Trump, Trade, and a Century of Peace

For 28 years, the American people have been played for suckers.  Since the fall of communism in 1989, we allowed ourselves to be taken advantage of, militarily and economically.  The working men and women of this country have paid the biggest price for this foolishness. 

It made some sense back during the Cold War, when we needed a worldwide alliance against the Soviet threat.  But once the USSR was gone, we refused to act in our own interest, out of unthinking inertia and a desire to promote the globalization project.  Globalization was the path to world peace, according to deep thinkers like the Bushes, the Clintons, and Obama.  The welfare of the American worker was sacrificed for this higher cause.

The election of Donald Trump changed all that.  The global project was out, and America First was in.  The world took notice, quickly.

The first to react was South Korea.  That country's spectacular, and improbable, transformation from an economic basket case to a first-world powerhouse was possible only because of the free trade policy of the United States, backed up by the U.S. Navy's guarantee of free world commerce.  The South Koreans are an American dependent, and they know it.  They quickly cut a trade deal with Trump, KORUS, which has been fully implemented.  The best hope for South Korea is that we will find it useful in the future.

Next up was Mexico, another economy dependent on trade with America, with political leadership painfully aware of that fact.  After his election in mid-2018, incoming president Andrés Manuel López-Obrador let his predecessor know that if a deal could be made with the Americans, he would sign on when he came into office.  The deal was cut and ratified six months ago.  The USMCA is not a sweetheart deal for Mexico like NAFTA.  But it's fair, and it was the best deal Mexico was going to get.

The Canadians, under prima donna P.M. Justin Trudeau, somehow thought they could resist this new trade regime.  But they soon had to confront the reality that they can't function economically outside the American orbit.  Not long after the Mexicans, they caved and  signed on to the USMCA as well.  They really had no choice.

Japan's Prime Minister Abe watched this all happen and drew the logical conclusion.  Four of his country's largest trading partners — the U.S., South Korea, Mexico, and Canada — were now part of an American-led trading bloc.  Japan's other major trade relationship is with China.  So Abe had no real choice.  He had to cut the best deal he could get with the Americans, and he took it in September.  He had no alternative.

With the election of Boris Johnson in the U.K., the tight circle of America's closest allies will soon be complete.  The upcoming trade deal with the United States is Britain's best, and only, hope for better economic times.  The transition will be painful for some sectors of the British economy.  But the Brits have no better alternative.  They have a special relationship with us, and we'll give them the best terms we can, consistent with our own interests.  They bring things to the table that  no one else can — like a navy with two powerful supercarriers.

Add in Australia and New Zealand, and all the maritime nations of the world are comfortably under the American umbrella.  Central and South America are included as well, as junior partners.  India is a friendly affiliate, along with most of southeast Asia.  The Dutch and the Danes will partner up in due time.

This all leaves China out in the cold, along with Russia.  But just now the Chinese have begun to come to their senses.  Russia can't really do them much good.  They need to reach a new, fundamental understanding with the United States.  That process is now officially underway.  Our two countries are at the beginning of a long and winding road.  As Lao-Tse said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and that step has now been taken.

President Trump has succeeded in all these negotiations not because he knows the art of the deal, though he does.  He's winning because he understands that the United States is by far the most powerful country in the world, and under his leadership, it's becoming even more dominant.  He's got the high hand, he holds all the cards, and he's the first president since Reagan who fully uses this strength to his country's, and ultimately the world's, advantage.

American engagement with China is the key to a peaceful 21st century.  It's a hard pill for many to swallow, but President Trump is creating a new world order, founded on geopolitical reality and mutually beneficial commerce.  It will be a world of peace.

As the Good Book says, blessed are the peacemakers.

Fritz Pettyjohn lifted much of this analysis from Peter Zeihan, author of the uncannily predictive The Accidental Superpower (2014), and The Absent Superpower (2017).  Zeihan's latest, Disunited Nations, is slated for publication in March 2020.  He blogs at ReaganProject.com.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

For 28 years, the American people have been played for suckers.  Since the fall of communism in 1989, we allowed ourselves to be taken advantage of, militarily and economically.  The working men and women of this country have paid the biggest price for this foolishness. 

