Another excerpt from Trump’s strange press conference stands out for its sheer lack of empathy:
It doesn’t matter what world leaders think on Iran. Iran is going to come back to me and they’re going to make a good deal. I think. Maybe not. Deals, you never know, but they’re suffering greatly. They’re having riots in every city, far greater than they were during the green period with President Obama. Far greater. When President Obama stuck up for government, not the people, he probably would have had a much different Iran had he not done that. But I’m sticking up for the people. I am with the people of Iran.
But here is the thing. They have rampant inflation. Their money is worthless. Everything is going wrong. They have riots in the street. You can’t buy bread, you can’t do anything. It is a disaster [bold mine-DL].
Trump’s statement is equal parts delusion and cruelty. On the one hand, he imagines that he can humiliate Iran into accepting far worse terms. That won’t happen, but he is incapable of putting himself in their position so he can’t grasp why. He lies that the current protests are bigger than the Green movement protests, and then displays his ignorance of the latter by suggesting that there would have been a major change in the regime if the protesters had prevailed. Trump also lies about his predecessor as usual, claiming that Obama “stuck up for government” because Obama chose not to insert the U.S. into the middle of an internal Iranian dispute. At no time did Obama defend or “stick up” for the Iranian government when it was repressing protesters in 2009-10, but since Trump is just repeating warmed-over Iran hawk talking points he wouldn’t know that.
The truly delusional part is the claim that he is “with the people of Iran” when every action he has taken with respect to Iran has been to punish and harm the people of Iran. First he banned Iranian nationals from coming to the U.S., then reneged on the nuclear deal most Iranians supported, and further injured them by reimposing nuclear sanctions without the slightest justification. Trump is now using U.S. power to strangle Iran’s economy and cut it off from the world’s financial institutions, which is already having the effect of preventing the import of vital medicines, and as the sanctions grow tighter it will impoverish the population still more. Trump is carrying out a policy of collective punishment, he boasts about the terrible effects it is having on the economy, and yet he has the gall to say that he is “sticking up for the people.” On the contrary, he is trampling them and kicking them while they are down. It takes a genuinely callous person to tout the great suffering of people that you have caused and then congratulate yourself for being on their side.