With Eyes Wide Shut

I cannot sit here with a straight face and profess to know what Trump will do.   President Trump that is, as regards China.  China on anything and everything.

We now have a Secretary of State that has proclaimed China’s possession, armament and simple militarization of islands as illegal.  China of course calls the above nothing more than defense.   Regardless of how it all turns out, History will show that China grew not Strong, but Bold on Obama’s Watch.  

This Trump fellow is something to look at.  There he is folks, a President actually doing what he said he would do, one executive order after another(learn the phrase, tremble with each swirl of the hand).   Methinks Trump is simply high on emotion.  High on the fact he won despite perhaps his own internal disbelief.  But as I’m sure even Trump understands, the devil is in the details and it is the quagmire of turning commands and orders and edicts into Actionable Results where executive orders go to die.

But as I’m a part time blogger(you don’t see me writing everyday right?) with a full time life one cannot simply sit back and admire the fact this guy is nothing if not a Man of Action.  And well, we Americans….we love such men.   To some he is a Modern Day John Wayne.  To others the beginning of the legal Dawn of Authoritarianism in America.    Alas, does not every New Dawn Fade?

So how will our newfound Master take China on?  Trump, the Anti-Obama if there ever was one has many an Ace up his sleeve.   The problem is due to Trump’s eerie shrillness China may very well make Trump out to be the aggressor.  Simply because he is moving too fast.  And Loud. Too fast that is for diplomats and other such members of the champagne set.

But in my view they themselves have themselves to blame for what has become of things between China and the West.  Did not China’s Leader go to Davos?  Did he not return to China unscathed?  There is something to be said for politeness, but that only applies when the world order is not at stake, no?  Politeness and “talk”, have done nothing but wipe out the hopes of an American Middle Class (and your country as well, sooner or later), and allow a set of islands practically at the doorstep of Subic Bay to be armed to the teeth.   Those islands were rocks not five years ago and even once in a while submerged.   Trump has simply filled a void created by others.   And now if you believe this new Secretary of State there very well may be hell to pay in the not so distant future.

Every nation in Asia needs to start hedging its bets.   Unfortunately, I can hear the unsophisticated none so subtle refrain from Trump “you are with us or against us” even now, before it has even formed as a thought in his brain.   That’s the way Nationalists talk you know? 

What would Australia do?  Australia has already stated it would not join in the blockade.  Actually, the Aussies, mindful of their being stuck in the middle, are really just deceiving themselves.  There is nothing they can do, short of kicking the American marines out of Australia, to alleviate any Chinese concerns towards them.   China paints both countries with the same brush. 

Does one really think America with all its carrier battle groups (China has one, with little true supporting ships) is really gonna blockade those islands?  Does Trump not realize that,

One, China will leverage this and play victim all it can, and

Two, his rhetoric and actions will push China into a corner it cannot back out of?

For China to back down now, after several years of playing up to its People how successful it has become in regaining past glory, would mean nothing if not countless lives lost because all the carnage will be in China when the attempted coup comes.

I don’t think it’s dawned on China or others even that Trump is the prototypical brash, thick skinned New York businessman.   The kind that will sue you at the drop of a hat, and turn on his friends just as quickly.  The guy just doesn’t give a fuck.   He wants to win.   And in his view, America has been nothing if not a weak kneed, thin skinned push over.  A pussy.   Remember the kid at the beach?  The skinny one that has his babe taken away from him by a big muscular bully, and then gets sand kicked in his eyes?    In Trumps World that skinny dude is America.   And we’ve long stopped being the badass on the beach.   And he doesn’t like it, and in his waning years if it’s the last thing he wants to do, he’s gonna change it.  Come Hell or High Water.

For now, he has put China on the defensive.  Its China’s turn (now that they’ve mostly gotten what they want) to be the suave sophisticated “let’s talk like civilized nations” nice guy.

But with the speed Trump is moving that will not buy much time at all.   When decisions are forced to be made quickly is when disaster always strikes.  Which is why the quarterback always spikes the ball on first down late in the game.

These are some things Trump is probably considering now….

Station American fighter planes on Taiwan.                   

Putting an American military presence back on Taiwan would increase US-Sino tensions 1000%.  It would hark back to the days of the Cold War.   Yet with one stroke Taiwan will have an automatic safety blanket.  Because the possibility of striking Taiwan will with yet another whirl of the pen be taken off the table.  It is a threat China will no longer be able to hint at.  Because any strike on Taiwan will mean first taking out those glaring American fighter planes.  And that means war. 
America can do other things too…those THAAD missiles it setup in Korea…what if those go up in Taiwan?

Just like that any wedge China had successfully driven between Taiwan and the American government over the past decade would be gone.   Taiwan and America would be married at the hip.    
One basic pillar of China’s foreign policy would have dissipated amongst the gas fumes of an F-18 flying out of Taipei.

How would China react?  The Youth of China have no recollection of an American military presence on Taiwan that lasted decades until 1979.  Rather, wouldn’t they see it as an aggressive stance by America?  Interfering in China’s internal affairs?  One thing is sure:  no one in China would be reading in the papers that this is a response to China putting missiles on an island.  All the same, wouldn’t the CCP look weak in the eyes of its people?  Yep.   Sure would.

