One good thing which I hoped to see in a Trump administration was a détente with Russia.
Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and in her campaign record seemed hell-bent on a military confrontation with Russia, the one country with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the United States, over issues that matter very little to the American people.
It looks like this hope will be fulfilled. Unfortunately Trump seems hell-bent on a military confrontation with China, and also with Iran. This, too, could turn out badly for the United States and everybody else, although for different reasons.
President Trump isn’t even in office yet, and his lifetime success strategy is based on being unpredictable, so I don’t claim to be able to foresee what he will do.
But based on his appointments and his rhetoric, it appears as if he intends to intensify the “pivot to Asia” begun under the Obama administration.
The problem with this, from the U.S. standpoint, is that China is a stronger economic power than the United States. By some measures, it has a larger gross domestic product. It has a stronger manufacturing economy. The United States has a trade deficit with China. The U.S. government probably could finance its budget deficit without selling some of its Treasury bonds to China, but it would be more difficult.
The United States would very likely lose a trade war with China. If forced to choose between the United States and China, I believe many supposed U.S. allies would choose China. When China set up its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the U.S. government tried to discourage trading partners from joining, but they signed up anyway.
In the event of a military confrontation, the U.S. government might find that certain vital electronics components are made in China or in factories controlled by Chinese companies.
The big mistake of Donald Trump, and of we Americans generally, is to think that our problems originate overseas, when they originate among ourselves.
China did not arrive at its strong position overnight, and not by threatening other nations. The Chinese leaders built up China’s industrial strength little by little, without calling attention to themselves. They strengthened their international position by offering foreign countries loans and investments, not by threatening them with sanctions.
My nightmare for the United States is that the world will turn against us, and that this will happen all at once—like the collapse of Soviet power in eastern Europe or the breakup of the old Soviet Union.
Public opinion in most countries does not support U.S. military interventions in the Middle East, nor U.S. economic warfare against Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and other countries, but their governments go along out of fear of turning the U.S. government against them.
Once this fear is broken, I think the breakdown will be rapid. The United States will become the great pariah state, like South Africa in the past and Israel today. The U.S. dollar will no longer be the world currency. Foreign investors will no longer be willing to roll over U.S. government debt.
The worst case is an anti-U.S. military alliance, comparable to the anti-Communist alliances organized by the U.S. government organized during the Cold War. We could be denied access to oil and minerals in the Middle East, the Arctic and other parts of the world. Foreign intelligence agencies could subvert our government and stir up unrest, as the CIA did in many foreign countries.
Then our military and intelligence agencies would be needed—to deal with real threats, not imaginary ones.
U.S. and China
The Coming War on China by John Pilger for Counterpunch.
Atlas Stumbled by Peter Lee for Asia Times.
U.S. and Russia
Why does Russia want Trump? It’s all about oil by Mark Sumner for Daily Kos.
The Cold War Is Over by Peter Hitchens for First Things.
U.S. and the world
The End of the American Century by John Michael Greer for The Archdruid Report.
Trump Loves to Win, But American Generals Have Forgotten How by Andrew Bacevich for TomDispatch.
Photo illustration: The Daily Beast.