Donald Trump to get tough on Iran, China in bid to reassert US power

Donald Trump to get tough on Iran, China in bid to reassert US power, by Roger Boyes.

He is building a court, dispensing favours and, 40-odd days before the inauguration, is plotting the future like a modern-day emperor Tiberius.

That’s why China is on Trump’s mind; it is the state that mounts the most direct challenge to US hegemony, its global reach, its cyberdefences and its economic growth. It is the rising power against which America must measure its decline.

He has thus embarked on a pre-presidency policy of pinpricks and much to his satisfaction, China is responding.

First meeting Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, then taking a telephone call from Taiwan’s president. Ooh-wah. Here are the emerging foreign policy changes:

Trump’s aim is to end what he believes is a culture of subservience to China. Until now the chief White House concern in Asia has been to persuade Beijing to apply pressure to Kim Jong Un of North Korea and get him to abandon his nuclear program. Intelligence officials even showed the Chinese satellite pictures of Kim’s long-range rockets. President Obama’s first long chat with Trump was about the ability of North Korea to strike at US territory within five years. The Chinese, however, have stonewalled Obama. …

For now, his approach to China is security before commerce; more warships; heightened cyberdefences. His selection of the retired marine general Jim “Warrior Monk” Mattis as defence secretary is thus critical; it sets the tone in the Trump court. Mattis is a strong personality not a yes man (he has already persuaded Trump to drop his support for the use of torture against terrorists). …

The Trump team has calculated that ISIS can best be defeated in Syria with the help of the Russians. The price for this will be allowing Moscow’s client dictator Bashar al-Assad to stay in place. This is unsavoury but they argue that the alternative offered up by the Obama administration has contributed to the loss of 400,000 lives. …

Expect more sanctions for Iran-linked terror groups, closer vigilance of the nuclear curbs agreement and an abrupt end to Obama’s almost sentimental relationship with Tehran’s supposed reformers.

hat-tip Stephen Neil