This week in a press conference, President Trump said he was open to sitting down with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “without preconditions.” Only a week after warning Rouhani that he must “NEVER” threaten the United States again without risking the ruination of his regime, Trump said he was always willing to talk to other leaders, no matter what their position towards the U.S. might be at any given time.
“I’ll meet with anybody,” he said. “If they want to meet, I’ll meet. Anytime they want.”
Trump’s willingness to sit down with allies and adversaries alike makes him unlike any president we’ve ever had, but it is fully in keeping with his reputation as a businessman and a dealmaker. For as much as Trump’s reputation makes him out to be a hard-hitting pugilist who burns bridges as soon as they’re built, the truth is that for Trump, there really is no such thing as a burnt bridge. He can be calling you the worst name in the book one day, sitting down with you and praising you to high heavens the next. It’s nor personal when it comes to our 45th president.
Well, okay, maybe with Rosie.
Trump acknowledged that Rouhani may not be ready to sit down with him just yet; politically, the Iranian president is suffering. The Iranian people are angry about the failing economy and the hardliners who rally behind the Ayatollah are running around saying “Told ya so” about the now-all-but-defunct nuclear agreement that Trump yanked us out of earlier this year.
Rouhani may be too politically precarious to face off against the hardliners right now, but it’s clear that his people want him to take the chance.
From the New York Times:
Iran’s leaders cannot stand the thought of talking to the United States and say President Trump cannot be trusted. But Jamshid Moniri, a 45-year-old building contractor sweating under the Tehran summer sun, summed up what many ordinary Iranians think.
“Of course we should talk to Trump,” he said on Tuesday. “What is wrong with talks? We’d be nuts not to talk to him.”
On Tuesday, in Tehran, Mr. Trump’s open invitation seemed to be on everybody’s mind. Increasingly desperate, many say they would welcome any option that could ease Iran’s economic quagmire.
The Iranian currency, the rial, has lost 80 percent of its value during the past year — and nearly 20 percent just in the past few days. Foreign investors have left to avoid new American sanctions that take effect starting in less than a week. And almost every week low-level protests over prices or wages erupt somewhere in the country that have the potential to spread if the economic free-fall worsens.
Mr. Moniri, the contractor, said he feared that what is considered bad now could get a lot worse. “So we should welcome talks,” he said. “Our leaders should welcome this opportunity.”
Trump has already proven he’s willing to change the game when it comes to international diplomacy. And frankly, with John Bolton and Mike Pompeo in his ear, Trump has a lot of people eager to see him launch military strikes against the Iranian regime. Certainly, his good friend Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel would love to see it as well. Tehran has every reason in the world to turn its back on the “death to America” rhetoric and take a chance that may not ever come again.
Can Rouhani survive such a pivot? The real question may be whether he can survive without it.