Fresh on the heels of a 12-year high in our trade deficit, we can notch another massive and perhaps ominous turn in our trade fortunes. Last week members of a longstanding Asian trade bloc, called ASEAN, signed what is known as the Regional Comprehensive Partnership, or the RCEP. However, in addition to the ASEAN nations, China, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand signed on.
There is now a trade agreement not only between nations that are our trading partners, but also our strategic ones. If these nations fall into China’s economic orbit, it is only a matter of time before they fall in their political one. This could have been prevented by Trump following through with the Trans Pacific Partnership and sidelining China, but the Gorilla-In-Chief viewed any trade arrangement with ignorant suspicion. Now he’s driven the Pacific Rim into China’s hands, and the next administration will find this impossible to undo.
All of our post war efforts at building alliances across the Pacific and the Atlantic, a framework of global American economic and political influence, have now been shredded by a man who never had the slightest knowledge of how the world worked.
It has never ceased to amaze me that even though Gov. Mitch Romney lost to Barack Obama in 2012, Romney had still gone through the massive effort of preparing a full policy agenda for a transition period if he had won, ready for instant implementation. Trump strolled into the Oval Office like he had arrived for a dinner reservation. Not even a high school outline. His own ignorance and lack of preparation mirrored the lives of his own voters.
This nation has paid a heavy price for Mr. Trump’s masterful manipulation of America’s ignorant. The knuckle-dragging slobs driving their pickup trucks through town with their “thin blue line” flags, whose chief obsessions in life are the New York Islanders, porn and beer, never understood the meaning of having a place at the table or constructs like “soft power,” where the United States could shape policy in dozens of small ways to our advantage. They now face a bleaker economic future, and they’ll continue to scapegoat everyone one but themselves.
Trump was everything they aspired to as “success” in life: sleeping with a porn star while his wife nursed his newborn child. This is their apotheosis of success. Education, temperament, the pursuit of knowledge, reasoned judgment and reserve are not part of their life aspirations. But a toilet bowl of gold? The perfect metaphor for the Trump world view.
The country now turns on the twin axes of an ignorant population and an ever more complex world that will further escape their limited intellectual grasp. It’s an incendiary combination.
As America enters a Brezhnev-like era, where a septuagenarian leadership still fawns over World War II era victories while the rest of the world embraces the future, the nation’s fortunes are slowly eroding and we are heading to an age of irrelevance.
Experienced hands with an understanding of history and realpolitik did their best to steer our way through this new world. They were cast aside like table scraps by the Trump cult. Whatever prestige and respect we had in the global arena has been shredded, and I don’t believe anyone can restore it.
The sun has set on the American era. We will never be “great again.”
And now, as Mr. Trump leaves the Oval Office, denying that he lost, claiming election fraud, refusing to co-operate with the incoming regime even at the cost of American lives, Mr. Biden will have to deal with an economic holocaust and getting this country healthy again.
And the complaining from the rabble will commence on Jan. 20 that he’s not working fast enough.