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The Art of the Deal
Trump Plays the Trade Card for Help on North Korea
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  • D4x

    Bravo Mr. Mead! Adding, POTUSTrump is also a branding-expert-turned-politician instead of an academic economist. From Scott Adams’ Dilbert blog: “…Trump also suggested that our trade negotiations with China will go a lot better if North Korea is no longer a problem. Trump didn’t go so far as to suggest adding a “North Korea tax” to Chinese imports, to pay for our military presence in South Korea, but I like to think it is an option.

    This is the sort of thing I was hoping to see when the Master Persuader took office. His reframing on North Korea is pitch-perfect.
    We’ve never seen anything like this.

    Some of you will be tempted to argue that nothing has really changed. But I think the face-to-face meeting between Xi and Trump, and the movement of North Korea to a branding competition between superpowers is a big, big deal. It would be hard, if not politically impossible, for Xi to go easy on North Korea from this point on.”

    • RedWell

      I’m not buying it for this simple reason: North Korea is a problem to be managed, not solved. What’s his end goal? Forcing the North Korean’s to concede to giving up their nukes? Good luck: it’s their only leverage, and they know no one thinks a war is worth it.

      Trump’s deal making approach is not a pitch-perfect reframing. It is walking the batter when the bases are already full.

      • D4x

        It is not in anyone’s interest for NorK to be ‘managed’ any longer, if only because of the approaching 2018 Winter Olympics, not to mention direct threats to nuke American troops in East Asia, and China knows an irrational tributary could aim missiles into China. Two end goals come to mind: a) end the Korean War after the failures of a 63-year armistice, and/or b) China replaces Kim Jung-Un with a more responsible ruler of what is China’s tributary state of North Korea.

        NorK scientists and technicians help Iran with nuclear, and Nork missiles have been found transiting from Libya to Sinai to Hamas in Gaza; probably helped Iran build munitions factories in Lebanese tunnels, for Hezbollah.

      • Jim__L

        So what happens if the Chinese turn down the deal, whether it’s because it’s infeasible or it’s unpalatable? Trump gets to slap tariffs on them and say to the rest of the world, “If only they’d helped me take care of this huge existential nuclear problem, everything would be OK — but Xi forced my hand! I guess we gotta turn the tariffs way, way up. How sad.”

        Trump recently established a precedent for US strikes even if we said we wouldn’t do anything — for a cause that the international community can hardly complain about. In this case, could he be giving himself room to do what he wanted to do anyway, making Xi look like the bad guy in the process?

  • Unelected Leader

    Trump showed up an hour late to the meeting, bombed Xi’s partner during dinner, and now dangles trade over his head like a doggie treat

    • KremlinKryptonite

      Well, that is how it ‘went down’ if you will, but don’t forget what we talked about last time. To reiterate, this sort of strategy might work very well on NK, as the gargantuan economic leverage that the Chinese Communist Party has over the Kim regime is simply not disputable.

      However, while the leverage is there and Xi appears to have the power within the regime to use it, you should not expect such a quid pro quo on the SCS, or even the ECS. Again, not necessarily because Xi Jinping isn’t interested, but because it’s not even clear he has the power to implement such a deal.

  • Andrew Allison

    Just what has 70 years of giving away the store in order to create a liberal global order achieved?

    • Isaiah601

      IT enabled us to become the solitary superpower. I’m OK with being the biggest kid on the block with the biggest shiny toy. Where I agree with you is that I’m sick and tired of giving away the store for free. That sh!t needs to end yesterday. Look at Merkel pledging to start paying for some of the military protection. Look at Xi amassing troops on border of North Korea and refusing coal shipments in a very public way. This is a big deal in image-conscious Asia.

      • Andrew Allison

        Yeah, but the objective, supposedly, was to create a liberal global order.

    • Jim__L

      It has achieved a world order more stable than any in world history.

      But, anything that can’t continue, won’t.

      We’ve got to get a LOT smarter (i.e., less dogmatic, and probably less generous too) about how we use our resources, if we’re going to get the best possible results going forward.

      • Andrew Allison

        Surely you jest? Remember Vietnam? Iraq? Afghanistan, The Middle East in flames, sub-Saharan Africa sinking into anarchy, the NORKs threatening nuclear war, socialist catastrophes in South America, etc., etc?

        • Jim__L

          I’m not joking. Compare that to the rest of human history, and we’re living in a Golden Age.

