Trade Wars Are a Fool’s Game

Trade Wars Are a Fool’s Game by  for UNZ Review

According to the great military thinker, Maj. Gen. J.F.C. Fuller, ‘the object of war is not victory. It is to achieve political goals.’

Too bad President Donald Trump does not read books. He has started economic wars against China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela without any clear strategic objective beyond inflating his ego as the world’s premier warlord and punishing them for disobedience.

Trump’s wars are economic. They deploy the huge economic and financial might of the United States to steamroll other nations that fail to comply with orders from Washington. Washington’s motto is ‘obey me or else!’ Economic wars are not bloodless. Imperial Germany and the Central Powers were starved into surrender in 1918 by a crushing British naval blockade.

Trade sanctions are not making America great, as Trump claims. They are making America detested around the globe as a crude bully. Trump’s efforts to undermine the European Union and intimidate Canada add to this ugly, brutal image.

Worse, Trump’s tariff war against China has damaged the economy of both nations, the world’s leading economic powers, and raised tensions in Asia. The world is facing recession in large part due to Trump’s ill-advised wars. All to prove Trump’s power and glory.

Trump and his advisors are right about China’s often questionable trade practices. I did 15 years of business in China and saw a kaleidoscope of chicanery, double-dealing, and corruption. A favorite Chinese trick was to leave imports baking in the sun on the docks, or long delaying them by ‘losing’ paperwork.

I saw every kind of craziness in the Wild East Chinese market. But remember that it’s a ‘new’ market in which western-style capitalism is only one generation old. Besides, China learned many of its fishy trade practices from France, that mother of mercantilism.

China indeed steals technical and military information on a mass scale. But so does the US, whose spy agencies suck up information across the world. America’s claims to be a victim are pretty rich.

What Trump & Co don’t understand is that China was allowed into America’s Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere by the clever President Nixon to bring it under US influence – just as Japan and South Korea were in the 1950’s. China’s trade surplus with the US is its dividend for playing by Washington’s rules. If China’s trade bonus is stripped away, so will China’s half-hearted acceptance of US policies. Military tensions will rise sharply.

In China’s view, the US is repeating what Great Britain did in the 19th century by declaring war to force opium grown in British-ruled Burma onto China’s increasingly addicted people. Today the trade crop is soya beans and wretched pigs.

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For decades I have spent a couple of hours every morning carefully reading The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and several other major newspapers. But although such a detailed study of the American mainstream media is a necessary condition for remaining informed about our world, it is not sufficient. With the rise of the Internet and the alternative media, every thinking individual has increasingly recognized that there exist enormous lacunae in what our media tells us and disturbing patterns in what is regularly ignored or concealed. In April 2013 I published “Our American Pravda,” a major article highlighting some of the most disturbing omissions of our national media in issues of the greatest national importance. The considerable attention it attracted from The Atlantic, Forbes, and a New York Times economics columnist demonstrated that the mainstream journalists themselves were often all too aware of these problems, but perhaps found them too difficult to address within the confining structure of large media organizations. This reinforced my belief in the reality of the serious condition I had diagnosed.