Regarding Koichi Hamada’s superb commentary, “U.S.-China spat is more than just a trade war,” in the Sept. 2 edition, knowledge of basic negotiation, finance, geopolitics, macroeconomics and history reveals that Donald Trump’s “strategy” is ignorant and risks a global economic crisis — or worse.

Essentially, Trump — wielding hubris as a flamethrower — is using xenophobia to ignite his volatile “base.” Furthermore, Trump’s pyromaniacal ethics aside, trade wars aren’t “easy to win.” Actually, all sides get torched.

First, negotiation: Since Xi Jinping, China’s “president-for-life,” faces no repercussions from a recession, he has extraordinary leverage. Trump, however, is petrified of “The R Word,” having gambled all his re-election chips on “his” economy.

Second, finance: China will remain in the driver’s seat for decades, since it owns 27 percent ($1.11 trillion) of all U.S. debt held by foreign nations. Xi is laughing all the way to the bank — literally — at Trump’s jejune “America First” demagoguery.

Third, geopolitics: While Trump’s policies reflect a toddler’s foresight, China’s 30-year plan to become the top superpower by 2050, and its Going Global strategy, which drives its multibillion-dollar investments overseas, prey upon Trump’s hardcore isolationist fetish.

Fourth, macroeconomics: Sudden, dramatic tariff escalations spur retaliation, creating ripple-effect instability and risking armed conflict. Unsurprisingly, self-labeled “tariff man” Trump seems illiterate about what uber-intensified protectionism in the 1920s and ’30s wrought: the Great Depression, militarism, fascism — oh, and World War II.

Last, history: Xi’s exploitation of Trump’s arrogance and obsession with “winning” is reminiscent of the Korean War, when the Chinese Army, manipulating U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s legendary hubris, massacred his troops when he pompously ordered them toward the Chinese border. In 1951, U.S. President Harry Truman fired MacArthur for that debacle.

In 2020, voters have an opportunity to relieve Trump of his command. They should do so — with extreme electoral prejudice — based on his brazenly unsound economic “methods.”


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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