Putting American troops though on Taiwan though would simply make Taiwan more of a target.   Up to now it’s been a sideshow with occasional rhetorical threats from China directed at it.  Any war with China elsewhere and China could simply start something on Taiwan.   But putting an air base on Taiwan would keep the Chinese less focused on Guam and Okinawa.  

And we haven’t even talked about Cam Ranh Bay.  Putting an American naval presence so close to China would let the Chinese understand how the Philippines feel.   The Spratly’s are roughly 160 miles from the Philippines.  Cam Ranh Bay is only 500 miles from Hainan.  How would China like to have a Carrier Battle Group stationed so “near” China?   The hypocrisy is rich.

And just like that the self fulfilling prophecy oft heard from China that the West wants to “contain China” comes true.  Because I think now that is probably the sane thing to do.   Complaining about being contained while at the same time deciding an entire sea belongs to you….well, where’s the sympathy vote for that?

And the West has only itself to blame for this skewed Rise of China.  It’s just not the China that everyone hoped for.   All this openness and hope has gone out the window.   Some say we can now see China for what it really is.  A bully.   Some say China is just spreading its wings as it should.  I say China hasn’t changed.  Oh the people have, trust me.   Chinese Society is far, far more open than it was 2 decades ago.   And probably more so than 1979.  But the Party has not.  Rather, the Party has simply grown China strong at the expense of the West.   And we now know that has been the mission of China all along.   To become strong and powerful at everyone else’s expense.   It is here Trump is correct.  Power relations with China is very much a zero sum game.  That is how China sees it.

The window for “controlling” China’s inevitable ascent has closed.   Any further attempts will probably end with violence.   I find myself more and more wondering in situations such as these:

What would Deng do?

China doesn’t need aMao.  In situations such as these, China needs a Deng Xiaoping.   I wonder what he would think of China’s aggressive rise?  Would he agree with China’s stance today towards Hong Kong?  You, know that 50 year transition isn’t even half passed yet.

Only the very, very, na├»ve believe America or France or Ireland (pick your country!) win engaging China because their socks now cost less than before.  There can be no serious correlation to the price of imported Christmas ornaments to the power of a nation. 

All that trade….

I’ve heard two refrains oft repeated as of late….

“When trade stops crossing borders armies begin to cross” and

“In a trade war the country with the surplus always loses”.

America’s trade deficit with China is enormous.   I’ve half a mind to say “so what”?  Most of that deficit is simply comprised of product that comes from American companies shipping from China.   

But it’s the metric we live with today.  

Trump could be brutally strategic with this and simply say something like, “product imported from Malaysia or Vietnam will have a lower tariff than from China”.   And just like that American companies will flee from the Middle Kingdom.  And if you follow Trump’s thinking, isn’t a weaker China a stronger America?

But we should step back a bit from China.  Korea and Japan both love to sell, rather than buy, also.  Rather, American Enlightenment has made all 3 nations rich.    The hope of American Diplomacy was “yeah, we’ll give them access to our markets to grow their economies, and we’ll get cheaper pricing and lose a few jobs, but in the end, they’ll become just like us and we’ll sell more to them and win in the end.”   Bullshit.

The US recently entered into a disastrous Free Trade Treaty with Korea.  I think the US deficit with Korea has doubled since the treaty’s inception.   Its deals like this that enrich the bank accounts of the elite but kill the soul of a nation.   Because the soul of a nation rests with its middle class.  No matter who you are, a nation is only as strong as its Middle Class.  The American Middle Class didn’t win with this Korea Free Trade Agreement.  Wages didn’t go up.  Jobs were lost.  And it is these kinds of deals that rightfully sent Americans to Trump.   The American trade diplomat has been fucking America’s Middle Class over since the time of George Bush Sr and NAFTA.   Trump is the result.
When you hear that America’s decline will begin with the decline in Free Trade, listen more carefully.  What you are really hearing is the 1% of America crying that THEIR FORTUNES will wane.   And if you say we need those 1% to create jobs for a better America (or England, or Canada), my answer would be where are those jobs now?  And if you answer, “in China”, than won’t a trade war with China really hurt American corporations that sell back to America?  Cut off our nose to spite our face?

(Wait a second….a trade war with China would hurt US companies….which don’t hire as many Americans as they used to…..fire away!)  

Google complains about not being able to fill jobs going forward if Trump really does restrict immigration.  And that American underbelly says….”so what, what does that have to do with me”? Also known as “what have you done for me lately”? We are entering an Age where being rich in America is to be demonized.  Because you must have gotten rich at the expense of the Middle Class.  (“So Screw You.”)

Trump has really surprised me (and everyone else) with his flurry of Executive Orders.   I’m sure every nation has a leader with the power to issue an Executive Order.  It’s just the concept of an Executive Order is proportionate to the Power of the country issuing them.   I think other nations are shocked at what is happening in America because the moral values of the Media within the USA have shaped global opinion of the nation itself.  It really does go to show just how ignored the vast swath of America’s underbelly has been.   The Pulse of this swath of the country hasn’t obviously been taken in a very long time.  Because if it had, would the Rise of Trump really be a surprise to anyone?
As such, I await along with everyone else what Trump will say next about China.   

With Eyes Wide Shut. 


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