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Mostrando postagens com marcador Donald Trump. Mostrar todas as postagens
Mostrando postagens com marcador Donald Trump. Mostrar todas as postagens

sábado, 16 de novembro de 2019

Trump comanda um governo mafioso - Paul Waldman (WP)

Trata-se, provavelmente, da primeira vez que os Estados Unidos são comandados por um corrupto confirmado e um equivalente a chefe mafioso.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Yovanovitch hearing confirms that Trump is running a thugocracy

Whether this is technically witness tampering, it’s undeniably appalling. Even on Fox News, Ken Starr called Trump’s attack on Yovanovitch during her testimony “extraordinarily poor judgment.”
What it shows — as does all of the former ambassador’s testimony, along with lots of other evidence we have seen — is that Trump has been running a thugocracy, one in which the president talks and acts like a Mafiosi and so do the people who have the greatest influence over him.

There’s an irony here, which is that Yovanovitch’s story is tangential to the case for impeachment. Trump’s firing of her was disturbing, undermined U.S. interests and was despicable in many ways, but it wasn’t in and of itself impeachable. It doesn’t bear directly on the pressure campaign to strong-arm Ukraine into helping Trump’s reelection by launching a sham “investigation” of Joe and Hunter Biden.
Yovanovitch, a respected diplomat with decades of service to the United States, came to Ukraine determined to help the country fight corruption, as was U.S. policy through successive administrations. This garnered her enemies among people who were profiting from that corruption, including two of the country’s chief prosecutors, Viktor Shokin and Yuri Lutsenko, and Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch with reported connections to Russian organized crime.
The story of the smear campaign against Yovanovitch is complex, but it involves Shokin and Lutsenko feeding bogus information about her to Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and his recently arrested colleagues Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman (who are linked to Firtash), as well as to American right-wing media.
In their efforts to get Yovanovitch removed, the corrupt Ukrainians revealed an imperfect understanding of what motivates Trump. Lutsenko spread a bogus story that she had given him a list of people not to prosecute, an allegation widely dismissed as preposterous. This kind of thing could damage a person’s reputation in Ukraine, but no one thinks Trump actually cares about whether corrupt people are being prosecuted.
People who knew Trump better understood what would turn him against Yovanovitch: The allegation that she was insufficiently loyal to Donald Trump.
Which is why Joe diGenova — a Trump ally who is the lawyer for both Rudy’s goons Parnas and Fruman and for Firtash, the oligarch — went on Fox News in March and said that Yovanovitch “is known and reported by people there to have bad-mouthed the President” and “to have told Ukrainians not to listen to him or obey his policy, because he was going to be impeached.” He repeatedthis to Sean Hannity, and then the allegation quickly spread through conservative media.
DiGenova has never said where he learned Yovanovitch was supposedly “bad-mouthing” Trump. In her testimony, Yovanovitch was emphatic that it never happened. But Parnas worked the same angle; he recounts that at a gathering, he told Trump that Yovanovitch didn’t support him, and Trump reacted by saying she should be fired.
In addition, Parnas and Fruman directed huge contributions to then-Rep. Pete Sessions’s campaigns. On the same day that Parnas visited him in his Capitol Hill office, Sessions wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo complaining that Yovanovitch was not loyal to Trump and should be fired.

So what we see is that the people who understand Trump knew exactly how to manipulate him. Knowing that he values personal loyalty far more than competence or the interests of the United States, all they had to do was keep telling him that Yovanovitch wasn’t loyal to him, and she’d be gone.
“How could our system fail like this?” Yovanovitch asked in her opening statement Friday. “How is it that foreign corrupt interests could manipulate our government?”
Thought she didn’t say it herself, the answer is two words: Donald Trump.
Corrupt interests (some foreign, some domestic) could manipulate our government because the president is himself corrupt. And insecure, and vindictive and someone who talks and acts like he’s running an organized crime family.
Stunningly, as Yovanovitch was calmly explaining how all this happened, Trump let everyone know what a thug he is, trying to intimidate her one more time. It’s probably too late for that, though; all he did was remind everyone who he is.

quinta-feira, 14 de novembro de 2019

O impeachment e a diplomacia - George Haynal (Globalist)

O impeachment de Trump – que merece ser deposto dez vezes, por vinte outros motivos – vai colocar, provavelmente pela primeira vez, a diplomacia na linha de tiro, se ouso dizer, pois que uma das, vinte ou trinta, razões para o impedimento do grande trapaceiro envolve justamente funcionários do Departamento de Estado.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Battleground Ukraine: Trump Vs. the State Department

Reflections on the art of diplomacy.

