WASHINGTON—A flurry of global events in recent weeks shows how the Trump administration is wielding U.S. economic might—through tariffs, sanctions and other means—as a geopolitical weapon for battles with adversaries and allies alike.
The strategy has reaped some short-term gains, though the risks include the potential for a loss of global influence in the longer term.
Mr. Trump and his team used tariffs to push China toward buying more U.S. goods and reforming its treatment of American companies; increased sanctions pressure on Iran over its nuclear program; considered restricting the Iraqi government’s access to the money it keeps at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in a confrontation over U.S. troops; and used sanctions to target a Russo-German natural gas pipeline, squeezing Berlin in an effort to challenge Moscow.
Steve Bannon, a former adviser to Mr. Trump, said the president should ramp up sanctions use on adversaries like Iran. “Economic warfare works,” he said. Street protests against the regime in Iran are evidence of it, he added.