cooperate. Did you notice how just days after the meeting in Helsinki, North Korea was observed deconstructing one of their missile launch sites? Strange that.Trump and Rouhani
And then there is Iran. Trump pulled out of Obama’s bad deal and is stirring up a heap of heated words. Behind the scene, he is surely ramping up sanctions like he did against North Korea to make sure that the Iranian regime understands that it is no idle threat. Again, he is creating negotiation leverage where none previously existed.
What will happen next? Let’s try to make a prediction. Both Rouhani and Trump are saying that they would be willing to negotiate a deal. That’s exactly what Trump said about the EU tariffs earlier. Therefore, do not be shocked if we have another friendly peace talk meeting, this time between Trump and Rouhani.
That may not happen – it takes two to tango – but watch out for a walk-back in exchange for a better deal. It’s the Trump formula in a nutshell.