George Haynal 
The Globalist, November 13, 2019

According to an old adage, “An ambassador is an honest gentleman sent abroad to lie for the good of his country.”
Gender considerations aside, this view, expressed by Thomas Wotton, an early 17th century English diplomat in the service of James I., remains applicable to this day. 
Diplomats are supposed to be people charged with forming relations of trust abroad and maintaining the required trust at home that, posted however far away, they do not disgrace themselves or the country they represent. 
They are abroad to serve the constitutional interests, i.e., “the good” of their country, as far as and wherever its interests are at stake. 
Precisely how they have to spin their message — or as Wotton puts it, “lie” — is a matter for decision in individual cases, with the iron proviso that if a lie destroys trust, the diplomat in question will lose all effectiveness in future. 

Diplomats as policymakers, not just representatives

What Wotton’s pithy definition does not include is the role of diplomats as contributors to policymaking at home. They bring an indispensable perspective, and often a reality check to decisions of their political masters back in the capital city. 
For that input to have value, it must be informed, complete and objective. Whatever diplomats do abroad, they cannot be less than fully candid with those making the policy at home that the diplomats are subsequently expected to execute abroad. 
What the Ukraine investigation shows is that diplomats were obliged to make a critical choice: Should they be candid with the U.S. Congress — or indeed, lie to Congress in the partisan interest of the government in power. 

Drawing a line

Different parts of the U.S. diplomatic system appear to have made different decisions on how to make these distinctions. Career diplomats chose to draw a line. Those ambassadors who essentially bought their commissions through campaign contributions, decided to cross that line of propriety and truthfulness. 
Ambassadors are formally appointed by their Head of State, i.e., as a representative of the country they hail from and the values that constitute it. They are not the personal representative of the politician atop the government at any given time. 
This distinction may seem like a constitutional nicety, but it is one that most professionals active in the field of diplomacy in advanced democracies take to heart. They represent their country, not just the political interests of those in power. 
Is this to be judged differently in countries where, like in the United States, the President is both head of state and head of government? 
The dual nature of the American Presidency can in some cases indeed create confusion as to whether national and political interest is supreme in the direction which the diplomatic representatives receive from him and his office. 

The constitution vs. “the boss”

While conflicts between the constitution and the currently prevailing political order have not been common, in the Ukraine case, this does not apply. 
Critical constitutional norms have been ignored in the management of U.S. diplomacy and diplomats have been directed to withhold or twist information from those providing constitutional oversight at home. 
Professional diplomats know that not only must they work within the confines of the constitution both at home and abroad. 
When challenged, they have to put loyalty to the national interest, which is permanent, above partisan preferences, which are transitory. 

Two types of diplomats

Under Trump, U.S. diplomats appear to have to make this distinction at their own peril. This is what is at the root of the intramural war within the U.S. State Department. 
On one side, the political appointees — i.e., those who essentially bought their commissions — were prepared to disregard the constitution in their actions abroad and were prepared to lie to their own countrymen at home. On the other side are the career diplomats who were not prepared to do so. 
Mr. Trump has sought to discredit the latter as the “deep state,” as if holding onto the idea of the United States as the source of a values-based world order is a disgrace. 
This severely misrepresents what career diplomats stand for and how they are trained to act. They are members of a duty-driven service that is sworn to uphold the values of the constitution even if those stand in the way of the current top holder of political power, whatever the consequences for their country. 


The stakes in the Ukraine controversy are very high and go beyond the controversy itself. 
If the “diplomatic code” of preserving the constitutional bounds is to be a victim of Trumpian politics, this will significantly alter the role of the United States in global affairs.
The world will have lost the long-time key engineer who has driven and given shape and direction to the present world order. 
The alternative, as all have reason to fear, is entropy and chaos. 

George Haynal is a Senior Fellow of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto, and a former head of the Policy Planning Staff of the Canadian Ministry Of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

quarta-feira, 13 de novembro de 2019

Um Anônimo quer encerrar o contrato de trabalho de Trump como presidente: ele tem direito, nós também

  • “A Warning,” by the anonymous White House official who published an explosive Op-Ed in The Times last year, is the most unusual memoir to emerge from President Trump’s administration, following books by former government officials like James B. Comey and Andrew G. McCabe. Read our critic Jennifer Szalai’s review here, and read more about the book’s back story.
Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Book Review: In ‘A Warning,’ Anonymous Author Makes Case Against Re-election

The same official who wrote an Opinion essay in 2018 argues in a new book that the president’s contract shouldn’t be renewed.

