Observations of an Expat: America Directs

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Tom Arms



Trump’s threatened tariffs are not part and parcel of an America First Policy. They are part of an America Directs Policy. Or, even better, an America Dictates Policy.


Many would say that such a policy is no more than a continuation of a reality that has existed since 1945. They have a point. But at least it was nominally linked to a morality-based system.


Trump’s policies are tied to vengeance and greed. We are tired, he bleats, at being taken advantage of. The rest of the world has been laughing at us for too long. So, he is going to tell the world what it must do.


This is clear, not just from the threatened tariffs on steel and aluminium. It is becoming all too obvious from NAFTA negotiations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the backroom free trade talks between Britain and America.


Trump appears to be coming to the reluctant realisation that pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership may not be the unmitigated wonderful thing that he thought it was. He thought the TPP would fall apart without America and he could pick off the individual former members with a series of bilateral deals. He was wrong.


It was difficult, but the 11 remaining members of the TPP have gone ahead and forged an agreement without Trump. Just before Davos, 25 Senators sent him a letter urging him to reconsider membership of the TPP, both for the sake of American jobs and world peace. At Davos he publicly mused on the possibility—but only on his terms.


His musings were not well-received by those who stayed in the reduced TPP. The Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, said the TPP cannot be redone to please the US; and Japan’s chief negotiator, Kazuyoshi Umemoto, said it would be too difficult to renegotiate to accommodate the US.


NAFTA, or as Trump tweets, “the worst trade deal EVER”, is on the veritable brink of collapse. The 25 percent tariff on steel has just thrown another diplomatic spanner into negotiations; especially since Trump tweeted that the tariffs would definitely go ahead unless Canada and Mexico agreed to his demanded changes to NAFTA


Britain is counting on a free trade agreement with the US to replace a big chunk of the European market it is losing with Brexit. Every time a British Remainer warns a Brexiteer about the economic dangers of leaving the EU they are told: “Ah, but we are going to have a free trade deal with America which will be even better than the one we have Europe.”


Indeed, President Trump has promised a “GREAT” free trade deal. Theresa May has declared herself “delighted” at the prospect and Brexiteering Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is positively salivating and rubbing his hands in glee.


The Brits are only just now discovering that Trump was thinking in American terms when he talked about a “GREAT” deal. Officially, there are no talks taking place until Britain leaves at the end of March next year. Unofficially, pre-Brexit UK-US talks have been quietly underway for some months and the signs are bad for the UK.


Britain has been told that if it wants greater access to US markets then it must accept more American agricultural products such as hormone-produced beef and chlorine-washed chickens. Not only do the British not want those products, but, if they accept American demands, EU regulations will make it impossible to sell many processed British food products onto the European market.


Even more revealing is the US position on air traffic across the lucrative North Atlantic route. British airlines currently benefit as part of an EU-US Open Skies Treaty. But US negotiators are now demanding that as part of the post-Brexit world a big chunk of the routes filled by British planes would be replaced by American. US negotiators are in a position to walk away from the table. Not so the British.


Donald Trump is a product of the down and dirty no-holds barred world of New York real estate. His cabinet and chief negotiators are all hard-nosed businessmen. They look at the world through win-lose spectacles of the boardroom rather than the political prism of compromise.





Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, www.fensinformation.com) which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

In addition to being a syndicated broadcaster and columnist on global affairs, Tom is also available for speaking engagements and can be contacted on TwitterLinkedin and email[email protected].

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