GZERO Media logo

Time for Trump to Close Some Deals. Can He Do it?

Time for Trump to Close Some Deals. Can He Do it?

In 2016, Donald Trump sold himself to American voters as the master dealmaker. The author of The Art of the Deal promised that by bringing the hardnosed tactics of a New York real estate tycoon onto the world stage, he – alone – could solve some of Washington's most intractable foreign-policy problems. With the 2020 election approaching, his approval ratings low, and fresh signs the US economy might soon falter, the clock is ticking: Can he deliver?


Here's a look at four big deals that he might (not) be able to pull off in time.

China – Over the weekend, Trump appeared to concede "second thoughts" on tariff war escalation with China, and he now says that Xi Jinping, chastened by an economic slowdown in his own country, wants to talk. But, as Ian Bremmer asked six months ago, why would Xi offer concessions that fundamentally change China's economic model when he knows he might get a new US president in 17 months.

North Korea – North Korea has test-fired 15 ballistic missiles since May and six in the past four weeks alone. That's Kim Jong-un's way of demanding attention. The North Korean strongman needs a deal that can boost the DPRK's economy, but not badly enough to surrender the nuclear program that he believes guarantees his survival. Without that concession, what sort of agreement is possible?

USMCA – Here's a deal Trump thought he'd already made. The US-Mexico-Canada update to the North American Free Trade Agreement has been signed by all three governments. The obstacle here is at home: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has little interest in giving Trump a political victory by bringing USMCA to a ratification vote in the House of Representatives. If she won't give him a win in 2019, she probably won't be any softer in an election year.

Iran – Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made a surprise appearance at the G7 Summit in France last weekend, and though Trump didn't comment, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that President Trump "would not set preconditions" if Iran wants to talk about the nuclear deal that Trump walked out of in 2017. Trump would love to go into the election with an Iran deal that's even stricter than the one Obama signed in 2015. But will Iranians accept the terms Trump says he wants? Probably not. In fact, Zarif's trip shows Tehran is more interested in pressing Europe for help than in offering concessions to (a potentially outgoing) Trump.

The bottom line: Donald Trump loves to throw punches, and his most loyal supporters are content to see their man fight. But closing one or two of these "big deals" might help persuade more independent-minded voters that he can, in fact, be an effective president. As we get closer to the 2020 election, will his interlocutors, foreign and domestic, gain confidence that they can just wait him out?

Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.

Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.

Listen: The country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, joins Ian Bremmer to talk vaccines, school re-openings, and when—and how—the pandemic could finally come end. He was last on GZERO World just weeks before the pandemic hit in the fall of 2019 and he described at the time what kept him up at night: a "pandemic-like respiratory illness." This time, he talks about how closely that nightmare scenario foreshadowed the COVID-19 pandemic. He also offers some guidance about what public health measures vaccinated Americans should continue to take in the coming months (hint: masks stay on).

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and as we head into the weekend, a Quick Take on, well, the first bombing campaign of the new Biden administration. You kind of knew it was going to happen. Against some Iranian-backed militias in Syria, looks like a couple of dozen, perhaps more killed, and some militia-connected military facilities destroyed. I think there are a few ways to look at this, maybe three different lenses.

More Show less

Afghanistan frustrated nineteenth-century British imperialists for 40 years, and ejected the Soviet army in 1989 after a bloody decade there. And though American and NATO forces ousted the Taliban government in 2001 over its support for al-Qaeda, there's no good reason for confidence that nearly 20 years of occupation have brought lasting results for security and development across the country.

But… could China succeed where other outsiders have failed – and without a costly and risky military presence? Is the promise of lucrative trade and investment enough to ensure a power-sharing deal among Afghanistan's warring factions?

More Show less

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Stockholm on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Is there a military coup ongoing in Armenia?

Well, it isn't a military coup as of yet, but it's not far from it either. This is the turmoil that is resulting from the war with Azerbaijan, which Armenia took a large death loss. What happened was that the head of the armed forces asked for the prime minister to resign. That was not quite a coup, but not very far from it. Now, the prime minister sacked the head of the armed forces, there's considerable uncertainty. Watch the space.

More Show less
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

Biden strikes Syria. Now what?

Quick Take