When you purchase an independently reviewed book through our site, we earn an affiliate commission.

“Trust me”: It’s a tired cliché, a throwaway line, but when you first encounter it in “A Warning,” the new book by “Anonymous,” who is identified here only as “a senior Trump administration official,” it lands with a startling thud. Any revealing details have been explicitly and deliberately withheld to protect this person’s identity. Who is this “me” that we’re supposed to trust?
It’s a question that the anonymous author — who wrote an Op-Ed for The Timeslast year about resisting the president’s “more misguided impulses” — might have anticipated, given how much of the book is devoted to the necessity of “character” and to quoting dead presidents by name.
Not to mention this individual’s own conspicuous failures of judgment thus far. You don’t even have to take it from me; you can take it from Anonymous. “Many reasonable people voted for Trump because they love their country, wanted to shake up the establishment, and felt that the alternative was worse,” Anonymous writes. “I know you because I’ve felt the same way.” A mildly chastened Anonymous now seems to recognize, somewhat belatedly, that President Trump’s peddling of birtherism conspiracy theories and his boasts about grabbing women’s genitals might have constituted their own kind of warning — plausible evidence that Mr. Trump might not magically transform into the dignified statesman Anonymous so desperately wanted him to be.
Anonymous even admits that the thesis of the Op-Ed in The Times — the essay that led directly to the existence of this book, and was published just over a year ago — was “dead wrong” too.
Attempts by the “adults in the room” to impose some discipline on a frenzied (or nonexistent) decision-making process in the White House were “just a wet Band-Aid that wouldn’t hold together a gaping wound,” Anonymous writes. The members of the “Steady State” (the term “Deep State” clearly stings) have done everything they can, to no avail. Anonymous is passing the baton to “voters and their elected representatives” — only now the baton is a flaming stick of dynamite.
“A Warning,” then, is just that: a warning, for those who need it, that electing Mr. Trump to a second term would be courting disaster. “The president has failed to rise to the occasion in fulfilling his duties,” Anonymous intones. The book’s publisher and agents apparently referred to the manuscript as the “December Project,” though the publication date was moved up to this month when the House announced an impeachment inquiry.
“I realize that writing this while the president is still in office is an extraordinary step,” Anonymous says. In light of three years’ worth of resignations, tell-all books, reports about emoluments and sworn testimony about quid pro quos, this is a decidedly minimalist definition of “extraordinary.” How can a book that has been denuded of anything too specific do anything more than pale against a formal whistle-blower complaint?
It’s hard to look like a heroic truth teller by comparison, but Anonymous tries very hard, presenting anonymity as not just convenient but an ultimately selfless act, designed to force everyone to pay more attention to what this book says by deflecting attention away from the person who’s saying it. “Removing my identity from the equation deprives him of an opportunity to create a distraction,” Anonymous writes, referring to Mr. Trump’s compulsion for attacking his critics. “What will he do when there is no person to attack, only an idea?”
Anonymous has seen disturbing things. Anonymous has heard disturbing things. You, the reader, will already recognize most of what Anonymous has seen and heard as revealed in this book if you have been paying any attention to the news. Did you know that the president isn’t much of a reader? That he’s inordinately fond of autocrats? That “he stumbles, slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information”?
“A Warning,” Anonymous says, is intended for a “broad audience,” though to judge by the parade of bland, methodical arguments (Anonymous loves to qualify criticisms with a lawyerly “in fairness”), the ideal reader would seem to be an undecided voter who has lived in a cave for the past three years, and is irresistibly moved by quotations from Teddy Roosevelt and solemn invocations of Cicero.
Plenty of people have preemptively criticized this book as an opportunistic grift, though Anonymous has announced a plan to donate a portion of the royalties to “nonprofit organizations that focus on government accountability,” including the White House Correspondents’ Association. Besides, everything in the text of “A Warning” suggests a dyed-in-the-wool establishment Republican. There’s the typical talk about American exceptionalism and national security. There’s the eternal complaint that President Barack Obama was “out of touch with mainstream America.” There’s a wistful elegy for “our budget-balancing daydreams.” Yes, Anonymous is happy about the conservative judicial appointments, the deregulation, the tax cuts; what rankles is the “unbecoming” behavior, the “unseemly antics.”
A big tell comes early on, when Anonymous reveals what “the last straw” was. It wasn’t Mr. Trump’s response to the right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, when a white supremacist killed a woman and the president talked about “the violence on many sides.” It wasn’t even the administration’s separation of migrant families at the border. These examples might have left Anonymous appalled, but the truly unforgivable act was when Senator John McCain died last year and Mr. Trump tried to hoist the flag on the White House above half-staff: “President Trump, in unprecedented fashion, was determined to use his office to limit the nation’s recognition of John McCain’s legacy.”
Anonymous says that the president “deserves to be fired,” but that’s just the author indulging in a little rhetorical flourish; what Anonymous really means is that the president’s contract shouldn’t be renewed. Actively seeking to remove Mr. Trump from office, whether by invoking the 25th Amendment or pursuing impeachment proceedings, would be “bad” because “we can scarcely afford further disunion.” Mr. Trump, Anonymous says, should simply not be elected to a second term; only then can the country “undertake the arduous task of moral repair” and “restore the soul of its political system.” 
Anonymous declares that this “American spirit” was best exemplified by the bravery shown by the passengers on United Flight 93, who rushed the cockpit on 9/11. We’ve seen Flight 93 used as a conservative analogy before — by another anonymous author no less, writing under the pen name Publius Decius Mus, who argued before the 2016 presidential election that “a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto” and consequently that voting for Mr. Trump offered the only chance for the republic’s survival.
That the same violent tragedy has been deployed to argue one point and then, three years later, to argue its utter opposite is, to put it charitably, bizarre. But then Anonymous, a self-described “student of history,” doesn’t seem to register the discrepancy. Nor does Anonymous square the analogy with an episode mentioned in the opening pages of “A Warning” — of senior officials contemplating a replay of the Nixon administration’s so-called Saturday Night Massacre by resigning en masse. The idea of doing anything so bold was floated within the first two years of the Trump administration, and then abandoned.
Toward the end of the book, an earlier quote from Mr. Trump kept coming back to me, unbidden: “These are just words. A bunch of words. It doesn’t mean anything.”
By Anonymous
272 pages. Twelve. $30.
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domingo, 6 de outubro de 2019

