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Vassar Bushmills

“Trade War” is a term the enemies of Donald Trump use to denigrate his proposals for restoring a balance to American trade policies.

Only it’s not “trade war” but trade brinkmanship, which, as it was first used to define JFK’s strategy against the USSR in his years in the White House, were intended to prevent a war, not execute one.

I’m actually old enough to remember those days, and the term’s use so know it’s not unlike the principle’s laid down by Donald Trump in his best seller Art of the Deal.

JFK’s use of the term vis a vis the USSR and Khrushchev was not unlike Reagan at Reykjavik in ’86 or Trump-Putin at Helsinki only a few days ago. In each case the American president, out of the hearing of the media, laid all their power cards on the table, making it clear to the other side we could not be matched. Out of sight of the kibitzers this could be done by allowing them to save face, and go home and give it some deeper thought. Khrushchev brought the missiles out of Cuba, Gorby threw in the towel as he knew they could not match our economy in developing our Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and likely Putin got the same message, for of three Russian versions, 1962, 1986 and 2018, his position is weakest. Yep. Weakest.

Trade issues with the European Union and China are essentially no different; known strengths versus known weaknesses.

All of China’s plans for regional political hegemony are based on the success of their economy, and most of that would go up in smoke if America quit buying their stuff. The sheer size of our market dwarfs all others.

(There are dozens of fatal flaws in the Chinese internal management system and the way they did their book that made them vulnerable to even regional competition, with US private sector support, which I first set out to prove in 1989, before the fall of the Berlin Wall which directed me elsewhere. In Asia I liked working with local entrepreneurs but found American partners impossible. The American manufacturing ethos has since changed, so if I were to midwife relationships today, I’d look for American small business entrepreneurs who are a little more hands-on.)


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