PARIS — One of President Donald Trump’s first orders of business on his first Monday in office was to kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal with Asian nations that would have shipped American jobs overseas and dragged down the global value of labor to the benefit of Wall Street oligarchs. The move suggests that this administration is prioritizing the interests of the American worker over the containment of China.
The TPP deal was supposed to be a twofold victory for the military-industrial complex: It would have implanted American interests in China’s backyard while increasing profits for Wall Street. One only needs to gauge the reaction of some Trump critics on the Republican side to ascertain the agenda.
“President Trump’s decision to formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a serious mistake that will have lasting consequences for America’s economy and our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region,” Republican Sen. John McCain said in a statement.
The hawkish positions toward Russia and China that McCain chronically supports serve the bottom line of the military-industrial complex, which guarantees a continued flow of government spending. What this posturing doesn’t ensure is credible long-term economic growth.
The TPP is a fork in the road where the interests of the American establishment and the American worker diverge. Unless Wall Street is reinvesting earnings domestically to create more wealth and jobs, and the profits aren’t just going into a few deep pockets, then what’s good for Wall Street isn’t automatically good for the people.
The two big losers in the deal would have been China and the American people, and Trump decided that sticking it to China wasn’t worth selling out American workers. There are plenty of other ways to stick it to China, which Trump rightfully acknowledges as America’s top competitor (despite the establishment trying to pin that label on Russia). The best way is with a strong U.S. domestic economy.
China is arguably the biggest beneficiary of globalization, which offers a one-way stream of advantages for protectionist China. At last week’s World Economic Forum, the annual globalist confab in Davos, Switzerland, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s keynote address mentioned the word “globalization” 24 times.
“It is true that economic globalization has created new problems,” Xi said, “but this is no justification to write economic globalization off completely.”
It’s not hard to see where Xi is coming from. Writing off globalization and repatriating developed markets would leave China with an awful lot of idle hands — and leave it potentially susceptible to popular revolt.
The Western establishment has been complicit in enriching China by giving it free passes on double standards that tilt the playing field against Western economies, from currency manipulation to environmental regulation. You have to wonder why — until Trump came along — the U.S. and its European allies have failed to defend the average worker by demanding import tariffs on anything made by cheap labor abroad. Their inaction in this regard has rendered them complicit.
The idea that China can be contained militarily or economically while establishment elites remain reliant on China for their own personal profit is laughable. As long as the profits keep flowing, there will always be so-called solutions to any friction or conflict. This is precisely why establishment actors have treated China differently than Russia.
But it was China, not Russia, that was the primary target of 2015 sanctions resulting from cyberattacks on public and private institutions, with the FBI noting that the Chinese government was largely responsible for a 53 percent increase in economic espionage cases. After a White House meeting between Xi and Barack Obama, the issue seemed to evaporate. It’s impossible to tell whether the issue was truly resolved, or if it was swept under the rug in the greater interests of those at the top who benefit from a laissez-faire stance toward China.
A government that defends the interests of its own people first and foremost — as opposed to the interests of establishment elites — is going to have observable friction with other nations. We shouldn’t fear the occasional clash that’s brought on by our leaders defending the interests of their electorate.
By contrast, when the establishment’s interests come first, little arrangements are made between members of the global governing elite, while any friction is downloaded onto the people. This leads to a disconnect between observable reality and the distorted narrative that those establishment figures are trying to convince the plebeians to swallow.
If Trump and his anti-globalist allies succeed in transferring wealth from Wall Street to Main Street, it will be one of the most important revolutions in history.