Two experts raise concern over US treatment of allies and tariffs

I watched two separate interviews, one last week on PBS Newshour with a representative of the Council on Foreign Relations and one this morning on CBS Morning News with Ian Bremmer, the head of The Eurasia Group. I felt they both framed the issues and concerns very neatly.

The former noted while Trump has accurately raised concern over China and their pilfering of intellectual capital and trade deficits, he does not have a coherent strategy. It was noted that his tactics are less than effective, especially since this issue affects our G7 allies. It would be far better to work in tandem with our allies to put pressure on China, rather than place tariffs on them as well. He also noted the World Trade Organization has several levers that could be deployed to help with this effort.

As for the lack of coherence, Trump rightfully noted the intellectual capital is the greater concern, but said if China bought more goods from the US, that would be enough. If your biggest issue is theft of intellectual capital, buying more goods does not address that issue.

As for Bremmer, he has interviewed representatives of the G7 who attended the less than fruitful summit in Canada. He said the other members outside of the US all noted the relationship with the US is very far from the “10” that Trump assigned to it. He noted that between Merkel and Trump, it is about as dysfunctional as it gets. He added that other G7 countries worry that Trump has fewer reasonable voices advising him, so there is no one to reach out to that will get in the President’s ear.

What will come out as the Starburst Outburst, after the famous picture with leaders imploring Trump, he stood and agreed to sign a cooperation agreement that staff worked on until 3 am, including Larry Kudlow of the US. Then he reached into his pocket and grabbed two Starburst candies and threw them on the table saying “Angela, don’t say I never gave you anything.” This is about as demeaning as it gets, rivaling his refusal to shake her hand in the oval office.

The picture will be in future history books as a milepost of when the US turned its back on its allies. It will be in the section entitled “When the US ceded its global leadership position.” It is compilation of things that make me say this, not just the ill-advised tariffs.

They include: pulling out of an Asia-Pacific trade deal that went through without the US, announcing the pull out of the Paris Climate Change Accord, ignoring the pleas of allies to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, pulling out of the United Nations Human Rights council, separating children from parents at the border and adding more demands after a NAFTA deal was crafted. Then, there is the bullying, lying to and lying about our allies. Shoving the Macedonia President out of the way is as good a metaphor as any.

The United States is becoming a pariah under Trump. Until the so-called Republican leaders acknowledge this, we will continue to be such. How low must we go?



18 thoughts on “Two experts raise concern over US treatment of allies and tariffs

  1. This is an excellent analysis, Keith. I fear that Rex Tillerson had it right when he labeled Trump as a “F’ing Moron.” He will not read briefing papers – largely because they go way over his head. Intelligent advisors would make him feel inferior, so he doesn’t want any of them around. He certainly has damaged America in the eyes of the world and it will likely take an electoral remedy to fix the damage – starting with the November Midterms.

    • John, I find it hard to fathom how some of these decisions can be viewed as favorable things we should do. Treating allies poorly is about as poor a decision any leader could make. What he fails to realize, he has greased the skids for China’s ascent to global leadership. Keith

    • Susan, that is part of the problem. I wish the media would leave alone many of his poor actions or words and focus on the major ones. I need to fashion a post on this, but Robert De Niro’s cursing on TV at Trump feeds right into the President’s hands. While the more thoughtful speech Meryl Streep made regarding his imitation of a disabled reporter is far more unnerving to the President.

      The key lesson is don’t mud wrestle with someone who can only fight that way. Stick to what he did or said with facts, whenever possible. Keith

  2. I imagine there a very few presidents who enter the post with a comprehensive knowledge of the Economic and Trade dynamics, particularly at world level. Therefore it would be expected a mature adult would listen to advisors of many kinds before making a decision.

    • Roger, you hit the nail on the head. I often cite Thomas Wells, an attorney who worked for Trump. One of his several criticisms of Trump is the man was interviewing for the President’s job without doing the courtesy of understanding what the job entails. He does not care to do homework, which is why North Korea just took advantage of his naivete as well as China. Keith

      • Thank you Keith.
        For all his bluster and windy talk there is nothing solid there……
        Ah as I type this I see breaking news; he has signed an order stopping the separation of children from parents…about time too!
        That’s going to make those robustly defending the policy on his behalf look a bit foolish.

