21 thoughts on “Trump’s Deals”

  1. Is Ledeen a neo-con? Honest question, I don’t know.

    But I disagree with his premise that “thanks to the efforts of anti-Soviet dissidents throughout Russia and the captives in Eastern and Central Europe” was the primary lever for defeating the Soviet Union. Those were important for sure, but our economic efforts played a far greater role.

    I think I would prefer economic pressure on Iran and China before invoking our military. I certainly am confused by his putting Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo on the same side with regards to tough words and sanctions. Since when did Bolton and Pompeo want sanctions? They want war right now, Trump seems to be playing a more “measured” role, certainly his refusal to respond with a military retaliation to Iran’s shooting down the drone disappointed Iran. I thought we were praising Trump a few posts ago for not allowing Iran to provoke a military response, which would give them the upper hand in the world courts of opinion.

    1. Bolton is Trump’s pit-bull: ‘make a deal, or I let him off the leash’.

      Economics is a much easier way to deal with left-wing regimes than war is, because those regimes can’t run a workable economy themselves.

      The Soviet Union would probably have collapsed years earlier if the US wasn’t selling them food, and China is already looking pretty precarious under the current sanctions. They can’t exist without US money, whereas America can exist quite happily without anything from China.

      China also can’t afford to give in and make a deal, because it will make them look weak. So he appears to be playing a Xanatos Gambit on them; regardless of what they do, he wins.

      1. “So he appears to be playing a Xanatos Gambit on them; regardless of what they do, he wins.”

        Unfortunately, I don’t think that is quite true. I’d phrase it as “regardless of what they do, they lose.” The US only really wins if they make a deal, otherwise we basically break-even.

        1. Depends on how one defines “winning”. I would consider it an enormous win if we prevent China from becoming the dominant power on earth, which they will do if they become the dominant economy. If China does achieve such dominance, nuclear war becomes likely, and perhaps the lest-bad scenario (totalitarian enslavement, like their own people, being the other likely outcome.)

          Personally, even if stopping China hurts the US economically, I consider that a win as opposed to war.

          1. Surely China will be benevolent when they control the world. When have totalitarians ever not been benevolent?

            I think a large part of why so many Americans turn a blind eye to China is because tens of millions, at least 40%, of our friends to the left want the USA to be like China.

      2. China can’t lose face, so when will Trump make the face saving offer, like he did with NK?

        A good deal would be win win for both countries and wouldn’t have to be portrayed as Trump winning while China loses. China would be abled to compete on a fairer playing field but perhaps the corruption that drives their system wouldn’t be as sustainable.

    2. Yes, Ledeen is a neocon. He wants Iran destroyed, and he doesn’t much care how many Americans have to die to accomplish that.

  2. Ahh, the old Trump only wants a deal and will accept any deal they offer worrymonger. That has already been disproved.

    As far as the trade war goes, it predates Trump. Trump was just the first American to try and deal with it. China would do just fine if they played fair and we are under no obligation to accept the unfair practices. I’m sure there are a lot of Americans that think we deserve to be punished for the sin of our existence and because Asians place higher than Americans on the progressive stack though.

    People are freaking out ovet what amounts to a ten percent tax of a small, but important, part of our economy. The same people who advocate for raising taxes on the entire economy. If the trade war has bad effects, which it does for the USA and China, what does that mean for the economy wide punitive measures our media advocates for regularly?

    And what is with that last paragraph saying we need to go to war over everything? The military should be used as part of a foreign policy that uses all aspects of American power but that shouldn’t mean willy nilly war.

  3. Considering how well military regime change has worked in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya… Putting the screws to Iran and Syria costs nothing, China and Russia are a bit trickier, but then we don’t really want to change regimes there, just curtail their mischief. Otherwise, they can find their own way to hell.

    When the Soviet Union collapsed almost silently and painlessly, I was surprised. I think now that the reckoning has just been postponed and been accruing interest all these years.

    When we first sanctioned Russia, they retaliated by stopping the import of frozen chicken feet. The huge Chinese trade imbalance gives us far more weapons against them than they have against us.

  4. Trump’s real leverage is that he is doing this in a historically strong economy. One could argue he is intentionally using this to keep the economy from overheating while keeping int rates low… quite a smart way to kill two birds really.

    At the very least it will be tempting for whoever is president to reduce the tariffs when we go into recession to add some cheap goods to the economy. At worst China can add to the avalanche by flooding the market with US debt as the economy contracts. They seem willing and able to wait it out for now at least.

