Under the Trump administration, a strategy of “maximum pressure” was frequently pursued. The concept behind this was to force another party to react in a certain way through various, but almost always economic, measures. This was coupled with Trump’s instinctive feel for his counterpart’s weak points.
Towards the US allies, the approach consisted in particular of pointing out their unwillingness to spend on their own defence. This had a strong effect on the governments and societies of the respective countries, since subliminally, of course, there was always the hint that the security of these states depended to a large extent on the actions of the Americans. However, in disputes that directly affected the economy, import tariffs were also imposed on certain goods.
However, this pressure was exerted much more strongly on hostile states, above all China and Iran. China was one of the countries that Trump sought to put under the most pressure, and it was also his core concern to put the US’s relationship with China on a new footing. He wanted to “decouple” the economies of the two countries from each other, i.e. to reduce interstate trade and, in particular, to balance out China’s foreign trade surplus with the USA, but this did not succeed.
Iran, on the other hand, had to endure much tougher measures. In addition to the US withdrawal from the so-called Iran Agreement, even stronger sanctions were imposed and there were also more military attacks on Iranian troops abroad, culminating in the killing of Qasam Soleimani.
How did these countries react to Washington’s pressure?