      • Roger, he was being beaten up from all fronts on the child separation issue, including the pope and US bishop, US Chamber of Commerce, evangelical leaders, his wife and even many Republicans. What amazes me is he doubled down on his mistake because he simply cannot admit a mistake.

        My guess is he will blame others tomorrow. I did see where his people are blaming others for the US pulling out of the UN Human Rights Council. If you want to fix something, help fix it. He will likely continue to get push back on this move and his tariffs fight. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: I am greatly disappointed that Senator Inhofe blocked the vote for Senator Corker’s tariffs bill at the behest of Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. Today, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was on Capitol Hill getting a series of bipartisan stern questions over tariffs on allies. Someone needs to tell Mr. McConnell that the Koch Brothers are spending a lot of money to advocate against these tariffs. Those would be the same Koch Brothers who fund Republicans.

    The point Wilbur Ross missed in his answers is the point made above. Working with allies is far better than strong arming them.

    • Janis, if anyone pushes back on this example, the simple question to ask them is how would you feel if some did that to you? This is a put down of anyone, but I would think it is moreso for a woman who put up with this kind of bullying on a regular basis. It is yet one more example of the absence of character in the man who occupies the White House. Keith

  4. In some regards, I get what he is doing. Life is so much easier if you don’t have to negotiate with other people/countries/parties. I see that on a microcosmic level in my little neighborhood association. For many years there were a handful, maybe 4 white men, who ran the organization entirely on their own. There was no outreach, no community involvement. They did accomplish much, and very well. But no one knew or recognized who had brought these assets to our neighborhood. After the president moved, the whole board collapsed and was replaced by a new younger guard. Our new president is unbelievably energetic and optimistic, but her focus is–rightfully–on outreach. However the more people who get involved, the more one gets tangled in different ideas and approaches. Unilateralism is easy. Consensus takes work. #45 is totally unwilling to work for anything.
    I wonder if America will ever regain its hallowed role as a world leader.

    • Linda, collaboration requires hard work and patience, neither of which are strengths of the man in the White House. But, it is not just limited to him as you note. It is far easier to do things yourself – it may not get to the best, long lasting result, but it is more expedient. Keith

  5. Dear Keith,

    The president is listening to advisers who agree with his thinking like Peter Navarro, Wilbur Ross and Stephen Miller. The trouble with President Trump is that his gut instincts are about 95% wrong which maybe he’ll figure out eventually. But we can’t afford for him to do much more damage.

    His Chief of Staff General John Kelly did him no favors by catering to the president’s racist instincts.When the president had a chance to fix DACA in exchange for the wall, that was a good deal that General Kelly blew up.

    It took 70 years for the US to develop its alliances with democratic countries which the president is in the process of destroying within 1 and 1/2 years. He has to be stopped.

    He is not just a f**king moron, he is evil. I truly believe that he is jealous of the N Korean leader Kim Jong-un and only wishes he could act likewise.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, it embarassing and concerning that our allies see first hand our problems. Not being able to get a reasonable ear is frustrating.

      In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink,” he defines our gut instinct as a compilation of experiences that our subconscious draws upon. Trump draws from a history of bad management, poor due diligence and vetting and some bad decisions. Yes, he is a great salesman, but the above flaws are well documented.

      I recall Republicans voting for him saying he won’t do what he said in the campaign. My concern was he would do such. The fact that he has may please his base, but greatly concerns me and should others. Keith

  6. Note to Readers: It was announced today that Mercedes is the first public company to revise its earnings estimate for the year downward due to the tariff war. Mercedes is a German company who makes cars in Alabama to ship to
    China. That reveals what the global economy looks like.

    When I hear from Trump that trade and immigration are the reasons for US job losses, that is not the main story. CEOs chasing cheap labor and technology gains are the main reasons. But, what Trump overlooks are the jobs created here by folks like Mercedes.

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