It made some sense back during the Cold War, when we needed a worldwide alliance against the Soviet threat.  But once the USSR was gone, we refused to act in our own interest, out of unthinking inertia and a desire to promote the globalization project.  Globalization was the path to world peace, according to deep thinkers like the Bushes, the Clintons, and Obama.  The welfare of the American worker was sacrificed for this higher cause.

The election of Donald Trump changed all that.  The global project was out, and America First was in.  The world took notice, quickly.

The first to react was South Korea.  That country's spectacular, and improbable, transformation from an economic basket case to a first-world powerhouse was possible only because of the free trade policy of the United States, backed up by the U.S. Navy's guarantee of free world commerce.  The South Koreans are an American dependent, and they know it.  They quickly cut a trade deal with Trump, KORUS, which has been fully implemented.  The best hope for South Korea is that we will find it useful in the future.

Next up was Mexico, another economy dependent on trade with America, with political leadership painfully aware of that fact.  After his election in mid-2018, incoming president Andrés Manuel López-Obrador let his predecessor know that if a deal could be made with the Americans, he would sign on when he came into office.  The deal was cut and ratified six months ago.  The USMCA is not a sweetheart deal for Mexico like NAFTA.  But it's fair, and it was the best deal Mexico was going to get.

The Canadians, under prima donna P.M. Justin Trudeau, somehow thought they could resist this new trade regime.  But they soon had to confront the reality that they can't function economically outside the American orbit.  Not long after the Mexicans, they caved and  signed on to the USMCA as well.  They really had no choice.

Japan's Prime Minister Abe watched this all happen and drew the logical conclusion.  Four of his country's largest trading partners — the U.S., South Korea, Mexico, and Canada — were now part of an American-led trading bloc.  Japan's other major trade relationship is with China.  So Abe had no real choice.  He had to cut the best deal he could get with the Americans, and he took it in September.  He had no alternative.

With the election of Boris Johnson in the U.K., the tight circle of America's closest allies will soon be complete.  The upcoming trade deal with the United States is Britain's best, and only, hope for better economic times.  The transition will be painful for some sectors of the British economy.  But the Brits have no better alternative.  They have a special relationship with us, and we'll give them the best terms we can, consistent with our own interests.  They bring things to the table that  no one else can — like a navy with two powerful supercarriers.

Add in Australia and New Zealand, and all the maritime nations of the world are comfortably under the American umbrella.  Central and South America are included as well, as junior partners.  India is a friendly affiliate, along with most of southeast Asia.  The Dutch and the Danes will partner up in due time.

This all leaves China out in the cold, along with Russia.  But just now the Chinese have begun to come to their senses.  Russia can't really do them much good.  They need to reach a new, fundamental understanding with the United States.  That process is now officially underway.  Our two countries are at the beginning of a long and winding road.  As Lao-Tse said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and that step has now been taken.

President Trump has succeeded in all these negotiations not because he knows the art of the deal, though he does.  He's winning because he understands that the United States is by far the most powerful country in the world, and under his leadership, it's becoming even more dominant.  He's got the high hand, he holds all the cards, and he's the first president since Reagan who fully uses this strength to his country's, and ultimately the world's, advantage.

American engagement with China is the key to a peaceful 21st century.  It's a hard pill for many to swallow, but President Trump is creating a new world order, founded on geopolitical reality and mutually beneficial commerce.  It will be a world of peace.

As the Good Book says, blessed are the peacemakers.

Fritz Pettyjohn lifted much of this analysis from Peter Zeihan, author of the uncannily predictive The Accidental Superpower (2014), and The Absent Superpower (2017).  Zeihan's latest, Disunited Nations, is slated for publication in March 2020.  He blogs at ReaganProject.com.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.