Trump’s Best Re-Election Bet: Run Against China

Marcello Lopez – geopolitical and intelligence analyst – blogger, editor & entrepreneur



Riporto le ficcanti considerazioni dell’ottimo professor Walter R. Mead* pubblicate sul Wall Street Journal del 22 aprile sc. sui probabili futuri scenari della Presidenza Trump e delle relazioni USA/CINA.

Mi preme in particolare segnalare i passaggi riguardanti l’atteggiamento degli Stati Uniti nei decenni scorsi nei confronti del Dragone.

Da anni lo scrivente, nella sua infinita pochezza, esprime le medesime considerazioni, in maniera ancor più circostanziata, sugli errori del turbo capitalismo di Corporate America, sulla connivenza interessata dei suoi esponenti politici e sul conseguente condizionamento dei media mainstream e della stragrande maggioranza dei think tank, sulla constatazione che le modalità di quella globalizzazione NON fosse cosa buona e giusta, né vantaggiosa per i cittadini delle Democrazie Occidentali.

Grazie a Dio, come si dice, carta canta: scripta manent verba volant.

Quanti articoli ed editoriali ho dedicato, e non da oggi ma da parecchi anni, su questo Blog per contrastare questo racconto mainstream assolutamente mistificatorio, come sanno i pochi affezionati, selezionati e intelligenti lettori che mi seguono, tra la sufficienza, lo scetticismo e a volte la malafede di noti analisti, cattedratici e imprenditori che ora imboccano, con notevole disinvoltura, delle repentine inversioni ad “U” sull’argomento.

“Il tempo è un galantuomo, rimette a posto tutte le cose” diceva Voltaire… l’importante, aggiungo io, è che non lo faccia post mortem.

*Walter Russell Mead è il successore del professore James Clarke Chace ( celebre storico e politologo americano Fondatore del Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program (BGIA) del Bard College, è Distinguished Scholar in American Strategy and Statesmanship presso l’Hudson Institute ed editorialista del Global View del Wall Street Journal.
È inoltre co-fondatore del think tank New America Foundation.

Trump’s Best Re-Election Bet: Run Against China


November may still be a long way away, and the coronavirus has thoroughly scrambled American politics.
But it’s increasingly clear that President Trump’s likeliest path to re-election runs through Beijing.
With the economy in shambles and the pandemic ravaging the country, making the election a referendum on China is perhaps Mr. Trump’s only chance to extend his White House tenure past January 2021.
Why Beijing ?
In the first place, because Americans increasingly disapprove of its behavior.
In 2019, before the coronavirus stormed out of Wuhan to shake the world, 57% of Americans already had an unfavorable opinion of Beijing.
The most recent Gallup poll, in February 2020, put that at figure at 67%.

Pres. Trump speaks during his daily coronavirus briefing in the White House, April 7.

But Americans go beyond distrust of the Chinese government.
In a recent Pew poll, 68% of Republicans and 62% of Democrats considered China’s power and influence a major threat to the U.S.

Second, the issue plays to Mr. Trump’s strengths.
The core of the president’s appeal has always been his ability to portray himself as an antiestablishment outsider come to drain the swamp and put the country back on the right track.
This is harder to do as an incumbent running for re-election, but the foreign-policy and business establishment’s long romance with China gives Mr. Trump something to run against.

For decades, he can say, corporations outsourced American jobs to China, while the political establishment permitted Beijing to cheat in its economic competition with the U.S.
China kept its markets closed, funneled state aid to Chinese companies, even stole intellectual property—while the establishment said Beijing was democratizing and learning to play by the rules.

The result ?
Millions of American jobs have been lost; China has become more hostile and more communist; and, to add insult to injury, the U.S. must now scramble to produce medical supplies and personal protective equipment it previously sourced from China to fight a virus that Beijing’s deception unleashed on the world.

The U.S. failure to recognize and respond to the danger posed by rising Chinese power was, Mr. Trump can plausibly say, one of the greatest strategic blunders in world history.

The president’s supporters can concede he sometimes get the details wrong, while arguing that on China he – and not the establishment – got the big picture right.

Mr. Trump’s penchant for out-of-the-box thinking and unconventional policy moves could mesh well with an election on China policy.
Mr. Trump will be able to control the campaign narrative through dramatic actions like setting draconian tariffs, imposing sanctions on high-profile Chinese figures involved in questionable activities, proposing measures to force U.S. companies to return production from China, and providing additional support to Taiwan.

Finally, a China campaign would create real problems for the Democrats.

Some of this would be personal for Joe Biden—the Trump campaign is already doing everything it can to highlight Hunter Biden’s business ties to China.
But plenty of other senior Democrats have made money there, supported trade policies that gave away too much without holding Beijing accountable, or praised China’s government in ways that would make painful viewing in a campaign ad today.

Even if they take a harsher tone on China, Democrats will have a difficult time differentiating themselves from Mr. Trump. Caught between wanting to criticize the president for what many will believe is a dangerously hawkish and simplistic approach to China on the one hand and wanting to appear tough on national security on the other, they’ll likely come off sounding soft or naive.

A China campaign may also drive some wedges into the Democratic coalition.

Many Bernie Sanders voters share Mr. Trump’s critique of establishment policy toward Beijing.
Blue-collar voters of all races would welcome proposals to “reshore” American factories now in China.
Yet many establishment Democrats close to Joe Biden will fear the economic and political costs of confronting the Chinese Communist Party too harshly.

None of this means that Mr. Trump’s re-election is a slam dunk or that a China gambit will necessarily work.

In a year when voters will be reeling from the epidemic and a massive recession, the Trump campaign’s efforts to put China front and center may fall flat.

It’s also possible that Democratic counterattacks will stick.

Voters may buy the argument that the U.S. should be strengthening its alliances in the face of the China threat and that the president too often undermines them.

Beyond this, Mr. Trump may be torn between the urge to attack China and the desire to protect the trade deal he signed in January, undercutting the clarity of his own message.

Beijing has some leverage over the president.
By delaying purchases of American farm commodities, China could hurt the economies of important swing states in the Midwest.
As a major supplier of medical equipment and drugs the U.S. needs for the fight against the coronavirus, China could demonstrate its displeasure in damaging ways.

But a president who can’t run on the economy, and whose response to the coronavirus has, thus far at least, been less than Churchillian in the eyes of many voters, has to run on something.

For Mr. Trump, campaigning against China may be his best shot at another four years in power.