The whiplash that many observers have felt on learning of President Trump’s about-face on China’s ZTE telecom company from condemning it as violating US national security and violating sanctions rules by selling to North Korea and Iran has been pretty easily explained by our soon thereafter learning that China has provided a mere half a billion dollars to a project in Indonesia where Trump interests are deeply involved. This is probably the most blatant violation of the Emoluments Clause of the US constitution yet, but do not hold your breath that anything formal will come of it, despite widespread outrage. Rather his backers will accept that this is necessary for obtaining Chinese support in dealing with Kim Jong-In in the possible forthcoming summit. This is supposed to trump all other considerations.
Of course the supposed forthcoming summit and related events, such as the recent release of hostages held by North Korea, have been trumping Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, which has been praised by his supporters as an action that “fulfills a campaign promise” and thus just simply wonderful. However, a little noticed aspect of this in the US is triggering considerable reverberations abroad. It is the hypocrisy that while Trump seems to be blithely forgiving ZTE for breaking already in-place sanctions against Iran, he and members of his administration such as John Bolton have been unyielding to the Europeans that all of their companies must cease any economic dealings with Iran ASAP now that Trump has scuttled US participation in the deal, even though it is widely accepted in Europe that Iran is in full compliance with the deal. The spectacle of the freshly arrived US ambassador issuing an immediate “order” to German companies to immediately comply with US demands on this has raised especial hackles.
Pretty clearly the Europeans need to identify some budding Trump Organization project somewhere on the planet that they can dump a pile of money into so that their companies can get exemptions like ZTE has from having their markets in the US cut off if they continue to operate in Iran.