    1. Right now, China can probably get more soy beans from Brazil and Argentina. In a couple of months the roads from the farms will be axle deep in mud there. They’re also having swine disease problems that are decreasing demand for now. The game goes both ways.

      Raising S.A demand will lift those prices that are normally a little below U.S. and drive some demand this way from those that don’t care. There’s also plenty of opportunity for the Chinese to make bold statements while buying through middlemen. Large imports are no longer optional if everybody gets to eat.

  5. Look up the Tian Xia, or the Great Order Under Heaven. I think its from the 5th Century BCE. The Chinese state has been nasty off and on for quite a long time. There’s also a strong racist tone the Middle Kingdom meme.

  6. “Trump often doesn’t seem to recognize the nature of who he’s dealing with.”
    It seems that way.

    But he won the election.
    And he seems to doing what he promised he would do.

    There was poll that something like 80% of people wanted an
    outsider.
    There is zero doubt about him delivering on that.

    I thought if he was elected, he would be one term president,
    it looks like he will be two term president. AND also next president will also probably be an “outsider”.
    Normally if got an outsider, one expect next time, people would want another outsider. And seems we going to get outsiders to the end of time.
    I remember the “fear” that Trump would “side” or work with the Dems.
    Rather than Trump not recognizing the nature of who he’s dealing with, it’s quite the opposite.
    Which another thing Trump promised he would do {and has done}.

  7. The trouble with outsiders is that there are so many of them. That’s how the Democrats got where they are now. I wonder if the first Republican 2024 “contender” will wait for after the election to announce. Chances are, it will be someone you’ve never heard of.

  8. In the final analysis, the growing physical threats need to be eliminated one way or another. For example, we can not afford to have a North Korea with dozens, moving to hundreds of ICBMs pointing at a hundred million of our citizens.

    I’m fine with Trump using maximum economic pressure to get better trade deals and it often works as we have seen multiple examples recently. But sanctions and even embargoes rarely end the physical threats. If Trump applies maximal economic pressure until the end of his administration and it doesn’t eliminate the physical threats then those threats will continue to grow until eliminating them will be too costly and we will have to live with them including possibly facing them at some point. I see North Korea as the test case and I’m worried at Trump’s approach there.

  9. Those of us that remember the lead in to the Iraq fiasco remember two things.

    First: The sanctions that were supposed to cause the dismantlement of Saddam’s CBW capability and overseen by the corruptocrats at the U.N. were a bad joke. The same “allies” as now were going around them at every opportunity.

    Second: Saddam expended great effort in convincing the intelligence community that he had CBW capabilities as a deterrent.

    The first was apparent for years, the second only after we were on the ground and could see for ourselves.

    North Korea has managed only one full scale detonation that destroyed their test facility and dumped fall-out on their only possible ally. That’s a long way from a credible threat. Likewise, there is no evidence that they have a ballistic missile capable of carrying a weapon that they are capable of building and allowing it to re-enter the atmosphere in a functional state.

    The same is true of Iran if you assume that they are privy to everything that North Korea has accomplished. The major difference is that because of geography, they are in a position to do more damage with the missiles that they do have if they get a warhead.

    Both are engaged in the same sort of display that Iraq attempted with very little evidence that they can back it up.

    What are the alternatives to sanctions? Invasion? Us and what army. We didn’t have the personnel to control the Iraqi insurgency then, our army is smaller now. Even if we could convince our allies to stop selling them technology and materials and join some sort of military effort, they are incapable of projecting power farther than
    walking distance beyond an Euro rail terminal and to do that we would have to supply the rolling stock.

    The only bright spot is that we have a president that is willing to actually enforce the sanctions, even in Europe. When Iranian sanctions were reimposed, it took less than a week for the two shipping lines that had started to do business to pull out. This time our allies realize that there are going to be consequences. That companies will lose any ability to do business if we so decide.

    We have a lot of reasons to want to rein in China, North Korea is a bigger part. China is a lot more economically brittle than people realize and a lot more socially brittle as well. I hope that Xi realizes that there will be repercussions for some sort of invasion of Hong Kong both internationally and in China.

    The alternative to sanctions isn’t some sort of half-assed military demonstration, it’s a mushroom cloud over Tehran or Pyongyang either after or preferably instead of one on our side.

    Or we could let John Kerry draft a stiff letter.

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