Sunday, July 14, 2019

Bipartisan Support for Trump Asia Policy

Shocking, to say the least. Not the news analysis, but the source. Writing in The New York Times Edward Wong offers a fair and balanced assessment of the Trump policy toward North Korea and China. (via Maggie’s Farm)

Just when you were going to abandon all hope.

Wong writes:

As he tries to tackle the greatest challenges to American power in Asia, President Trump is overturning policy toward China and North Korea that for decades was as canonical as Confucian ritual.

With North Korea, he is engaging with the enemy in hopes that negotiations will yield a surrender of nuclear weapons. With China, Mr. Trump says the United States must take a big step back from an economic relationship that has strengthened a formidable rival.

The shifts were prompted by internal changes in each country, combined with Mr. Trump’s unorthodox instincts and the views of his senior Asia advisers. The administration now has growing bipartisan support in Washington to widen an emerging global conflict with China and build diplomacy with North Korea.

Obviously, some do not agree:

More important, Mr. Trump has smashed the very foundations of longstanding policy.
That has alarmed some experts. More than 150 former officials and scholars signed an open letter that the writers posted last week, denouncing the administration’s combative China policy as “fundamentally counterproductive.”

“We do not believe Beijing is an economic enemy or an existential national security threat that must be confronted in every sphere,” said the letter, which was organized by scholar Michael D. Swaine.

One does not want to get too tangled in semantics, but surely China is a fierce competitor. But, Trump is effectively insisting on a fair and open commerce between the nations. In the past, free trade was anything but fair.

Trump administration officials argue that economic engagement without appropriate guardrails created a tyrannical behemoth that could supplant American supremacy. Some call for long-term tariffs to “decouple” the economies of China and the United States by breaking supply chains and other business ties.

“We seem to be at a unique confluence of Xi and Trump,” said Bill Bishop, an analyst in Washington who publishes Sinocism, a China briefing. “And Make China Great Again meets Make America Great Again is a recipe for friction.”

But Mr. Trump rarely if ever talks about strategic concerns and speaks admiringly of Mr. Xi, leading China hawks to fear a trade deal with Beijing that relents on national security issues like Huawei.

And, Trump has radically changed policy toward North Korea:

On North Korea, the general policy since the George W. Bush administration has been to avoid bilateral diplomacy and impose economic isolation to force Pyongyang to end its nuclear program.

But Mr. Trump upended that by doing face-to-face diplomacy with Mr. Kim, most recently when the two strolled for a minute in North Korea — the first time a sitting American president had entered the country. It was their third meeting, after a failed Hanoi summit in February and initial talks in Singapore in June 2018.

Former officials and analysts increasingly say diplomacy is the only way forward with North Korea, given that it already has an estimated 30 to 60 nuclear warheads. Longtime advocates of rapprochement point optimistically to the shifting consensus in Washington.

Past administrations had a different approach. Evidently, it did not work. So, Trump is trying something new. 

As of now, we do not know the outcome. We should not be selling hope in place of achievements. And yet, considering that Trump detractors have found nothing to like about the president, and have been working long and hard to make it impossible for him to govern, this moderate response to the Trump diplomatic initiatives comes as a bright light shining in the darkness.


Sam L. said...

Orange man BAD. BAD, BAD, BAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDD. (Go, Mr. Trump, GO. Stomp right down the path you're on!)

Sam L. said...

Slow day, Stuart? Where are the usual suspects/commenters?