Richard M. Nixon once said, “People react to fear, not love; they don’t teach that in Sunday school, but it’s true.”
No president since has deployed fear quite like Donald J. Trump. Whether it is the prospect of a crime wave at the border with Mexico or nuclear war with North Korea, President Trump has persuaded his supporters that there is plenty to fear beyond fear itself.
In an interview as a presidential candidate in 2016 with the Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of The Washington Post, Mr. Trump said, “Real power is — I don’t even want to use the word — fear.”
...Few outside the Republican Party are afraid of him, and they may be less intimidated after the disastrous government shutdown.
...He could well face a challenge for the Republican nomination in 2020, and congressional Republicans from swing states could begin to distance themselves from him.
One of the clearest signals came last week when Republicans, backing an amendment offered by Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, opposed the president’s call for withdrawal of United States military forces from Syria and Afghanistan as part of a Middle East policy bill. Only three Republicans voted against it.
...there is little evidence that President Xi Jinping of China, or any other foreign leader, is cowed.
And certainly not Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The president initially said he felt comfortable negotiating with Ms. Pelosi, but in interviews aired on Sunday, he sharpened his attacks on her and said her obstinacy on the border wall was damaging the country.
Mr. Trump has found that his lack of experience in politics and diplomacy, which require policy knowledge, team building and nuanced negotiating ability, has left him at a decided disadvantage despite his boasts about his deal-making prowess.
“He’s surrounded in these standoffs by people who have all those boxes checked,” said Timothy O’Brien, the author of “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald.” “Nancy Pelosi has been doing this for quite a while, Putin has been doing this for a quite a while, Xi has been doing this quite a while. They’ve all been running circles around him.”
...American allies, diplomats said, have more a sense of resignation than fear in dealing with him. The list of threats from Mr. Trump is long, but the number of times he has followed through is exceedingly short.
“He is playing a role, and the role, much like on ‘The Apprentice,’ was of the strong, able character, but it’s a role,” said David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama. “Every foreign leader and every practicing politician has taken a measure of him and understands the basics, that he responds to strength and there’s not a lot behind the facade.”
...Even Nixon later acknowledged that he did not really believe fear was a successful prime motivator.
“Nixon said that, but he didn’t believe it and he didn’t practice it,” said Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian and author of the recent best seller “Presidents of War.” “He actually spent decades building relationships in Washington, with his party leaders, with Democrats, and around the world. So yes, there were certainly elements of fear in all those relationships, but he knew you needed both the carrot and the stick.
... “It’s almost as if he only has one tool in his toolbox,” Mr. Beschloss said.Curiously not mentioned in the NYT article is the recent initiative of European states to circumvent Trump's trade sanctions against Iran by facilitating European trade in non-US currency. That's a sublime act of defiance of the Mango Mussolini, one that Trump avoids mentioning.