Cold war 2.0

June 20,2019

President Trump has threatened China’s President Xi that if they don’t meet and talk at the upcoming G20 meetings in Japan, June 29-30, the United States will not soften its tariff war...

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President Trump has threatened China’s President Xi that if they don’t meet and talk at the upcoming G20 meetings in Japan, June 29-30, the United States will not soften its tariff war and economic sanctions against Chinese exports and technology.

Some meeting between Chinese and US leaders will indeed take place, but it cannot be anything like a real negotiation. Such meetings normally are planned in advance. No such preparation has taken place, or can take place. Mr. Trump doesn’t delegate authority.

Trump opens negotiations with a threat. That costs nothing, and you never know (or at least, he never knows) whether he can get a freebee. His threat is that the US can hurt its adversary unless that country agrees to abide by America’s wish-list. But in this case the list is so unrealistic that the media are embarrassed to talk about it. The US is making impossible demands for economic surrender – that no country could accept. What appears on the surface to be only a trade war is really a full-fledged Cold War 2.0.

At stake is whether China will agree to do what Russia did in the 1990s: put a Yeltsin-like puppet of neoliberal planners in place to shift control of its economy from its government to the US financial sector and its planners. So the fight really is over what kind of planning China and the rest of the world should have: by governments to raise prosperity, or by the financial sector to extract revenue and impose austerity.

US diplomacy aims to make other countries dependent on its agricultural exports, its oil (or oil in countries that US majors and allies control), information and military technology. This trade dependency will enable US strategists to impose sanctions that would deprive economies of basic food, energy, communications and replacement parts if they resist US demands.

The objective is to gain financial control of global resources and make trade “partners” pay interest, licensing fees and high prices for products in which the US enjoys monopoly pricing “rights” for intellectual property. A trade war thus aims to make other countries dependent on US-controlled food, oil, banking and finance, or high-technology goods whose disruption will cause austerity and suffering until the trade “partner” surrenders.

Threats are cheap, but Trump can’t really follow through without turning farmers, Wall Street and the stock market, Walmart and much of the IT sector against him at election time if his tariffs on China increase the cost of living and doing business. His diplomatic threat is really that the US will cut its own economic throat, imposing sanctions on its own importers and investors if China does not acquiesce.

It is easy to see what China’s answer will be. It will stand aside and let the US self-destruct. Its negotiators are quite happy to 'offer' whatever China has planned to do anyway, and let Trump brag that this is a “concession” he has won.

China has a great sweetener that I think President Xi Jinping should offer: It can nominate Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. We know that he wants what his predecessor got. And doesn’t he deserve it more? After all, he is helping to bring Eurasia together, driving China and Russia into an alliance with neighboring counties, reaching out to Europe.

Trump may be too narcissistic to realize the irony here. Catalyzing Asian and European trade independence, financial independence, food independence and IT independence from the threat of US sanctions will leave the US isolated in the emerging multilateralism.

Excerpted from: 'Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0'. Courtesy: Counterpunch.org


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