Joe Biden sobre a patifaria de Trump que deslanchou o pedido de impeachment

Joe Biden: Trump won’t destroy me, and he won’t destroy my family

Former vice president Joe Biden in Las Vegas on Oct. 2. (John Locher/AP)
Former vice president Joe Biden in Las Vegas on Oct. 2. (John Locher/AP)
The Washington Post, October 6, 2019

Joe Biden, the former vice president, is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

Enough is enough. Every day — every few hours, seemingly — more evidence is uncovered revealing that President Trump is abusing the power of the presidency and is wholly unfit to be president. He is using the highest office in the land to advance his personal political interests instead of the national interest.

The president’s most recent violation of the rule of law — openly calling for China to interfere in our elections, as he stood on the South Lawn of the White House — is so outrageous, it’s clear he considers the presidency a free pass to do whatever he wants, with no accountability
He does not understand the immense responsibility demanded of all those who hold the office of the president of the United States. He sees only the power — and how it can benefit just one person: Donald Trump. 

Our first president, George Washington, famously could not tell a lie. President Trump seemingly cannot tell the truth — about anything. He slanders anyone he sees as a threat. That is why is he is frantically pushing flat-out lies, debunked conspiracy theories and smears against me and my family, no doubt hoping to undermine my candidacy for the presidency.
It’s the same cynical playbook he returns to again and again. But this time, it won’t work, because the American people know me — and they know him. I will put the integrity of my whole career in public service to this nation up against Trump’s lack of integrity any day of the week.
It all comes down to the abuse of power. That is the defining characteristic of the Trump presidency.
We now know he has abused the foreign policy of the United States in an attempt to extract political favors from multiple countries. He has directly asked three foreign governments to interfere in U.S. elections, including Russia, one of our greatest adversaries, and China, our closest competitor. He has corrupted the agencies of his administration — including the State Department, the National Security Council staff, the Justice Department and the office of the vice president — to do his personal political bidding. We also know that the people around him in the White House recognized just how profoundly wrong it was and worked overtime to cover up Trump’s abuses.

