The Artifice of the Deal
Trump's Iran predictions reveal more than simple projection.
So as many have noted, Donald Trump made numerous statements during President Obama's first term of office to the effect that he would start a war with Iran in order to secure his re-election.
That Donald has made a dangerously provocative strike against an Iranian official at the start of an election year and at a moment when his own future is in peril has not gone unnoticed.
There is, of course, Trump's usual strategic projection, where he deflects attention from himself and muddies the waters around his own actions by accusing others of doing them. But Donald Trump in 2011 wasn't in office. He had no power to deal with Iran one way or the other. There was nothing to deflect.
So what we can learn from this is that Trump's deflections are't purely strategic, but also genuinely revelatory. Trump's "strategy" consists of listening to his instincts, honed over the years based on repeating what works the most and gradually moving away from what doesn't. It is his nature to deflect and project, in no small part because he lacks the ability to imagine another person's perspective and instead can only "put himself in their shoes" in a more literal fashion.
That is, when he looked at the situation and tried to imagine what President Obama would do, all he could come up with is what he himself would have done.
And then feeling very clever with himself for having spotted it, he proclaimed it loudly and often, telling people repeatedly to give him credit for having said it when it inevitably came true, because how could he be wrong about this? It was so obvious.
All of this, for my money, makes this tweet in particular the most revealing of the bunch:
When we understand that Donald is talking about himself here, we see a frankly shockingly honest assessment of his own skills. Negotiation is not his forte. He couldn't see anyway forward with Iran through diplomacy and couldn't imagine that anyone else would, either.
With this piece of the puzzle, his particular venom for the Iran nuclear deal begins to make more sense. Sure, he's had hawks like Pompeo and Bolton perching on his shoulder and whispering in his ear, but his hatred of the deal feels like its own thing separate from the rising or falling tides of individual voices in the echo chamber around him. It's been a constant no matter who is in favor or what course they were being allowed to chart.
Trump hates the Iran deal because he was wrong and he can't understand how that's possible, which means he was cheated. He expected to have this great moment where President Obama sent troops to Iran or ordered airstrikes or something and then all the microphones would turn to Donald and he'd be able to say, "Well... it was obvious, wasn't it?"
So of course in his mind, he wasn't wrong. He was right. Completely right on the money. Which means that the Iran deal is a sham, and President Obama must have accepted some terrible compromise to produce a sham of a deal in order to cover up the fact that he, Donald J. Trump, was right.
And since he based his estimation of President Obama's chances on his own negotiation skills, then in doing so, President Obama proclaimed himself a better negotiation than Donald Trump, the Greatest Negotiator in the World.
How could he stand for that?
So of course he shredded the Iran nuclear deal. And that's not the sole step that brought us to the position we find ourselves in today, but it's a crucial one, and one that by all appearances had more planning and forethought that went into than the airstrike did.
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