Tag Archives: war

Trump vs China

Is Trump the “Asia pivot” candidate?

Looking at the difference between Trump’s and Hillary’s attitudes towards Russia, one can’t help but feel that there’s something deeper going on.  Hillary’s hostility to Russia, contrasted with Trump’s amiable gestures, raises the question of what Trump’s objectives are.  Or more accurately, those of the team of national security insiders he has assembled, including former Defense Intelligence Agency director Michael Flynn.

Let’s get this out of the way: it is not non-interventionism, no matter what some libertarians may wish to believe about Trump.  These are serious military-industrial complex heavy-hitters in his inner circle.  He is not against using American power, he is simply pushing a different agenda from the neocons formerly in power.  His well-known antipathy to China may provide a clue.  Here’s Trump’s plan to “get tough” on China (there is no “get tough” on Russia plan):

Declare China A Currency Manipulator
End China’s Intellectual Property Violations
Eliminate China’s Illegal Export Subsidies And Other Unfair Advantages
Strengthen the U.S. military and deploying it appropriately in the East and South China Seas

Donald Trump campaign website, July 30, 2016

Increased trade barriers, sparking a possible trade war, combined with amped up military presence in China’s backyard sends a pretty clear signal of Trump’s intentions.  This falls in line with the elite foreign policy consensus of an “Asia pivot” in the past few years – away from the Middle East and towards containing a rising China.  Let Russia help us mop up ISIS and “radical Islam”, Trump seems to argue, which leaves us free to confront China.

At a press conference a few days ago, Trump said he doesn’t want to see Russia and China “teaming up”.  He seems to understand, or has been made to understand, the fears underlying thia Asia pivot.  Closer military and economic cooperation between Russia and China presents a major stumbling block to Western globalist hegemony.  The election contest between Trump and Hillary can be seen as a contest between the foreign policy realist “pivot” faction and the anti-Russia neocons.  Far from ushering in an era of non-interventionism, Trump would merely shift the target of American power.

Trump getting angry

Trigger-happy Trump

I mentioned before my theory that Trump, far from being rock-solid and independent, is very susceptible to manipulation.  His political persona requires projecting “strength”, “winning”, “decisiveness”, regardless of private hesitation or reality itself.   Anything else risks collapsing the house of cards underlying his populist mandate.

Now we have the first inkling of this phenomenon at work.  In response to the Orlando shooting, Trump advocates … airstrikes against ISIS!  “We have to really increase the bombings.”  Because the shooter apparently  “pledged allegiance” to ISIS in a 911 call shortly before his shooting.  The reality is there was no operational link between the shooter and ISIS, or any other organized group.  He was simply a mentally unstable person who used Islam as rhetorical cover for his actions.

The political consensus seems to be on the right-wing this time – this was Islam vs. innocent gays and therefore we need to hate Muslims.  Trump fell right into this narrative trap and took it to its most absurd, yet internally logical, conclusion.  It doesn’t take much imagination to see how he could be easily goaded into a brand new war.