Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cause And Consequence

That will be the name of the Jane Austen novel about the Trump Era.

Josh Marshall has a very good analysis of Trump's Taiwan call.  He notes that every once in a while, we should challenge closely held shibboleths of our foreign policy.  I would suggest that re-examining the closeness of our relationship with Israel every one in a while would be a good thing.

What is instructive about Trump is that he neglects the consequences of pretty much everything he does.  For the most part, throughout his life he has glided over responsibility for his mistakes.  Wealth is funny that way.  It will be interesting to see how much he can change at age 70, as the world makes it clear to him that he's fucking up.

Again, as Marshall notes, Trump is surrounded by a very hawkish group of advisers.  And he himself is largely ignorant of things.  I confess that I myself was ignorant of the elaborate kabuki that surrounds communications between the US and Taiwan.  I am not however ignorant of the tensions in this three way relationship.

Trump has already introduced friction into our relationship with China...excuse me, Jina...with his trade-based economic nationalism.  Now he's made a yuge blunder, and given his nature will likely double-down.  Maybe we poke our noses further into the chaos of the South China Sea disputes.

For years, I have been telling students that the US and China will not go to war, because we are too intricately bound to each other via trade and other contacts.  This is the whole point of the Bretton Woods trade liberalism program.  You don't shoot your customers.

Trump's ignorance, belligerence and impulsivity throws all that up for grabs.  So, for the first time, I will have to say that perhaps we will go to war with China.  Simply because of who sits in the White House.

Marshall makes an interesting connection between the Cheney-Hawks wing of the GOP and the collapse of the Agreed Framework that controlled North Korea's nuclear program.  Clinton had put in place a framework that kept PRK from getting nukes, in return for some modest economic benefits. Cheney and Stephen Yates - Trump's new China advisor - scuttled that and, surprise!, North Korea proceeded to get a nuclear weapon.

Anyone want to bet that we will scuttle the Iranian nuclear deal?  Anyone want to bet Iran gets a nuke?  Anyone want to bet Saudi Arabia follows suit?

Institutions function, because we don't pay any attention to them most of the time.  They are like traffic laws.  We can bitch about having to stop at a stop sign at 12:40 AM, but I think we'd notice if suddenly all traffic laws went away, and not in a good way.

I put the odds of America getting in a shooting conflict over the next four years at 40-60 in favor.

They won't be able to help themselves, and it worked for Dubya.  I doubt it will have the same impact for Trump in a post-Iraq world.

But I've been very wrong about this man and this country so far.

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