“Trump should stay the course”

This is a link to an article with the title, Trump’s Foreign Policy: The Popping Point of Maximum Pressure. In case you cannot tell from the title, it is very pro-Trump and is written by Victor Davis Hanson. It starts:

Donald Trump promised to shake up U.S. foreign policy. He has certainly done that from the Middle East to Asia. The U.S. is currently engaged in a three-front, maximum-pressure standoff with China, Iran, and North Korea — involving everything from tariffs to possible military action and the strictest sanctions in memory.

If you are in the Deep State, nothing could be worse. Until then, it was Eastasia v Oceania v Eurasia but with the fall of the Soviet Empire, great uncertainty remained. And for some reason, the rising star was China, beloved of the Deep State. Back to VDH.

At first, Trump critics saw these policy recalibrations as either impotent or counterproductive. Pessimists asserted that China, with a population four times the size of the United States’, was fated for world hegemony. Why antagonize those who might soon control our political and economic future?

Bipartisan experts talked not of the heresy of “stopping” China’s ascendance, but of “managing” America’s relative decline. Translated, the implicit policy conceded that the U.S., in its trade concessions, should overlook systematic Chinese trade surpluses, flagrant violations of world commercial norms, neocolonial provocations throughout Asia, stealing U.S. patents and copyrights, product dumping, currency manipulation, and technological appropriation. Supposedly, the more we appeased China through acts of magnanimity, the more they would reciprocate by becoming like us.

The fact is, a centralised economy cannot perform at the highest level. China is no longer full-on communist, but it is more than full-on totalitarian. In the West, there is at least a smidgen of a trace of a memory that economies work best, and innovate more, and raise living standards more certainly and reliably, if the economy is left to the market. So how’s this working out?

The canard was that there was no alternative to appeasement, given China’s more dynamic economy and cold-hearted efficiency — so beloved by progressives when it came to Beijing’s construction by fiat of high-speed rail, shiny airports, and solar and wind farms. Trump, we were told, was a ridiculous Quixote tilting at Chinese windmills, with his 19th-century talk of counterproductive “tariffs” and ossified “trade wars.”

Not now. The U.S. economy is still humming. The stock market is at record highs. Unemployment stays at near-record peacetime lows. Oil and gas production is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination just a few years ago. The Chinese economy, from what we can tell from its state-controlled media and censored state agencies, is slowing down. Human-rights activists are coming out of the shadows to damn China’s reeducation camps. Riots continue in Hong Kong, along with Orwellian surveillance of China’s own citizens at home.

So here we are, Deep State in dismay.

We are entering dangerous territory not because we are losing our trade war with China, but because we are beginning to win it. Xi Jinping not Trump has overplayed his hand. The Chinese know that they cannot end the standoff by returning to the former asymmetrical status quo. Nor can they embrace a new fair relationship — it would be antithetical to the very means by which China obtained its enormous wealth in the first place. Something then has to give.

Continues with a look at Iran and North Korea, both of which are similarly under extreme pressure to conform to Western norms. The conclusion:

In the next few months, we should expect a major provocation from either an increasingly beleaguered Iran or a flummoxed North Korea — and some sort of desperate quid pro quo from China presented as a last chance, a rare and magnanimous offer to stop the tariffs so “we can all just get along.”

Trump should stay the course and not let up until he achieves the original aim of his maximum pressure campaign. Nothing is more dangerous than to enter an existential standoff, feel momentum accruing, and then appease and grant concessions that destroy all prior sacrifice that heretofore had been finally paying off. Instead, he should expect our strapped adversaries at some point to do their worst, and then meet that challenge with our best — and ensure that our adversaries in their decline lack the power to take us down with them.

We shall see. Totalitarian states are hard to remove, and the love of power among those who have it is very strong indeed.

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