Donald Trump is considered unpredictable. Therefore, many fear that he could cause a terrible escalation in the Iran crisis. Of course, there is a risk that the conflict between Iran and the US will turn into the Great War. However, Trump is just surprising us with his failure to act a mere week after the epic attack on the oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. Is that unpredictable?
After three years of real-world trumpism on a global stage, the unpredictability label is less and less in line with the US president. In some ways, the opposite is more true: Trump is calculable. His motives are as transparent as his actions. For friends and enemies. That too is unfortunately pretty dangerous.
Trump's dealings with Iran show that very clearly. In the 2016 election campaign he railed against the nuclear agreement, from which he left in 2018 as president. That was foreseeable. Then Trump overcame Iran with harsh sanctions, which was anything but surprising. Since May, Iranian allies or Iranian forces have been attacking tankers and oil infrastructure on the Arab side of the Gulf. In response, the US sent several escorts. Then Iranian troops shot down a US drone. Reaction: none. Now oil plants of the Saudis are in ruins. The US is openly exposing the bombing of Saudi oil facilities to Iran. Reaction: none so far.
Even if further sanctions and harsh slogans against Iran are to be expected soon: The great war is unlikely. That's what the Iranians can figure out. Because Donald Trump can not use war in the approaching election campaign. He promised his constituents to get America out of old wars and not to drag them into new ones. Since Trump believes that he is most likely to be re-elected, if he implements all his campaign pledges, he does not want a big war. And so it becomes calculable and transparent.
Trump appreciates authoritarian men
Donald Trump has long become predictable for other players on the world stage. For America's opponents, for example: dictator Kim Jong Un knows he can not expect Trump's concerted action against the North Korean nuclear program. Trump values authoritarian men like him, whether their weapons threaten America. The Chinese, too, have adjusted to Trump's personality in their open trade war with the Americans. The man threatens, he tweets, he raises tariffs on Chinese goods - to some extent. This is popular in America. But before the big showdown Trump recoils because he wants no serious economic crisis before the next election. The Chinese know their trump - and plan accordingly.
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Conversely, the US allies can count on Trump's ultimate ill-treatment. Europe's insults, Merkel insults, Canada's damnation - that's also what Trump's core electorate, which allegedly despises liberal weaklings, deserves. Therefore, the Danes should not be surprised that Trump treated them - the most loyal of all allies - so rude and mocked with the purchase of Greenland. Friends are not worth anything to Trump. The friends can rely on that, even in the Middle East.
Not only in unpredictability, even in the accountability of an authoritarian is a great danger. If burning Saudi oil factories do not move the US president, if their election campaign is more important than world history, then the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and their allies have a free hand. To avoid further escalation, Americans would now have to return to the negotiating table and to the nuclear deal.
But Trump wants neither war nor peace and compensation. Provoked by American threats and ever new US sanctions, the Revolutionary Guards are likely to continue their attacks on neighboring states in the region. Even so, the Middle East may slip into the big war. In the direct confrontation of Iran and Saudi Arabia, of Iran against Israel. On a smaller flame this conflict burns long ago.