Trump And The Great ‘Deflation’ Of America

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT)

 

Make America Great Again. America First. President Donald Trump’s professed view of, and vision for, America is unabashedly self-focused, putting the interests of the United States ahead of longtime international leadership roles in trade and democracy-building. On a grand scale, it’s been a retreat from such multilateral pacts such as the Paris climate change agreement. On a more focused level, it’s been protectionist trade moves such as the steep tariffs Trump approved this week on foreign washing machines and solar gear. If there’s a schoolyard theme to the approach of a president derided by his critics as a bully, it’s that the United States isn’t going to be pushed around anymore.

But as Trump prepares to speak before world thought leaders in Davos, Switzerland, then deliver his first State of the Union speech next week, foreign policy experts and veterans of previous administrations worry about the impact abroad and at home. The nation’s image has taken a hit among foreign nations who historically have looked to the U.S. for help and leadership, while domestically, Americans are increasingly unhappy with the government many grew up thinking was the model for the world.



“We’ve become America, the unexceptional,” laments Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. As a foreign relations analysts and professor, “my job has been telling people not to panic,” whether it’s the 9/11 attacks or other crises. But now, “it’s really problematic,” Drezner adds.

“America’s standing in the world has dropped catastrophically,” says Simon Rosenberg, founder of the New Democrat Network, a think tank. “It could be that the golden age [of America] and the conditions that created it are coming to an end. What’s remarkable is that all of this is happening without any debate in Congress about any of this.”

Experts underscore that the United States is still a major world power, with a strong economy and a popular culture consumed and copied by people around the globe. The U.S. is a center for innovation, Rosenberg notes. And to be sure, it is a place where 11 million undocumented immigrants are desperately hoping to stay, and where millions more hopeful immigrants would like to live.

But recent trends – including, but not limited to, the election, bombastic rhetoric and policies of Trump – have given the country a serious branding issue. The 2018 Best Countries rankings have the United States dropping (again) this year, to eighth place, down from seventh last year (and fourth in 2016 before Trump took office). The Ahholt-GfK Nation Brands Index last year showed similar results, with the United States dropping from first place to sixth in the space of one year among 50 countries ranked. International tourism to the U.S. is down as is attendance by foreign students (who not only become leaders in their own countries, but subsidize tuitions of domestic students). For all the Trumpian worries about Mexicans coming to the United States illegally, there are more Mexicans going back over the border into Mexico than are migrating here (though the trend predates Trump’s election).

The U.S. economy remains a world power, but less dominant than it was. A generation that grew up being told to clean their dinner plates because “there are children starving in China” are now middle-aged, looking at an Asian economic and political power that greatly challenges the American influence. While the U.S. still has the largest economy in the world, perception among important U.S. trading powers show that China is eclipsing that role. According to a Pew study, seven European countries, as well as Canada and Australia, see China as the world’s leading economy. And the U.S. Is no longer one of the ten best countries to start a business in. It fell from number seven in 2017 to 13 this year in the Best Countries rankings.

Some of the trends pre-date Trump, while others appear to be a direct result of Trump’s election and policies. He pulled out of the Paris accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership for global trade, and has talked about renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, a pact Trump repeatedly has said is a bad deal for the United States but which free traders in his own party argue has been good for the economies of all three nations.

The trade moves, particularly the recent tariffs on washing machines and solar products, are not surprising from Trump, who owes his Electoral College victory to states like Michigan and Wisconsin which were hit hard from competition from overseas manufacturers, notes James Roberts, a former foreign service officer and an economics research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. But Roberts adds that global trade is here, and not going back. “We don’t want to make it easier for hard-working Americans to lose more ground, but we also know we have to be realistic. We aren’t going to be able to turn the clocks back,” Roberts says.