Thankfully, someone had the courage to blow the whistle. In America, not even the president is above the law. That’s a founding principle of our nation and our system of government. 
This isn’t just an academic exercise in political theory. A president who puts his self-interest ahead of the public good and the nation’s security poses a threat to the daily lives of every American.
Just days after the House of Representatives opened an impeachment inquiry against him, Trump hosted the president of the National Rifle Association in the Oval Office. Did they discuss the common-sense gun-safety legislation the nation so desperately needs? No — they talked about how the NRA can help reelect Donald Trump.
He’s so deep in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry, he’s literally sacrificing the planet’s future for personal political gain. He pulled out of the Paris climate agreement and froze fuel economy standards the Obama-Biden administration put in place for cars, and he’s preventing California from implementing its own higher standards. He won’t even acknowledge the climate crisis that he is making worse every day. 
In his phone call in June with Chinese President Xi Jinping — in addition to seeking his involvement in our election, which he then publicly repeated — Trump reportedly sold out the people of Hong Kong, who for months have been rallying in the streets for the democratic rights they are owed. 
America’s word and our standing in the world are in free fall because of the actions and incompetence of this president. 
It is easy to be distracted by Trump’s daily outrages — to become obsessed with them or numb to them, or to normalize behavior that Americans would not have tolerated in any of the previous presidents in the nation’s history. Not me. While the House does its job on impeachment, I’m going to stay focused on what matters: remaking education so every child in the country is equipped to succeed in the 21st century; getting weapons of war off the streets and ending the epidemic of gun violence; building on Obamacare so that every American has access to quality, affordable health care; taking on the climate emergency imperiling the planet; and much more. I’m going to fight to ensure that the United States is once again the leader of the free world; a champion of democracy; and the bulwark of a stable, peaceful international order. 
And to Trump and those who facilitate his abuses of power, and all the special interests funding his attacks against me: Please know that I’m not going anywhere. You won’t destroy me, and you won’t destroy my family. And come November 2020, I intend to beat you like a drum.

Read more:

segunda-feira, 9 de setembro de 2019

Trump-Bolsonaro: decididos a intensificar a relacao - Andres Oppenheimer

Aparentemente, os dois presidentes estão decididos a avançar a cooperação bilateral. Resta saber se as burocracias e os interesses econômicos de parte e outra vão cooperar com o intento.

Trump, Bolsonaro could change political map
President Donald Trump's economic nationalism has seriously hurt U.S. ties with its closest allies around the world, but it may result in an unprecedented alliance with Brazil's right-wing populist government.
by Andres Oppenheimer 
Texarkana Gazette, Sep. 9 2019 @ 12:28am

President Donald Trump's economic nationalism has seriously hurt U.S. ties with its closest allies around the world, but it may result in an unprecedented alliance with Brazil's right-wing populist government.
That could change Latin America's political map.
In a Sept. 2 tweet, Trump confirmed that he is negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, whom friends and foes call "Latin America's Trump." Trump met with Brazilian foreign minister Ernesto Araujo at the White House on Aug. 30 to move ahead with trade talks.
Judging from what Araujo told me in an extended interview hours after the meeting, the two governments are talking about a forging special relationship between the two biggest economies of the Americas that would go beyond trade.
Washington and Brazil want to "move forward with a very ambitious free-trade agreement, which has been a dream for Brazil for many years, but had been hindered by anti-American biases of previous (Brazilian) governments," Araujo told me. "We are going to go ahead with that now."
Araujo added that, "We have wasted many opportunities for cooperation in the past because of the anti-American sentiment of former Brazilian leaders, which did not correspond with the feelings of the bulk of Brazil's population."
Trump and Bolsonaro "share a world vision," Araujo said. Over the past 30 years, there has been a "progressive erosion of national sovereignty," caused by ideas pushed by multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, he added.
When I asked him if a U.S.-Brazil trade deal would automatically result in Brazil's withdrawal from Mercosur — the South American common market that includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay — the foreign minister did not exclude that possibility.
Under Mercosur rules, no member country can sign a bilateral trade deal with third parties without the other bloc members' participation.
Araujo said that Bolsonaro has already talked with Argentina's President Mauricio Macri about relaxing Mercosur rules to allow a U.S.-Brazil trade deal. But he conceded that a victory by Argentina's front-runner opposition candidate Alberto Fernandez in the Oct. 27 elections would endanger Mercosur's existence.
Araujo said that Fernandez, who has former leftist populist Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as his running mate, is part of the "Sao Paulo Forum, a group that coordinates leftist parties and anti-democratic projects in Latin America."
"If a project with that kind of vision wins in Argentina, that creates difficulties for Mercosur, because Mercosur is not just a trade bloc but also a pro-democracy bloc," Araujo told me. "We have a very clear and very strong democracy clause in Mercosur."
If Trump is reelected, and barring anything unforeseen in Brazil, we might see a new political map in Latin America.
Brazil — Latin America's biggest economy — could become Trump's top partner in the region, and could effectively pull out of the Mercosur trade bloc.
That would among other things pose huge problems for Argentina if Fernandez wins the elections there. Brazil is Argentina's top export market, in part thanks to Mercosur's preferential tariffs.
If a leftist government in Argentina is left out of Mercosur, Argentina would have few places to go for credit but China.
The best thing that could happen would be for Brazil to lead its Mercosur partners to a regional free-trade deal with the United States. The worst scenario would be that Argentina, with nowhere else to go, becomes more China-dependent than ever, much like Venezuela has in recent years.