  • Anthony

    “During last year’s presidential campaign, Donald Trump advocated for a more disengaged U.S. foreign policy in which involvement in the world would be limited to actions in the interest of the United States. On the surface, this was not an irrational argument. American involvement – particularly militarily – has not yielded the outcomes the U.S. had hoped for in recent years. Nevertheless, there is a difference between advocating for a new course and executing one. The U.S. president must balance the reality of the world, the complexity of U.S. interests and political forces in all countries. In other words, what a president wants and what he must do are two different things.”

  • Dhako

    I am not sure, Walter, that the reality of what President Xi is about is as you have characterized. And I am sure the “buffoon-in-chief’ at the White-House thinks this clever-by-half way you just described to us. But I really think someone is setting themselves for the greatest fall of their history of “conning” others in a broad daylight. Which means someone is going to be “out-con” by some one else, who is far more clued-up than they could ever be about the reality in their neck-of-the-wood. So, lets see how this “poker-game” ends in due course.

    Moreover, I must confess, that, you seems to be carrying the political waters of Mr Trump around here. And that is the reason I thought that by now he would have given you the “nod” to join his bereft administration (at least as a deputy-level official in the State department, or even “appoint” you to be his “foreign policy adviser”). Given that, you have been an “indefatigable soldier”, who to boot, is always ready to explain away his mind-boggling absurdity with some kind of a “passable coherence”, on your part.

    Well, lets hope, he shan’t keep you waiting too long in the wilderness, For, I am sure of it, he could worse than standing at his shoulder and explain to him, as to why when others says, that, Mr Trump, is borrowing a chapter from the old School of Jacksonian, it doesn’t mean (as he would probably think) that, they are referring to Micheal Jackson (who I am sure of it, Mr Trump, is very familiar with before his untimely passing).

    • ——————————

      The paper tiger will do what it is told…it is a follower, not a leader….

      • Dhako

        They say: “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. In other words, it’s the forlorn wishes of all those “mouth-breathing” (and no doubt, knuckle-dragging) cretins in the US, who invariably, did voted for that “buffoon-in-Chief” at the White-House, in the recent US’s presidential election, to see the likes of China being in a position to be told what to do by some absurd con-artist, in the US, who they have him as their president.

        Hence, keep wishing it, for that will be the nearest you will ever come to see the likes of China being ordered by anybody in this world, much less by the likes of Mr Trump. But, then again, most mouth-breathers cretin in the US (like you) will have a difficulty in telling the differences between their hoped-for wishes and the ugly reality they are facing currently under their “leader”. So, you have my sympathy if not my contempt.

        • D4x

          All we read is your contemptuous deplorable name-calling, when any of us actually read your spleen. Get a dictionary to define that in English.

        • ——————————

          Dhakp Dhako Dhako,
          You keep exposing your soft underbelly, and it is quite hilarious. All it takes is one simple sentence to knot your knickers.

          Thanks for the printing press and Wing Chun, grasshopper, but what has the paper tiger done for humanity lately…Communisim?…like I said…the paper tiger is a follower.
          And speaking of communism, I believe that anyone who sings the praises of a communist country is the true knuckle-dragging, mouth breather, and their leader the buffoon ….

    • Jim__L

      “Clued-in”, not “Clued-up”. By this point I think you would know that, which has for a while had me thinking about who else is representing China on these boards.

      Besides, what choice do the Chinese have? Without American markets, your economy is toast. Trump has offered you a choice between a bad option and a worse option, and left us with a good option and a better option.

      To avoid this sort of strong-arming, the Chinese could pursue a strategy of economic growth through domestic demand, which would further raise the standard of living of the Chinese people, which as far as I’m concerned would be a very good thing. =)

      If they have to shed some jobs to foreign countries, what of it? Sooner or later (sooner, if we’re all lucky) those countries’ standard of living will rise as well, for the same reasons.

      There is such a thing as a virtuous cycle here.

  • Nevis07

    I think this is a pretty good overall analysis of Trump’s strategy and worldview. Frankly, I tend to agree with it. But I’d be willing to accept some moderately bad trade deals to continue to push the global system, if only to not burn the whole system down. But Trump is correct in identifying that the current set of trade deals the US has negotiated are not really sustainable at the rate our deficits are running.

    China – I have less sympathy for. They (and possibly India, eventually) are really the only two other countries that have a chance of displacing the US market as a political card to be played. Right now, China is getting the best of all aspects of the relationship; if Trump is offering up some space on trade to China, then China needs to deliver actual results in my view.

  • Kevin

    A good essay. Further questions I have are what can Xi actually deliver and how did (or did not) action in Syria influence the talks.

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