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28 Feb, 2019 23:04

The art of no deal: Why can’t Washington reach agreements with...anyone?

The art of no deal: Why can’t Washington reach agreements with...anyone?

The much-anticipated second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un was cut short this week, with both leaders leaving Vietnam early before an expected signing ceremony. Sometimes you just have to walk away, Trump said.

The negotiations ultimately floundered when it came to the question of lifting US sanctions on North Korea. Kim wanted partial sanctions relief in return for its “realistic proposal”to halt nuclear and missile tests and dismantle a nuclear facility at Yongbyon, but Trump was not prepared to compromise.

Murray Hunter, an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis, told RT the result was a “catastrophic failure” given the “high expectations” the White House had put on the meeting. So, what does it really take to reach a deal with the United States?

The most obvious criteria for successful negotiations with the US seems to be that a country’s name must either be ‘Israel’ or ‘Saudi Arabia’ — but beyond that, problems plague Washington’s efforts at diplomacy and deal-making.

Also on rt.com US is stalling North Korea denuclearization by refusing to make concessions – analysts

Iran: Deal! Wait, no deal

One major impediment to Washington’s deal-making skills might be its tendency to renege on the deals it actually does make, thus rendering confidence in its promises fairly pointless.

Trump, who has long prided himself on his ability to close deals, decided last May to rip up the 2015 Iran nuclear negotiated by seven countries, despite lacking any evidence that Tehran had broken the terms. The UN and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) both said Iran had abided by the deal and European countries were left begging Trump to keep the US in, to no avail. With the stroke of a pen, a deal that took years of trust-building to conclude, was cast aside.

Since then, Trump has seemed determined to take an ever more antagonistic tone toward Iran, slapping the country with more sanctions and angling toward regime change.

Russia: Let’s be friends...or not

Rebuilding positive relations with Russia was part of Trump’s foreign policy platform during his presidential campaign, but since taking office, plans to patch things up with Moscow seem to have gone right out the window.

Trump abandoned the Soviet-era INF arms control treaty, introduced more sanctions, and has been pushing European countries to ditch business deals with Moscow.

The about-face on Russia relations could be partly explained by the fact that Democrats accuse Trump of “collusion” with Moscow to win the election, but Russiagate or not, friendly relations with Russia have not, historically, been a goal of the the US military industrial complex.

China: It’s complicated

Trump may have called Chinese President Xi Jinping to say “hey” last week and to ask for help with the North Korea deal, but things haven’t exactly been rosy with Beijing either. Washington imposed tariffs of $250 billion on Chinese imports last year, prompting a $110 billion retaliation from China on US goods. Trump has threatened to extend those tariffs unless a suitable trade deal can be reached.

Also on rt.com US & China start outlining deal to end trade war – reports

Trump and Xi agreed to a 90-day truce when they met last year in Argentina, but as the clock runs down on securing a deal, it looks like the truce might need an extension.

EU: Do what we say, or else

Trump’s inability to get on with countries around the world has also impacted his relationship with some of Washington’s most historically steadfast allies in Europe. Last year, Trump threatened consequences for European countries and companies found to be evading US sanctions and still doing business with Iran. That led the EU to come up with a special payments system to circumvent the measures, a move that has greatly displeased the White House.

Earlier this month, US Vice President Mike Pence clashed publicly with German chancellor Angela Merkel over Iran and Russia, demanding that Europe follow Washington’s lead and pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal. He also lashed out at the EU over the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will supply Russian gas to Germany, preferring Europe to cut off its energy relationship with Moscow.

Also on rt.com Here’s why US-North Korea talks will continue to fail

What gives?

As for why the US is at odds with so many countries, Paul Liem, chairman of the Korea Policy Institute told RT it is partly to do with Trump's “adversarial and Machiavellian” approach, but also partly due to "the culture of US politics, which is imperialistic” in general.

In the context of ripped-up deals and broken promises, it’s little wonder that North Korea isn’t scrambling to give up its nukes based on mere assurances echoing from the White House.

“On the chessboard of global affairs, Trump supports countries which will do its bidding, and pushes back on countries which pursue independent policies,” Liem said.

It may just be that simple.

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