And Trump has been direct, too, about how much American effort and military might he’s willing to expend on so-called “nation-building,” laying out a doctrine of “principled realism” in a speech last August at Ft. Myer in Arlington, Va. “We will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands, or try to rebuild other counties in our own image. Those days are now over,” the president said. And while the words were welcome to those who have grown weary of the burden of being the world’s policeman, others view the foreign policy doctrine and retreat from global agreements as part of a pattern that will cause deep wounds – all self-inflicted – with America’s relationships. The crisis with North Korea is a case in point, veteran diplomat Michael Froman, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, noted at a symposium the center held last week on Trump’s first year.

“There’s a risk that we go from being the indispensable nation to being isolated to being irrelevant,” said Froman, who was U.S. Trade Representative and deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration. A recent Gallup poll suggests Froman is not overstating it: median approval among 134 countries and areas of U.S. leadership is at a new low of 30 percent down from 48 percent in 2016. And the Best Countries data show that the U.S.’s political stability rating, as judged by the rest of the world, went from 11th in 2016, before Trump was elected, to 23rd in 2018.

Meanwhile, Americans themselves aren’t too happy with their own government and institutions. Aside from survey after survey showing low approval ratings for both the president and Congress, pride in the country’s very democracy is eroding. More than a third of Americans – 36 percent – say they are not proud of the way the country’s democracy is working, down from 18 percent three years ago, according to a poll by The Washington Post and the University of Maryland’s Center for American Politics and Citizenship. Seven in ten say the nation’s political divisions are at least as big as during the Vietnam War. A Pew Research Center poll in December found that 60 percent of Americans believe Trump’s election has led to worse race relations in the country.

A separate Pew poll found that a paltry 18 percent of Americans feel they can trust the government in Washington to do what’s right “just about always’ or most of the time.” And an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll reveals that Americans have limited confidence in almost every pillar of the country’s government and democracy, including the nation’s public schools, courts, organized labor and banks. Clocking in even lower on the confidence level were big business, the presidency, the political parties and the media. For the first time, a president went into the week before his State of the Union with the possibility that the government would not be open as he spoke because of disagreements within Congress and between Congress and the White House over immigration and children’s health care. During the standoff, Capitol Hill Republicans said they weren’t sure what the president wanted in the critical negotiations.

Congress approved a three-week fiscal extension earlier this week, sparing both branches of government that public embarrassment at Trump’s Tuesday speech to Congress.

“I do think its dangerous and it’s certainly possible that we got into a situation that is extremely hard to get out of,” says Michael Hanmer, a University of Maryland professor and research director of the school’s Center for American Politics and Citizenship.

“There’s a ton of disagreement on issues and how to do things. The only real agreement is that government isn’t working well,” Hanmer says. “The institutions that we fall back on are broken, and there’s a lack of faith in [both] those institutions and the people running those institutions.”

International relations professor David Rothkopf attributes much of the shaky world standing to Trump – but that also means the United States can recover. Much of the “reshuffling” of the world order, too, is due to the separate development in other nations, including Germany and France as well as China, he notes.

“It’s clear that the U.S. standing is falling in these polls. It’s also clear that some of that is due to the Trump presidency, so we have to wonder to what extent that is temporary,” says Rothkopf, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “America is not its president” alone, he says. Trump administration officials, meanwhile, assure Americans that this president is not engineering a global retreat. “America first does not mean America alone,” Gary Cohn, head of Trump’s National Economic Council, told reporters ahead of Trump’s Davos visit. But for the moment, at least, America is not in first place.

President Trump Is Correct About Putting America First

TRUMP PUTTING AMERICA FIRST IS THE ONLY CORRECT THING TO DO

 

As anyone who reads the Blog surely knows by now, I am not at all a fan of Donald Trump. It is difficult for me to think of a civil word in the concept of describing this person. Those who follow this Blog also know that I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton so I hope that you understand this article today is not about being a Democrat or a Republican as I am neither. So far though I do believe that the Republican Party is bringing much harm to themselves by standing behind this President. I do believe that if the Republicans have not gotten the guts to stand with the Democrats and to impeach Trump from Office before the November 2018 Mid-term Elections they are going to get slaughtered in those Elections. On a side note, I also feel that the Christians who are standing with this President are doing a great dishonor to Christ and His Holy Name as there is nothing holy about Mr. Trump. It is right and correct to pray for our Leaders but it is sinful to back sinful policies in the name of Christianity.

