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Van Jackson @WonkVJ
, 8 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Two different arguments can be made about Trump's threat-by-tweet against Iran--one about probability and one about risk. They're both valid and related. 1/
One argument is that Trump's all bark, no bite; tweets are the epitome of cheap talk. The entire North Korea nuclear crisis last year suggests Trump doesn't want a war. 2/
He's proven repeatedly that he can 180 his posture for nothing but political convenience. At minimum, we can say with some confidence that his threat rhetoric is not a reliable indicator of what he'll do--in the poli sci biz, that's the very definition of cheap talk. 3/
The other argument focuses not on probability but risk--the tweet should be a reminder of what Trump is authorized to do legally, and that should unsettle us all. @NarangVipin had a startlingly valid tweet about this today 4/
The two arguments, while different, are linked. If Trump's threats have become a source of mockery (see me original tweet earlier today doing precisely that), then he may feel compelled to emote w violence and prove that he isn't the joke here appears to be. 5/
Alternatively, Trump's empty shit-talking may (ironically) make Iran feel free to be provocative in kind--or totally ignore/defy Trump--which would force Trump to contemplate limited strikes. That's entirely plausible and freaking scary 6/
So to point out risks that Trump generates with his rhetoric isn't the same as believing his threats, or taking them at face value. And pointing out that his words are hollow cheap talk isn't the same as saying you see no danger in the situation--cheap talk can be costly talk
In conversations about North Korea last year, the different frames of probability vs. risk led to some wildly different perspectives that were mutually compatible but had the appearance of talking past each other
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