JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TRUMP AND CHINA AND HIS WHOLE APPROACH TO TRADE – HIS METHODS RESEMBLE THOSE OF SOME VERY UNSAVORY CHARACTERS – DANGERS HE REPRESENTS – JUST WHY THE UNITED STATES IS IN THE POSITION THAT IT IS   1 comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY PATRICK LAWRENCE IN CONSORTIUM NEWS

 

“The US-China Decoupling

“The long, dense economic relationship appears to have passed its peak, writes Patrick Lawrence.”

 

“Trump’s position on Huawei gives the game away: If the company is truly a national security threat, it makes no sense to offer it as a chip to be bargained in trade talks with Beijing.”

 

That is absolutely the case for Huawei and national security concerns.

Trump has been caught before in this same kind of contradictory stance, as with tariffs on steel and aluminum.

I think the truth is that he is a man ready to use any gimmick to get what he wants, regardless of logic or facts or principle. Another way to say that is to speak of a criminal mentality.

It is exactly what the mob has always done in making someone an offer they can’t refuse. “Don’t want to pay protection money? Well, don’t be surprised if your joint gets burned down.”

Trump essentially wants to transfer huge amounts of trade surplus from China to the United States, not by any change in the economic activity or policies of the two countries but by fiat.

But of course, the world doesn’t work that way.

The United States’ trade deficits are its own doing, not China’s. The United States doesn’t save, and it doesn’t tax adequately. It consumes, and a productive country like China is only too pleased to supply what it wants. That makes a flow of goods in one direction and a flow of money in the other. Economics 101.

Trump seems to think he can command the wind and the waves. He has an immense ego, and there is the fact that he is a good deal less clever than he thinks he is.

Trump believes that by intimidation and threats, he can make something happen that cannot happen through the ordinary operations of the economies. In this we see him most like the thugs that came to run a number of European countries in the 1930s.

He genuinely does not understand – or if he understands, he doesn’t care – what is behind the surpluses and deficits and just insists that they will be changed as a matter of his personal will.  Does that not remind us of anyone from history?

At any rate, it comes down to his admiring “the strong man” and believing he, and he alone, can play that role for the United States. And there are more than a few Americans that believe him too. After all, the great American journalist and historian who documented the rise and fall of the Nazis, William L. Shirer, once said that he thought the United States might be the first country to go fascist voluntarily. He based that thought on his observation of many attitudes and beliefs and trends in the United States.

Trump’s “MAGA” is nothing more than thinking you can make that heart-warming post-WWII slogan, “the American Dream,” come alive again, many decades later and in an entirely different set of circumstances. “The American Dream” was based in a world where almost every competitor was prostrate from war while America remained relatively unscathed. So, America supplied, for a while, a huge share of the world’s demands, but its share has been declining ever since.

In today’s world, all the old competitors have not only come roaring back, but a lot of new ones have come into being, and that reality is the future.

Naturally, many Americans want to believe otherwise. Trump’s base – the nation’s Wal-Mart shoppers and the residents of its huge gulag of trailer parks – certainly does, and its hopes come tinged with everything from superstition to religiosity.

America’s elites, the members of its power establishment, do not believe in the same way, but they are deeply concerned about America’s relative decline. They have been working away for years on the problem, as in their past bashing of Japan or China, but they are not ready to work for fundamental change in America, as, for example, in its tax and savings structures and its grotesque inequalities.

They do believe that America’s still great remaining strength can be used to extract concessions from the world without sacrificing anything at home and without sacrificing its role as the center of world empire, a role that comes with many perks and privileges. And while most of them do not like Trump’s style or background, I think for now they are willing to see whether he can get the ugly job done. One thinks of the infamous German industrialists and bankers – as well as notable American ones – with their early support for Hitler, although I do not mean to say the situations are identical.

You can try fighting by the methods Trump is using, but those methods risk, through acts like the blithe laying on of massive new tariffs and sanctions and uttering threats and ultimatums, not only reduced economic activity in the world, they risk ultimately real wars.

Even if they don’t go so far as war, they are shaking up some fundamental post-WWII arrangements that America is going to miss. Decades-old allies, like some of those in Europe, are beginning to re-think their relationship with such a hostile, single-minded America and to glance in other directions, as towards the very China Trump attacks and towards Russia, a country whose openness to business would have resembled a miracle under the communists and whose wealth of natural resources offers altogether new opportunities.

Posted May 29, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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