 

Now to the main headline of today’s commentary. Ever since Mr. Trump in his Campaign started using the slogan ‘America First’ he has drawn a lot of fire and anger from ‘the left, Democrats and liberals’. To me this anger is total stupidity! I do totally believe that Mr. Trump is a total racists but I do not at all consider this ‘slogan’ to be racist in any way. If Mr. Trump was saying something along the lines of ‘Whites First’ then yes, that would be totally racist. Yet any Leader or want to be Leader of any country who doesn’t create policies to put his own Nation first has no business being a Leader of that Nation. Think about it for a moment, if Mr. Trump’s slogan was ‘China First, or Russia First’, do you think that the American people would have elected him?

 

If Chancellor Merkel of Germany vocally or via policies said her goal is to put the EU before Germany should be voted out of Office? If Prime Minister May of England did the same thing, should she be the Prime Minister? How about President Jinping of China, if he was pushing a policy of Japan first, would he still be the President of China? How about Mr. Putin of Russia, if he was saying ‘America First’, would he still be the President of Russia? What I am saying is, of course Mr. Trump should put the interest of America first, if he didn’t, wouldn’t he then be a traitor to his own Country? What I am saying is, just because you or I believe this person (I have a hard time calling him a man) to be ignorant self-centered scum of the Earth, it does not mean that everything he says is wrong nor from his racist Soul.

Trump Says U.K. First, Putin Says Iran First, Xi Says Egypt First

Trump Says U.K. First, Putin Says Iran First, Xi Says Egypt First

 

Before you freak out, or, think that I have done flushed my brain down a toilet I need to let you know that, no, of course they didn’t say any such a thing. So, why did I say such things in the headline? There are two simple reasons, first, to draw your attention to the article, two, to make people think a little bit. The first is self-explanatory. Now, concerning the second of the two reasons. Anyone who reads my articles knows quite well that I believe that Donald Trump is the biggest idiot and the biggest ass to sit in the Oval Office since Andrew Jackson back in the first half of the 18 hundreds, and friends, that is really saying a whole lot because we have really had a lot of trash as Presidents in our Nations History.

 

There are many people, it seems mostly Democrats, who think that it is a horrible slogan that Mr. Trump came up with during his primary run, “America First.” Here is where I have to say that you folks who are ragging him over this slogan, you are quite goofy yourself. What the heck was the man suppose to say, England First, or Mexico First? Just what do you think any politician at any level, of any country, should do? If President Putin at the next Russian election started putting out propaganda saying that the Russian people and government need to start putting Iran, or Syria first, do you think that even in Russia that he would win the election? Possibly even worse, it would probably get him shot. Even as powerful as President Xi Jinping is in China if he came out with a policy saying China is going to start putting Egypt or North Korea before the people of China do you honestly believe that he would live five more years to finish out his term?

 

What I am getting at is that you folks here in the U.S. that are whining about Mr. Trumps ‘America First’ slogan are showing the world just how big of dummies you are. Also, the U.S. Media outlets who fall in line with such ignorance help fuel Liberal stupidity in European countries and in a few other Nations as well. For politicians and for the people of every Country on Earth, if you are not putting your country first, then you are truly a traitor to every person in your Country. For we folks who are Christians or Jewish, we all need to look at the teachings of Scriptures. You should know very well that we are supposed to cater to the needs of our families first and once our families are secure and safe, then we are to be charitable from the inside out. By this, I mean our family, our community, then outward, such as our County, our State, our own Country, then the world. We are to take what we really need from our own work, our own earnings, then use the rest to help others. This is where we are told not to hoard, not to store up for many years ahead for ourselves, but to use the extra that we have to help others. This is why we are told that charity covers many sins.