sábado, 3 de agosto de 2019

Trump perdeu a guerra comercial com a China - Edward Alden (Foreign Policy)

Trade and tribulations. The Trump administration’s policy of tariffs, threats, and forcing allies to bend to the United States’ will was based on a fallacy. Now, the future of trade remains unclear, Edward Alden writes

Trump Hired Robert Lighthizer to Win a Trade War. He Lost.

The Trump administration’s obsession with trade threats, tariffs, and bullying both allies and rivals into submission was based on an ambitious theory. It turned out to be a fallacy.

United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (center-left) shakes hands with China's Vice Premier Liu He (center-right) as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L) and China's Commerce Minister Zhong Shan (R) look on at the Xijiao Conference Center in Shanghai on July 31.
United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (center-left) shakes hands with China's Vice Premier Liu He (center-right) as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L) and China's Commerce Minister Zhong Shan (R) look on at the Xijiao Conference Center in Shanghai on July 31.  NG HAN GUAN/AFP/Getty Images
Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, agreed to serve in President Donald Trump’s cabinet in order to test his theory: that if the United States freed itself from the shackles of international trade rules, it could use the power of its large market to force other countries to bend to its will. Trump, with his stated love for tariffs and his conviction that the United States had been losing on trade for decades, seemed the perfect leader under whom he could test that proposition.
Now, with Trump having announced that new 10 percent tariffs will be imposed Sept. 1 on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese exports to the United States, that theory has been shredded. The administration has fired almost every salvo it has to force the Chinese into submission, and the two countries are further away from a trade deal than ever before. 
The administration has fired almost every salvo it has to force the Chinese into submission, and the two countries are further away from a trade deal than ever before.

