Trump has started a number of highly disruptive “wars” without a clear end in sight. The two big ones is his economic war with China and the political war with Iran. A third huge division among us and our allies is our recent action against international cooperation in climate change. Our Department of Justice is currently waging war against our automobile manufacturers who are working with California to improve exhaust emissions standards. I guess the idea is that we all must breathe the same polluted air. I’ll leave this last one for separate blog.
— Trade War – No end in sight.
The trade war with China, just seems to get worse every month. According to experts, China has engaged in unfair trade practices. But, the current trade wars are just the US and China. We failed to obtain international support. We created the World Trade Organization to address issues such as unfair trade practices and currency manipulation. Now we take action without their involvement. Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) which included 12 countries (China not one of them) and would have been the best counter measure against China’s unfair practices. Trump has correctly stated that prominent Republicans and Democrats were against it. Likely, if Clinton were elected president, then she would have attempted to make changes in the agreement.
The TPP agreement is long and complex. It has survived without the US in a new agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP). The US was insisting on certain provisions which would be best for the US. and none of the other countries before we signed it. See links below. When Trump pulled out, all the contested provisions were pulled out. It includes however, what seems at the top of Trump’s wish list – respect for intellectual property as follows:
It [CPTTP] includes the most detailed standards for intellectual property of any trade agreement, as well as protections against intellectual property theft against corporations operating abroad.
Manufacturing as measured by the US ISM manufacturing employment index, last month hit a two year low of 47.4 in August 2019, down from a high of 60.17 on September 2017. See link.
Trade wars are a lose-lose proposition. There are 18 countries which are party to the CPTPP agreement including Japan, Mexico, Australia, Singapore and Canada. They are stronger together, and the US is now weaker as it stands alone.
Now Iran. As long as the sanctions were lifted, Iran obeyed by its commitments. They had a strict monitoring program. The agreement basically called for the US to lift sanctions as long as Iran was in compliance. When Trump imposed economic sanctions by refusing to import oil from Iran, it put the US in violation of the agreement. Further, the US was pressuring other countries and companies not to lift Iran’s oil.
Thus, Iran correctly stated that they had the right not to be bound by the terms of the agreement, primarily on the amount of uranium it could enrich. None of our European allies want Iran to get nuclear weapons, so they are pleading with the US, to drop the sanctions, so Iran can be brought back into compliance. President Macron is leading this effort. The head of the UN atomic energy watchdog agency (IAEA) is in Iran now, Iran makes no secret of its violations of the treaty and in fact will comply with thorough IAEA inspections, It is simply tit-for-tat against actions taken by the US.
Trump’s theory, that once Iran felt the pain of sanctions, it would do anything to please the US hasn’t worked at all. In fact, it has been a terrible failure. Treaties are tough to put together, but much easier to fall apart.
I’ll stop here. I’ve got a lot more to say on Trump’s misguided policies on reducing our carbon emissions and minimizing the real threat it is creating throughout the world, including droughts and extreme weather events. But that will be a separate blog.
I have to contend with a huge number of distracting events in July and August. It’s really nuts. Vice President Mike Pence wants an American on Mars by 2024, about 6 years earlier than planned, price tag around 500 billion dollars (a trillion here and there eventually adds up to real money) plus the militarizing of space with the Star Wars themed “Space Force.” Then the trip to Ireland, was a publicist nightmare. His grandfather was Irish, but he fled Ireland as a refugee escaping violence and poverty, just the folks Trump is trying to ban from the US. Plus, it was a terrible snub to stay at the Trump hotel, far outside of Dublin, for “security reasons.” Nobody bought this one. See link.
What else: Trying somehow link Bill Clinton and Jeff Epstein by repeating social media nonsense, buying Greenland and insulting Denmark (whose next?), the Trump drawn hurricane maps to include Alabama, pulling funds for Puerto Rico hurricane rebuilding effort to build the Mexican border wall (seeing just how far the National Emergency Act can be stretched), and a barrage of tweet attacks against Jay Powell for basing his decisions on interest rates on economic data and Fed Reserve objectives, rather than Trump’s polling numbers. Remember, Jay Powell was Trump’s nominee to the Fed and highly qualified for this position by both Democrats and Republicans.
I’m not sure if any of the above means much. Our policies on Iran, China and Climate Change are real issues where an immediate course correction is necessary. More like 180 degree turn, as we are “stronger together.” This will have to wait until the 2020 elections.
The Irish love anyone who can drink beer and has a bit of Irish heritage. I believe they’ll make an exception with VP Mike Pence.