 

Even though I know that Donald Trump doesn’t have a clue about the teachings of the Bible it does not mean that everything he says is incorrect, most everything, but not all things. As our President, Mr. Trump is supposed to ‘Put America First’, if he is not doing so, then he is a traitor to the American people. Unfortunately, I personally do not believe that this ‘slogan’, to him, is anything but a slogan, something he thinks his voter base wants to hear. Personally, I have no doubt of any kind that Donald Trump, his Dad, and his adult kids, as well as his son in law Mr. Kushner, have done, or will do, anything except and ONLY, put themselves first, always! Yet in U.S. politics, do you honestly expect anything except selfishness?

Trump By Ignoring Africa, US Cedes Would Be American Jobs To China: Creating A China first Policy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES)

By Ignoring Africa, US Cedes Jobs To China

Guest commentary curated by Forbes Opinion. Avik Roy, Opinion Editor.

GUEST POST WRITTEN BY

Grant Harris

Mr. Harris is CEO of Harris Africa Partners LLC and was senior director for Africa at the White House from 2011-2015.

It is old news that China has aggressive commercial ambitions in Africa, but fresh numbers reveal the depth of China’s success—and raise the stakes for U.S. dithering.

A recent Ernst & Young report shows that China more than doubled its foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Africa in 2016, and that the value of these projects outweighs U.S. investments by a factor of 10. Moreover, China’s Commerce Ministry recently announced that China-Africa trade increased by 16.8% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2017. As if that was not enough, various African leaders were courted at a summit in Beijing last month, which promised extensive deals in infrastructure and trade under China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative. All of this serves as an exclamation mark on the following sentence: The United States must step up its game on U.S.-Africa trade and investment.

Moroccan King Mohamed VI (C-L) and Li Biao (C-R), Chairman of the Chinese group Haite, attend the launch of a Chinese investment project in Morocco on March 20, 2017, at the royal palace near Tangiers. (Photo credit: FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the U.S. has been slow to stake out a serious commercial strategy toward Africa, and U.S. companies by and large continue to overestimate the risks of doing business in the region. In contrast, China has sustained a policy of deliberate engagement and investment on the continent—and is making enviable returns in the process. Across Africa, China’s infrastructure projects generate earnings worth around $50 billion a year, which directly and indirectly translate into numerous jobs for Chinese citizens.

Building on a strong legacy of bipartisanship regarding U.S.-Africa policy, the Obama Administration deepened commercial ties on the continent, including through initiatives like Power Africa (designed to double electricity access in the region) that garnered broad Republican support. Indeed, U.S. FDI in Africa surged by over 70% from 2008 to 2015, on a historic-cost basis. Yet, in absolute terms, much more remains to be done to fully capitalize on Africa’s potential to contribute to U.S. growth.

Worryingly, the Trump Administration is so far heading in exactly the wrong direction. The policy signal to increase U.S. investment in Africa is no more. Whereas President Obama called for stronger U.S.-Africa economic ties—as did key Cabinet-level champions—the Trump Administration has shown no senior-level interest in this agenda. The raft of vacant positions across key federal departments compounds the problem.

Worse, President Trump is actively trying to eviscerate some of the vital tools needed to promote a serious commercial agenda. Though the “budget wars” are ongoing, fortunately Congress has so far rejected President Trump’s shortsighted proposals to eliminate funding for the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). Both are important for trade and investment globally, and in Africa in particular. Between 2009 and 2016, OPIC’s commitment of about $7 billion in financing and insurance to secure projects in Africa catalyzed an additional $14 billion in investments in the region. Over that same time period, USTDA more than doubled its Africa portfolio of grants and technical assistance for infrastructure projects, boosting U.S. exports by at least $2.5 billion.

