Richard Gowan observes how awful Trump is at making deals with other governments:
But the Trump administration has also proved strikingly averse to genuinely transactional diplomacy, if you define that term as making and delivering concrete bargains that all sides can afford.
Foreign diplomats, not least among U.S. allies, have made strenuous efforts to satisfy the president’s widely publicized love of deal-making. Rather than simply reject Trump’s criticisms of the international system, other powers have repeatedly endeavored to identify concessions to satisfy him. Yet while U.S. officials have been willing to discuss these offers, the administration has often ended up walking away in a huff.
The recent U.S. withdrawals from the Iranian nuclear deal and the United Nations Human Rights Council were both examples of this pattern. In both cases, foreign diplomats proposed substantive compromises to keep Washington involved in multilateral diplomacy. But the U.S. finally refused to make a deal on either.
Trump fails to make deals with other states so often because he usually makes unreasonable demands. However, the bigger problem is that he won’t accept compromises because he equates them with being “ripped off.” He won’t settle for less than the other side’s capitulation, and so he always ends up with nothing. Trump views international relations primarily in terms of asserting dominance, and so he feels the need to pick fights with one or more states on a regular basis. Foreign leaders that flatter and praise him personally are left alone, while those that disagree with the substance of administration policies are subjected to insults and punitive measures.
If Trump reaches a vague understanding with a foreign leader who makes him feel important, he considers that to be far superior to agreements worked out by his predecessors through years of painstaking negotiations. He will happily renege on the latter while pretending that the former is a huge success. These reactions have nothing to do with discernible American national interests, but are based on whether the president feels personally insulted or thinks he needs to lash out to show “strength.”
The other reason why Trump is so bad at striking deals with other governments is that he is mainly concerned with pandering to domestic constituencies rather than reaching an agreement with other leaders. Trump would much prefer to demagogue an issue and take reckless unilateral actions regardless of the costs to the U.S. All of this is obviously incompatible with building constructive relationships with other governments, and it makes those governments less likely to trust or cooperate with the U.S. on a range of issues.