Editorials: La Marea Roja; and Trump’s trade wars

This, too, is who we are. A viral social media meme.

Holding the Belgians scoreless in the first half – and then…

Thursday afternoon, the Marea Roja flows against the Tunisians, in a consolation battle for third place in the group. Watch or listen, and cheer.

Panama’s first World Cup has been short on the miracles. But the team, and the country, we walk with our heads held high.


Trump takes himself and America out of the picture with traditional allies. G7 official summit photo.

Trade wars: the just, the futile and the downright stupid

India, hit by American sanctions because some of it companies trade with countries like Iran and Russia, which are seen as rivals in the US Congress, has responded with retaliatory tariffs against the United States. Washington has hit long-time Canadian and European allies of the United States with trade sanctions and they have retaliated more or less in kind. Trade is just one part of the US problem with Mexico, a relationship about to get very much worse. The Chinese have been hit with US trade sanctions, and they are also retaliating. Some of that retaliation is aimed at Donald Trump’s businesses, and other parts of it seek to punish red states and congressional districts by harming the particular economies of those places.

The 21st century is not, like the 19th century, a time of European hegemony. Nor is it like the “American Century” that sank into and emerged from two world wars and ended with apparent US victory in a cold war. China is the emerging economic, scientific and industrial power, they don’t play by established rules in trying to gain and consolidate leads in these areas and it would be foolish to suppose that military power does not follow with these other sectors.

A grown-up US polity has no need for imperial angst, let alone panic. But since the days when the Americans were tiny players on the world scene to now that we are at or near the top but being overtaken, there is a geopolitical imperative of sorts: one power gaining hegemony in the world, or over such an important part of it as the Eurasian land mass, tends to diminish the trade prospects of all other trading nations. After World War II a lot of people in countries around the world were afraid of the Americans for this reason and it’s one of the factors that led people very unlike the Russians to tilt toward the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

We could recount the history and point fingers of blame for the last 50 years of US economic history. Probably the most blameworthy of all things was that in the face of the many changes the one constant was that a wealthy oligarchy had its interests protected or its losses reasonably covered while for so many Americans this was not the case.

The righting of wrongs and adjustments of equities will have to be matters to resolve among Americans rather than solutions financed by an intimidated set of someone elses in the world. The US still has by far the most expensive military machine. So did the Roman Empire, which collapsed under the weight of maintaining its for so long invincible armies.

The end of a globalization on corporate terms that did not well serve most Americans? Fine – except that no everyone comes out a winner in that process. Standing up to aggressive Chinese economic policies? Reasonably justified – except that so much of corporate America is heavily invested in China and so many ordinary Americans have come to depend on Chinese products.

But if the United States is to go to off to a trade war with China, it’s lunacy to be fighting with India at the same time. “America First” while fighting trade wars with Canada, Mexico and the European Union surely drives those regions into a closer economic embrace with China. The neocon idea of a Cold War II against Russia, perhaps provoked by Russian meddling in US affairs, is totally insane given the Chinese drive for economic hegemony.

What’s not possible is a return to a previous age. Bringing back US industries that have left is largely a fools’ errand. Building the infrastructures for America’s tomorrow, promoting and protecting the key industries of the future and an equitable new set of economic arrangements among Americans are what any healthy US politics need to be about. Forget all the outward blame shifting, brush the chip off of Uncle Sam’s shoulder. It’s about the members of a troubled society, including the foreigners among it, taking care of each other and looking ahead, not fighting among themselves while looking back.


Bear in mind…


Roots are not in landscape or a country, or a people, they are inside you.
Isabel Allende


Latin America is very fond of the word “hope.” We like to be called the “continent of hope.” Candidates for deputy, senator, president, call themselves “candidates of hope.” This hope is really something like a promise of heaven, an IOU whose payment is always being put off. It is put off until the next legislative campaign, until next year, until the next century.
Pablo Neruda


In Latin America, even atheists are Catholic.
Carlos Fuentes
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