Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Trump revolution may not be on such solid ground

David Goldman writes,
The empire strikes back: After barely a month the tone in the Trump Administration has moderated. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was calm, assured and, well, moderate in his CNBC interview this morning. The single most important thing he said was that 3% growth was achievable. It certainly is; roll back some of Obama's business-killing regulations and cut corporate taxes almost any way you please and America can get back to 3% growth. That doesn't make America great again; it doesn't even restore the lost growth of Obama's non-recovery. But it is a lot better than Obama's 2%.

Mike Pence was just in Europe praising the European Community (while Steve Bannon reportedly told Germany's ambassador to the US that we would rather deal with Germany bilaterally, something that is simply impossible under the current treaties).

Mike Flynn is gone, not because he did anything wrong but because the president gave way to a wall of attacks claiming that no-one in the Pentagon or intelligence community could work with him. Movement conservatives like John Bolton are out; Gen McMaster is in, an officer who defended America's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan with eloquence and passion, e.g. here: "The professed war-weariness among populations who have sent only a small percentage of their sons and daughters to fight in recent wars may derive from a failure to communicate effectively what is at stake in those wars and explain why the efforts are worthy of the risks, resources and sacrifices necessary to sustain the strategy." (H/T Benjamin Bilski). That's exactly the opposite of the stance that won Trump the election, and a radically different attitude: "Professed war-weariness" sounds deplorable to me. Over at State, Rex Tillerson reportedly will hire Trump critic and Bush State Department official Brian Hook to run policy planning.

The problem is that having cast out the elite, we have no-one with a CV left to hire. Trump's revolutionaries tripped over their own shoelaces. Proposing to put the One China policy on the table in trade negotiations, or hinting at the breakup of the European Union, or extending overtures to the European alternative right, were really dangerous errors. China will fight a war to keep Taiwan in its territory--it is not a subject for negotiation. If the EU breaks up, Germany will move east (Germany and China are now each other's largest trading partners). Angela Merkel is awful (and I've attacked her in print for the past year and more) but she's better than the bunch of Putin puppets who would replace her. (I don't mind making a deal with Putin as long as it is from a position of American strength).

Trump has a cadre of people around him whose job it is to walk into the Oval Office and say, "Mr. President, you can't do that." Tinkering with the One China policy was one such no-can-do; suggesting that the EU should break up was another. It would be a shame if the Trump revolution lasted only for a month before it faced its Thermidor. If that happens, we revolutionaries will share some of the blame.

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