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Hullabaloo


Sunday, June 03, 2018

 
The US says bow down: or else

by digby







He's just tearing it all up. The macho folk in this country, young and old, who fail to understand that exploding everything without a plan to replace it will likely lead to disaster, are cheering him on mindlessly. Whee! All those establishment people all over the world are getting so owned!

President Trump appears prepared to unravel 70 years of pain­staking effort that the United States has led to build an inter­national system of trade based on mutually accepted rules and principles.

Ever since an agreement on trade emerged in 1947 from the ashes of World War II, presidents of both parties have pushed this system as a way to strengthen alliances and promote the expansion of democracy and prosperity in Europe and Asia.

But with Trump’s decision last week to enact aluminum and steel tariffs against U.S. allies in Europe and North America, he is subverting previously agreed-­upon trade pacts. The result is a brewing trade war with Canada, Mexico and Europe, which are expressing shock and bitter frustration while enacting tariffs of their own on a bevy of American products.

The measures announced last week went beyond Trump’s previous actions, such as pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a recently forged trade agreement among 12 nations, and his efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.

Now, he has imposed restrictions on aluminum and steel imports in the name of national security, even though almost all trade and national security analysts agree that it strains credulity to say it is risky to source metals from allies with whom the United States routinely shares sensitive intelligence information.

Veterans of trade policy worry that tensions will further escalate, putting existing trade agreements in peril and the future of World Trade Organization, the group that the United States helped establish in 1995 to adjudicate the rules of global trade, in doubt.

“Trump’s actions create a feeling of chaos and lawlessness. America is no longer abiding by basic due process and commitments made to other nations,” said Jennifer Hillman, a former commissioner at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

It would be one thing if Trump were making decisions based upon an economic philosophy that goes beyond "my way or the highway" but it doesn't. This is purely a strongarm move to force other nations to kow tow to his big beautiful hands. His ideas are playground ideas and trade is a complicate issue. Sure, there might be good reasons for the government to become protectionist or choose certain industries over others but there should, at least, be an understanding of the trade-offs.

This is what Trump was screaming at his cowardly sycophants all last year:

The scene: The Oval Office, during Gen. Kelly's first week as Chief of Staff. Kelly convened a meeting to discuss the administration's plans to investigate China for stealing American intellectual property and technology. Kelly stood beside Trump, behind the Resolute desk. In front of the desk were U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, senior trade adviser Peter Navarro, top economic adviser Gary Cohn, and Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Trump, addressing Kelly, said, "John, you haven't been in a trade discussion before, so I want to share with you my views. For the last six months, this same group of geniuses comes in here all the time and I tell them, 'Tariffs. I want tariffs.' And what do they do? They bring me IP. I can't put a tariff on IP." (Most in the room understood that the president can, in fact, use tariffs to combat Chinese IP theft.)

"China is laughing at us," Trump added. "Laughing."

Kelly responded: "Yes sir, I understand, you want tariffs."

Gary Cohn, who opposes tariffs and the protectionist trade measures pushed by the Bannonites, had his shoulders slumped and was clearly appalled by the situation.

Staff secretary Rob Porter, who is a key mediator in such meetings, said to the president: "Sir, do you not want to sign this?" He was referring to Trump's memo prodding Lighthizer to investigate China — which may lead to tariffs against Beijing.

Trump replied: "No, I'll sign it, but it's not what I've asked for the last six months." He turned to Kelly: "So, John, I want you to know, this is my view. I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs."

Kelly replied: "Yes sir, understood sir, I have it."

At one point in the meeting, Navarro pulled out a foam board chart. Trump didn't pay attention to it, saying "I don't even know what I'm looking at here."

Trump made sure the meeting ended with no confusion as to what he wanted.
"John, let me tell you why they didn't bring me any tariffs," he said. "I know there are some people in the room right now that are upset. I know there are some globalists in the room right now. And they don't want them, John, they don't want the tariffs. But I'm telling you, I want tariffs."

Kelly broke up the meeting and said the group would work things out and reconvene at the appropriate time.

He doesn't know what "globalist" means except that Bannon told him it meant someone who doesn't believe that the United States should bend everyone else in the world to its will. Right now he's doing it by trearing up virtually every agreement we've had

But he's doing it. And we'll have to see if this is a proverbial "red line" for the GOP. , myselfI doubt it. We already knew that their blathering about small government and "honor and decency" were a crock. Why not this too?

So much winning.