These and other tools should be strengthened—not demolished—to support U.S. businesses in Africa and to successfully compete with China. This includes the U.S. Export-Import bank, which has been outpaced by the China Export-Import Bank (some estimates say by a factor of 37 for loans to Africa) despite having a Congressional mandate to prioritize helping U.S. exporters compete for business in Africa.

The Trump Administration still has the opportunity to advance a serious commercial agenda in Africa, but we are reaching an inflection point, beyond which it will be increasingly difficult to make up for lost ground. As a dynamic continent of over one billion people (who will comprise one quarter of the world’s population and workforce by 2050), Africa’s role in the global economy will certainly increase over time. As the U.S. economy looks for new global growth to fuel domestic jobs, Africa represents a critical commercial frontier. Seizing this opportunity, however, depends on the interest and capacity of American companies to do business in Africa. There is still time to change course but, failing that, middling policy and weakened tools to promote U.S. investment in Africa essentially constitute a “China First” policy.

U.S. Missile Attack On Syrian Shayrat Airfield Was Significant But Insufficient

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Opinion

Shayrat Attack… Significant but Insufficient

Last week’s morning was a turning point in the US dealing with the Syrian crisis. When 59 missiles Tomahawk were launched towards Shayrat airport, this was the first direct attack by the |United States on Bashar Al-Assad regime since the beginning of the revolution six years ago.

The attack has stopped a US clinical sleep towards complications of a war that has resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history. Surely, speaking about whether the US has started practically correcting its stance is early. This might be a sole step and reaction for a massacre that was one among many committed by Assad’s regime – but it is at least a sign that the world is facing a new US administration that has done in less than four months what has not been done by the former administration in eight years.

The attack on Shayrat airbase, although it was surprising and important, is a small step in changing the field condition and ending the Syrian tragedy. Maybe, if the attack happened when Barack Obama threatened with the “red line” in 2013 and before the Russian military intervention then its influence might have been bigger – it might have contributed to supporting the opposition and putting huge pressure on Assad’s regime.

One strike will not change the horrible way Assad treats civilians and will not affect his power, even if it prevents him from using chemical weapons soon. Nonetheless, Washington believes that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapon in Khan Sheikhoun massacre and, thus, it should be punished.

During the Iranian-Iraqi war, the US supported Iraq against Iran, but soon after that it turned against Saddam Hussein regime after it used chemical weapons in Kurdistan. Also, Shayrat attack might be viewed as a warning to Moscow that their might be consequences for the acts of its ally, Assad.

Russians deceived the international community in 2013 agreement that admitted Assad has submitted his ammunition of chemical weapons, although Moscow knew that Assad kept some storage that was used later on without facing any real consequences by the international community.

Throughout the past years, the regime has carried out airstrikes that killed hundred thousands of innocent Syrians – it used the tactics of starving and bombing hospitals as well as chemical attacks. Despite that, Assad did not face any real consequences, not even once, for his barbarism. However, this time, the Trump administration saw that it has to destroy one of Assad’s airbases to prevent warplanes from striking innocent people and dropping Sarin gas on them.

It is true that the US attack is a huge symbolic step but it will be considered a limited tactic if compared to the facts on ground. If Trump’s slogan was “America first” then this does not necessarily mean acting indifferently towards the world matters but means that America stays strong and leads the world.

The US is not Switzerland to act impartially towards international conflicts and 50 Tomahawk missiles alone will not trigger a huge change. If the US chooses the relatively low-cost option represented in limited military response such as Cruise missiles, then it can also take an international efficient step against Assad’s regime through exerting pressure to implement the international resolutions – establishing safe zones.

As much as striking Shayrat airbase has achieved several goals, its influence will be limited with time if it remained a sole step and not a new strategy. Six years of war have proven that only Russia, Iran and “Hezbollah” are messing in the Syrian territories to support a practically collapsed regime.

The military strike at Assad’s regime might be a first step towards regaining respect to the international resolutions and pushing the international community, US in the lead, to play its role in putting an end to the Syrian tragedy.

Salman Al-dossary

Salman Al-dossary

Salman Aldosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

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