Nobel laureate Paul Krugman: Trump’s pathetic attempts to ‘bully' and ‘intimidate’ Iranian regime have only ‘empowered’ it
Although tremendous animosity has existed between the United States and Iran for 41 years — ever since the 1979 revolution — that animosity hasn’t led to an all-out war between the two countries. But with the killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani by a U.S. drone strike and Tehran threatening retaliation, fears that a U.S./Iran cold war could turn hot are growing. Liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman asserts that Trump’s attack on Iran has inspired a spirit of unity — although not in the U.S.
“The assassination of Qassim Soleimani has transformed the situation, generating a wave of patriotism that has greatly bolstered the people in charge,” Krugman explains in his column this week. “Unfortunately, this patriotic rallying around the flag is happening not in America, where many are — with good reason — deeply suspicious of Donald Trump’s motives, but in Iran. In other words, Trump’s latest attempt to bully another country has backfired — just like all his previous attempts.”
Trump’s attempts to intimidate the Iranian regime, Krugman laments, haven’t discouraged it, but rather, “empowered” it.
“From his first days in office,” Krugman observes, “Trump has acted on the apparent belief that he could easily intimidate foreign governments — that they would quickly fold and allow themselves to be humiliated. That is, he imagined that he faced a world of Lindsey Grahams, willing to abandon all dignity at the first hint of a challenge. But this strategy keeps failing; the regimes he threatens are strengthened rather than weakened, and Trump is the one who ends up making humiliating concessions.”
Krugman cites North Korea and China as two examples of countries where Trump has yet to deliver on his promises of being a tough negotiator.
“Like all too many Americans,” Krugman asserts, “Trump has a hard time grasping the fact that other countries are real — that is, that we’re not the only country whose citizens would rather pay a heavy price, in money and even in blood, than make what they see as humiliating concessions.”
In the past, Krugman emphasizes, the U.S. was viewed as “something more than a big country throwing its weight around” and “always stood for something larger” — specifically, the “global rule of law.”
“Trump, however, has turned his back on everything that used to make America great,” Krugman observes. “Under his leadership, we’ve become nothing more than a big, self-interested bully — a bully with delusions of grandeur, who isn’t nearly as tough as he thinks. We abruptly abandon allies like the Kurds, we honor war criminals, we slap punitive tariffs on friendly nations like Canada for no good reason. And, of course, after more than 15,000 lies, nothing our leader and his minions say can be trusted.”
Krugman wraps up his column by emphasizing that if Trump supporters expect an abundance of leaders around the world to thank the U.S. for Soleimani’s killing, they are going to be bitterly disappointed.
“Trump officials seem taken aback by the uniformly negative consequences of the Soleimani killing: the Iranian regime is empowered, Iraq has turned hostile, and nobody has stepped up in our support,” Krugman writes. “But that’s what happens when you betray all your friends and squander all your credibility.”