I previously recommended Peter Zeihan’s book, “The Accidental Superpower” that cuts through a lot of haze (crap) to explain why America is the world’s superpower and still will be when our grandchildren take over. Peter is a geopolitical strategist who relies heavily on geography, demography and energy studies to explain the future. He now has a second book, “The Absent Superpower,” that I will also recommend which explains the withdrawal of American power and leadership from the global geopolitical mix and the ramifications that will result. Given the results and feedback from recent NATO and G-7 meetings and what the other participants heard from President Trump, Zeihan appears to be right on track with current events.
America is no longer going to police the world, intervene in conflicts, or sacrifice blood and treasure to maintain the world order as it has for over 70 years. “America First” is not just about trade, it is a reset of the global geopolitical pecking order and the dominant role that America has played in maintaining world order. It has been a tough job which many would describe as impossible but the alternatives to U.S. leadership will most assuredly leave open the opportunity for worse. I think it is safe to assume that the world condition will deteriorate without the U.S. directing traffic.
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that they will no longer be able “to depend on America” she boiled Trump’s worldview down to the bone. That is where he is taking us. She knew that he was planning to remove the U.S. from the Paris Climate agreement. He will remove the U.S. from other global institutions as well. America is about to become the “Absent Superpower.”
While it would be easy to lay responsibility for what will be the biggest change in resetting the global geopolitical order since WWII on President Trump, he has had his finger on the pulse of the American public’s foreign policy perspective and many Americans are ready and supportive of the change. Trump was elected because Americans were tired of what they perceived as being used and abused by the global community of allies and foes alike and they were ready for Trump to pull back and reserve U.S. military might for when it will be narrowly effective for U.S. interests. I am not convinced that Americans will ultimately like the result of a world where America is no longer the dominant leader but I do believe that they want to see this “time out” from American investment in the global order.
“America First” is a withdrawal from the world in terms of commerce, global institutions, global security and conflict management. Trump has made it clear in his first months in office that he could care less about autocracies, human rights or promotion of democracy as an example to the world. Despots can do whatever they wish without fear of U.S. intervention as long as they do it somewhere else far beyond U.S. borders. Domestically his team has been making it clear that they see the U.S. as a Republic rather than a democracy. Peter Zeihan suggests that for all the political upheaval, domestic and foreign, that the Trump doctrine as America withdrawals from the world, will prevail.
Peter Navarro is the National Trade Council director who wrote the book, “Death by China.” Those who think that Trump has moderated his trade perspective ahead of his coming trade confrontations with major U.S. trading partners should instead get ready for another surprise. Donald hasn’t moderated his position on any of his policies thought to be extreme. They are just getting ready, locking and loading, for the trade offensive and they will come with all guns blazing when they are prepared to let loose the barrage. Even Germany is in their sights.
The last few months as Trump set up his trade team will become known as the quiet time. He expects China to moderate Korea and if they did he would thank them and still come after them on trade. If they don’t succeed, which is likely, then he will not have to treat them with any deference when the trade confrontation begins. The recent trade deal with China opening beef trade was just window-dressing.
Merkel, Macron, and May all get it. Whatever was talked about at the recent NATO and G-7 meeting left it clear in their minds that the relationship between NATO Allies, Western Europe and the U.S. has fundamentally changed. Trump’s underlings still say supportive things but these foreign allies heard something different from the President in private. I don’t know how this spins into the web of what is going on between Trump and Putin but somehow it does. Certainly Trump has to maintain sanctions on Russia for a bit longer to avoid the appearance of collusion but there is an “understanding” between Putin and Trump that is the foundation of the new relationship between Russia and the U.S. with Trump as President that is larger than the sanctions.
The headline read, “G-7 Leaders Agree to Maintain Sanctions on Russia, Fight Protectionism.” The others know that Trump is not on board with both feet on either of those things. They know that if a NATO country were attacked in any significant way that “should” invoke Article 5 that Trump would have to “think about it” rather than react in reflex to the NATO obligation. Thoughts like, “Did they pay their fair share into NATO Defense?” or “Do they have a bad trade surplus with the U.S.?” will impact Trump’s response. They don’t trust him, which means that NATO enemies have a weakness to exploit in the Alliance.
They shouldn’t trust him. This is the collateral damage to his being “unpredictable.” Trump appears to be comfortable with chaos and the world will soon reflect that. Merkel should read Zeihan’s books.
David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.
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