Trump gave Lighthizer everything he should have needed to compel trading partners to change—the freedom to threaten and impose tariffs, the neutering of World Trade Organization (WTO) restraints, and a boss who wouldn’t settle for weak deals to claim victory if the going got too tough. But they have nothing to show for it except for an escalating trade war with the world’s second-largest economy.
For those who saw merit in Lighthizer’s approach, the concern was always that Trump would fail Lighthizer; instead, Lighthizer has failed Trump. And there is no theory that serves as a guide to what might come next.
The best way to understand the last two and half years of U.S. trade policy is as a protracted campaign aimed at forcing other countries to submit to U.S. demands.
The best way to understand the last two and half years of U.S. trade policy is as a protracted campaign aimed at forcing other countries to submit to U.S. demands.
Lighthizer preferred bilateral negotiations because smaller countries are easier to bully one at a time than collectively.
The first volley in Lighthizer’s campaign came when he dusted off Section 232 of the half-century-old Trade Expansion Act, which permits tariffs on national security grounds, and imposed duties on steel and aluminum. South Korea, dependent on the United States both for trade and security, bowed quickly by agreeing to a quota on steel exports and rewriting its trade agreement to permit greater protection for U.S. cars. Canada and Mexico fought harder, retaliating against U.S. farm exports and forcing a difficult renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. But both countries, almost wholly dependent on the U.S. market for exports, also accepted a deal largely on U.S. terms—though that agreement has now been stalled by Democratic opposition in the U.S. Congress.
The European Union, bigger and more confident, fought back still more forcefully and has so far given up nothing. It retaliated against the United States by slapping tariffs on politically sensitive goods, including corn, bourbon, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and has resisted demands for bilateral negotiations. The United States has more ammunition—tariffs on automobiles that Trump could trigger under a separate Section 232 investigation and tariffs soon to be authorized by the WTO under a long-running U.S. complaint against European subsidies for Airbus. Europe warned that any new tariffs would be met with massive retaliation.
The real target, however, was China and its $400 billion trade surplus with the United States. Lighthizer’s critique of China—that it exploited loopholes in WTO rules to gain unfair trade advantages against the United States and others—was a decade ahead of its time.
Lighthizer’s critique of China—that it exploited loopholes in WTO rules to gain unfair trade advantages against the United States and others—was a decade ahead of its time.
When previous administrations and multinational companies were still hoping for China to emerge as a responsible stakeholder in the global trading system, Lighthizer was warning that China was gaming the system to capture industry after industry. His views on Chinese behavior have now become mainstream in both U.S. political parties.
For a time, the theory seemed to be working as planned. The United States hit China with 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of exports in July and August 2018 and then, with no meaningful response from China, added 10 percent tariffs on another $200 billion in September 2018. At the end of 2018, with Trump threatening to boost that tariff to 25 percent, China finally succumbed and sat down to negotiate seriously with Lighthizer and other U.S. officials.
After several rounds of increasingly serious negotiations this year on long-standing issues such as Beijing’s demands that U.S. companies share proprietary technologies as the price of investing in China, intellectual property theft, and Chinese subsidies to industries, the talks fell apart in May. The U.S. explanation was that China had agreed to make significant changes that would be enshrined in law and then pulled back; the Chinese version was that negotiations were still in flux and Beijing had never made clear commitments. Trump responded to the breakdown by ratcheting the tariffs up to 25 percent and then threatened new tariffs on the remainder of Chinese exports.
While Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping called a brief truce at the G-20 summit in June in Osaka, Japan, the May breakdown effectively marked the end of negotiations. Chinese leaders became convinced that the Trump administration would never do a deal on terms they could accept and turned to other ways to shore up the economy through credit, new investments, and lowering tariffs for other trading partners. China has resigned itself to living with the U.S. tariffs for the time being and believes it can weather any economic harm.
China has resigned itself to living with the U.S. tariffs for the time being and believes it can weather any economic harm.
The United States in turn began to ratchet up the pressure by targeting flagship Chinese technology companies like the telecommunications giant Huawei and several makers of supercomputers.

Trump’s announcement this week that the United States will impose 10 percent tariffs on the remainder of Chinese imports came after a brief and unsuccessful effort to restart serious negotiations in Shanghai. The move may look like part of the same campaign to use still more tariffs to force China to make concessions it has so far refused, especially since the two sides are scheduled to meet again in September. But no one in the administration can be under any illusion that China will buckle to the additional pressure. To do a deal now would be humiliating for Beijing. News reports suggest that both Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who have led the talks, opposed the new round of tariffs. Trump overruled them.
That makes the next steps in the trade war especially hard to predict. Will China hit back to save face or escalate in other ways such as military threats against Taiwan or other neighbors? Will Trump quickly raise the 10 percent tariff to 25 percent, which would truly hurt U.S. consumers of smartphones and other Chinese-made consumer products? Will the Trump administration turn its attention now to Europe—or perhaps to India or Japan—all of which are resisting U.S. trade demands?
Politics could take over as well. With the leading Democratic presidential candidates, other than former Vice President Joe Biden, running as tough on trade and tough on China, Trump may simply mete out a random dose of tariffs over the next year to avoid being outflanked by his rivals.
The entire theory that had anchored the Trump trade policy turns out to have been wrong;
The entire theory that had anchored the Trump trade policy turns out to have been wrong;
it may live on, zombielike, but the already minimal returns will diminish more. The United States will hurt itself and others with tariffs without even the prospect of meaningful trade deals.
This means that the trade wars—which U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell this week called “something that we haven’t faced before”—have become even more unpredictable. For investors, and for companies making long-range investment decisions, the uncertainty has now multiplied. Tariffs have gone from being a means to force changes in trading practices to an end in themselves. That was never Lighthizer’s plan. But the next steps now are entirely in the hands of Trump. 

Edward Alden is the Ross distinguished visiting professor at Western Washington University, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and the author of Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy. Twitter: @edwardalden

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